barcode - a stand alone program to run the barcode library
barcode [-b - | string] [-e encoding] [-o - | outfile] [ other-flags ]
The information below is extracted from the texinfo file, which is the
preferred source of information.
The barcode program is a front-end to access some features of the
library from the command line. It is able to read user supplied
strings from the command line or a data file (standard input by
default) and encode all of them.
barcode accepts the following options:
--help or -h
Print a usage summary and exit.
Identify a file where strings to be encoded are read from. If
missing (and if -b is not used) it defaults to standard input.
Each data line of the input file will be used to create one
Output file. It defaults to standard output.
Specify a single ‘‘barcode’’ string to be encoded. The option
can be used multiple times in order to encode multiple strings
(this will result in multi-page postscript output or a table of
barcodes if -t is specified). The strings must match the
encoding chosen; if it doesn’t match the program will print a
warning to stderr and generate ‘‘blank’’ output (although not
zero-length). Please note that a string including spaces or
other special characters must be properly quoted.
encoding is the name of the chosen encoding format being used.
It defaults to the value of the environment variable
BARCODE_ENCODING or to auto detection if the environment is also
The geometry argument is of the form ‘‘[<width> x <height>] [+
<xmargin> + <ymargin>]’’ (with no intervening spaces).
Unspecified margin values will result in no margin; unspecified
size results in default size. The specified values represent
print points by default, and can be inches, millimeters or other
units according to the -u option or the BARCODE_UNIT environment
variable. The argument is used to place the printout code on
the page. Note that an additional white margin of 10 points is
added to the printout. If the option is unspecified,
BARCODE_GEOMETRY is looked up in the environment, if missing a
default size and no margin (but the default 10 points) are used.
Used to print several barcodes to a single page, this option is
meant to be used to print stickers. The argument is of the form
‘‘<columns> x <lines> [+ <leftmargin> + <bottommargin> [-
<rightmargin> [- <topmargin>]]]’’ (with no intervening spaces);
if missing, the top and right margin will default to be the same
as the bottom and left margin. The margins are specified in
print points or in the chosen unit (see -u below). If the
option is not specified, BARCODE_TABLE is looked up in the
environment, otherwise no table is printed and each barcode will
get its own page. The size (but not the position) of a barcode
item within a table can also be selected using -g (see
"geometry" above), without struggling with external and internal
margins. I still think management of geometries in a table is
suboptimal, but I can’t make it better without introducing
Specifies an internal margin for each sticker in the table. The
argument is of the form ‘‘<xmargin>,<ymargin>’’ and the margin
is applied symmetrically to the sticker. If unspecified, the
environment variable BARCODE_MARGIN is used or a default
internal margin of 10 points is used.
-n ‘‘Numeric’’ output: don’t print the ASCII form of the code, only
-c No checksum character (for encodings that allow it, like code
39, other codes, like UPC or EAN, ignore this option).
-E Encapsulated postscript (default is normal postscript). When the
output is generated as EPS only one barcode is encoded.
-P PCL output. Please note that the Y direction goes from top to
bottom for PCL, and the origin for an image is the top-left
corner instead of the bottom-left
Specify a non-default page size. The page size can be specified
in millimeters, inches or plain numbers (for example:
"210x297mm", "8.5x11in", "595x842"). A page specification as
numbers will be interpreted according to the current unit
specification (see -u below). If libpaper is available, you can
also specify the page size with its name, like "A3" or "letter"
(libpaper is a standard component of Debian GNU/Linux, but may
be missing elsewhere). The default page size is your system-wide
default if libpaper is there, A4 otherwise.
Choose the unit used in size specifications. Accepted values are
‘‘mm’’, ‘‘cm’’, ‘‘in’’ and ‘‘pt’’. By default, the program will
check BARCODE_UNIT in the environment, and assume points
otherwise (this behaviour is compatible with 0.92 and previous
versions. If -u appears more than once, each instance will
modified the behaviour for the arguments at its right, as the
command line is processes left to right. The program internally
works with points, and any size is approximated to the nearest
multiple of one point. The -u option affect -g (geometry), -t
(table) and -p (page size).
The program encodes text strings passed either on the command line
(with -b) or retrieved from standard input. The text representation is
interpreted according to the following rules. When auto-detection of
the encoding is enabled (i.e, no explicit encoding type is specified),
the encoding types are scanned to find one that can digest the text
string. The following list of supported types is sorted in the same
order the library uses when auto-detecting a suitable encoding for a
EAN The EAN frontend is similar to UPC; it accepts strings of
digits, 12 or 7 characters long. Strings of 13 or 8 characters
are accepted if the provided checksum digit is correct. I
expect most users to feed input without a checksum, though. The
add-2 and add-5 extension are accepted for both the EAN-13 and
the EAN-8 encodings. The following are example of valid input
strings: ‘‘123456789012’’ (EAN-13), ‘‘1234567890128’’ (EAN-13
wih checksum), ‘‘1234567’’ (EAN-8), ‘‘12345670 12345’’ (EAN-8
with checksum and add-5), ‘‘123456789012 12’’ (EAN-13 with
add-2), ‘‘123456789012 12345’’ (EAN-13 with add-5).
UPC The UPC frontend accepts only strings made up of digits (and, if
a supplemental encoding is used, a blank to separate it). It
accepts strings of 11 or 12 digits (UPC-A) and 6 or 7 or 8
The 12th digit of UPC-A is the checksum and is added by the library if
not specified in the input; if it is specified, it must be the right
checksum or the code is rejected as invalid. For UPC-E, 6 digit are
considered to be the middle part of the code, a leading 0 is assumed
and the checksum is added; 7 digits are either considered the initial
part (leading digit 0 or 1, checksum missing) or the final part
(checksum specified, leading 0 assumed); 8 digits are considered to be
the complete code, with leading 0 or 1 and checksum. For both UPC-A
and UPC-E, a trailing string of 2 digits or 5 digits is accepted as
well. Therefore, the following are examples of valid strings that can
be encoded as UPC: ‘‘01234567890’’ (UPC-A) ‘‘012345678905’’ (UPC-A with
checksum), ‘‘012345’’ (UPC-E), ‘‘01234567890 12’’ (UPC-A, add-2) and
‘‘01234567890 12345’’ (UPC-A, add-5), ‘‘0123456 12’’ (UPC-E, add-2).
Please note that when setting BARCODE_ANY to auto-detect the encoding
to be used, 12-digit strings and 7-digit strings will always be
identified as EAN. This because I expect most user to provide input
without a checksum. If you need to specify UPC-with-checksum as input
you must explicitly set BARCODE_UPC as a flag or use -e upc on the
ISBN ISBN numbers are encoded as EAN-13 symbols, with an optional
add-5 trailer. The ISBN frontend of the library accepts real
ISBN numbers and deals with any hyphen and, if present, the ISBN
checksum character before encoding data. Valid representations
for ISBN strings are for example: ‘‘1-56592-292-1’’,
‘‘3-89721-122-X’’ and ‘‘3-89721-122-X 06900}’’.
This encoding can represent all of the printing ASCII
characters, from the space (32) to DEL (127). The checksum digit
is mandatory in this encoding.
The ‘‘C’’ variation of Code-128 uses Code-128 symbols to
represent two digits at a time (Code-128 is made up of 104
symbols whose interpretation is controlled by the start symbol
being used). Code 128-C is thus the most compact way to
represent any even number of digits. The encoder refuses to deal
with an odd number of digits because the caller is expected to
provide proper padding to an even number of digits. (Since
Code-128 includes control symbols to switch charset, it is
theoretically possible to represent the odd digit as a Code
128-A or 128-B symbol, but this tool doesn’t currently implement
code 128 raw
Code-128 output represented symbol-by-symbol in the input
string. To override part of the problems outlined below in
specifying code128 symbols, this pseudo-encoding allows the used
to specify a list of code128 symbols separated by spaces. Each
symbol is represented by a number in the range 0-105. The list
should include the leading character.The checksum and the stop
character are automatically added by the library. Most likely
this pseudo-encoding will be used with BARCODE_NO_ASCII and some
external program to supply the printed text.
The code-39 standard can encode uppercase letters, digits, the
blank space, plus, minus, dot, star, dollar, slash, percent.
Any string that is only composed of such characters is accepted
by the code-39 encoder. To avoid loosing information, the
encoder refuses to encode mixed-case strings (a lowercase string
is nonetheless accepted as a shortcut, but is encoded as
interleaved 2 of 5
This encoding can only represent an even number of digits (odd
digits are represented by bars, and even digits by the
interleaving spaces). The name stresses the fact that two of the
five items (bars or spaces) allocated to each symbol are wide,
while the rest are narrow. The checksum digit is optional (can
be disabled via BARCODE_NO_CHECKSUM). Since the number of
digits, including the checksum, must be even, a leading zero is
inserted in the string being encoded if needed (this is
specifically stated in the specs I have access to).
Automatic selection between alphabet A, B and C of the Code-128
standard. This encoding can represent all ASCII symbols, from 0
(NUL) to 127 (DEL), as well as four special symbols, named F1,
F2, F3, F4. The set of symbols available in this encoding is not
easily represented as input to the barcode library, so the
following convention is used. In the input string, which is a
C-language null-terminated string, the NUL char is represented
by the value 128 (0x80, 0200) and the F1-F4 characters are
represented by the values 193-196 (0xc1-0xc4, 0301-0304). The
values have been chosen to ease their representation as escape
Since the shell doesn’t seem to interpret escape sequences on the
command line, the "-b" option cannot be easily used to designate the
strings to be encoded. As a workaround you can resort to the command
echo, either within back-ticks or used separately to create a file that
is then fed to the standard-input of barcode -- assuming your echo
command processes escape sequences. The newline character is
especially though to encode (but not impossible unless you use a csh
These problems only apply to the command-line tool; the use of library
functions doesn’t give any problem. In needed, you can use the ‘‘code
128 raw’’ pseudo-encoding to represent code128 symbols by their
numerical value. This encoding is used late in the auto-selection
mechanism because (almost) any input string can be represented using
Codabar can encode the ten digits and a few special symbols
(minus, plus, dollar, colon, bar, dot). The characters ‘‘A’’,
‘‘B’’, ‘‘C’’ and ‘‘D’’ are used to represent four different
start/stop characters. The input string to the barcode library
can include the start and stop characters or not include them
(in which case ‘‘A’’ is used as start and ‘‘B’’ as stop). Start
and stop characters in the input string can be either all
lowercase or all uppercase and are always printed as uppercase.
Plessey barcodes can encode all the hexadecimal digits.
Alphabetic digits in the input string must either be all
lowercase or all uppercase. The output text is always uppercase.
MSI MSI can only encode the decimal digits. While the standard
specifies either one or two check digits, the current
implementation in this library only generates one check digit.
The code-93 standard can natively encode 48 different
characters, including uppercase letters, digits, the blank
space, plus, minus, dot, star, dollar, slash, percent, as well
as five special characters: a start/stop delimiter and four
"shift characters" used for extended encoding. Using this
"extended encoding" method, any standard 7-bit ASCII character
can be encoded, but it takes up two symbol lengths in barcode if
the character is not natively supported (one of the 48). The
encoder here fully implements the code 93 encoding standard.
Any characters natively supported (A-Z, 0-9, ".+-/$ encoded as
such - for any other characters (such as lower case letters,
brackets, parentheses, etc.), the encoder will revert to
extended encoding. As a note, the option to exclude the
checksum will eliminate the two modulo-47 checksums (called C
and K) from the barcode, but this probably will make it
unreadable by 9 These checksums are specified to be used at the
firmware level, and their absence will be interpreted as an
While the default output is Postscript (possibly EPS), and Postscript
can be post-processed to almost anything, it is sometimes desirable to
create output directly usable by the specific printer at hand. PCL is
currently supported as an output format for this reason. Please note
that the Y coordinate for PCL goes from top to bottom, while for
Postscript it goes from bottom to top. Consistently, while in
Postscript you specify the bottom-left corner as origin, for PCL you
specify the top-left corner.
Barcode output for PCL Printers (HP LaserJet and compatibles), was
developed using PCL5 Reference manuals from HP. that really refers to
LaserJet III, III P, III D, III Si,
LaserJet 4 family
LaserJet 5 family
LaserJet 6 family
DeskJet 1200 and 1600.
However, barcode printing uses a very small subset of PCL, probably
also LaserJet II should print it without problem, but the resulting
text may be horrible.
The only real difference from one printer to another really depends on
which font are available in the printer, used in printing the label
associated to the bars (if requested).
Earlier LaserJet supports only bitmaps fonts, so these are not
"scalable". (Ljet II ?), Also these fonts, when available, have a
specified direction, and not all of them are available in both Portrait
and Landscape mode.
From LaserJet 4 series, (except 4L/5L that are entry-level printers),
Arial scalable font should be available, so it’s the "default font"
used by this program.
LaserJet III series printers (and 4L, 5L), don’t feature "Arial" as a
resident font, so you should use BARCODE_OUT_PCL_III instead of
BARCODE_OUT_PCL., and font the font used will be "Univers" instead of
Results on compatible printers, may depend on consistency of PCL5
compatibility, in doubt, try BARCODE_OUT_PCL_III
PJL commands are not used here, as it’s not very compatible.
Hp LaserJet 4050
Hp LaserJet 2100
Epson N-1200 emul PCL
Toshiba DP2570 (copier) + PCL option
Epson EPL-7100 emul. HP LaserJet II: bars print fine but text is bad.
The current management of borders/margins is far from optimal. The
‘‘default’’ margin applied by the library interferes with the external
representation, but I feel it is mandatory to avoid creating barcode
output with no surrounding white space (the problem is especially
relevant for EPS output).
EAN-128 is not (yet) supported. I plan to implement it pretty soon and
then bless the package as version 1.0.
Alessandro Rubini <email@example.com> (maintainer)
Leonid A. Broukhis <firstname.lastname@example.org> (several encodings)
Andrea Scopece <email@example.com> (PCL output)