The following list describes some of the common terms used in conjunction with EDI-related standards.
A message represents a business document. In ASC X12, messages are called "transaction sets". A message is composed of multiple building blocks known as "segments". MapForce supports one or multiple different message types in a single EDI component (see Adding EDI Messages as Mapping Components).
A segment represents a single "record" in a message. Segments are identified by a two or three character ID at the beginning of the segment. A group of related elements comprise a segment tag (or segment ID, in ASC X12). Segments of a transaction can be defined as mandatory or conditional (optional).
A data element is an individual data field within a segment. A data element can be thought of as a field, because it usually contains one type of data (for example, a name or an address). Data elements can be simple or composite elements. In the latter case, they consist of component elements or sub-elements.
Data elements are delimited by separator characters, referred to as "separators". Separators are usually ASCII characters which are less likely to occur in text fields (for example, colons, asterisks, pipes, bars, ampersands, etc). The separators vary depending on the EDI component type. By default, MapForce recognizes the standard separators applicable for each EDI flavor. However, separators can be customized if necessary (see EDI Component Settings).