PDF 417

In the ever-evolving landscape of digitalization, staying abreast of advanced warehouse sortation options is paramount. Enter PDF 417, a remarkably versatile and potent tool for enhanced efficiency. 

Despite its name, PDF417 has no association with PDFs; instead, it introduces a groundbreaking barcode methodology. Unlike traditional linear barcodes, PDF417 employs a stacked, grid-like structure, to facilitate the encoding of binary data into text.

In this blog, we’ll explore the intricacies of PDF417, showcase practical examples, and guide you through the process of creating one. Let’s unravel the workings of PDF417 and its pivotal role in streamlining identity verification.

Meaning of PDF 417:

PDF417, a type of dynamic 2D barcode, boasts high density and exceptional data encoding capabilities. The term “PDF” denotes Portable Data File, while “417” symbolizes the pattern within the code—four bars and spaces forming a 17-part codeword. 

Widely employed for identification cards and inventory management, this stacked linear barcode stores significant amounts of binary data. From government documents to grocery billing, PDF417’s machine-readable format finds global application. 

Notably, it accommodates diverse data types, including fingerprints and photos, making it a go-to for securing documents like driver’s licenses and identity cards. In essence, out of all the types of barcodes, PDF417 is an indispensable tool to secure data representation.

Structure of 417:

PDF417, in its ingenious design, comprises a layered arrangement of linear codes, creating a distinctive 2D profile. Characterized by four bars and spaces, with each bar spanning 17 units, the barcode accommodates three to 90 rows, each resembling a miniature linear barcode. 

Offering bar height adjustability, it can encode 1,850 text characters or 2,710 numeric digits at the lowest error correction setting. PDF417 supports 8-bit binary data and 256 ASCII characters in each row, featuring essential components like the quiet zone, start pattern for identification, data codewords representing numbers or symbols, etc.

Dr. Ynjiun’s design, adeptly storing up to 929 code words, allocates 900 for data storage and 29 for specific functions. 

The encoding options include:

It further creates printable characters through a four sub-modules system. The intricate structure of PDF417 establishes it as a powerful and adaptable 2D barcode solution.

Purpose of PDF 417:

PDF417 barcode emerged with a fundamental mission—to revolutionize encoding methods by efficiently storing vast and intricate data within a limited space. In the realm of barcodes, prior methods struggled to handle extensive files and complex data, primarily limited to alphanumeric characters with a few special symbols. 

Recognizing this constraint, PDF417 was innovatively designed to meet the growing demand for encoding large files, images, and intricate data. The main purpose of Barcode 417 is to overcome the limitations of conventional encoding techniques and introduce a pivotal solution for diverse applications like transportation, identification cards, etc. 

PDF417 stands as a testament to the pursuit of efficient data representation in varied fields. 

Advantages of PDF 417:

Barcodes are of many variations and are used for several purposes, but the barcode PDF 417 can help in detecting errors. Additionally, it can even customise dimensions! Here are a few more advantages of the Barcode PDF 417:

  1. Versatile Data Storage:

PDF417 excels in storing vast and intricate data, including numeric, binary, letters, special characters, and even files like signatures, fingerprints, and images.

  1. Universal Scanning Compatibility:

Readable by handheld scanners and linear CCD scanners, PDF417 offers convenience and accessibility.

  1. Customizable Dimensions:

Encoders have the flexibility to define the width and length of the PDF417 barcode, allowing tailored implementation to specific requirements.

  1. License-Free Printing:

Falling under the Public Domain Format, PDF417 eliminates the need for specific licenses, contributing to a simplified and cost-effective printing process.

  1. International Standardization:

PDF417 adheres to the ISO/IEC 15438 standard, ensuring uniformity and compatibility across various industries and regions.

  1. High Damage Tolerance:

PDF417 exhibits resilience, maintaining functionality even in cases of damage, and enhancing reliability in diverse operational environments.

  1. Error Detection and Correction:

Featuring the Reed-Solomon error correction system, PDF417 enhances data integrity by detecting and correcting errors during scanning or data retrieval.

  1. Cost-Effective Implementation:

By reducing the necessity for multiple linear barcodes, PDF417 proves to be a cost-effective solution for encoding extensive data in various applications.

Steps to Make a PDF 417:

Do you wanna create your own Barcode PDF 417? We’ve listed a few steps to help you out!

Creating a PDF417 barcode involves several steps, and while the specific process may vary depending on the software or tools you use, here’s a general guide:

  1. Choose a Barcode Generator Tool:

Select a reliable barcode generator tool or software that supports PDF417. Numerous online and offline tools are available, ranging from dedicated barcode software to programming libraries.

  1. Enter Data:

Input the data you want to encode into the barcode. PDF417 is capable of storing various types of information, including numeric, alphanumeric, binary, and special characters. Some generators allow you to encode files like images or signatures.

  1. Set Encoding Options:

Adjust encoding parameters such as error correction level, row/column count, and character set. Error correction ensures the barcode remains readable even if part of it is damaged.

  1. Specify Dimensions:

Define the width and height of the barcode. PDF417 is customizable in terms of dimensions, allowing you to tailor it to your specific requirements.

  1. Generate the Barcode:

Click the ‘Generate’ or ‘Create’ button to produce the PDF417 barcode. The tool will process the input data and configuration settings to generate a visual representation of the barcode.

  1. Save or Export the Barcode:

Once generated, save the barcode image in a suitable format (e.g., PNG, JPG) or export it to the desired application or system.

  1. Test the Barcode:

Before widespread use, test the generated PDF417 barcode with various scanners to ensure accurate data retrieval.

  1. Print or Distribute:

Depending on your needs, print the barcode on labels, ID cards, or documents. Distribute or integrate the barcode as required for your specific application, whether it’s inventory management, identification, or other purposes.

FAQ: A Detailed Guide to PDF 417

How much data can a PDF 417 barcode

PDF417 can store a significant amount of data, ranging from a few hundred characters to several kilobytes, depending on factors like error correction level and barcode dimensions.

What is the difference between PDF 417 and QR code?

PDF417 and QR codes differ in structure and data capacity. PDF417 is a stacked linear barcode, suitable for larger data sets, while QR codes are 2D matrix barcodes, often used for quick readability and linking to online content.

Is PDF 417 a 2D barcode?

Yes, PDF417 is a 2D barcode. Despite its name, it’s a two-dimensional stacked barcode, providing a grid-like structure for encoding data in both horizontal and vertical dimensions.

What is the format of PDF 417?

PDF417 follows a stacked linear format. It consists of rows of linear barcodes stacked on top of each other, forming a 2D structure. Each row includes a start pattern, data codewords, quiet zone, row indicators, and a stop pattern.


In conclusion, this detailed guide has unveiled the fascinating realm of PDF417, showcasing its versatility and significance in digitalization. From its meaning and intricate structure to its purpose and advantages, PDF417 stands as a powerhouse in data encoding and retrieval. 

Its ability to store diverse data types, compatibility with various scanning devices, and international standardization make it an invaluable tool for numerous applications. For those intrigued about harnessing the power of PDF417, the step-by-step guide on creation provides a practical roadmap. 
Explore the efficiency of PDF417 and elevate your data representation. For advanced solutions in barcode technology, consider exploring QodeNext’s offerings.

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