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Barcodes are a machine readable encoding of information that allows identification of forms and if printed on adhesive labels they allow the identification of items the label is attached to.

To find out which barcodes are supported you can simply go to the Library in Adobe LiveCycle Designer and open the Barcodes section. There you can find every supported barcode. If you cannot find a barcode there it is not supported and there is no possibility to define your own custom barcode. You need to wait for a new SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe release and see if it is supported there.

 There is a distinction between 1D and 2D barcodes. This tells you how the barcode is laid out on paper. 1D means the bars of the barcode are arranged on the X-axis (e.g. Code 128 barcode). 2D means that also the Y-axis is used too (e.g. Data Matrix). You can easily check this in Adobe Designer. Just add the mentioned barcodes to a form template and compare the results (see screenshot).


The next interesting question is if a barcode is only supported by a specific printer (currently this means a Zebra label printer). The first indicator is the icon of the barcode field in Designer. If the icon includes a little printer symbol in the bottom right of the icon it is only supported by a printer (and hence called a hardware barcode). For a PDF this means that only a grey rectangle is shown.  You can quickly verify this if you open Adobe Designer and a form template and add, for example the Code 93, to the form. On the form template and in the Preview PDF tab in Designer you can see the grey rectangle. Repeat the test with a Code 128 barcode and you will see that it shows in design mode and in Preview PDF mode. A barcode that is also displayed in a PDF is also called a software barcode.

There are three barcodes that are so called read-only barcodes (i.e. PDF 417, QR Code and Data Matrix). “Read-only” means that the encoded value is assigned at design time. If “Tips and Hints” are enabled in Designer you will get a dialog reminding you of this when you add one of these barcodes to a form template.

You can find the list of supported barcodes and the information if a barcode is a hardware barcode in the Designer help under “Supported barcode formats”.

Paper Forms Barcode 

There is one special case and that’s the “Paper Forms Barcode”. This barcode is used in interactive offline scenarios. This barcode is capable of encoding assigned values while the interactive form is filled in using Adobe Reader. Sometimes this barcode is also called “dynamic 2d barcode”. Don’t forget the “dynamic” otherwise people might not exactly know what you are talking about! The “dynamic” comes from that every time something is changed on the form (i.e. data modified or entered) the appearance of the barcode changes too.

The use case is that a form containing a paper forms barcode is filled in with Adobe Reader and once finished the form is printed with a printer. At that point in time the barcode encodes all data of the form. Then this form can be signed with a wet signature and send back via standard mail or a fax. After that the form has to be scanned, i.e. the paper forms barcode on the form to be exact. Your scanner has to support one of the three encodings that are offered (PDF 417, Data Matrix and QR code). The data of the paper forms barcode is usually an XML representation of the data of a form that needs to be processed manually by an application. 

With LiveCycle Barcoded Forms, Adobe offers a solution that is also capable of decoding a scanned paper forms barcode if provided as an image. This capability is not part of SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe. My recommendation is to work with your SAP rep and probably an Adobe rep to check your set up.

To use the paper forms barcode you need to apply a special Reader usage right, called barcode plain text, to make sure the Adobe Reader does not encrypt the barcode. For this purpose you need a specific ADS credential. Since end of 2008, ADS credentials that include this capability are provided to SAP customers. To check if you already have this ADS cert contact your responsible SAP rep. The evaluation cert for ADS that is available on SDN does not include this usage right.

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    1. Former Member Post author
      Hi Chintan,

      This depends on the barcode. Some barcodes have a fixed size and a limited amount of data that can be encoded. This is based on the spec for the particular barcode. Others can be resized just like any other form field. Also some barcodes need a blank area around them. This is also handled by the form field in Designer.

      So you will experience different behavior of barcodes. You can check this out using the barcodes mentioned in the blog.


  1. Hello Juergen,

    well first of all thank you for a very nice and informative post.i really liked it and would like to know more about the Adobe forms as I happen to be working in Adobe forms for SAP ByD area.

    Thanks & Regards,

  2. Former Member
    hi Juergen, thannks for this blog, gives really usefull information. I tried out the pdf417 dynamic barcode and a problem raised. Perhaps you know the solution? the barcode should contain the information of 4 fields, all with fixed length. When 1 field changes (-> calculate event of the barcode) instead of the barcode a grey rectangle appears! Any idea whats wrong??

    regards norbert

    1. Former Member Post author
      Hi Norbert,

      The reason for this grey rectangle is that the “barcode plain text” usage right is not applied (see end of the blog).
      You need a) a credential that supports this and b) you need to explicitly add this usage right to the PDF when it is generated. Take a look at the documentation of the PDF object in ABAP for example to get a list of usage rights.


  3. Former Member
    Hi Juergen, 
    Thanks for you blog. Have you got demo (may be small movie) with 2d barcode recognition, passing data to SAP ERP and creation of ERP object?

    could you share it?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Former Member Post author
      Hi Kirill,

      Sorry, I don’t have a recording of a demo. At a couple of TechEds and Sapphires we demoed it at the Adobe booth (very simple only).


  4. Former Member
    Hi Juergen,
         I am in process of developing an adobe form. The barcode on few fields will contain texts. e.g. “Manufacturing Date: 31/01/2010”. I am using EAN128A format. The barcode (embedded) is having some other text than what was passed on e.g. “Man00 31/01/2010”. Is there any kind of limitation on the barcodes on adobe form?
  5. Former Member

    Hi Jurgen,

    We have a requirement to use some of the SapScript barcode definition (BC_CD39), which is missing on Adobe Lifecycle Designer.

    Are we able to download these barcode definition (.xfo) and copy it into the respective barcode folder of our local and ECC ALD?




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