Everything You Need to Know About JAB Codes

What is a JAB code

Share This Post

In this era of advanced technology and rapid information exchange, efficient and reliable data encoding is more critical than ever before. Traditional barcodes like UPC, EAN, DataMatrix and QR codes, though useful, have certain limitations, such as the inability to store significant amounts of data and meet specific design needs. 

To counter such limitations of traditional barcodes, a new barcode symbology called JAB was developed.  

JAB codes stand for “Just Another Barcode”. JAB barcodes are two-dimensional barcode symbology. These barcodes have distinct features and characteristics that make JAB codes popular across various industries.

This blog post explores the fascinating world of JAB codes, including their unique features, applications, and the advantages they bring to various industries. Discover how JAB codes can unlock new possibilities and revolutionise data encoding.

What are JAB Barcodes?- A Detailed Explanation

What is a JAB code

JAB codes, also known as Just Another Barcode, is an advanced two-dimensional barcode. These barcodes are composed of colourful square modules arranged in square or rectangular grids. JAB codes were developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology.

JAB codes can encode numeric digits, uppercase and lowercase letters, punctuation marks, mixed characters, alphanumeric data, and binary data.

In terms of data capacity, the JAB code offers flexibility to encode both small and large amounts of data. The amount of data that can be encoded depends on the user-specified percentages of error correction. 

The JAB code employs a palette of either four or eight colours in its encoding process. It follows the widely recognised CMYK colour model, which includes four primary colours, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.    

In addition to the primary colours, the JAB code utilises four secondary colours that are blue, red, green, and white. These secondary colours are created by combining pairs of the primary colours within the CMYK model.

The incorporation of colour in the JAB code enables it to encode more information within the same area compared to traditional black-and-white codes like a QR code. This is because the colour adds an additional dimension to the already two-dimensional matrix code.

JAB codes have three variants with two, four, or eight colours, each storing different amounts of data. The more colours in the code, the more data it can store. 

Theoretically, a four-colour JAB code can hold twice as much data as a two-colour one. Similarly, an eight-colour JAB code can have three times more data than a two-colour JAB code. This increased capacity allows the inclusion of complete data messages within the barcode, eliminating the need for external links or additional infrastructure.

Unlike traditional barcodes, the JAB code does not require a quiet zone surrounding the symbol. 

The applications of the JAB code are extensive and diverse. It can be utilised for digitally signing encrypted versions of printed legal documents, contracts, and certificates. JAB codes find utility in medical prescriptions, ensuring secure and authenticated data transfer. Furthermore, it serves as a tool for product authenticity assurance, helping combat counterfeiting.

The JAB code is defined in the ISO/IEC 23634:2022 standard.

Why do we Need JAB Codes?

List of three merits of JAB codes

JAB codes offer numerous advantages that make them valuable to various industries. 

JAB codes can encrypt three times more data than traditional barcodes while still being the same size. This increased data capacity allows for the storage of comprehensive information.

Additionally, these barcodes can be read by a smartphone, which is a game-changer.

JAB codes can encode various data types, including numeric data, uppercase and lowercase letters, punctuation marks, mixed characters, alphanumeric data, and binary data. This versatility allows JAB codes to encode and store diverse information, accommodating various applications and use cases. 

JAB codes are integrated into passport and ID cards to facilitate the encryption of biometric data securely. These codes also prevent product counterfeiting in industries such as automotive and luxury goods. 

In addition to document security, JAB codes find utility within logistics, the pharmaceutical industry, and other sectors. Their higher data density allows for including all relevant product information and proof of authenticity within the code.

How to Recognise a JAB Code?

Four points on how to identify a JAB Code

Identifying a JAB code is relatively straightforward, thanks to its distinct features and vibrant colours. 

JAB codes comprise of colourful square modules arranged in a square or rectangular grid. There are a few key characteristics to look for to identify a JAB code.

JAB codes have two different categories of basic symbols: primary symbols and secondary symbols. These barcodes contain one primary symbol and, optionally multiple secondary symbols.

The primary symbol serves as the core component, with the possibility of additional secondary symbols surrounding it. The symbol is distinguished by the presence of four finder patterns located at the corners of the symbol.

On the other hand, secondary symbols within a JAB code do not contain finder patterns. They can be connected or docked to a primary or secondary symbol horizontally or vertically.

JAB codes can also be identified by their use of colours. They come in three variations: two-colour, four-colour, and eight-colour codes. 

The colour palette of JAB codes consists of primary colours, which are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. JAB codes also use secondary colours, which are blue, red, green, and white. This combination of primary and secondary colours is unique to JAB codes and sets them apart from other barcode symbologies.

Another clue to identifying a JAB code is the use of colours. 

JAB code supports three variations: two-colour, four-colour and eight-colour codes. JAB codes employ a colour palette that consists of four primary colours: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. In addition to these primary colours, the JAB code incorporates four secondary colours, which are blue, red, green, and white.

The utilisation of both primary and secondary colours is a distinctive characteristic of JAB codes, setting them apart from other barcode symbologies.

Anatomy of JAB Codes

Detailed structure of JAB codes

JAB codes consist of the following elements.

  • Primary symbol
  • Secondary symbol
  • Finder pattern
  • Alignment pattern
  • Colour palette
  • Metadata
  • Encoded data

Primary Symbol

The primary symbol is the central component containing elements for locating and decoding the entire JAB code. 

Various function patterns are incorporated within the primary symbol, including the finder pattern, alignment pattern, colour palette, metadata, and the encoded data region.

Secondary Symbol

The secondary symbol is an optional component. Secondary symbols can be docked in either a horizontal or vertical direction to a primary symbol or another docked secondary symbol to encode additional data. 

Like the primary symbol, the secondary symbol encompasses function patterns such as alignment patterns, metadata regions, and encoded data regions. However, in the case of the secondary symbol, the four finder patterns found in the primary symbol are replaced by four alignment patterns.

Finder Pattern

The finder pattern is positioned at each of the four corners of the primary symbol. It assists the barcode scanners in locating a JAB symbol within an image. 

The finder pattern is placed with a one-module gap between the primary symbol’s outermost layer and the border.

Alignment Pattern

Alignment patterns assist in maintaining accurate module alignment within the code. These patterns assist in compensating for any potential distortion or misalignment that may occur during the scanning process.

In primary symbols, alignment patterns are positioned between the finder patterns. 

In secondary symbols, alignment patterns are placed at the four corners of the symbol. Within the secondary symbols, alignment patterns are also located between two cornered alignment patterns.

Colour Palette

The colour palette is a crucial component that facilitates the decoding of the symbol. With support for 8 module colour modes, JAB Codes offers the flexibility to use a minimum of 4 (earlier 2) and a maximum of 256 colours in a symbol.

However, in both primary and secondary symbols, the embedded colour palettes are designed to contain a maximum of 64 colours, indexed from 0 to 63. 

If the symbol utilises 64 or fewer module colours, all available colours will be included in the embedded colour palette. On the other hand, if the symbol incorporates more than 64 module colours, the embedded colour palette will be limited to a selection of 64 colours.

Using the colour palette, the JAB code provides reference values for the different module colours used within the symbol.


The metadata defines the properties of the symbol. It provides essential parameters such as the number of module colours, the shape and size of the symbol, error correction parameters, and the overall code structure. It is important to note that the length of the metadata can vary, resulting in a different number of modules used for encoding. 

In primary symbols, the metadata is encoded in the modules surrounding the four finder patterns located at the corners. 

In secondary symbols, the metadata is encoded along the side docked to the central symbol.

By embedding metadata within the symbol, JAB code ensures that scanning software can access the necessary information to properly interpret the symbol.

Encoded Data

In a JAB code, except the modules used for finder patterns, alignment patterns, colour palette and metadata in a JAB code, all the remaining modules are dedicated to encoding the actual data. The data modules also include error correction modules.

Features of JAB Codes

List of six features of JAB code

Some distinctive features of JAB codes are.

  1. High Capacity: JAB codes have an impressive storage capacity, capable of storing three times more data than traditional two-dimensional symbologies. This allows for extensive information to be encoded within a single barcode.
  2. Multi-Color Symbology: Unlike traditional barcodes that are limited to black and white, JAB codes support multi-colour encoding.
  3. No Quiet Zone Required: Unlike traditional barcodes that require a clear margin surrounding the code, the JAB codes eliminate the need for a quiet zone.
  4. No Shape Limits: JAB codes offer the flexibility to generate codes in different sizes and shapes. 
  5. Support for All Characters: JAB codes support the encoding of all possible characters. This includes letters, digits, punctuation marks, and other special characters, providing compatibility with different data types.
  6. Mirror Imaging: JAB codes allow for the generation of reversed codes, which remain valid and readable. This means that if a JAB code is horizontally flipped or presented in a reversed orientation, it remains a valid and readable barcode. This feature provides convenience when the code needs to be mirrored or read from different orientations.

How to Get a JAB Code?

JAB codes are an open-source symbology available to the public, meaning anyone can create and utilise JAB codes. However, to generate a JAB code, you need to visit the official JAB code website and follow a straightforward process.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to obtain a JAB code from its official website.

  1. Visit the JAB code website at jabcode.org and click on the “create code” option.
  2. Decide on the type and amount of data you want to encode in the JAB code.
  3. Choose the colour mode that suits your preferences and requirements.
  4. Customise the shape and size of the barcode according to your needs. The official website provides many customisation options.
  5. Enter the data you want to encode into the message box. This could include text, numbers, or any other information relevant to your application.
  6. Once you have entered the data, click on the “create JAB code” button to initiate the JAB code generation.
  7. After the JAB code is generated, review the generated image of the barcode to ensure it accurately represents the encoded data.
  8. Once the JAB code is saved, you can test it using barcode scanning applications or a JAB code reader to ensure its readability.

How to Design a JAB Code?

Two points on how to design a JAB code

It is important to be familiar with the best practices for designing barcodes to ensure their efficiency and accuracy.

JAB codes do not have any strict guidelines for module width and total barcode width. Both parameters can vary and are determined by the user requirements.    

The height of a JAB code module should be equal to its width. This ensures that the modules are square-shaped, maintaining uniformity in the symbol.

While there is no strict module size limit in the JAB code specification, it is still vital to maintain consistency within each symbol. All modules, including primary and secondary symbols, should be the same size to guarantee accurate decoding.

Unlike traditional barcodes, JAB codes do not require a quiet zone around their perimeter.

Our general guides on best practices for designing perfect labels and barcodes and common mistakes to avoid when designing barcodes will come in handy when designing barcode labels.

Once you have your JAB barcode you can use a software package like BarTender to design the label.  BarTender comes in 4 editions namely Starter, Professional, Automation, Enterprise and the latest BarTender Cloud.  We have several informative articles on BarTender to check out, such as understanding BarTender software and BarTender cloud vs BarTender software.

How to Print JAB Codes? - Printing Best Practices

It is important to consider the printing quality of JAB codes to ensure they can be scanned properly. Below are some recommended best practices for printing JAB codes.

  1. Choose a high-quality printer: To ensure the accurate reproduction of JAB codes, it is essential to use a reliable and high-resolution printer. Select a printer that offers crisp and clear output, capable of capturing the details of the colourful modules.
  2. Ensure proper contrast: Pay attention to the contrast between the module colours and the background to enhance the readability of the barcode. The contrast should be sufficient for the scanner or imaging device to distinguish between the modules accurately.
  3. Avoid distortion or stretching: Ensure that the code is printed without any distortion or stretching. Check the aspect ratio and maintain the correct proportions to preserve the integrity of the code. Distorted or stretched codes may become unreadable or generate incorrect data when scanned.
  4. Test scanning performance: Test the scanning performance of the printed JAB code under various lighting conditions and with different scanning devices. Ensure that the code can be easily and consistently scanned.

JAB codes are coloured barcode symbologies that require a high-quality coloured printer for efficient printing. Thermal printers will not provide the required printing quality for JAB codes, making it essential to invest in the perfect printer.  

Triton offers various coloured label printers from OKI.  

OKI is a leading global manufacturer of coloured label printers. The company stands out in the printing industry due to its cutting-edge technology, high-speed printing, and efficient performance – perfect for individuals and businesses alike. Their LED printer technology, in particular, outperforms traditional print technologies in various aspects, such as speed, precision, reliability, media flexibility and colour intensity. 

With its legacy of producing award-winning products and a commitment to continuously improve, investing in an OKI colour label printer is a no-brainer.  

So why wait? Visit Triton’s OKI coloured label printer home page today and upgrade your printing game.

Contact us via the live chat widget below for more information. 

The Bottom Line

JAB codes, short for Just Another Bar Code, are a versatile and user-friendly alternative to traditional barcodes. Their ability to store more data, organise it in a structured format, and be highly customisable makes them suitable for different industries and applications. 

We hope this article has provided you with comprehensive knowledge about JAB codes.

Thanks for reading!

Latest Articles

Learning Centres