EDI and e-Business Glossary

By Foundational on

Following is an explanation of a variety of terms used in the world of EDI & e-business and their definitions.  Bear in mind that this is not intended to be a technical document – these are intended to be understood by someone with limited EDI experience.

This is a dynamic list that I’ll be adding to regularly so if there is something I’ve overlooked please leave a comment or send me a note and I’ll update it.


AS2 – Short for Applicability Statement 2.   A secure, internet based communications method.  Popular with EDI users since it is easy to implement and eliminates the need for a VAN.

CSV – Short for “comma separated values”.  A common file format for importing and exporting data from software applications.

EDIFACT – An EDI format that originated in Europe.  In the US is it less common than X12, but still used quite a bit.

FTP – Short for “file transfer protocol”.  This is a communications method that is popular for moving data between computers.

ISA – Interchange Control Header.  This is the envelope, or first part of an X12 EDI file. It contains the ID that specifies who is sending and receiving the transactions within.  Your EDI ID, which uniquely identifies your organization, is sometimes called the ISA ID.

VAN – Short for Value Added Network.  A private network that is commonly used for EDI.  Numerous VANs are available, and they interconnect with one another.  VANs typically charge a fee per kilocharacter for data that is transmitted over their network.

X12 – The EDI data format standards most commonly used in the US.

XML – Another data format that is commonly used for EDI.  Easier for humans to read but has its limitations, including less ubiquitous parsing tools.  See “Silver Bullet” whitepaper for more detail. (http://getfoundational.com/silver-bullet-whitepaper/)