Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ANSI: American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It is the parent organization of ASC XI2. ANSI is coordinator and clearing house for standards in the U.S.

ANSI ASC X12: American National Standards Institute Accredited Standards Committee X12. This committee develops and maintains U.S. standards for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Archive: to store data for a given period of time for security, backup or auditing.

ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Exchange. ASCII is a 7-bit code with an 8th bit used for parity. The term is used to describe the format for transmission and for storage of data.

Asynchronous Communication: an electronic communication method in which data is sent one character and one direction at a time, most commonly used in a PC environment.

Audit Trail: manual or computerized recording of transactions affecting the contents or origin of a record.

Authentication: a security measure that verifies that an EDI message was not tampered with or altered during transit.

Automated Clearing House (ACH): a network of financial institutions providing electronic funds transfer services.

Bar Code: an array of rectangular marks and spaces in a predetermined pattern. It is usually used for automatic product identification.

Batch Processing: a type of data processing operation and data communications transmission where related transactions are grouped together and transmitted for processing, usually by the same computer and under the same application.

Baud or Bits per Second (BPS): the rate at which data is transmitted. Commonly used rates are 9,600, 14,400 and 28,800 baud or BPS.

Bisynchronous Communications: an electronic communications method in which data is sent in blocks of characters and in both directions at the same time, most commonly used by mainframes, but available for the PC.

BIT: binary digit (0 or 1), the smallest component of information stored or transmitted by a computer.

Bulletin Board System (BBS): an electronic message database where people can log in on a telephone line and leave messages. Also, a BBS provides archives of files and personal e-mail service along with other services or activities of interest to the BBSís operator. Access to a BBS is available through the computer operating system (i.e. Windows HyperTerminal).

Business Application: a computer-based system that process business information in support of a specific business function such as purchasing, accounting or logistics management, etc. Business application data is produced by such applications and transmitted to a translation program for conversion into ANSI X12 format, and vice versa.

Byte: size of memory space needed to store a single character, which is usually 8 bits. A computer's memory size is measured in kilobytes where one kilobyte is equal to 1,024 bytes.

CAGE Code: Commercial and Government Entity code (CAGE); unique five-character company identification number issued by the Defense Logistics Service Center (DLSC) to identify DoD contractors. It will automatically be assigned and validated in the registration process.

CALS: Continuous Acquisition and Life-Cycle Support, a term used in manufacturing. Also stands for Computer-Aided Acquisition and Logistics Support, used by the DoD.

Character: standard bit representation of a symbol, letter, number, or punctuation mark. It generally means the same as a byte.

Communications Software: a software program that controls computer hardware and modems and arranges for the transmission or reception of electronic data.

Communications Protocol: communications standards upon which two computers coordinate the exchange of data.

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

Computer-Aided Acquisition and Logistics Support (CALS): a DoD standard for electronic exchange of data with commercial suppliers.

Control Characters: in communications, any transmitted characters used to control or facilitate data transmission between two or more computers. Also, characters associated with addressing, polling, message delimiting and blocking, framing, synchronization, error checking, and other control functions.

Control Structure: the beginning and end (header and trailer) segments for entities in Electronic Data Interchange.

Data Element: the smallest, meaningful piece of information in a business transaction. A Data Element may condense lengthy descriptive information into a short code. Equivalent to a data field in a paper document; a series of Data Elements are used to build a data segment. A Data Element dictionary that defines the Data Element and, where appropriate, the code is part of ASC X12 standards.

Data Element Delimiter: a separating character, such as an asterisk (*), that precedes each Data Element within a segment.

Data Element Dictionary: the publication that lists all of the Data Elements used within EDI standards.

Data Element Reference Number: the number that identifies each element in the segment diagram with its corresponding definition in the data dictionary. Also known as a Data Element number.

Data Segment: a Data Segment is a group of related Data Elements in a Transaction Set. Each segment has a unique segment identifier, a combination of two or three uppercase letters and/or digits that serves as a name for the segment and occupies the first character positions of the segment. A Segment is equivalent to a Data Record in a database.

Data Segment Dictionary: the publication that shows the format of all the Segments in the standard.

DISA: Data Interchange Standards Association, Secretariat for ASC X12 to ANSI.

DoD: Department of Defense

DSTU: Draft Standard for Trial Use (DSTU), proposed Transaction Set within ANSI ASC X12 that remains in draft form until approved through a balloting process.

DUNS Number: Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), unique nine character company identification number issued by Dun & Bradstreet Corporation.

EDI Standards rules by which business data are translated into a computer-readable format for electronic transmission to a Trading Partner's computer for processing. Also known as ANSI ASC X12 standards in the United States.

EDIFACT: EDI for Administration, Commerce, and Transportation (EDIFACT). An international United Nations-sponsored EDI standard primarily used in Europe and Asia. An alignment is envisioned between ANSI ASC X12 and EDIFACT EDI standards in the future to create a single global EDI standard.

Electronic Bulletin Board (EBB): an electronic message database where people can log in and leave messages. Also, an EBB provides archives of files and personal e-mail service along with other services or activities of interest to the EBBís operator.

Electronic Commerce (EC): paperless exchange of business information, using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), electronic mail (e-mail), Electronic Bulletin Board (EBB), Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and other similar technologies.

Electronic Commerce Processing Node (ECPN): a collection of hardware and software systems, which provides communications connectivity between Value-Added Networks (VANs) and the Government Gateways to support the exchange of EDI transactions between Government procurement agencies and private sector Trading Partners. There are currently two ECPNs; one is located in Columbus, Ohio and the other is in Ogden, Utah.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): a system of standardized trade documents in the form of electronic transactions. A computer-to-computer interface automates repeat business operations and administration such as Purchase Orders and Purchase Order Acknowledgments. EDI is transacted either through FACNET or through the Extranet.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): the electronic exchange of payment and remittance information.

Electronic Mailbox: a holding location for EDI transactions generally provided by a Value-Added Network (VAN). The customers would normally dial-up and connect to their EDI mailboxes and download and upload transactions.

Electronic or Digital Signature: a code or symbol that is the electronic equivalent of a written signature.

Encryption: the transformation of confidential plain text into a cipher text in order to protect it.

Enveloping: an EDI software function that groups all documents of the same type and bound for the same destination into an "electronic envelope."

Event-Driven EDI: when EDI processing is triggered by predetermined criteria, such as the receipt of a Purchase Order from a specific Trading Partner.

Extranet: a regional and/or industry-specific communications network service offering content and services to a group of trading partners, normally via a World Wide Web (WWW) interface, EDI interface such as FACNET, or combination thereof.

Federal Acquisition Network (FACNET): a huge network that links numerous computer servers within all areas of the United States. The Federal Government aids supply chains for the Government and large corporations that have adopted EC-based transactions as the way to do business. FACNET transmits requests for quotes, bids, award notices and purchase orders between the Government and its Trading Partners.

Federal Stock Class Number: code developed by the Defense Logistics Agency for use in DoD's supply management program.

Field: the smallest meaningful unit of information in a data record. Example: first name, last name, address, etc.

Flat File: an ASCII data file produced by a business application that is converted into ANSI ASC X12 format by translation software, and vice versa. It typically uses fixed-length format rather than variable length ANSI ASC X12 format. Also known as a User Defined File (UDF).

Functional Acknowledgment: an ANSI ASC X12 Transaction Set (997), which is produced by translation software upon receiving and validating an EDI Transaction Set, and sent to the sender.

Functional Group: a grouping of related transaction sets belonging to the same class. For example, a functional group may include a Purchase Order, Purchase Order Acknowledgment, etc.

Functional Group Envelope: a grouping of related Transaction Sets belonging to the same class, enclosed by a functional group header and functional group trailer segments.

Gateway: consists of both hardware and software, which typically support numerous Government business systems and is the point of access to the Federal Acquisition Computer Network (FACNET). It provides EDI translation services, archiving, security, and environment management. All information is converted into a uniform coding system called the ANSI X12 format to enable everyone to understand the data.

Header: the segment that indicates the start of an entity/document that is to be transmitted. Headers are control structures.

Header Area: the transaction set header area contains preliminary information that pertains to the entire document, such as the date, company name, address, Purchase Order (PO) number, and terms.

HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language: an SGML-based language used to create Internet World Wide Web Pages that incorporate hypertext links, text, graphics, sound and video.

Implementation Conventions: subsets of EDI standards developed for ease-of-use within one industry. Such conventions generally define how segments, elements, and code within a standard should be used. They also contain explanatory remarks.

Interchange: the exchange of information from one Trading Partner to another. A set of Transaction Sets or messages sent from one sender to one receiver at one time. They are delineated by an interchange control structure.

Interchange Envelope: one or more functional groups transmitted together, enclosed by an outer envelope consisting of an interchange header segment and an interchange trailer segment.

Interconnection: the connecting of two VANs so that documents can be exchanged between subscribers who do not use the same VAN.

Interface: a recognized and definable crossover point between two systems.

Loop: a repetition of a group of segments in a transaction set.

Loop ID: a unique code identifying a grouping of Segments.

Loop Repeat: a number that identifies the maximum number of times a loop (i.e. a group of Segments) may be used in succession.

Mailbox: part of the EDI network service set aside for a specific participant to hold that participant's message. Itís part of an EDI Value- Added Network service that holds a customer's message/transaction sets until retrieved.

Mapping: the process of diagramming flat file data produced by a business application to ANSI ASC X12 format.

Maximum Use: a number indicating the maximum number of times a Segment may be repeated in a single usage.

Modem: a hardware device that converts digital (computer) data into audio (analog) tones for transmission over a telephone network. The process is reversed when receiving data.

Network Acknowledgment: a response from the network indicating the status of an interchange envelope. For example, the response could indicate that the envelope was sent or delivered.

Proprietary EDI Standards: non-ASC X12, industry-specific, EDI standards developed by a group of companies in the same industry. Generally, the users of proprietary standards eventually migrate to using ANSI ASC X12 or EDIFACT standards.

Qualifier: a Data Element that gives a generic Segment or a generic Data Element a specific meaning.

Real-Time EDI: EDI in which Transaction Sets are sent and received online and entire transactions can be completed in a single session. Presently, most EDI transactions are still in the store-and-retrieve or store-and-forward mode. Itís also known as interactive EDI.

Release: a title given to annual updates of ANSI ASC X12 standards by the Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA).

Security: the desired level of integrity, exclusiveness, availability and effectiveness to protect data from loss, corruption, destruction, and unauthorized use.

Segment Identifier: a predefined code that identifies the Segment.

Segment Terminator: a special character inserted in the Segment immediately following the last Data Element transmitted, indicating the end of the Segment. Commonly used Segment terminators are NL (EBCDIC) and CR/LF (ASCII).

Sequence Table: a listing that indicates, for each type of Transaction Set area, the possible segment, their order, and their attributes.

SF-129: Solicitation Mailing List Application, a standard form used by the Federal Government to collect information about contractors and to add them to solicitation mailing lists. Information is collected by individual procurement offices. In most cases, the SF-129 form is being superseded by the EDI 838 contractor registration process.

SGML: Standard Generalized Markup Language: an international standard to enable the electronic exchange of documents between dissimilar systems.

SIC Code: Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code; coding system used to identify specific industrial goods within the Federal Government.

Store-and-Forward: the process of storing EDI transmissions in an electronic mailbox before delivering them to recipients.

Sub-Element: a Data Element that is used as part of a composite data element. For example, a data element and its qualifier can be sub-elements of a composite Data Element.

Synchronous Transmission: data communications in which characters or bits are sent at a fixed rate, with the transmitting and receiving devices synchronized. It eliminates the need for start and stop bits basic to asynchronous transmission and significantly increases data throughput rates.

Trading Partners: commercial entities that do business with each other using EDI. In this document, the terms "Trading Partners," "contractors," and "vendors" are used interchangeably. They all imply businesses that sell to the Government.

Trading Partner Agreement (TPA): a written instrument of understanding negotiated agreement between EDI Trading Partners that specifies contractual matters and protocols of governing EDI transactions. These are generally used in the private sector among EDI Trading Partners. Within the Federal EDI acquisition context, Trading Partner Instructions (TPI) are issued by the Government to the vendor community and are used instead of a TPA.

Trailer: the ending segment of a set of Segments. The trailer is part of a control structure.

Transaction Set: an EDI document or message composed of a group of Segments, which in turn are composed of a group of Data Elements, that provide the data required to compose a standardized business document.

Transaction Set Header: the Transaction Set header contains information about the entire document, such as the company name and address.

Transaction Set Line Item: the line item area contains information about the actual item(s) being area bought, sold, transferred, etc., such as qualities, descriptions, and prices.

Transaction Set Summary: the summary area contains control information and other data that relate to area the total transaction, such as the total line items and total amount due.

Translation Software: software that translates an incoming ANSI ASC X12 Transaction Set into an ASCII flat file, or vice versa. Also known as EDI management software.

Value-Added Network (VAN): generally, commercial entities that transmit, receive, and store EDI transactions on behalf of their customers. VANs may also provide additional services known as Value-Added Services (VASs). VANs and VASs are also known as third-party networks.

Value-Added Service (VAS): a Value-Added Service (VAS) is a commercial organization (also known as an EDI service bureau) that provides EDI-related services, or a VAN that provides extra fee-based services beyond standard VAN services to its customers. Such services may range from translation to "EDI-to-FAX" services to complete EDI-integrated business systems. VASs can be an economical alternative for small businesses that want to use EDI to bid on Government contracts but arenít ready to develop EDI capability within their businesses.

Version: a title given to the updates, every 3 years, to the ANSI ASC XL2 standards as officially approved by ANSI.