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Selecting a 2D Symbology

August 22, 2006

Question: What is the difference between PDF417 and datamatrix?

Answer: As I have mentioned in previous columns, one of the most common reasons for moving a barcode from the traditional linear (picket fence type) barcode to a 2D symbol, is the savings in space, and the increased capacity of the code itself.

To repeat a paragraph from my last column: A second important reason why a user would choose 2D is recoverability. Because the input data is encoded, the output used to print a 2D symbol has a certain amount of redundancy built into it, allowing the symbol to recover from physical damage such as a tear in the paper, or a mark across the symbol itself. It is possible to recover up to approx. 40% damage in many cases using this. You may find references to Error Correcting Codeword (or ECC), which is the term used to describe this capability.

Once the decision is made to move to 2D, there are a few different symbologies to choose from. The most popular ones are datamatrix and PDF417, which COPI supplies for all CPU types. Unless the symbology is dictated by industry or government regulations, the user is free to choose the appropriate symbol.

Both of these symbologies offer advantages:

  • Reduced size
  • Increased capacity
  • Recoverability
  • Ease of use
  • Ease of installation
  • Compatible with many different scanners

For background information about 2D symbologies and COPI's CodeZ products, please click here.

You can read more about 2D symbologies by reading my archives by pressing here. For more information on the exciting technology, feel free to email me at fr@888999copi.com or me at 888-999-copi ext. fr.