How to Choose a Barcode SDK

This ebook helps software developers and IT managers understand the technologies behind barcoding and the steps necessary for enabling adoption and implementation. The ebook covers the following topics:

1. Where Barcodes are Used

The use of barcode technology has proven itself for decades and continues to see adoption growth. Now, barcodes are inseparable from modern daily life, such as identifying patients in hospitals, Intelligent Warehouse Management, product scanning in retail and even cashier-less self-checkout using barcode technologies.  

2. Select an appropriate barcode to use

There is a lot to consider when attempting to select an appropriate barcode to use. You should familiarize yourself with the various barcode types, their capabilities, and requirements, to ensure a proper barcode selection for your given scenario.

3. Localization and Decode

When demoing potential barcode readers, most should be capable of reading perfect barcodes that are flat and have clear black and white edges. The very best barcode SDKs will be able to read barcodes that are highly damaged or distorted. Understanding how barcode scanning works (consists of localization and decoding) can help you better navigate the barcode technology and select a barcode SDK that is best suited for your business needs.

4. Developer Tip: Improve Barcode Recognition Speed

It goes without saying, with barcode readers, speed and accuracy are desirable for maximizing customer and retailer experiences. Retailers need a barcode scanner that works quickly every time, and customers don’t want to be held up any longer than necessary.

To maximize performance learn about how to improve barcode recognition speed with location, quiet zone, direction, and rotation, as well as smooth-zooming and multi-threading.

5. Developer Tip: Improve Barcode Recognition Rates

Read more about how to improve barcode recognition rates with image pre-processing.

6. Getting started with Barcodes

Does your barcode reader app support all varieties of barcodes and platforms?

Whether someone is scanning with an iOS or Android device, and whether they have the latest OS or an older version, platform support should be exhaustive to avoid alienating customers.

Barcode symbology support should be exhaustive as well. Supporting UPC-A, UPC-E, and EAN-13 are essential. These barcodes are generally found on consumer goods packaging. This includes on the shelves of your local supermarket, as well as books, magazines, and newspapers. More and more, QR codes are appearing on the packaging to encode a link to a company website or online instructions for a product’s use.

Determine all the possible barcodes your end users will scan, and test each of them. This might include considering any industry and related regulation needs and requirements. Make sure to follow common practices.


7. Hardware Scanner and Software Scanner

The earliest and most inexpensive barcode scanners are built from a fixed light and a single photosensor. The hand-held scanners have been around forever and as a result, there exists a variety of hardware to scan barcodes, each with pros and cons depending on your goals with barcode technology.

8. Integration to an Existing Web or Mobile Application

As modern technology develops and the wide adoption of mobile devices, a new two-dimensional imaging scanner emerges. A webcam or a mobile phone with a camera can be easily converted to a barcode scanner and also allows for easy integration to an existing web or mobile application.

9. Leading Vendors from the Barcode Reading Industry

There are more than a dozen commercial-grade barcode reader SDKs on the market and it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to analyze them all. In this article, we look at the leading vendors from the barcode reading industry and provide a detailed breakdown of how each of them performs.

It can be very convenient and cost-effective for businesses to adopt if the investment is made to the right barcode reader SDK for decoding barcodes. Below we discuss a few key considerations when choosing a barcode reader SDK.

Scanning Capabilities
At the heart of any barcode reader is the ability to efficiently scan barcodes.

Not every barcode will be perfect, which is why scan accuracy and reliability are paramount. A good barcode reader app should be able to scan despite obstacles such as:

  • Improper lighting
  • Screen glow and reflection
  • Blurriness
  • Poor contrast
  • Damage and distortion

You need to determine if your barcodes will be on shiny or reflective surfaces, will the barcode be distorted from condensation, will it be flat or curved, and what orientation and angle will it be?

curved barcode surface

User Experience
Another often overlooked consideration when choosing a barcode reader SDK is how users will interact with the device. Some may point their cameras at an angle, which will skew the barcode, or the scan distance will vary. A reliable barcode SDK should be able to adapt and handle most of these scenarios.

A barcode scan is accomplished by using a video stream, so a good SDK algorithm will automatically select the best frame from many frames captured in a video stream. Or, the SDK should have the flexibility to let app designers identify the frame to use, such as return the one in the center, or return the code with the highest confidence level.

What about Open Source?
It may be tempting to go with an open source barcode SDK, but they have many hidden drawbacks. Although the initial cost appears to be cheaper, you have to factor in all the labor involved with problem-solving and configuring, de-bugging, figuring our compatibility issues, ongoing maintenance, and so on. In the long run, they tend to be much more costly, and less effective. An analogy would be like running a business and handling the accounting on your own if that’s not your specialty. It’s possible, but not advise. Instead, it’s better to trust an expert in that area.

Similarly, we have spent countless time and money developing and refining our Dynamsoft Barcode Reader SDK, making sure it easily integrates into your solution using only a few lines of code. Utilizing our experience and expertise will drastically reduce your development time and headaches. Plus, we offer technical support, security, updated versions, etc., which is not something you get with open source solutions.

Reading online forums will find that most of the time, open source only resulted in a waste of time. As one user put it:

“We are using a free library called ZXing but it is not as performant as we would like. We have about 30 apps that we have built that we use internally and they all use this free lib and is manageable but not good enough for external apps.”

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