Free Online PDF417 Barcode Generator


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Valid Characters: ASCII 1-255

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The PDF417 barcode is one of the four most popular 2D barcodes yet to be developed. PDF417 barcode is a two-dimensional stacked barcode that can store large amounts of data. It was invented by Dr. Wang Yinjun of Symbol Technologies in the United States in 1991.

PDF stands for Portable Data File, and 417 means that each character consists of 4 bars and 4 spaces, with a total of 17 modules. PDF417 barcodes are commonly used in applications such as ID cards, driver's licenses, and shipping labels.

Three other common 2D codes are QR codes, DataMatrix, and MaxiCode; several others were developed between 1988 and 1995, but they never became widely used.

The name PDF417 comes from an acronym for "Portable Data File". "417" is added because there are 4 bars and 4 spaces arranged within every 17 module codewords (i.e. characters). These characters or clusters have a specific formula for the size of each bar in the cluster.

Unlike square DataMatrix or QR codes, PDF417 is actually a high-density, stacked linear symbology with a rectangular shape. It is stacked to hold large amounts of data—typically 100 to 200 characters—and the aspect ratio can be adjusted to accommodate space constraints. It has varying levels of redundancy built in, so up to 50% of the code can be corrupted, but the data can still be recovered. But overall, PDF417 takes about four times the space required by DataMatrix or QR codes.

PDF417 has gained popularity in the shipping industry and is often used by FedEx. It was also chosen to print postage for the US Postal Service, often used for airplane boarding passes. Also, you'll often see it on driver's licenses and other ID cards. Other applications include manufacturing parts tracking, lottery tickets, patient wristbands and trade show lead retrieval systems.

PDF417 consists of 3 to 90 lines of data and can encode up to 1850 ASCII or 2725 numeric characters. This code is designed to be scanned with a slightly modified raster laser scanner or a linear CCD scanner such as the DS6708 2D Imager. NOTE: At the high end of data encoding (over 800 characters), you may find it better to switch to the macro PDF version, depending on the data type, the level of error correction chosen, and the scanner used.


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