Bar Code Symbology
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Barcodes are like a printed, machine-readable version of Morse code, where information is represented in the widths and spaces between lines. More recently, two-dimensional barcodes have been developed which contain information in other geometric shapes or matrices. A group of specificed patterns is called a “symbology”, and linear barcodes are very common today. Almost every retail package contains a Universal Product Code or UPC-encoded information.
Although there are many types of barcode symbologies, each having their own special characteristics, features and limitations, we will explain Code 39 in detail here, specifically because it is a readily available as a simple TrueType font, is therefore easy to implement, generally requires no additional software, and is therefore very commonly used for identification card purposes. Some of the many other barcode symbologies include: UPC, EAN, RSS-14, CodaBar, Interleaved 2 of 5, Discrete 2 of 5, Code 93, Code 128, PostNet, PDF417, Data Matrix, MaxiCode, and Aztec Code.
The “Normal” CODE 39 (also known as “USS Code 39”, “Code 3/9”, “Code 3 of 9”, “USD-3”, “Alpha39”, “Type 39”) can encode the following 44 characters: Numeric 0-9, Uppercase A – Z and the special characters -. *$/+%. Code 39 is one of the most popular symbologies in the non-retail world and is commonly used in manufacturing, military, and health applications. It is a variable length symbology, does not require a check digit and is readable by virtually all barcode scanners. Each Code 39 bar code must contain a start/stop character at the beginning and end, represented by an asterisk (*). The Asterisk may only be used for this purpose and therefore the data to be encoded may not contain an asterisk. Additionally, data to be encoded with “Normal” CODE 39 must only contain Uppercase alphabetic characters.
Even though Code 39 does not require a check digit, it is considered by some to be self-checking because a single incorrectly read bar cannot generate another valid character. Certain applications and barcode readers will allow Code 39 to be used to concatenate two or more barcodes, with the use of a leading space in the barcode data. This is particularly beneficial when it is necessary to break one long barcode message into multiple shorter ones.
One of the major limitations of the Code 39 symbology is its relatively low data density, and because of this, it requires more space to encode data than other symbologies (i.e.Code 128). This means that a Code 39 based barcode is impractical for labelling very small items. It is also important to remember this limitation when designing an identification, membership or loyalty program card, since there are usually limitations in the card design to the size of the area that can be allocated to the barcode.
QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of machine-readable matrix barcode first designed for the automotive industry in Japan that contains information in a two-dimensional format. It uses four standardized encoding modes that allows for extensions to be used so it can store website information efficiently. The QR code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera or smart phone).
For this reason, the QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, general marketing, and much more. You can generate and download QR codes from the following website. QRStuff.com