Seen these odd looking little dotty square codes about but never knew exactly what they were? We give you the lowdown!

These codes are called "QR Codes" (or Quick Response codes) and they were originally designed for tracking parts in the automotive industry. With mobiles that are capable of reading these codes becoming ever more popular, people are starting to see that they can use these codes as a shortcut way of quickly accessing pages on the internet. Due to this, QR codes are now popping up all over the place: on billboards and buses, on real estate signs and on business cards. Inventory tracking is however where the codes really shine: used well they can be a great tool to organize all your craft parts and pieces.

How does a QR code work?
Essentially, there is nothing overly complicated about the codes: the dotty squares are simply a coded representation of a normal URL that you type into a browser. As you can't read it in its coded state, you need to have an app that is capable of scanning and then translating the QR code into a normal URL.

How do I scan a QR code?
First thing you need is a smart phone (like an iPhone or an Android phone). Navigate to the place you usually download apps and search for "QR reader". There are now many apps that are QR readers on the market now - some are free and others you may have to pay a small amount for (depending on their features).

A couple of popular ones are Red Laser for iPhone and Android, QR Code Reader for iPhone, and QR Code Scanner Pro. None of these apps should be difficult to use, it should be as simple as starting the app and it should then instruct you to point your camera at the code you wish to scan.

As soon as the app recognizes the code, it should automatically load the webpage in your mobile browser - simple as that!

How can I use QR codes to organise my craft inventory?

Good inventory software such as Craftybase will automatically generate QR codes for all your craft materials, so you should start factoring this into your workflow. Once you have everything tagged, it should be a case of scanning the code with your phone to access the material records, where you can then update your inventory - much easier than scraps of paper or complicated excel spreadsheets!