Monthly Archives: November 2011

Barcodes: Bridging the Gap?

Every year around this time, in the run up to Christmas, we hear about the new levels reached in online sales. “The end of the highstreet!” we are told, yet still the shopping centres are the same horrific places to visit, with hoards of people and prams trying to take off your ankles. It seems to me that a webpage will never be able to replace the ability to try something on, browse through a shelf or the instant gratification of purchasing and owning immediately; even next day delivery cannot promise that.

So while it makes good headlines, and even better comedy sketches, to imagine a world where the highstreets disappear and the internet is king human nature is unlikely to ever allow this to happen. However innovation is inevitable. Barcodes have been a mainstay of shops for a long time now but they are only just starting to become a tool of the customer as well as a tool of the shop owners themselves. Martin Gill, of Forrester research, has recently been quoted by the BBC as saying “Apps like bar code scanning, store locator, checking physical stock online via your phone – all of these features are turning your mobile into a shopping buddy or a shopping assistant.” This fusion of the physical and online shopping worlds looks to be the logical conclusion of growing technological capabilities, the practical limitations of logistics means that internet shopping cannot be a replacement for the shop but as with any age the case is innovate or disappear for the shops. Although many may try and resist the change and lose out to others the end of the shops is not upon us. The integration of barcode reading technology allows for the quick transfer of information from the physical world to the internet meaning that simply because you are in the shop, you don’t miss out on the benefits of the internet.

Any other areas where you think barcodes are making a big impact?


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Code 39 Barcode Creation

The creation of barcodes should in reality be the easy bit, the harder part should be the database and the accurate reading of the barcode. However this is of course all insignificant if the barcode itself is not correct. Despite the simple appearance of barcodes, especially Code 39 barcodes, it is all too easy to forget the simply rules which allow for the barcodes to be read. Just as with any language, be it in computing or something as ‘simple’ as every day English, certain rules must be obeyed.

Although a barcode generator will often ensure that these procedures are followed fonts are often used to create barcodes. It is in these instances that the ‘stop’ and ‘start’ characters are often forgotten or the number of bars is not correct. This can lead to the frustrating situation of a perfectly normal looking barcode failing to be read.

The rules though are very simple, as is the beauty of Code 3 of 9. For more information on what constitutes a correct Code 39 barcode visit the Bardecode Knowledge Base on our website.

Anything else you want to know about barcodes? Just ask and we will endeavour to add it to our knowledge base.


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Barcodes and Bicycles

Here at Softek Software we make no secret of being a company obsessed with cycling. On a quiet friday afternoon it is not uncommon for the workers to sneek out for a quick ride. Therefore when I found this website which claimed to protect your bike via barcode technology I was obviously intrigued. The basic concept is that you register your bike with the company and in return receive a QR code which links to their database; using this database the ‘status’ of the bike can be ascertained (that is whether it is stolen or not).

Although the company claims that the sticker with the QR code is  tamper-resistant it is hard to see how it would be possible to simply stop it’s removal. More to the point would anyone with a nice bike want a sticker which they cannot remove? I certainly wouldn’t. In addition without widespread knowledge and use of this service, with it not be a universally expected part of purchasing a second hand bike, it seems hard for it to have any effect. Although it sends messages to local cycling groups if a bike is reported stolen it still sounds like searching for a needle in a haystack.

However despite all this negative talking I do like the idea. It is an inventive use of the new technology and shows how much part of everyday life QR codes have become, the public at large are used to seeing them and (without sounding like ‘1984’) have become conditioned to scan them to find out more information. Furthermore although a project like this would work far more effectively on a much larger scale, where bike history when purchasing as with second hand cars, that is no reason to not start it; someone has to! Especially with bicycle use growing it is important that such ideas grow with bicycle usage, allowing the same securities to bike owners as are afforded to car owners.

So personally I would be reluctant to slap one of these stickers on my bike but like the idea, would anyone else consider using them?


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What Happened to Bokodes?

Back in 2009 the BBC ran an article which boasted to show off the replacement for barcodes; the Bokode. With the potential to hold much more information than the tradition striped barcode, and apparently able to be read at awkward angles, it would seem to have much potential. Despite this until I stumbled across this article I had forgotten all about them, so why are companies not falling over themselves to start using them?

Firstly cost must be an issue, back in 2009the BBC reported the tags costing £3 ($5) each! Although this must be seen in the context of set-up costs and the lack of ‘economy-of-scale’ which hampers any new project it is non-viable in most products where it may even end up costing more than the object itself. There is hope that this may change though as the early versions required their own LED light source but new prototypes are using reflective power. This must surely be seen as the first stumbling block to making it widely accessible, the Bokode may be viable in a huge car factory where the units are worth tens of thousands of pounds but even there are the benefits worth £3 a unit?

This leads in to the second reason why Bokodes have not exploded onto the scene, the genius in barcodes is the simplicity. They are as cheap to create as any label, simply using normal ink, and can often even still be read at surprisingly low qualities.  Furthermore the size they take up on a product is not always detrimental since if no one can see the barcode then no one will be able to use it, although this only works in the context of barcodes for media purposes as seen with the rapid growth in QR codes. QR codes work since they are now iconic, and everyone with a smart phone is aware they can scan them.

Having said that though 10 years ago I would have had no idea I could scan a QR code with my phone (or what such a bar code was) so maybe in a few years, when Bokodes are cheaper to produce, the inventive marketing people will find a way to make it as much part of our life as the standard barcodes are today. Anyway, I look forward to seeing how this progresses!

I’d be interest to hear any thoughts,


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The Start of Softek’s Bardecode Blog


Welcome to the first post from Softek Software’s Bardecode blog. This blog will provide updates on all of the Bardecode developments and generally comment on the barcoding and technological world. To find out about our latest blog posts then try following us on twitter, we are @bardecode and look forward to hearing from you. Similarly any questions or comments on the blog are welcome.

If you are not sure who we are then… Softek Software was established in 1998 and specializes in barcode reading technology. The barcode reader toolkit was first developed as part of a timesheet processing system in 2001 and the first on-line sale of the toolkit was made in 2002. Since then the toolkit has become the major part of our business, with clients such as Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Google. We are still actively developing the toolkit, adding new barcode types and enhancing the api. For more information please visit

So hopefully see you on here again!

Thanks for reading,