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Data Matrix Font and Encoder User Guide

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Implementation Tutorials


2D Matrix Font Support Issues and Solutions

Font Encoder Overview and Features

The IDAutomation Data Matrix Font and Encoder Suite is a collection of components that generate Data Matrix ECC200 barcodes using both fonts and graphics. Approximately 800 characters of text and binary data can be stored in a single Data Matrix barcode.

The Data Matrix fonts provided in this package include support for Structured Append, which allows thousands of characters to be encoded into multiple barcode symbols. This advanced Data Matrix barcode font uses IDAutomation Vertical Interleaved Technology™ which allows increased throughput and printing at smaller X dimensions than competitors' products.

The encoders provided in this package will format the data-to-encode into a text string that will create a readable Data Matrix barcode after the appropriate font is applied to it. Please review the Data Matrix Encoder for Windows Tutorial to learn more about how font encoders work.

Graphic encoders are also included in this package. The graphic encoders are components that return a graphic image of the complete symbol instead of text that needs to be combined with a font.

Implementation Options

If the font and graphic encoders are not supported in the application being used, consider the following alternative implementation options:

Windows Installation

The Windows installation installs the following components:

  1. Data Matrix Font Encoder for Windows
  2. IDAutomation 2D Fonts
  3. Crystal Reports UFL and compatible UFL Font Formula
  4. FileMaker Plugin for Windows
  5. ActiveX Control and DLL
  6. Signed ActiveX CAB File
  7. VBA Module
  8. VB Module for use with OpenOffice
  9. Implementation examples

VBA Module For VB, Excel and Access

The VBA module is required when using font encoders in VB 6, Excel or Access; it is provided in two varieties:

Importing The VBA Module

  1. Extract the files provided with the product.
  2. Open Excel or Access and select Tools - Macro - Visual Basic Editor to open the VB editor.
  3. If importing the IDAutomation_Datamatrix_Macro.bas module, run the installation executable first. Then, in the Visual Basic Editor, select File - Import File and browse to the Program Files/ DataMatrix Font and Encoder for Windows folder and select that .bas file.
     - If the Project Explorer is not on the left hand side in the Visual Basic Editor, click View and select Project Explorer.
     - Expand the "Modules" folder and double-click "IDAutomation_Datamatrix_Macro" to see the code.

    Expand the Modules folder and double-click the IDAutomation_DataMatrix_Macro to see the code

    - Place an apostrophe ( ' ) before the "Option Compare Database" and "Option Explicit" lines.

    Enter an apostrophe before the "Option Compare Database" and "Option Explicit" lines
  4. Select Tools - References and select IDAutomation Data Matrix Barcode, then click OK.
  5. If importing the IDAutomation_Native_Datamatrix_Macro.bas module, select File - Import File and then the module to import from the VBA folder of the extracted files.
    The native module, IDAutomation_Native_Datamatrix_Macro.bas, is compatible with Windows and Mac, but is only supplied in the purchased version of the product.
  6. If using Excel or Access, select File - Close to close the VB editor and then select File - Save.
  7. After the file is imported, the IDAutomation_DataMatrix function may be called according to the chart below. The zero digit is the default for all parameters (which are optional) and is used for automatic mode or a false setting. The one digit is used for a true setting.


    EncDM(DataToEncode As String, Optional ProcessTilde, Optional EncodingMode, Optional PreferredFormat) Example:
    Mac users must include all parameters.
    This VBA is only provided in the purchased version of the Font and Encoder Suite.
    EncNDM(DataToEncode As String, Optional ProcessTilde, Optional EncodingMode, Optional PreferredFormat) Example:

    VBA Macro Parameters

    Result = (DataToEncode As String, Optional ProcessTilde, Optional EncodingMode, Optional PreferredFormat)

Microsoft Excel

There are multiple implementation options for Microsoft Excel. To display the ActiveX Control in Excel as a graphic object, refer to the ActiveX Tutorial. To use Excel as a data source for a Word Mail Merge, refer to the Word Mail Merge Tutorial.

Data Matrix symbols may also be generated directly within Excel spreadsheets by implementing the VBA module with the 2D XLS Font. This is the most efficient method to use when multiple barcodes must be generated quickly in Excel directly. A working example is provided in the \Integration\Examples\Excel Example.xls file included with the install package. The data that is formatted for the font will not stack or look correct until the cells are formatted for multiple lines, as described in the 2D XLS font documentation. The required VBA module is provided in the Integration\Excel & Access VBA folder of the product zip file.

Microsoft Access Implementation

There are three implementation options in Microsoft Access, two of which are supported in the IDAutomation Data Matrix Barcode Font & Encoder Package. When used in reports and forms, the graphic encoder option may be the easiest product to use.

Graphic Encoder Implementation

  1. Run the installation executable in the package and follow the instructions to complete the installation.
  2. Open a report in Design Mode.
  3. Select Insert - ActiveX Control and choose the IDAutomation Data Matrix control.
  4. Move and size the control necessary. To change the properties of the control, such as height and symbology type, right-click on the control and choose Properties.
  5. To bind the control to a data source, enter the table and field or formula in the control source field. The proper barcode will show up after the report is saved and executed.
  6. Additional implementation information is provided in the ActiveX Control Manual.

Font Encoder Implementation

  1. Run the installation executable file in the package and follow the instructions to complete installation.
  2. Import the VBA module into the database.
  3. Open a report in Design Mode.
  4. Add a text field to the report where the barcode will live. Adjust the field size to contain the barcode. Change the font point size of the field to 8 points.
  5. Right-click on the text field and enter the function call as a formula in the control source property. For example:
    The following formula combines two fields into a single symbol and inserts a tab function between them:
    =IDAutomation_Native_DataMatrix([Test Data.TextData] & Chr(9) & [Test Data.NumberData])
  6. Save the report and run it. Several numbers should appear in the text field when the report is run. This data will create a correct barcode after the Data Matrix Font is applied.
  7. Open the report in Design Mode and select the IDAutomation2D or IDAutomationDMatrix font for the text field. The recommended point size is 8.
  8. Save the report and run it. a correct symbol should appear in the text field.

Word Mail-Merge Implementation (Windows and Mac)

Data Matrix barcodes may be created in a Word mail-merge if Excel is used as the data source. A working example is provided in the installation package. Manual procedure:

  1. Extract the files provided with the product.
  2. When using Windows, run the installation executable in the package to install the IDAutomation2D font and related components. Mac users should follow the Font Installation Procedures for Mac to install the IDAutomation2D font.
  3. Import the VBA module into the Excel spreadsheet that will be used as the data source. When using the Mac, the native module, IDAutomation_Native_DataMatrix_Mac.rtf must be used.
    • VBA compatible versions of Office for Mac may not have an import feature. When this is the case, users need to copy the RTF file manually by going to Tools - Macros - Visual Basic Editor. Once the editor window is open, choose Insert - Module and paste the contents of the RTF file.
  4. Place a title in each column of the spreadsheet on row 1 that will contain the data, and then import the data into the Excel spreadsheet.
  5. Select a blank column on row 1, to the right of the last populated column in the spreadsheet, and title it "Barcode".
  6. Add a formula on row 2 of the Barcode column that calls the function as a formula.
    • For example, the following formula adds columns A and B to the barcode.
      Windows Example:
      Macintosh Example:
    • The following formula adds just column A to the barcode, with some optional parameters
    • The following formula adds columns A, B and C to the barcode and separates them with a comma delimiter.
      Windows Example:
      Macintosh Example:
  7. Highlight the cell with the formula in it and select Edit - Copy.
  8. Select the entire range of cells to paste this formula into in the Barcode column and select Edit - Paste.
  9. Follow the procedures in Word to add this spreadsheet as the data source the mail merge.
  10. Add the mail merge field titled "Barcode" to place the barcode in the document.
  11. Highlight the Ā«BarcodeĀ» merge field and select the IDAutomation2D font.
  12. After the mail merge is performed, the barcodes should appear in the merged document.
  13. A working example is provided in the Word Mail-Merge.doc file included with the Windows install package.

Crystal Reports Integration

IDAutomation provides two Crystal Reports font encoder formulas in this package:

While not part of this package, IDAutomation provides two other Crystal Reports implementations:

FileMaker Pro Plug-in

NOTE: The 2017 release of this product introduces a new FileMaker Font Encoder Object method that is cross platform compatible and easier to use than the Plugin. The provided Plugin does not support FileMaker 64 bit on the Mac and will not work with FileMaker Go in iOS. IDAutomation suggests using the font encoder object instead.

IDAutomation's DataMatrix 2D Font may be easily integrated into FileMaker using dynamic calculated fields without the use of scripts with this FileMaker Plugin. Encode up to 800 characters into a barcode, which is ideal for creating barcodes on badges when concatenating multiple fields into a single 2D symbol.
Note: The Mac plugin is only provided with the Font and Encoder Suite license.

DataMatrix Badge Example

Native JavaScript Font Encoder

The Native JavaScript Font Encoder is a complete font encoder in a single JavaScript file, meaning no other components need to be installed to create barcodes beyond the IDAutomation 2D Font. This product is only provided in the purchased version of the Font and Encoder Suite. The following describes how to use the Native JavaScript Font Encoder in HTML:

  1. Open the HTML document or application that the barcode is to be integrated with.
  2. Add the following line at the top of the file just before the </head> line to load the appropriate JavaScript file:
    <script language="JavaScript" src="IDAutomation_DataMatrix.js"></script>
    <script language="JavaScript" src="IDAutomation_GS1_HRI.js"></script> 
  3. Add the barcode font as a class to be called in the document for the barcode to appear just before the </head> line:
    <style type="text/css">
    .barcodefont1 {
    font-family: "IDAutomation2D", "IDAutomation2D XLS";
    font-size: 100%; 
  4. Add a script where the barcode is to appear in the HTML document or text object, which is the file name without the ".js":
    <span class="barcodefont1">
    <script type="text/javascript">
    <script type="text/javascript">
  5. Modify "DataToEncode" with what is to be encoded in the barcode. This may be accomplished with a "variable" in JavaScript or a dynamically generated webpage.

JavaScript Font Encoder Parameters

function IDAutomation_DataMatrix(DataToEncode, ApplyTilde, EncodingMode, PreferredFormat, HTML, IDElement)

/** Default values **/// change these lines to set new default value for parameters in the .js file

IDAutomation_DataMatrix_default = {
'ApplyTilde': 0,
'EncodingMode': 0, //0=BASE256 | 1=C40 | 2=TEXT | 3=ASCII 'PreferredFormat': 0, //24-29 creates a rectangular symbol
'HTML': 1 //Returns <br> instead of CR LF

Documentation for the JavaScript Encoder prior to the 2017 release.

Microsoft .NET Integration

Data Matrix barcode generation in .NET applications may be accomplished with graphic or font encoders. Integration into ASP.NET and other web applications is best implemented as a graphic encoder with the ASP.NET Web Component provided in this package. Information about printing from the .NET Forms Control without using fonts is provided in the .NET Forms Control Manual.

.NET Font Encoder Example

The following is an example that uses the font encoder to obtain the data, that when printed with IDAutomation's Data Matrix Font, will create a correct barcode. The source code for this font encoder example is provided in the package for testing and reference.

VB.NET Example:

  1. In a .NET project, add a reference to the DLL and place the import statement in the declarations section of the project. For example:
     Imports IDAutomation.Windows.Forms.DataMatrixBarcode
  2. Obtain the string of data, that when printed with IDAutomation's 2D Data Matrix Font, will create a correct symbol:
    Dim NewBarcode As DataMatrixBarcode = New DataMatrixBarcode()
    TextBox2.Text = NewBarcode.FontEncode(TextBox1.Text, True, EncodingModes.Ascii, PreferredFormats.Auto)

C# Example:

  1. In a .NET project, add a reference to the DLL and place the using statement in the declarations section of the project. For example:
    using IDAutomation.Windows.Forms.DataMatrixBarcode;
  2. Obtain the string of data, that when printed with IDAutomation's 2D Data Matrix Font, will create a correct symbol:
    DataMatrixBarcode NewBarcode = new DataMatrixBarcode();
    textBox2.Text = NewBarcode.FontEncode(textBox1.Text, true, EncodingModes.Ascii, PreferredFormats.Auto);

.NET Encoder Method

IDAutomation.DataMatrixAssembly.DataMatrixEncoder.FontEncode(DataToEncode as String, ProcessTilde as Bool, IDAutomation.DataMatrixAssembly.EncodingModes, IDAutomation.DataMatrixAssembly.PreferredFormats)

Java Integration

This section describes the font encoder process in Java. Implementation in Java as a graphic encoder is described in the Java Barcode User Manual.

Install the Encoder Class Library
Copy everything in the "Java Class Encoder" directory to the root directory of the system's Java classpath. Consult the Java documentation or the company that provided the Java virtual machine for assistance.

Integrate the Font Encode Method
After the directories are copied to the classpath root, the method to format data to the font can then be called from a method in a Java application as in this example:

import com.idautomation.fontencoder.datamatrix.*;
class DMatrixTest {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String dataToEncode = "Data Matrix Test";
        DataMatrixEncoder dme = new DataMatrixEncoder();

The data string returned by the fontEncode method will create a proper Data Matrix symbol when printed with the Data Matrix font. To install the font on an operating system, consult the OS documentation or follow IDAutomation's font installation procedures.

Java Encoder Properties and Methods

C++ .H Header File

The IDAutomationDataMatrix.h is an unobfuscated C++ header file that may be provided, upon request, with the purchase of an Unlimited Developer License for the Data Matrix Font and Encoder Suite. This header file uses the C++ libraries to return an encoded string that can be used with the IDAutomationDMatrix. Both the method declaration and implementation are in the header file, so no .cpp file is necessary. Include the header file in the source code and it is ready to use. The header file contains no OS-specific code and has been QA tested with G++ on Ubuntu Linux and Visual Studio.

The following is an implementation example that will display the encoded text at the command prompt:

#include < string > #include < iostream > 
#include "IDAutomationDataMatrix.h"

int main() {
    string DataToEncode = "";
    string EncodedData = "";
    int ApplyTilde = 0;
    int EncodingMode = 0;
    int PreferredFormat = 0;
    EncodedData = IDAutomation_DMFontEncode(DataToEncode, ApplyTilde, EncodingMode, PreferredFormat);
    printf("Data Matrix Encoded Data:\n%s\n", EncodedData.c_str());

The function declaration is as follows:
string IDAutomation_DMFontEncode(string DataToEncode, int ApplyTilde, int EncodingMode, int PreferredFormat)

Using the ActiveX COM DLL Font Encoder

Install the Font and Encoder for Windows by running the EXE file provided in the package. Upon execution, it installs TrueType fonts, implementation examples and registers the ActiveX DLL. To register the DLL manually, perform the following:

  1. Copy the DLL to the \System directory.
  2. Register the DLL by going to the command prompt, change to the \system directory, and type the following command: REGSVR32 "IDAutomationDMATRIX.DLL".
  3. After the DLL is installed and registered, it may be accessed by any application that can retrieve a text string or graphic object from a COM DLL.

When using the COM DLL as a graphic encoder, refer to the instructions in the ActiveX Control Manual. When using the COM DLL as a font encoder, the FontEncode function is used to convert the data to encode into a string, that when combined with the Data Matrix font, will create a correct barcode. The following is Visual Basic 6 code that places the result in the "PrintableBarcodeString" variable:

DataToEncode = InputString.Text
Dim DMFontEncoder As DMATRIXLib.Datamatrix
Set DMFontEncoder = New Datamatrix
DMFontEncoder.FontEncode DataToEncode, 0, 0, 0, Printable_string
PrintableBarcodeString = Printable_string

A Visual Basic project example is included with the package. These files are placed in the destination directory upon installation.

ActiveX Encoder Parameters

DataToEncode, ProcessTilde, EncodingMode, PreferredFormat, Result

OpenOffice & Calc

Data Matrix may be generated within OpenOffice applications that support VB scripting. A working Calc example is provided in the \Integration\Examples\Calc Example.ods file included with the install package. The required VB module is provided in the Integration\OpenOffice VB folder of the product zip file. Use the OpenOffice Font Encoder Tutorial with the VB module within the package.

Data Matrix Barcode Support and FAQ

Forum SupportDistributing the IDAutomation Data Matrix Barcode Font and Encoder

Note: Redistribution of IDAutomation's fonts or components requires a Developer License.

When Crystal Reports or Microsoft Access applications are distributed, the Native Crystal Formula or the Native Access Encoder provided in this package may be distributed without any dependencies as the font encoder function along with the IDAutomationDMatrix font. Other encoders provided such as the ActiveX DLL, .NET DLL and Java Class Library do not have any dependencies.

Popular Forum Post Resolutions:
Benefits of Printing the Data Matrix Barcode as a Font

The benefits include high scalability with operating system, application and printer independence, these are best described in IDAutomation's Font Quality and Customer References Statement.

Encoding Extended ASCII Characters

It is possible to scan and encode extended characters provided these rules are followed:

  1. Encode the data using BASE256. This option encodes ASCII 0 to 255 of the ASCII character set. To encode ASCII 0, the format ~d000 should be used. When encoding over 1024 characters of data, ASCII 127-160 must also be encoded in the format ~dNNN.
  2. Scan the data via the serial interface option (data bits have to be 8N) on a scanner. Normally, keyboard wedges and USB scanners do not support extended characters above ASCII 128 and they only can scan characters that are actually on the keyboard. Contact the scanner vendor for more information on how to do this; some internal settings may have to be modified on the scanner.
Amount of Data that may be Encoded

IDAutomation's Data Matrix product will encode the amount of data specified in the Data Matrix Formats section. However, in most situations it is difficult to scan data over 800 characters. The ActiveX and COM DLL provided have an encoding limitation of about 800 characters, which is necessary for compatibility.

The Structured Append function is also an option that will allow large amounts of data to be represented as a sequence of up to 16 symbols. The original data can be reconstructed regardless of the order of the symbols.

Microsoft Excel Compatibility

Microsoft Excel may be used as a data source for the font; however, it is difficult to use the Data Matrix font in Excel. To overcome this problem, the Data Matrix DLL supplied also works as an ActiveX Control and may be used in this way when fonts are not required. To use it in this manner, see the ActiveX Control tutorial for instructions.

Line Spacing Issues (Too Much Space Between Lines)

Some implementations of PostScript fonts can cause a small space to appear between rows in the symbol. The only way to overcome this issue is to make sure the printing application is not adding additional line feeds, or in the case of PCL fonts, change the vertical motion index as indicated below.

When using 12 or 14 point PCL fonts, adjusting the vertical motion index is not usually necessary. If other sizes are being used, however, adjustments may be needed to close the gap between rows. To set the vertical motion index, issue the command before printing with the Data Matrix font. The code for the vertical motion index command is Escape "<Ec>" + "&" + lowercase L "l" + Number Index + Capital "C". Use the chart below to find the command for the correct font size. The number may be adjusted as necessary for the printer.

PCL Font Point Size

Vertical Motion Index Command to Use

10 <Ec> &l6.5C
8 <Ec> &l5.2C
6 <Ec> &l3.9C

In the example above, <Ec> represents the escape character for the software used. In DOS Edit, Ec is represented by holding down the CTRL key and pressing the letter P, Releasing both keys and then press the ESC key.

X Axis Issues or Left Margin Alignment Issues

This issue may arise when moving the barcode to the right on the X axis using a programming language such as Visual Basic. When using the printer.currentX specification to set the X axis, only the first line of the barcode would print in the new position and the remaining lines would print at zero (all the way to the left). This is because the printer.currentX specification is reset every time a return is performed. A return must be performed to print the font on the new line.

The best resolution is to find a command that could move the left margin so that a new line will return the insertion point to the correct position. Since Visual Basic does not have a command such as this, a small piece of code must be written to set the currentX for each line.

Step 1. Declare and initialize a variable with the desired X position. Example: my_x = printer.currentX

Step 2. Replace the "Printer.Print OutputString" command with something similar to the following:

For i = 1 To Len(Output)
  out1 = out1 & Mid(Output, i, 1)
  If Mid(Output, i, 1) = Chr(10) Then
  out1 = Replace(out1, Chr(10), "")r>   out1 = Replace(out1, Chr(13), "")
  Printer.CurrentX = my_x
  Printer.Print out1
  out1 = ""
  End If
Next i


Data Matrix Formats

If the Data Matrix Format is specified, the encoder will generate the symbol in the size requested provided that the encoder does not need more space in the symbol to encode the data.

Encoding Modes

The data encoded in the barcode may be compressed by changing the encoding mode, if certain text is being encoded. Valid values are 0 for BASE256, 1 for C40, 2 for TEXT and 3 for ASCII.

Control Characters and Use of Tilde

When ApplyTilde is equal to 1 or TRUE, the tilde (~) may be used to recognize some special characters in the input data. The following possibilities are available:

Intelligent Positioning Drive Implementation

The data returned from the Data Matrix Encoder may be used for other purposes, such as in using intelligent positioning drives to stamp codes into metal parts. The images in the characters of the 2D font are 4 squares stacked on top of each other, left to right in each row. The sequence is a binary 0 (0000) at character "P" to a binary 15 (1111) at character "A". Zero is referenced as a white space or no impression and 1 being dark space or an impression. For example, multiple A's (1111) stacked, create a vertical line of 4 squares.

Intelligent Positioning Drive Use

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