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janman

Choosing data format for Code 128

I am looking at using Code128 for barcodes to be placed on customer membership cards.

The card reader can technically read any code, including of course any Code128 code. It's possible that someone else will scan another Code128 barcode using this reader. The membership card reader will be at customer premises, I will have no control of it.

How can I choose a format for these barcodes to prevent conflict with other barcode encoded using Code128 as well? Are there some unique start characters that I can use to identify that a Code128 barcode is MY barcode? or some other way?

Thanks!


08-27-14     1848 day(s) ago    

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Ben

Best Answer

It is actually entirely up to you to determine parameters of the barcode. For example, if I decide to open a club where a guest can swipe a badge that includes a customer ID as a barcode, I could determine the specific characters that I want to include before the customer ID (or what ever data) is assigned.

I could use anything I want since I am not restricted to a barcode standard or industry. So, say I make my membership barcodes include the data sequence "ACME" before each customer number in a barcode.

I would set up my system or database to look for that particular data from the barcode scan and make it valid.

When John Smith (a registered member) comes to my club and swipes his badge that includes a barcode containing "ACME-123456" (123456 is his customer number that I have also determined), it will accept it as valid because that is how I programmed the system/database to interpret the data.
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However, if someone attempts to swipe and the barcode does not include "ACME", I could deny it or set it as invalid since it does not meet the standard I created for my system.

This is just a generic example of how something like this could be done. 99% of it is actually determined by your system/database/development. The barcode is not really involved in this process as it is actually the data that really determines what will happen. Therefore, if you think of your situation as if there were no barcode involved--if the customers/members/clients entered data directly using a keypad--how would your system handle the data entered?

When a specific standard is not involved, there is no particular common practice. You can determine your own standard for your situation.

Posted 1847 day(s) ago

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Other Answers (5)

janman
Thank you!

Posted 1847 day(s) ago

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Ben
You are welcome. Almost all barcode readers--I want to say all--can handle Code 128 and also Code 39 sin any format (alpha-only, alphanumeric, and numeric-only) since the two are the most popular barcode symbologies and are integrated into many industries.

Though I do not have specific information on the percentage of readers that can read Code 128, I can tell you that all of the readers of all different makes and models we sell directly (SC5, SC1500) and through vendors (including Honeywell, Symbol, Motorola, and many more) can read Code 128.



Posted 1847 day(s) ago

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janman
Thank you for your extensive answer! That gives me good data to go on.

I have one more question to complete my picture of this: Is there any danger that some barcode readers will support Code128 in general, but will have problems with non-numeric codes? (Like the "ACME" in your example.) I am expecting that these barcodes should work on any and all barcode readers (or at least the max number possible).

Actually, for that matter, will most/all barcode readers on the market today support Code128?

Do you have any information on this?

Posted 1847 day(s) ago

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janman
Yes, I realize there will definitely be software changes involved. What I'm trying to determine is what what data to put into the barcode, in order to best identify it as "mine". For example, EAN codes have company number in the first few digits. As far as I know, basic Code128 codes do not have any global format (and I'm not talking about GS1-128, just plain Code128). But then how does my application know that the Code128 barcode that is scanned is for my membership cards and not, say, some barcode used for packaging and shipment. If users can do something, like scanning a barcode that should not be scanned, at least one them will at some point try it - i don't want that scan to be interpreted as the scan of one of "my" membership cards. I have some ideas, but I was wondering if there is a common practice or standard/format for doing this, or are Code128 barcode contents totally undefined. (I know of GS1-128, but I do not want to use it, I want to define my format of data stored in the barcode.)

Posted 1847 day(s) ago

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Ben
I do not believe it is possible for the scanner/reader to look for specific barcodes, symbologies, or character sets. For example, if Code 128 is enabled in the reader/scanner, then it will read any Code 128 barcode regardless of the character set. The solution might be to have the application the barcode is being scanned into see if as valid or invalid. This may take some programming effort on your end to modify the application to accept certain values, maybe through the use of a database that matches up the scanned barcode with information already in the system.

Posted 1847 day(s) ago

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