edifact terminology

EDIFACT Terminology, Glossary and Notes

EDIFACT Terminology described in today’s post covers terms and definitions that were mentioned in our blog many times before. Let us remind that EDIFACT is the product of the evolution in bringing the Proprietary Standards of the US and Europe together to form a single international EDI standard.

Before speaking about EDIFACT Terminology let’s keep some things in mind:

  • EDIFACT was orginally developed from a base of US ANSI standards and UN GTDI standards.
  • The syntax of both standards are remarkably similar.
  • Many segments are similar in the two standards.
  • Translation software can readily generate/accept either EDIFACT or ANSI ASC X.12 data.
  • A key issue will be the organizational improvements needed to develop/maintain EDIFACT standards within the US and Canada.

Below we give you a brief glossary of the most used definitions in EDIFACT Terminology.

EDIFACT Glossary

Area—Areas contain groups of segments that perform specific functions. The areas, in turn, make up a message. To be complete, a message must contain a header area, detail area and summary area.

Component—A composite data element made up of two or more pieces of data.

Composite Data Element—Two or more related data items separated by a delimiter character, grouped together to form a unit or piece of information as defined in the data dictionary of a system of EDI Standards, and contained in an EDI message.

Conditional—Attribute that indicates that the data element may or may not contain data, depending on the message.

Data Element—One or more data items, forming a unit or piece of information as defined in the data dictionary of a system of EDI Standards, and contained in an EDI message or transaction set. The term “data element” is often abbreviated as “DE” followed immediately by the data element number (i.e., data element 128 would be abbreviated as DE128) in some texts.

Data Element Separator (Delimiter)—Character that separates the individual data elements in a segment.

EDIFACT—Also known as UN/EDIFACT, is the acronym for EDI for Administration, Commerce and Transport. It is the international message standard for EDI being developed through the cooperation of the United Nations and the Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE).

Mandatory—Attribute that indicates that the data element must contain data. Nested Segment Group—Segment groups that reside within other segment groups.

Qualifier—Typically an ID (code value) field, it is used to qualify a particular value in a segment.

Repetition Field—Entry in a segment table which states how many times a particular segment may repeat.

Requirements Designator—Usage indicator of segment detail: Mandatory, Optional or Floating.

Segment—A part of an EDI message or transaction set, made up of a number of logically-related data elements in a fixed, defined, sequence, separated by a delimiter, conveying a part of the business transaction being made.

Segment Tables—The message structure is defined in a listing known as a ‘segment table’. These give the ‘rules’ of the message.

Segment Tag—A three character alphanumeric code that identifies the segment.

Segment Terminator—Character at the end of a segment that indicates no more data follows.

Simple Data Element—A data element that contains one piece of information.

Service Segment—Service Segments are Envelopes (UNB-UNZ, UNG-UNE, UNH-UNT), Delimiter String Advice (UNA), and Section Separators (UNS).

UN/ECE—The United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe that oversees the development of the EDIFACT standard.

Value—Typically, the first data element which is being qualified.

Variable Length Data Element—Data element whose length changes depending on the number of characters in the actual data. Minimum and maximum size of the element is given in the element table.

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