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Home > Internet & HTML Web Page Barcode Implementation FAQ and Tutorial:

Internet & Web Page Barcode Tutorial

Implementing internet web barcode technology is often useful for the automation or verification of something that must be printed, such as airline boarding passes and tickets, invoices and receipts, coupons, name badges, check-in confirmations, registrations, rebate mailers, RMA packing slips, gift certificates and more.

In this tutorial, several different methods of creating barcodes over the Internet in HTML web pages and web applications are evaluated with on-line demos and implementation examples. This site also includes information about how to scan barcodes into web applications with a barcode scanner.

Products for Printing Barcodes Over the Internet

There are many advantages and disadvantages of the various products used to display barcodes on the web. These implementations are listed on the chart below, in order, with the most popular and recommended options at the top:

Implementation Types

Online Demo for ASP Barcode Server Component for IISStreaming Barcode Server for IIS

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Easily installs on Windows NT, XP, Vista, Win 7 & 8, 2000, 2003 and 2008 Server with IIS enabled.
  • The mature components of this barcode product have been in use since 2002 and are used in IDAutomation's Barcode Generator Service.
  • No temporary files are produced on the host because the resulting barcode image is transmitted immediately to the browser as a binary stream
  • Can be easily implemented in ASP, JavaScript, PHP and other web applications as a dynamic <IMG> tag.
  • Because a GIF or JPEG is generated on the server, it is compatible with all web browsers.
  • Easily creates barcodes in any application that can access a URL, including Crystal Reports and FileMaker.
  • The image is not limited to 96 DPI; however, changing the resolution from 96 DPI requires some HTML coding.
  • Offers better performance for workstations with slower CPUs.
  • Requires a Microsoft Windows server with IIS and the .NET Framework installed.
  • Centralized barcode processing and image generation places more load on the server. However, this product is extremely efficient.
  • Low resolution thermal printer use is not directly supported. To use thermal printers with this product, refer to the printing to thermal barcode printers from the web browser article.

Online Demo for ASP.NET Server ControlASP.NET Server Control

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Barcodes are created as high quality GIF, JPEG or PNG graphic images.
  • 100% managed code created in C#.NET for performance and stability.
  • Because a high-quality barcode image is generated at the server, it is compatible with all web browsers.
  • Offers better performance for workstations with slower CPUs.
  • Resolution of the barcode image is easily changed to allow compatibility with thermal printers.
  • Requires ASP.NET and a development environment that makes use of server controls, such as Microsoft Visual Studio .NET.
  • Centralized barcode processing and image generation places more load on the server.
  • Generates temp files on the server. However, these are automatically deleted by the server control itself after a specified time.

Online Demo for Dynamic Barcode Generator ServiceDynamic Barcode Generator Service

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • No software to install - It is a hosted, managed and fault tolerant service.
  • Multiple backbone and failover network connections insure quick response time and dependability.
  • Streaming mode option sends barcodes to the browser without saving temp files on the host.
  • Barcodes are created as high quality GIF, JPEG, or PNG graphic images.
  • Because a high quality barcode image is generated at the server, it is compatible with all web browsers.
  • Image is not limited to 96 DPI, however changing the resolution from 96 DPI requires some HTML coding.

Online Demo for Java ServletsJava Servlets

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • May be easily implemented in dynamic webpages with the <IMG> tag.
  • Easy to use with Apache Tomcat.
  • Because a JPEG is generated on the server, it is compatible with all web browsers.
  • No temporary files are created on the server, the resulting barcode image is transmitted immediately to the browser as a binary stream.
  • Offers better performance for workstations with slower CPUs.
  • Image is not limited to 96 DPI; however, changing the resolution from 96 DPI requires some HTML coding.

Online Demo for Native JavaScript Barcode GeneratorNative JavaScript Barcode Generator

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Easy implementation with a single JavaScript file, no additional components, fonts or plug-ins are required to be installed to create barcodes; it is the complete barcode generator.
  • Since the barcode is generated on the client, very little processing needs to be performed on the server. The size of the JavaScript file downloaded to the client is as small as 3 kb.
  • When printing, this product rasters to the resolution of the output device.
  • Requires JavaScript to be enabled in the browser.
  • Some browsers such as Opera and Safari may create the barcode to be slightly wider in certain situations. However, the main browser types such as IE, Mozilla Firefox and Netscape do not have this issue.

Online Demo for Java AppletsJava Applets

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Easy to install and modify.
  • Does not require any custom modifications to the server.
  • Processing occurs at the workstation, which offloads the processing of barcode images from the server.
  • The small size of the JAR files provides quick applet load times.
  • Quick barcode generation can be achieved over slow connections by pre-loading applets.
  • Some browsers do not print applets properly.
  • Image is limited to 96 DPI.
  • Although the JAR files are small, the browser must read the JAR file which can cause poor performance over slow dial-up lines. The JAR is about the size of a normal graphic image and is stored in the browser's cache. This problem is solved by pre-loading applets.
  • Not compatible with browsers that do not have a Java VM.

Online Demo for Barcode ActiveX ControlsBarcode ActiveX Controls

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Barcode ActiveX Controls are precise and efficient, they are not limited to 96 DPI, but they automatically raster to the output device (such as a printer) which produce extremely high-quality barcodes.
  • Easy to install and modify in HTML or with FrontPage.
  • Does not require any custom modifications to the server.
  • Processing occurs at the workstation which offloads the processing of barcode images from the server.
  • May be automatically loaded from webpages with signed CAB files, which are provided in the latest versions of the product.
  • Compatible with Internet Explorer 4 and above as well as other browsers that support ActiveX Controls.
  • The control must be installed on every PC that displays the barcodes, however, this may be automated by using CAB files.
  • Easy to install and modify.

Online Demo for WOFF Web Barcode FontsWOFF Web Barcode Fonts

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • As of August 2013, WOFF web fonts are compatible with the latest versions of IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.
  • EOT and SVG web fonts are also provided for older browsers that do not support WOFF.
  • Barcode fonts are precise and efficient; they are not limited to 96 DPI, but raster to the printer.
  • Since the barcode is generated from a font, very little processing needs to be performed on the workstation or the server.
  • Quick browser load time since the fonts are usually less than 20K.
  • When printing to thermal barcode printers with fonts, refer to the thermal barcode printer issues with the font's article.
  • Requires the purchase of a Developer License or above because the fonts can be used by several Internet users.

TrueType or OpenType Barcode Fonts

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Works well with all major browsers.
  • Fonts are precise and efficient.
  • Fonts are not limited to 96 DPI, but raster to the printer.
  • Since the barcode is generated from a font, very little processing needs to be performed on the workstation or the server.
  • Requires the actual installation of barcode fonts on all clients that display the barcodes with the browser. Therefore, this is only recommended for Intranet applications. IDAutomation recommends WOFF Web Fonts when using barcode fonts on the Internet.

Web Browser and Screen Resolution Issues

When implementing barcodes on the web, most browsers will display and print from the screen image at 96 DPI. Therefore, a 300 dpi image will appear and print about 3 times larger than normal. This can sometimes be a problem if the barcodes being created require precise X dimensions (the width of the narrow bar). The minimum allowable X dimension (the width of the narrow bar) of a browser barcode that uses an applet to display a barcode must be a multiple of 1/96 of an inch which is about 12 mils, or .03CM.

Most ISO and AIM standards indicate that the minimum X dimension should be 10 mils for open systems (meaning compatibility with different barcode scanners), so this is usually not an issue. However, there are some situations when the X dimension needs to be defined more accurately. For example, if an application requires an X dimension of 5 mils or 15 mils, this problem can be resolved by using products that support this capability. To understand more about this, please refer to the Achieving the correct X dimension with web products KB article.

96 DPI images can also cause problems when printing to 203 DPI thermal barcode printers. This problem can be resolved by using products that support the capability to print at 203 DPI as mentioned below. To understand more about this, refer to the printing to thermal barcode printers with web products article.

Reading Barcodes With Web Applications

The majority of the barcode scanners provided by IDAutomation have built-in decoders that automatically read several barcode types and perform "keyboard emulation" by default. They receive their power from the PC keyboard or USB port so no external power supply is required. When a barcode is scanned with these easy-to-use scanners, the data is sent to the PC as if it had been typed from the keyboard. When the data is sent in keyboard emulation mode, it is possible to use these scanners as easy input devices for online web applications by placing the cursor in the appropriate field and scanning the barcode. Additional information about scanning barcodes into applications is provided in the USB Barcode Scanner Application Integration Guide.

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