Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Generate a QR Code

How to generate a QR Code

QR Codes (Quick Response) allow a smartphone to scan a code and take them directly to a website, without having to type the URL address.  The code can store other types of text data, including coupons, contact information, phone numbers, etc. These act as a convenience for your users.
QR Codes only store textual information and most commonly take you to a webaddress, youtube video, or an email.  These are "static" addresses and cannot run programs or scripts - in other words, it is not executable.  But be aware that the site you arrive at may do its own tracking or run scripts -- but this is no different than arriving at any webpage with your browser.

To the right is a QR code generated free by and it takes you to this blog,  To read the code, download any bar-code reader for your smartphone or tablet and you can scan this code now, directly from the screen.  On Android, I like to use "Barcode Scanner" by Zxing Team (available in the App store).  Kaywa also has a code-reading App, which I have not tested.

Steps to Generate a Code:

I have used and VistaPrint (Business Card printing) to generate QR codes.   This document shows  At the bottom of this article are other references.  Also, Wikipedia has a good article on these types of codes.

1.  Open a browser session to

2.  Choose "URL"  (Static, not dynamic)

3.  Click "Generate"

4.  "Other-mouse-click" the code, choose "Save As"
      Save the image as a .PNG

5.  Test

Use Windows Explorer and find the image.

Double-click to preview.
Scan the app with your smartphone or tablet to confirm the address.

6.  Reprint all of your business cards and marketing literature to include this code.

Note:  The first time I generated the code, it took me to a site "Congratulations: You have won a free prize".  I returned to and re-generated the code and three others and did not see this problem.  I am unsure why this happened and at first thought Kaywa might be nefarious, but I see no further indications of problems and the site and their product comes recommended by others.

Mobile vs Desktop Sites:

If you are using a QR code to arrive at a URL, choose a URL designed for a mobile app, because only mobile devices will be scanning the code.

For example, arriving at  (this blogging tool), it will automatically route a smart-phone to a site designed for a smaller screen.  But the same address, scanned from a larger tablet, arrives at the desktop site.  Your website may work differently.  For example, the main landing page for a desktop browser might be, while a mobile device might need to arrive at; use the mobile site if not automatic.

Commercial Use:

For a monthly fee, can generate something they call a "Dynamic" code. With this, the vendor can track your code, how often clicked, etc., and can re-direct the visitor to a different address of your choosing -- all without reprinting the code or marketing literature.  In other words, you could, in August, direct everyone to your August Sales campaign and then in September, change to a different address, with its own tracking.  For commercial ventures, this idea is recommended.

With their other commercial products, you can have the same QR route iphone users to a different site than an Android user - for example, you could route them directly to the App Store, depending on their device.

QR Code Differences:

I returned to VistaPrint to build new business cards and noticed they added a QR Code feature (keyliner reviewed).  I found it interesting that their generated code is different than kaywa's and I do not know why; it may be different versions of the QR standard or different error corrections.  All indications are the two codes go directly to my selected destination and do not pass-through either of these companies.  Here are the two codes:

Related links: (as described this article) Untested by keyliner Untested by keyliner
VistaPrint Business Cards

Wikipedia article on QR Codes

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