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GS1 Data Matrix 2D Barcode FAQ

GS1 Data Matrix symbol encoding multiple variable element strings.The GS1 Data Matrix barcode is the ISO/IEC 16022 standardized version of the Data Matrix symbology and is formed by adding the FNC1 character in the first position. The GS1-DataMatrix barcode is represented with a finder pattern and a square or rectangular grid of dark and light dots, known as the X-Dimension. The Finder Pattern, or L shaped bars (with solid lines located on the left and bottom of the symbol and dotted lines on the right and top of the symbol) define the size and orientation of the barcode. Data is then encoded in the defined finder pattern matrix.

GS1-DataMatrix Barcodes

GS1-DataMatrix barcode symbols may be easily created with IDAutomation Data Matrix products, all of which support  GS1 AIs (Application Identifiers) data and the FNC1 (Function 1) symbol character.

The following must all be true to properly create GS1 symbols:

  1. The encoding mode must be set to ASCII, which is also Mode 3 in IDAutomation products.
  2. The ApplyTilde or ProcessTilde function must be enabled.
  3. The data within the symbol must start with the non-printable FNC1 character, which is encoded automatically when a number exists with parentheses around it, or ~1 is encoded. For example (01)3456789012345 or ~1013456789012345 are both acceptable.
  4. The number surrounded with parentheses or the number directly after the ~1 is the Application Identifier (AI). The AI combined with its associated data makes up an element string.
  5. Multiple element strings may be encoded in a single symbol according to the GS1 AI Specification.
Examples Generating GS1-DataMatrix

Fig. 1 below is a symbol encoding of the GTIN string (01)3456789012345 with the date field of (15)171231. According to the GS1 Application Identifier specification, an additional FNC1 is not necessary in this symbol because the preceding element string of (01) is a fixed length. Note that when encoding the GTIN within Data Matrix, the 14th digit of the GTIN is not encoded.

Fig. 1: GS1-DataMatrix symbol encoding multiple element strings with a single FNC1 function.
GS1 Data Matrix symbol encoding multiple element strings with a single FNC1 function GS1 Data Encoded (01)3456789012345(15)171231
DataToEncode using parentheses (01)345678901234515171231
DataToEncode using ~1 ~101345678901234515171231
Data Returned from scanner ]d201345678901234515171231
Test generation link from bcgen.com http://www.bcgen.com/demo/IDAutomationStreamingDataMatrix.aspx?D=(01)345678901234515171231&PT=T&MODE=3&X=.2&LM=0.2

Fig. 2 below is a symbol encoding of the GTIN string (01)10614141543219 with a variable batch element string of (10)3456789 and a variable serial number element string of (21)3456789012. Because the AIs (10) and (21) are both variable, an additional FNC is required between these according to the GS1 Application Identifier specification.

Fig. 2: GS1-DataMatrix symbol encoding multiple variable element strings.
GS1 Data Matrix symbol encoding multiple variable element strings. GS1 Data Encoded (01)10614141543219(10)3456789(21)3456789012
DataToEncode using parentheses (01)10614141543219103456789(21)3456789012
DataToEncode using ~1 ~10110614141543219103456789~1213456789012
Data Returned from scanner ]d20110614141543219103456789<GS>213456789012
Test generation link from bcgen.com http://www.bcgen.com/demo/IDAutomationStreamingDataMatrix.aspx?D=(01)10614141543219103456789(21)3456789012&PT=T&MODE=3&X=.2&LM=0.2
Decoding GS1-DataMatrix

According to GS1 specifications, when GS1 emulation is enabled, the first FNC1 character should be decoded as "]d2" and any additional FNC1 characters will be decoded as <GS> (ASCII 29). The <GS> function is usually only visible when scanned with the Barcode Scanner ASCII String Decoder. Not all scanners properly decode the first FNC1 character as "]d2". The screenshot below is the decoded symbol of Fig. 2 above scanned with the IDAutomation 2D USB Scanner. To enable this decoding within the scanner, refer to the GS1-DataMatrix emulation programming guide.

Decoding GS1 DataMatrix with the ASCII String Decoder

Refer to GS1's GS1-Data Matrix Guideline for complete specifications.

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