This is the main explanatory article in the Category:Barcodes category
Barcode is a machine-readable label, usually printed or attached to some product, parcel or device to show some relevant data. Originally, barcodes represented data in the widths (lines) and the spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or 1D (1 dimensional) barcodes or symbologies. They also come in patterns of squares, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns within images termed 2D (2 dimensional) matrix codes or symbologies. Although 2D systems use symbols other than bars, they are generally referred to as barcodes as well. Barcodes can be read by optical scanners called barcode readers, or scanned from an image by special software.RFID still costs about 7¢ to 30¢ per tag.. Barcodes are usually generated by software with many open source libraries such as  available.
The mapping between messages and barcodes is called a symbology. The specification of a symbology includes the encoding of the single digits/characters of the message as well as the start and stop markers into bars and space, the size of the quiet zone required to be before and after the barcode as well as the computation of a checksum. Simple symbologies as codabar convert symbols into barcode segments directly, as if being a kind of alphabet. Advanced symbologies do more complex conversions, providing error recovery and redundancy.
Linear symbologies can be classified mainly by two properties:
Some symbologies use interleaving. The first character is encoded using black bars of varying width. The second character is then encoded, by varying the width of the white spaces between these bars. Thus characters are encoded in pairs over the same section of the barcode. Interleaved 2 of 5 is an example of this.
Stacked symbologies consist of a given linear symbology repeated vertically in multiple.
There is a large variety of 2D symbologies. The most common are matrix codes, which feature square or dot-shaped modules arranged on a grid pattern. 2-D symbologies also come in a variety of other visual formats. Aside from circular patterns, there are several 2-D symbologies which employ steganography by hiding an array of different-sized or -shaped modules within a user-specified image (for example, DataGlyphs).
Linear symbologies are optimized to be read by a laser scanner, which sweeps a beam of light across the barcode in a straight line, reading a slice of the barcode light-dark patterns. In the 1990s development of CCD imagers to read barcodes was pioneered by Welch Allyn. Imaging does not require moving parts, like a laser scanner does. In 2007, linear imaging was surpassing laser scanning as the preferred scan engine for its performance and durability.
Stacked symbologies are also optimized for laser scanning, with the laser making multiple passes across the barcode.
2-D symbologies cannot be read by a laser as there is typically no sweep pattern that can encompass the entire symbol. They must be scanned by an image-based scanner. However 2-D symbologies are more dense and barcodes with the same amount of information can be smaller. The rest of this article covers the most widely known symbologies, providing also a translating applet for each.
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