The Basics of Barcode Fonts
Like traditional fonts such as Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman and even the dreaded Comic Sans, barcode fonts can be applied to an encoded string of data to transform it into a readable barcode representation of that data. That may sound complicated, but it is a lot easier to understand in practice rather than in theory.
If you want to create a barcode from a font in a program like Microsoft or Excel, then that data needs to be encoded before the appropriate barcode font can be applied to it. Well, that’s not completely true. It’s absolutely possible to highlight your un-encoded data and then select the appropriate barcode font from the font drop-down list. It may look like a regular barcode, but you won’t find a barcode scanner that can read it because there is important information missing in an un-encoded barcode. The absence of that information results in a barcode that looks correct but doesn’t have things like start and stop characters which, as you may have guessed, tell a barcode scanning device where the targeted barcode begins (starts) and ends (stops).
Encoding is also important because it can include a check digit, which is a digit identifier in the barcode that may help to determine the standard or some other important aspect of it. IDAutomation provides a wide selection of free font encoder tools that can assist it’s customers in encoding data strings to create a readable barcode which is a huge convenience given how cumbersome the manual process of calculating check digits can be.
The Benefits of Barcode Fonts?
Choosing to integrate barcode fonts into your process as opposed to components or stand-alone barcode generation programs is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. While the Java Barcode Component may create the same barcode as our Postnet & Intelligent Mail Barcode Font Package, they way they are created is quite different.
Drawbacks of Barcode Fonts
While barcode fonts may bring greatly increased levels of flexibility across platforms and applications, it is important to note that there are some drawbacks which can influence any integration decision.
If you need something with a little more power, consider a two-dimensional barcode font like Data Matrix, PDF417 or QR Code. These fonts are more complex than the standard linear fonts above and so their encoders are usually available for Java, .NET, ASP, ActiveX and others. These fonts have more in common with components, although they are still fonts and should be considered appropriately.
At The End of The Day…
Finally, it’s the end of the road. You’ve identified which barcode type you want to generate. You’ve made the font vs. component decision based on which barcode(s) you want to create, which environment(s) you’ll be creating them in, and how you’ll be encoding the data, and you’re ready to pull the trigger. Whether you’re a developer working to integrate the product inside an existing application, a custom application or even an internet web page or just a regular joe who wants to turn a zip code into a barcode, barcode fonts are going to help you make that possible.