The Basics of Barcode Reader Technology and Development

The use of barcode technology has proven itself for decades to be a great way to conduct and manage data entry, information tracking, for improving operational efficiency and reducing clerical and data errors.

Many industries use barcodes in their daily workflow. There are whole industries heavily dependent on barcode technology. For example, retail depends on it when you make a purchase at a store. Healthcare uses it to track medications and patient data. Even in general corporate enterprises, barcodes are in use to track and assign assets, from a computer to a key card. You might need barcode reading capabilities in your application as well.

About Barcode Types

There are mainly two types of barcodes: a linear barcode (1D barcode) and a 2D barcode. A 1D barcode consists of vertical lines of varying widths with specific gaps resulting in a particular pattern. A 2D barcode has data generally encoded in square or rectangular patterns of two dimensions. Generally, a 2D barcode can store more data and support a bigger character set than a 1D barcode. You can read the comprehensive guide to 1D and 2D barcodes to learn about the most common barcode types in use.

barcode types

To select the barcode for your given task, you need to understand its character set. There are generally three different types of character sets: numeric, alpha-numeric, and full ASCII. A numeric character set includes numbers only (0-9). An alpha-numeric character set includes numbers and alphabetic characters (0-9 and A-Z). An ASCII character set includes any ASCII character (value 0-127). So, generally speaking, your chosen barcode can do anything from dozens of characters to encode with a particular 1D barcode to thousands of characters in 2D barcodes.

Bigger is not always better. Selection should be based on efficiencies but, perhaps with some room to grow.

What Can You Do with a Barcode?

A barcode is very popular in retail and inventory management. It’s arguably the most common process you see accomplished on a regular basis. You go to a store to buy an item and the salesperson scans a barcode to find theitem and its price. A lot behind-the-scenes just happened with that scan.

A barcode is also commonly used in document management for batch file processing to improve document workflow and work efficiency. For example, with barcodes, you can automate document indexing and route them to different folders or people. You can also use barcodes for batch file renaming.

Read a case study: How to Automate Document Indexing With Barcodes

Depending on your usage scenarios, you can read a barcode on items, documents, images, or PDFs. You can also use cameras or webcams to decode barcodes. The more devices you are able to employ to scan barcodes in your application, the greater reach your application will have. Barcode flexibility is what has made them popular for decades, and why their growth in use continues.

barcode usage

How to Integrate Barcode Reading into My Application

There are quite a few options for you to integrate barcode reading in your applications. One place to get started at is with Zxing, one of the most popular open source barcode libraries. Open source is a great way to try and save on costs. But, as with just about all open source, it will require more work and problem solving. If you prefer to use a commercial barcode SDK, you can check out Dynamsoft Barcode Reader. It provides robust features and technical support to make for days of development time instead of months. This includes .NET, ActiveX/COM, C/C++, JavaScript, Android and iOS APIs. You’ll be able to easily integrate barcode scanning into web, desktop and mobile applications.

You can download the barcode reader samples and get started right away.

How to Optimize Barcode Recognition

The accuracy and speed of scanning and decoding a barcode cannot be a bottleneck. There are several factors that must be considered to ensure optimal performance. This includes barcode location, the number of barcodes on a page, scan distance, barcode skewing, and much more.

optimize barcode recognition

To help ensure optimal performance in your barcode reader application, start with these resources:

Do you use barcodes in your document management workflow? How does it work? Or, are you planning to start using barcodes? Let us know below.

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