There are two main factors to be considered when choosing a symbology.

First, a business must consider whether they need to adopt a particular symbology to comply with an existing industry or organizational standard. The second factor is the type and amount of data that must be encoded.

The increasing amount of data encoded in both traditional and emerging market applications is driving the acceptance and requirements for two-dimensional (2D) symbologies. 2D symbologies encode data in both the height and width of the symbol. The amount of data that can be contained in a single code is significantly greater than that stored in a one-dimensional barcode.

The introduction of 2D symbologies in 1989 with the Data Matrix code represents one of the most important advances in the Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC) market in the last twenty years. With advances in technology and smaller, faster microprocessors, 2D readers can significantly increase the cost/benefit ratio in any application.

Initially, 2D symbologies were developed for applications where only a small amount of space was available for a code. The first application was for individual unit-dose packages in the healthcare industry.

These packages were very small and had little room for a barcode. the electronics industry also showed an early interest in very high density barcodes and 2D symbologies, as there was limited space available for marking electronics assemblies. More recently, the ability to encode a portable database has made 2D symbologies attractive in other applications where space is limited.

Another benefit of 2D symbologies is their added reliability and durability. with conventional 1D symbologies, the addition of one bar at the start or finish of a code, a line crossing the code, or a line parallel to the stripes all make the barcode unreadable. Additional protection can be built into a 2D symbol making it remarkably secure and robust, even if accidentally damaged.