Since Electronic Data Interchange or EDI documents must be processed by computers rather than people, a standard format must be used so a computer will be able to read and understand the documents.
A standard format describes what each piece of information is and in what format (e.g., integer, decimal, mmddyy). Without a standard format, each company would send documents using its company-specific format and, much like two people who do not speak the same language, the receiver’s computer system doesn’t understand the company-specific format of the sender’s format.
There are several EDI standards in use today, including ANSI, EDIFACT, TRADACOMS and ebXML. And, for each standard there are many different versions, e.g., ANSI 5010 or EDIFACT version D12, Release A. When two businesses decide to exchange EDI documents, they must agree on the specific EDI standard and version.
Businesses typically use an EDI translator – either as in-house software or via an EDI service provider – to translate the EDI format so the data can be used by their internal applications and thus enable straight through processing of documents.
EDI standards are generally independent of communication methods and can be transmitted using any number of methods, also called protocols. One common way is called Applicability Statement 2 or AS2
providing specific security measures for data transmitted over the Internet.
Read about EDI Translation
and EDI Data Mapping
. If you’re just getting started with EDI, download our EDI 101 Guide
and our EDI Buyer’s Guide
. Or contact us via email
or at 1.877.334.1334.