PDF417 Introduction

This page concerns basic information of PDF417, as well as its generating and printing components.

PDF417 Overview

PDF417 barcodeis a continuous two-dimensional barcode symbology format with multiple rows and columns. It is both self-checking and bi-directionally decodable. PDF417 is commonly used in transport, inventory management, etc.

Generating and Printing PDF417 Barcodes

OnBarcode provides comprehensive PDF417 generators and scanner components for Java, .NET, Android developments.

PDF-417 Generator Components

PDF-417 Scanner Components

PDF-417 Generator & Scanner Software

PDF417 Structure

The structure of PDF417 is as below:

PDF417 Barcode Size Setting

  • Number of rows: 3 to 90.
  • Number of columns: 1 to 30.
  • Width in modules: 90X to 583X including quiet zones.

As for PDF417 symbol size setting, these factors should be considered: barcode width and height, module width and height.

Please get details from PDF417 size setting instruction.

PDF417 Data Encoding

PDF417 encodable character set:
  • Text Compaction mode permits all printable ASCII characters to be encoded, i.e. values 32 - 126 inclusive in accordance with ISO/IEC 646 (IRV), as well as selected control characters.

  • Byte Compaction mode permits all 256 possible 8-bit byte values to be encoded. This includes all ASCII characters value 0 to 127 inclusive and provides for international character set support.
  • Numeric Compaction mode permits efficient encoding of numeric data strings.
  • Up to 811 800 different character sets or data interpretations.
  • Various function codewords for control purposes.

PDF-417 Data characters per symbol (for maximum symbol size in Data Matrix)

Maximum possible number of data characters (at error correction level 0):
  • Text Compaction mode: 1,726 characters
  • Byte Compaction mode: 1,033 characters
  • Numeric Compaction mode: 2,528 characters

At the minimum recommended error correction level:

  • Text Compaction mode: 1,850 characters
  • Byte Compaction mode: 1,108 characters
  • Numeric Compaction mode: 2,710 characters

Extended Channel Interpretations (ECI)

The Extended Channel Interpretation (ECI) protocol allows the output data stream to have interpretations different from that of the default character set. The default interpretation corresponds to ECI 000003. The ECI protocol is defined consistently across a number of symbologies, including PDF417. ECIs are assigned by AIM Global, Inc.

Macro PDF417

Macro PDF417 provides a mechanism for the data in a file to be split into blocks and be represented in more than one PDF417 symbol. This mechanism is similar to the Structured Append feature in other symbologies. Up to 99,999 individual PDF417 symbols may be used to encode data in Macro PDF417.

Compact PDF417

A Compact PDF-417 symbol requires less space than the normal PDF-417 barcode. By applying Compact option, the right hand side of the PDF-417 symbol is truncated.

PDF-417 Function Codeword

Codewords 900 to 928 are assigned as function codewords.

Function codeword for reader initialisation

Codeword 921 shall be used to instruct the reader to interpret the data contained within the symbol as programming for reader initialisation. Codeword 921 shall appear as the first codeword after the Symbol Length Descriptor. In the case of a Macro PDF417 initialisation sequence, Codeword 921 shall appear in every symbol.

PDF417 Error Correction Level

PDF-417 uses Reed Solomon error correction, and the error correction level is from 0 to 8. In AIM standards, it recommends a minimum ECL of 2. In addition, only Level 0 can both detect errors and correct erroneously decoded or missing codewords.

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