Common Technical Acronyms Related to EDI

Today’s post covers common technical acronyms of interest to small businesses who use EDI. It is the last post of our four part series on EDI buzzwords.

ANSI – American National Standards Institute. ANSI is a non-profit organization that administers a wide variety of voluntary standards. EDI standards are one of the standards ANSI oversees.

ANSI X-12 – The standard for EDI transactions and transmissions which are administered by ASNI. ANSI X-12 is the predominant standard in the United States and Canada except for the automotive supply chain which uses the EDIFACT standard. A four digit number, such as 4010, identifies which version of the X-12 standard a particular trading partner requires. Within the X-12 standard there is considerable room for a particular company to tailor data requirements to their needs. Consequently every trading partner has unique EDI compliance specifications.

AS/2 – Applicability Standard 2. AS/2 is a rather complicated standard for encrypted transmission of files over the internet. A minority of trading partners use AS/2 rather than a VAN for transmission of EDI transactions. However, some of them, such as Wal-Mart, have large numbers of suppliers

ASN – Advance Ship Notice. An ASN is similar to an electronic packing slip and works with GS1-128 barcode shipping labels. ASN’s are sent using EDI. Many large companies require their suppliers to send ASN’s because it assists in automating their receipt of goods.

CSV – Comma Separated Value. CSV is a file format that is supported for interfaces with a wide variety of applications. Data fields are separated by a comma. CSV files can be viewed by popular spreadsheet programs such as Excel.

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange. EDI is a data file format used to send and receive electronic business documents between companies. Many large companies require their suppliers to be EDI capable. EDI files are encoded and difficult to read. EDI software is needed to translate EDI files into either a human readable format or a format that can be used to interface with an application.

EDIFACT – An EDI standard developed by the United Nations. EDIFACT is the most common standard in most countries except for the United States and Canada where ANSI X-12 predominates. However, EDIFACT is used in the automotive supply chain in the United States and Canada.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol. FTP is a common and easy-to-use method for sending and receiving files between computers over the internet.

VAN – Value Added Network. A VAN is used by most large companies for sending and receiving EDI files with their trading partners. A VAN provides security, reliability, and one point of contact. Competition from AS/2 greatly lowered VAN prices to point where outsourcing transmissions to a VAN is frequently more economical than using AS/2 in-house.

XML – eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a file format that is easily readable by both humans and machines. Tags mark the beginning and ending of data fields and can be nested to indicate hierarchy and looped to identify groups of repeating data fields. XML files are commonly used to interface with applications.

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