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Blended Technologies » Blog Archive » Grocist: a Barcode Driven Grocery List Web Application

Grocist: a Barcode Driven Grocery List Web Application

I’m proud to introduce a little web application I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. I call it:


Barcode Driven Grocery List Web App

It works like this:

You plug a barcode scanner into your computer (preferably one in the kitchen):
Picture 070.png
and simply scan the barcodes of any packages before you discard them.
Scan in any item
(typing in items such as bananas also works for non-barcoded items.)
Grocist looks up the product’s information from the UPC database:
You added item Shrek/Donkey Mild Bubble Bath to your list.
and keeps a running grocery list for you.
My grocery list circa 2006

I’ve been using it for a while now and it’s been working great. For the first time in my life I’ve been remembering to buy microwave popcorn!

In the future if there is demand for it, I’d like to add additional features. Here are some features I’ve thought of so far but I’m certainly open to suggestions:

  1. RSS feed for grocery list (PyRSS2Gen?)
  2. Integration with home delivery services such as Peapod
  3. Automatically get coupons for items on your grocery list
  4. Search for the grocery store with the lowest price for the items on your list
  5. Group items by aisle
  6. Cuecat support

There are a world of possibilities when you start storing information online.

Any barcode scanner will do just fine. (Though I’m not sure if Cuecats work yet.) You can pick one up on Ebay for fairly cheap. Here’s the one I bought which has been working just fine.

Grocist is written in pure Python using MySQL to store the data. I’d say actual programming time was around 10 hours (for the Python part). The CSS part was another 5 hours (I don’t know why that stuff is so hard.). And trying to make a logo depicting a shopping cart with a RSS icon in it took two hours to figure out I ultimately couldn’t make one that looked good :-(


What if I don’t want to buy a kitchen computer and barcode scanner just to use your web app?

That’s understandable. I primarily made this for my own use and thought it may be useful for the few other people out there who already own barcode scanners. But more and more people are getting kitchen computers these days, and if you have a computer in your kitchen you really need a barcode scanner; And at that point I hope you’ll think of Grocist for the grocery list functions of your kitchen computer!

Are There Other Products Like this?
Yes, in fact there are, but none did just what I wanted. Here are a few applications (and hardware) that I found:

Is there a movie?

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22 Responses to “Grocist: a Barcode Driven Grocery List Web Application”

  1. Grocist - stock control for your kitchen - The Red Ferret Journal Says:

    […] Grocist. Billed as a barcode driven grocery list application. You scan barcodes of empty containers you’re throwing away (or recycling?) in the kitchen, and the software automatically creates a shopping list for you, using an online UPC database and laptop. I think it’s a fab idea, but it doesn’t go far enough. Why not dump the PC entirely and go straight from barcode scanner to smartphone? […]

  2. Matthew Carmean Says:

    Have you looked at the bar code scanner made by Microvision called the Flic Scanner? It is a pretty flexible and affordable solution. In fact it’s the same scanner Intelliscanner uses and you can buy it direct from Microvision.

    The Flic scanner can capture data into any active application running on various platforms, Windows PC, Windows Mobile, and Blackberrys.

    You can also use the free Software Development Kit available from Microvision to more tightly integrate the Flic Scanner into many other applications and devices.

  3. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    Any wedge (keyboard emulation) type barcode scanner will work with Grocist. They can be found for as cheap as $40 to $50 dollars.

    Here is the scanner I’m currently using which works very well:
    Ebay Link
    If that link doesn’t work, just
    search on Ebay for IDTECH barcode scanner.

  4. » links for 2006-12-06 Says:

    […] Blended Technologies » Blog Archive » Grocist: a Barcode Driven Grocery List Web Application (tags: python barcode groceries web utilities ideas) […]

  5. Sam Says:

    Have you considered using webcams as barcode scanners? Check out delicious library for mac for a great example of an app that uses the isight on a mac exclusively for barcode scanning.

  6. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:


    I’ve thought of that idea a few times. I just need to find some free software that will do that. I doesn’t sound like something I’d want to code myself. Does delicious library let you scan barcodes to other applications? If so, that might work.

  7. casey Says:

    great idea!

    your link to the scanner you purchased in a non operating link now. looks bad for your links to be dead. i think it showed a jacket !

    anyway, i’m into your product & would like to try it out. gotta get a scanner.

  8. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    Casey, Thanks for the report. The links should be working now, let me know if they’re still not working for you.

  9. excitedVulcan Says:

    I am all over this concept! My wife even just recently asked me to figure out how to scan stuff that is almost empty to automatically add it to her list. The RSS feed is an awesome idea. I am ciphering on how to use Delicious Library to scan w/ an iSight, then enter the # in Grocist. BTW, Grocist is great, reminds me of “Shootist”.

  10. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    Hi Excited Vulcan. I’m glad you like Grocist. Please let me know if you figure out how to use Delicious Library for this purpose. That would be great to offer.

    Also try out this website. I’d like to offer it as an option in Grocist for people without barcode scanners but alas I don’t have a webcam to test it with.

    What is Shootist?

  11. Jared Says:

    I came across this and am doing the $1 trial. Basically they keep a list of current coupons and sale items. Not too bad.. but lacks bar code integration and browsing through the list line by line is dumb.

    It would be great to see your website and this merge some sort of way.. so I only see the current sale items and coupons for the products I am interested in.

    It’s worth trying for $1 so you are aware of coupon / sale database that is already out there. Use my email and I get a free week or something… translates to more time to experiment for me!

  12. Grocery flyers Says:

    Just came across this. Great idea. Are you finding there is a lot of demand?

  13. excitedVulcan Says:

    re shootist:
    i’ve seen the barcodepedia site before, but I run a mac, and for some reason my iSight is incompatible…
    I see that they offer the flash file for d/l now. mebbe i’ll learn flash??? ummm, probably not.

  14. markbnj Says:

    just as a fyi, this seems to be the best site for modifying your cue-cat

    this is what you had, it has no diagrams, and only says, put 5v onto pin R29:

    This site
    has much better directions, AND pictures and locations on WHERE to get 5V to the said pin!


    PS: and I DO know how to use a soldering iron too!

  15. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    mark, thanks for the tip. have you tried it yourself?

  16. Antney Oslund Says:

    FASCINATING and SO WORTH WHILE! I never dreamed this existed. I don’t even remember how it is that I came about finding it but I sure am glad that I did! I like that it takes information from because I am one of the people adding, editing and updating there on a regular basis.

    IS THERE A “PRINT BUTTON” _anywhere_ on the page that contains the list that you want to print out??

    If I were asked, there are only a few minor items I would tweak here. I would make it a PC (or MAC) based program which would look-up the information I have scanned after I connect it to the internet again (I have but we don’t all have WiFi), I would like to be able to customize the graphics on the shopping list to a good extent and I would like to have the “multiple scans of the same item = a single line but with that quantity fixed. Batch scanning as well as the ability to customize a PC/MAC version (locally!) with the aisle numbers for particular products would be fantastic! (I would use it to arrange the printed list in order of the way the aisles are laid out in the store.

    The upcdatabase has been updated very recently so maybe you will want to consider once again updating the database contained herein or spidering that site, whichever you do.

    A majority of my friends are techno geeks as well and I can not wait to see their expressions when I show them this wonderful site (which provides and invaluable service! NO MORE hand writing grocery lists!

    This is great fun for a tech geek like me and I am going to be using it from now, on. Thank you so much for sharing your amazingly fun little project with the rest of us technogeeks!!

  17. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    Antney, Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you like it. Just print from your browser when you’re viewing your list to get a printed version. It has special formatting for printing that makes it fit better on paper.

    Good ideas for features. Most of those are on my list though I don’t see the desktop application coming anytime soon unless someone else creates it.

    What do you mean about customizing graphics?

  18. Chris Says:

    I am having difficulty understanding how to use this - once I purchase the groceries I do not see how to change the item from needed and quantity to not needed. What am I missing?

  19. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    Chris, just click the check boxs next to item item you no longer need. Then at the bottom of the page press the button “Toggle Needed” which will switch their status to unneeded. Or you could press “delete” which would get rid of them forever.

    Let me know if that doesn’t make sense, or if that process isn’t working for you.

  20. Glenn Says:


    I have a mac Book Pro with a camera, can i use the camera as a bar code reader??

    I can do it with Delicious Library to scan books


  21. Greg - CEO/Founder Says:

    Glenn, I haven’t found any good software that allows that. Let me know if you can find any free or low cost software that does this and I’ll certainly consider adding support for it to Grocist.

  22. Credit Card Services Says:

    Credit Card Services…

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting…