Aztec barcodes are very efficient two-dimensional (2D) symbologies that
use square modules with a unique finder pattern in the middle of the symbol,
which helps the barcode scanner to determine cell locations to decode the
symbol. Characters, numbers, text and bytes of data may be encoded in an Aztec
barcode. The IDAutomation implementation of the Aztec barcode symbol is based on the ISO standard version
released into the public domain by its inventor, Honeywell.
Aztec barcodes are some of the smallest and most dependable symbologies
in use today. Compared to other types, Aztec barcodes are approximately 30 times
smaller than a Code 39 barcode representing the same data. Aztec barcodes are also good to use when
barcoded documents via fax because the barcode can withstand many
poor resolution and scanning issues.
A quiet zone is not required with Aztec barcodes because
if the unique finder pattern in the center of the symbol. However, some
barcode imagers may have difficulty decoding unless a 1-module quiet zone
is present, which should be the same color as the background.
Verifying Aztec Barcodes
- Printed barcode symbols may be easily verified with the Print Quality
Assessment feature available in the
2D Barcode Scanner. This quality assurance test will grade the symbol
and report any possible problems. The report below was generated when scanning
the symbol at the top of the page with PQA enabled:
>> PQA <<
AZTEC CODE: 3 layers (Compact) => 23x23 modules
Data Field: 32 data & 19 checks in GF(256), 0 Erasures & 0 Errors
X roughly = 0.020"
[A] < Core Symbol: 0 errors
[A] < Data Safety Margin = 113%
[A] < Horizontal Print Growth = +11% of X
[A] < Vertical Print Growth = +14% of X
Reading Aztec Barcodes
- The most common method of
reading Aztec barcodes is with a camera-based barcode image reader.
Most 2D barcode
imagers available at IDAutomation perform keyboard emulation and receive
power from the USB port so that no external power supply is needed. When
a barcode symbol is read using keyboard emulation, the data appears at the
cursor as if it had been typed in from the keyboard.
- Most 2D barcode imagers
have the ability to read Aztec barcodes by default. Many hand-held imagers also
read very small symbols such as the
2D Barcode Scanner, which reliably reads Aztec barcodes printed as small as 3 points, which is an X-dimension of 10 mils.
- In many cases, there may be a need for the scan to trigger a form or
action within an application. IDAutomation has documented simple methods of
accomplishing this task in the
USB Barcode Scanner Application
ASCII Function Encoding
- Aztec allows ASCII
codes to be encoded for various functions such as tabs and returns.
In all IDAutomation products, the tilde (~) may be used to encode
ASCII functions. For example;
~d009 is used to encode a tab and
~d013 encodes a return. In many development
environments, Chr or Char may also be used to encode the ASCII value directly.
For example, the programming examples below encode "ECC" <tab> 200:
Java: DataToEncode= "ECC" + (char)9
Visual Basic: DataToEncode= "ECC" & Chr(9)
Double Byte, Unicode &
Extended ASCII Encoding
It is possible to scan and encode international and extended characters
with these steps:
- Encode the data using byte encoding.
- Scan the data via the serial interface option (data bits
have to be 8N) on the scanner. Normally, keyboard wedges and USB scanners
do not support extended characters above ASCII 128, and only scan characters
that are actually on the keyboard. Contact the scanner vendor for more
information as some of the scanner's internal settings may need to be
Encoding Modes & Error Correction
- Products such as the IDAutomation
Aztec Barcode Fonts
and the Aztec Barcode
Components all support automatic encoding mode. The error correction
level encoded in the symbol is specified as a value from 5 to 95. More error
correction creates a larger symbol that can withstand more damage.
Aztec Forms Control supports the following encoding modes.
- Auto is used to automatically switch between
encoding modes, as needed, to provide the most efficient symbol.
- Byte is used to encode data strictly byte.
- Text is used for only letters, numbers, and
- Numeric is used for only numbers.
- It is
not recommended to use error correction over 23 with large amounts of data,
because this may overload the symbol capacity. The default setting of 0
performs the automatic and recommended selection, which is usually a value
Control Characters and use of the Tilde
- IDAutomation Aztec
Barcode Fonts, Components and
use the tilde character "~" to recognize special characters when "Apply
Tilde" or "Process Tilde" is enabled. The following tilde options are available:
- ~dNNN: Represents the
encoded by the 3 digits NNN. For example, ~d009 represents a tab, ~d013
represents a return and ~d065 represents the character 'A'.
- ~1: Represents the character FNC1. When FNC1 appears in the first
position (or in the fifth position of the first symbol of a Structured
Append), it indicates that the data conforms to the UCC/EAN Application
Identifier standard format.
Is a License
Required for Use?
The Aztec symbology was placed in the public domain by it's inventor
therefore no license or royalty fees are required for use.
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