VCard and Matrix Codes for Business Cards

Bar Codes and Matrix Codes

Traditional 1D bar codes such as EAN and Code 39 can only encode short information, such as a single number or perhaps 20 letters and digits.

Matrix codes or 2D barcodes as they are also called, use 2 dimensions and can encode information much more dense. Matrix codes can encode significant amount of text, numbers and special characters, 1000 characters or more.

Of 2D barcodes Datamatrix and QR code are two most common types. Datamatrix is typically used for professional purposes such as logistics. QR codes are typically used in adverts and consumer space. This how-to guide focus on Datamatrix codes.

Encoded URL:

QR Code
Encoded URL:
QR Code

What Can Be Encoded in a Matrix Code?

For consumer product it is often used to encode a WWW address, that gives further information on the subject of an advertisement. A WWW address is encoded by simply encoding the link as a text. It is recommended to include the http:// leader as it helps to recognise the data as a URL. See the examples above.

For other uses text is encoded with special keywords to set the format, e.g. business cards can use VCard format as explained below.

Matrix Code Reader

With the arrival of smart phones, it is possibly to use the camera on the phone to take a picture of the matrix code and let special software extract and decode the information of the matrix code.

An example of an Android application to read matrix codes is Barcode Scanner from I-nigma. The app is gratis.

Matrix Code Generator

There are applications for Windows that can generate matrix codes. "Free 2D Barcode Generator" from Han-soft can generate both 2D and 1D barcodes. The application is gratis. For Datamatrix use the format Datamatrix ECC200.

There is also online matrix code generators. INVX can encode Datamatrix and QR Codes right in a browser.

Business Cards

As a matrix code can encode more than 1 KB information, it has enough space to encode all the address details which are typically written on a business card. There is a standard text data format for business card address details called VCard.

The fictive person Erika Mustermann, who works at Example SA in Luxembourg would be encoded in VCard as follows:

ORG:Example SA
ADR:Boulevard Royal;42;;2449;Luxembourg
TEL:+352 123456 7890

This VCard data format can then be encoded in a matrix code. When the matrix code is printed on a business card it becomes quick and easy to scan the matrix code with a smart phone and transfer the details to the address book.

To make it easy to encode business card information into a matrix code use the two step method below.

1. Fill out the details in the form below and click on "Generate VCard" to encode as a VCard version 3 format.

2. Click on "Generate Matrix Code" to send the VCard data to the INVX service, that will open in a new browser window / tab. At the bottom of the INVX page click on "Generate QR Code and DataMatrix!". To save the generated Datamatrix code, context-click on the Datamatrix graphics and select "Save Image As...".

Step 1:

Step 2:

Thanks goes to INVX for providing the excellent online service for Datamatrix encoding.

Tags: VCard, Datamatrix, matrix code, 2D barcode, business card

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Edited: 2014-07-30