EDI Integration and Supply Chain Glossary

American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This organization is the coordinator for national standards in the United States. It is a member of non-treaty international standards organizations, and coordinates the activities involved in US participation in these groups.

ANSI Format
Stream file format that uses transactions, segments, elements, identifiers and delimiters. All data lengths are variable in this format.

ANSI Standard
A document published by ANSI that has been approved through the consensus process of public announcement and review. Each such standard must have been developed by an ANSI committee and must be revisited by the committee within five years for updating.

Application Acknowledgment
A transaction set whose purpose is to return a response to a transaction set that has been received and processed in an application program. The Purchase Order Acknowledgment Transaction Set 8554 is an example of an application acknowledgment. It is used to respond to the Purchase Order Transaction Set 850 presenting such things as whether the receiver can fulfill the order and if it can be done on time.

Application Advice (824)
A transaction set that accepts, rejects or identifies errors in the content of any transaction set beyond the normal syntax checks.

Application Software
Software used in a business environment to perform functions specific to the job requirements. Functions typically performed in the mortgage banking industry include loan origination, loan servicing and investor reporting.

Area Transaction Set
A predefined area within a transaction set (header, detail, summary) containing segments and their various attributes.

Applicability Statement 1 (AS1) is Electronic Data Interchange over the Internet (EDI-INT) specification that uses a well-known standard using SMTP to transport data.

Applicability Statement 2 (AS2) is Electronic Data Interchange over the Internet (EDI-INT) specification that uses a well-known standard using HTTP to transport data.

Applicability Statement 3 (AS3) is Electronic Data Interchange over the Internet (EDI-INT) specification that uses a well-known standard using FTP to transport data.

Accredited Standards Committee X12 (ASC X12), Electronic Data Interchange. An ANSI committee chartered to develop uniform standards for the electronic exchange of business transactions.

Advance Ship Notice

Asynchronous Transmission
In modem communication, a form of transmission in which data is sent intermittently, one character at a time, rather than as a steady stream with characters separated by fixed time intervals.

A mechanism that allows the receiver of an electronic transmission to verify the sender and the integrity of the content of the transmission through the use of an electronic “key” or algorithm shared by the trading partner. This algorithm is sometimes referred to as an electronic signature.

The amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. A larger amount of information can be sent in a given amount of time over a telecommunications method with a greater bandwidth. For digital devices, the bandwidth is usually expressed in bits-per-second (bps) or bytes-per-second.

Bisynchronous Transmission
A form of transmission in which data is encoded in either ASCII or EBCDIC. Messages can be of any length and are sent in units called frames, optionally preceded by a message header.

Business-to-Business (B2B)
Business-to-business e-commerce entails companies buying from and selling to each other electronically, but it has also evolved to include Supply Chain Management (SCM).

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
Business-to-consumer electronic commerce is the purchase of consumer goods or services online.

This is one step above compliance testing for EDI-INT (See Compliance Checking). Certification has a legal connotation signifying that a third-party organization has put its stamp of approval on the outcome and has, in a sense, guaranteed the products meet the conditions of the test. This has a significant risk factor to the certifying entity, and should only be done when the benefits outweigh the risks.

Communication Protocol
This is an agreed upon format for transmitting data between two devices (e.g, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). The protocol may determine, for example, the type of error checking and data compression method used.

Communications Software
Software necessary to add appropriate protocols to an EDI document in preparation for transmission over telecommunications networks.

Compliance Checking
This is a checking process used to ensure that a transmission complies with ANSI X12 syntax rules.

Conditional (C)
This is a data requirement designator that indicates that the presence of a specified data element is dependent on the value or presence of other data elements in the segment. The condition must be stated and must be able to be processed by a computer.

Conformance Testing
Focuses on demonstrating that EDI-INT solutions are written in a manner that implements the specification. Usually, there are degrees of compliance. Sometimes the specification defines these degrees, and other times the testing suite defines these degrees of compliance. Complete compliance testing to a specification document may be quite arduous and time-consuming depending upon how the specification was written and how complex the described interactions happen to be. Issues like risk (legal business processes such as POs are often involved) and distance (necessary yet sufficient to accomplish the marketing goal) indicate the degree of compliance, from basic to complete, which may be reasonably accomplished. As a result, compliance with a specification often does not guarantee interoperability.

Control Segment
This is a segment that has the same structure as a data segment but is used for transferring control information for grouping data segments. Control segments may be loop control segments (LS/LE), transition set control segments (ST/SE) or functional group control segments (GS/GE), defined in X12.6, or interchange control segments (ISA/IEA/TA), defined in X12.5.

Control Validation
A confirmation that information within the control segments is correct.

Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR) is the sharing of forecast and related business information among business partners in the supply chain to enable automatic product replenishment.

Data Element  
Smallest named item in the EDI standard (qualifier, data value or textual comment) with two primary attributes: length and type. This is the basic unit of information in the EDI standards containing a set of values that represents a singular fact. It may be single-character codes, literal descriptions or numeric values. It is similar to a field in a database record. (See Element.)

Data Element Length  
This is the range, minimum to maximum, of the number of character positions available to represent the value of a data element. A data element may be of variable length and range from minimum to maximum, or it may be of fixed length in which the minimum is equal to the maximum.

Data Element Reference Number  
Number assigned to each data element as a unique identifier.

Data Element Requirement Designator
This is a code defining the need for a data element value to appear in the segment if the segment is transmitted. The X12 codes are mandatory (M), optional (O) or conditional (C). The government may consider a segment “mandatory” even through it is “optional” by X12 standards.

Data Element Separator
This is a unique character preceding each data element that is used to delimit data elements within a segment. Government uses “*” as the delimiter.

Data Element Type
A data element may be one of six types: numeric, decimal, identifier, string, date or time.

A special character used to separate fields of data. The three different delimiters that are used in an EDI file are the segment delimiter, the element delimiter and the sub-element delimiter.

Data Encryption Standard

Direct Transmission
The exchange of data from the computer of the sending party directly to the computer of the receiving party. A third-party value-added service is not used in a direct transmission code.

Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA) is the Secretariat for ANSI ASC X12 and a nonprofit organization funded by ASC X12 members.

Structured file that is sent to a trading partner. With ASC X12 usage, a document is a transaction set.

Draft Standard for Trial Use (DSTU) represents a document approved for publication by the full X12 committee following membership consensus and subsequent resolution of negative votes (Final Report of X12 Publications Task Group). The Draft EDI Standard for Trial Use Document represents an ASC X12–approved standard for use prior to approval of ANSI. (See ANSI Standard.)

DUNS Number
A nine-digit number assigned and maintained by Dun & Bradstreet to identify unique business establishments. DUNS numbers are assigned worldwide and include US, Canadian and international organizations.

European Article Numbering (EAN) is the European equivalent of a UPS number.

Electronic Business extensible Markup Language (ebXML) provides an open XML-based infrastructure, enabling use of e-business information in an interoperable, secure and consistent manner by all parties.

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is a business-to-business (B2B) initiative aimed at communicating business transaction documents on a real-time or near real-time basis between known trading partners, such as suppliers, customers and, increasingly, between a supplier’s supplier or a customer’s customer.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is commonly defined as the computer-to-computer electronic exchange of business documents in a standard format.

UN/EDIFACT is commonly known as EDIFACT and stands for “Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport.” EDIFACT is the international EDI standard introduced by the United Nations Economic Commission.

EDI over the Internet (EDI-INT) is a standard for transmitting data over the Internet using AS1, AS2 or AS3.

Electronic Envelope  
An electronic envelope consists of codes that mark the boundaries of electronic documents. The electronic envelope contains EDI documents and sender and receiver information.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
Automatically transferring payment to a provider’s or supplier’s bank account.

Electronic Mailbox
A term used to refer to the place where an EDI transmission is stored for pickup or delivery within a third-party service system. Trading partners can also maintain mailboxes within their own domains.

Electronic Signature
A form of authentication that lets you identify and validate a transaction by means of an authorization code.

A building block in an EDI document. Elements are grouped together to produce segments, which in turn are grouped together to form an EDI document. (See Data Element.)

A process of transforming clear text (data in its original form) into cipher text (encryption output of a cryptographic algorithm) for security or privacy (Security Transaction Set 815).

Flat File
Sometimes referred to as an interface file, a flat file is designed to hold EDI data prior to and following translation or transmission to and from a trading partner.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a common way to move files between computers over the Internet. Anonymous FTP gives users access (without an ID and password) to areas on a remote system that contain public files.

Functional Acknowledgment
An ASC X12 transaction set (997), which acts as a certified mail receipt to confirm that the intended recipient actually received the EDI documents that have been sent. Provides transaction syntax-level error reporting.

Functional Group  
Collection of related transaction sets. Beginning (GS) and ending (GE) segments are used to envelop a complete functional group.

Functional Group Segments (GS/GE)
These segments identify a specific functional group of documents such as purchase orders.

The interconnection between public or private networks, allowing the transmission of documents in X12 format across multiple networks. Also called an interconnect.

The physical equipment (computers, modems and printers) used in data processing.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA was enacted by the United States Congress in 1996.

A standard for the healthcare industry.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), an Internet standard.

Collection of functional groups sent from one trading partner to another.

Interchange Control Segments (ISA/IEA)
These segments identify a unique interchange being sent from one sender to one receiver. (See Electronic Envelope.)

Interchange Control Structure
The interchange header and trailer segments that envelop one or more functional groups or interchange-related control segments and perform the following functions: (1) define the data element separators and the data segment terminators, (2) identify the sender and receiver, (3) provide control information for the interchange and (4) allow for authorization and security information (X12.5).

A network connecting computers all around the world.

Internet EDI

Interoperability Testing
Validates that two EDI-INT solutions work together, although neither may be in compliance with the specification. This often happens when sets of two products are tested in a pair-wise manner but the sets are not tested with each other. This situation occurs for various reasons—foremost being the lack of universal test cases and unclear testing procedures. The principal risk in this sort of testing is that pair-wise subsets of the product may be interoperable, yet the overall set of products fails to communicate properly.

IP Address
Internet Protocol (IP) is a unique identifier for a computer or device on a network.

An interchange control header identifier.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) is the organization that oversees the ongoing development and support of international standards.

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides service to the Internet.

A programming language for the Internet developed by Sun Microsystems.

Java Script
A scripting language for the Internet developed by Netscape.


A group of semantically related segments; these segments may be either bounded or unbounded (X12.6). The N1 loop is an example of a loop that includes Segments N1 to PER for name and address information.

Mandatory (M)
An EDI data element/segment requirement designator that indicates the presence of a specified data element is required.

A process of identifying the relationship of standard EDI data elements to application data elements. A map is the link between a trading partner’s proprietary data format and the related EDI transaction set.

The entire data stream including the outer envelope.

Multipart Internet Message Extensions

Non-repudiation of Receipt (NRR)
NRR is the basis of a “legal event” between sending and receiving parties that occurs when the original sender of an EDI/EC interchange has verified the signed receipt coming back from the receiver. NRR is NOT a functional or a technical message.

Optional (O)
An EDI data element/segment requirement designator that indicates the presence of a specified data element/segment is an option for the sending party and can be used upon the mutual agreement of the interchange parties.

Pretty Good Privacy

Digital envelope security based on the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) standard (Zimmerman), integrated with MIME Security Multiparts.

Public Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS), a series of documents published by RSA Data Security.

Proprietary Standards
Industry-specific or company-specific data formats that do not comply with X12, EDIFACT or other widely used EDI standards.

Data element used to identify the type of information that gives a segment or element meaning.

The functional message that is sent from a receiver to a sender to acknowledge receipt of an EDI/EC interchange.

Request for Comments (RFC) is a series of documents published by the Internet Society covering a wide range of Internet issues, especially Internet protocols and standards.

A device used to interconnect networks that use different protocols and media. Identifies the optimal path for sending data across complex inter-networks.

Non-profit consortium dedicated to the development and deployment of standard electronic commerce interfaces to align the processes between supply chain partners.

RosettaNet PIPs
RosettaNet Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) is an XML specification designed to align a specific business process between supply chain partners, which creates new areas of alignment within supply chain e-business processes.

A group of elements which, when appropriately assembled, comprise an EDI document.

Segment Directory
This provides a purpose and format for the segments used in the construction of transaction sets. The directory lists each segment by name, purpose, identifier, the contained data elements in the specified order and the requirement designator for each data element.

Segment Identifier
A unique identifier for a segment, consisting of a combination of two or three upper-case letters and digits. The segment identifier occupies the first-character positions of the segment. It is not a data element.

Segment Terminator
A unique character appearing at the end of a segment to indicate the termination of the segment (e.g., N/L).

Sender/Receiver ID
A unique number or series of characters which identifies a trading partner on all EDI networks.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
An encryption protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting documents securely over the Internet. It allows for authenticated and encrypted communication between browsers and servers, or between different servers.

Service Bureau  
A commercial service providing data storage, reporting and telecommunications links. Also a third-party supplier of EDI services.

Signed Receipt
Same as Receipt, but with a digital signature applied. (See Receipt.)

A format and protocol for adding cryptographic signature and/or encryption services to Internet MIME messages.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is a protocol for sending electronic mail messages between computers.

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is an XML-based protocol for information exchange in decentralized and distributed environments.

An EDI format created by consensus of industry participants.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)
The delivery of customer and economic value through integrated management of the flow of physical goods and associated information, from raw materials sourcing to delivery of finished products to consumers.

The grammar or rules that define the structure of the EDI standards (i.e., the use of loops, qualifiers, etc.). Syntax rules are published in ANSI X12.6.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) defines and establishes the method by which data is transmitted over the Internet between two computers.

Trading Partner
Term used by customers, suppliers and vendors to indicate they are in an EDI relationship.

Trading Partner Agreements (TPA)
A contract between two trading partners detailing their relationship with regard to EDI.

Transaction Set
A document that unambiguously defines, in the standard syntax, information of business or strategic significance and consists of a header segment, one or more data segments in a specified order and a trailer segment.

Transaction Set ID
An identifier that uniquely identifies the transaction set. This identifier is the first data element of the transaction set header segment.

The act of accepting documents in something other than the standard format and translating them to the standard.

Translation Software
Software that is used to translate EDI data to a company’s proprietary format, and vice versa.

Transport Layer Security (TLS), an Internet standard similar to SSLv3.

Uniform Code Council

A division of the UCC that helps drive global data synchronization between suppliers and buyers.

This is EDI for administration, commerce and transport. It is widely used throughout Europe.

A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a unique product identification number that is used by items that will be scanned at Point-Of-Sale.

Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) have been known by many names: WWW addresses, Universal Document Identifiers, Universal Resource Identifiers and, finally, a combination of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and Names (URNs). As far as HTTP is concerned, URIs are simply formatted strings that identify—via name, location or any other characteristic—a resource.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a standard naming convention on the Internet

A Value-Added Network (VAN) is a third-party service that acts as an electronic postal system for EDI transactions. VANs are equipped to accept a variety of telecommunications protocols, enabling connectivity between other VANs using telecommunications protocols on behalf of subscribers.

Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Standards (VICS) is used by the general merchandise retail industry. VICS EDI is a subset of the ASC X12 national standard. For more information consult, the VICS website (Now GS1).

Web Services Description Language (WSDL) is an XML-based protocol for information exchange in decentralized and distributed environments.

Web-based EDI Application
Application providing an online data entry screen for issuers to submit loan-level data.

Write once, read many.

The ANSI committee responsible for the development and maintenance of standards for EDI.

X12.5 Interchange Control Structure
This standard provides the interchange envelope of a header and trailer for the electronic interchange through a data transmission, and it provides a structure to acknowledge the receipt and processing of this envelope.