Barcodes – Part 1

This the first part of several blog entries discussing barcodes. I am hoping to give you some idea:

  • What barcodes are
  • Why use barcodes
  • 1 Dimension (1D or linear) vs 2 Dimension (2D or matrix)
  • Various barcode symbologies


Barcodes are machine readable representation of data. These are generally printed or displayed. Barcodes come in different shapes, sizes and rules for coding/decoding. these are called symbologies. There is no one barcode symbology that is better than all others. there are pros and cons to each. I will discuss those in more detail later.

One of the major advantages of using barcodes is accuracy. While different symbologies may take different approaches to ensure the accuracy of the scan. This may include check digits, rules for decoding, etc. Generally barcode scanners will simply not read any invalid barcodes. This means that there should be some procedure that the company producing the barcode validate readability of barcodes. Once a barcode is successfully scanned then you can be confident that the right values have been read.

Another reason to use barcodes is speed. Scanning a barcode is almost always faster than entering values on keypad. One factor in the speed is the amount of data being read. more data generally takes longer. Different scanning methods will have varying speed on reading barcodes. 1D scanners using laser scanner will generally be faster than 1D using CCD reader. 2D scanning generally takes longer because complete image must be scanned for a read and image processing generally takes longer than linear read. Even slower may be using camera image and software to find and decode the barcode. Simpler usually scan quicker.

Barcodes are very cost effective. Simply by printing on packaging, labels or computer reports you can get benefit of barcodes. Barcodes can be used for inventory items, employee badges, bin locations, fixed assets, machine centers, documents, remittance advises, etc.

1D Barcodes are basically a series of bars that are read by a linear scan by laser or CCD reader. These bar codes generally contain small amounts of data (maybe up to 40 characters) Example:Sample Barcode

2D Barcodes use dots, squares and other geometric patterns in an arrangement that can contain much data. Example:Sample Barcode

In the next blog I will describe in more detail some of the most common barcode symobologies. Keep reading….





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