Meadows Software releases a clever QR Code generator for Adobe InDesign


Variable-data software publisher Meadows Publishing Solutions has developed a new plug-in for Adobe InDesign that makes QR codes inside any text box in that application. The product can make three different types of bar codes: QR, Data Matrix and PDF 417.

Meadows is offering the QR code plug-in module free for a limited time for people to test in InDesign. I downloaded and installed the plug-in, and I am impressed to see that Meadows is making these QR codes with a type font, rather than attempting to render them as vector or raster graphics.

I built this page in Adobe InDesign, and inserted the QR code in the middle of the text in a text box. To make the code, you create a text box, then type your copy into the Meadows software dialog box, and it generates the code on your page. It takes about 0.7 heartbeats to complete.

The plug-in is designed to be used with the company’s Design Merge Pro software, or its AutoPrice software. When combined with Design Merge, the QR code generator can make variable-data QR codes, each one personalized to the recipient.

In a video on the company’s web site, the code generator is demonstrated making codes for Personalized URLs, each one specific to a recipient, and each one colored to match the color of the accompanying document. I am a QR code junkie, and I have made many of them using online tools that generate the codes as PNG files. What impresses me most about the Meadows offering is that the company has made a special font, called IDAutomation2D, that draws the codes inside of InDesign.

As a result of using a font to render the codes, these QR codes are razor-sharp, and can be scaled easily without damage, something that is not true of any raster-based images of QR codes. I tested a few for The Blognosticator blog site, and read them with a dozen iPhone bar code readers that I have. On most of the bar code readers I was successful immediately. A few of my readers did not interpret the codes correctly. I write this off to the reader, not the code.

The free plug-in is limited to making QR codes. The full version of the Bar Code Generator from Meadows includes the ability to make Data Matrix codes, which are similar to QRs, and PDF 417 codes, which are commonly used by delivery companies to mark packages with addressee information. Not related to Adobe PDF, the PDF 417 bar code uses four bars and spaces in 17 unit-wide codes. These codes look like a cascade of pixels.

These are the glyphs in the Meadows IDAutomation2D font. It has only as many glyphs as are necessary to draw QR, PDF 417 and DataMatrix codes. The results of using this font are excellent.

Looking at the IDAutomation2D font, I discovered that Meadows is making all of the possible QR code components with just 22 characters. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as the QR code is made up of a small number of potential patterns. The font also includes the characters used by Meadows to draw the PDF 417 codes, which include narrower guard bars on the ends to define the code.


Meadows will be demonstrating their Design Merge software, and the new Bar Code generator, at Graph Expo this next week in Chicago. I commend them for this innovative implementation of bar code rendering.

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Join me at GraphExpo for several presentations:

Saturday, October 6 • GraphExpo conferences
1:00 pm-4:00 p.m.
PDF File Preparation for Success in Color Printing
You can save $50 on your registration by using the special discount code: SAVE50

Tuesday, October 9 • Print Buyers International
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Implementing Color Management in a Day to Day Production Work Flow

Tuesday, October 9 • Print Buyers International
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
How to Prepare a PDF That is really ready to print

 

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is a Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
This entry was posted in Business, Printing and Printing Processes, Software, Typography. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Meadows Software releases a clever QR Code generator for Adobe InDesign

  1. John Kriho says:

    Brian,

    Thanks so much for the writeup on our 2D Bar Code Module. So far we have had an incredible response to the free offering. I was actually surprised at the number of InDesign users looking to create QR Codes. In any case I wanted to thank you for taking the time to review and evaluate the software.

    Kind regards,

    John A. Kriho, President
    Meadows Publishing Solutions

  2. Pat Druger says:

    I wanted to let you know that we have released the 2D Bar Code module for Adobe InDesign Creative Cloud. We are still offering a free license of the module which is limited to the production of QR codes.

    The free license can be obtained by visiting http://www.meadowsps.com/2Dforfree

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