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NDEF is a standardized data format specification by the NFC Forum which is used to describe how a set of actions are to be encoded onto a NFC tag or to be exchanged between two active NFC devices. The vast majority of NFC enabled devices (readers, phones, tablets…) support reading NDEF messages from NFC tags. All NDEF action types can be encoded onto all NFC chip types and NFC readers; however due to data size requirements and NFC chip type memory limitations it’s best to choose an NFC chip knowing the type of data you will be encoding.

At a basic level, an NDEF record contains two components:

  • A record type used to contextualize the payload data
  • Payload data

Together these two components represent the action to be taken by the devices when the NFC tag is touched. NDEF supports a fairly limited set of actions. More complex actions can be implemented with customized software running on the touching device. The benefit of using NDEF is that you don’t need to have custom software running on the touching device. Note that since the action is occurring on the touching device without any custom code or without any server side integration, no analytic data is captured about the usage of the NFC tag. Multiple records can be written to an NFC tag; however many software applications only act on the 1st record.