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Standards Make the EDI World Go Around

I once had an uncle who ran a saloon. I won’t tell you what kind of saloon because this is a family forum. It’s enough to say that he really loved his job. And that his favorite movie was Cabaret, that apocalyptic yarn about the misadventures of Sally Bowles, an off-beat but warm-hearted entertainer played by Liza Minelli, and her friends and lovers in a Berlin nightclub on the eve of the Nazi take-over of Germany.

My uncle loved this movie because its depiction of the hedonistic life of a night club — its remarkable characters, its air of danger and illegality, and its reflection of the shifting moral values of the society that partied there — mirrored his own working life and experiences.

One of my favorite songs from the movie is sung by Liza Minelli and Joel Gray, who plays a morally flexible, slightly sinister, gaudily painted emcee who’s always prepared to say or sing whatever needs to be said at any particular moment. The song of course is Money and Joel Gray really nails the first verse with its repetitive mantra of naked materialism:

Money makes the world go around,
The world go around,
The world go around …
It makes the world go ’round …

You can check out all the lyrics at

EDI Makes the Money Go ‘Round 

One might be tempted to say the same for EDI. But it would be more accurate to point out that EDI makes the money go around by enabling the circulation of transactions and documents between trading partners around the world. EDI helps create the wealth that generates the money that makes the world go around.

EDI has its own currency that makes its world go around … Standards. The global and not-so global standards that define an EDI message is what truly makes the EDI world go around. Without standards, there would be no EDI and its history is largely the history of evolving standards.

The two most widely used EDI standards in the world today are X12 and UN/EDIFACT. We’ll examine both in more detail, along with IDocs, in this series about message standards. But for now, and in the next few postings, we’ll look at some of the other standards that are still used by a number of key EDI consumers, although they are not widely used and most are being absorbed into EDIFACT. These include:



  • VDA




Like so many terms that we take for granted, ODETTE is an acronym that stands for the Organization for Data Exchange by Teletransmission in Europe. As its name implies, and unlike other EDI standards, it provides a standard both for messages and data transmission.

ODETTE was born in London in 1984. National auto industry organizations from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, banded together to work towards easing electronic data transmissions within their industry. ODETTE includes in its membership ranks more than 4,500 companies, including the largest auto manufacturers and suppliers in Europe. The corporate mission of the ODETTE organization is to:


  • Develop European/Global recommendations for communication and collaboration between companies in the automotive industry

  • Promote and co-ordinate industry-wide implementation

Check out the ODETTE home page for additonal information and news.

OFTP — ODETTE File Transfer Protocol — was the first standard to be approved and published by the new organization in 1986.

OFTP enables direct secure transmission of EDI documents between two partners across the internet, or through older telephone network based protocols such as ISDN or X.25. Across the internet, OFTP supports both push and pull of files, unlike the more widely used (at least in North America) AS2 protocol, which only works in push mode.

OFTP also supports high levels of data compression, encryption, digital signatures, authentication, and signed electronic receipts confirming transmission.

In addition to OFTP, ODETTE developed message standards for the exchange of electronic documents between auto industry trading partners based the UN/GTDI (United Nations Guidelines for Trade Data Interchange), a message format syntax which also provides the basis for the global EDIFACT and British TRADACOM standards.

Syntax in this context simply means the definition of the particular elements used to define a message, such as:


  • Number, name, and structure of envelope segments

  • Delimiters between segments, data elements, and sub-elements

  • Specific or generic use of particular segments

  • Use of qualifiers and composite elements

  • Grouping and nesting of segments or data elements

We could go on … and a discussion of EDI syntax could be very interesting but it is beyond the scope of our current posting. The key take-away here is that underlying all EDI standards is a structured syntax that is defined by a data dictionary that can be stored in a database.

Early ODETTE messages included:


  • DELINS: Delivery instruction

  • AVIEXP: Despatch advice

  • INVOIC: Invoice

ODETTE developed a full suite of EDI messages for the automotive supply chain before migrating to the UN/EDIFACT standard beginning in 1990. By 1996, a subset of ODETTE messages had been developed within EDIFACT.

This was followed by a global pact with the U.S. Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), the Japan Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (JAMA), and the Japan Auto Parts Industries Association (JAPIA) aimed at developing a full-fledged UN/EDIFACT standard for the worldwide auto industry.

The ODETTE message standards are being replaced by EDIFACT, although OFTP is still widely used to transmit data throughout Europe. While the future of the auto industry is clearly the move to EDIFACT, ODETTE is still in use at some EDI sites in Europe. So it doesn’t hurt to have a sense of what messages are in the standard.

The table below maps ODETTE to their corresponding EDIFACT and IDoc messages and basic types. The mappings are based on a spreadsheet published on ERP Genie’s EDI portal that I’ve updated and reorganized. It’s probably incomplete and you may disagree with some of the choices I’ve made. If so, I’d love to hear back from you with corrections or alternate and/or additonal mappings.


ODETTE EDIFACT IDocMsg IDocType Area Description
AVIEXP DESADV DESADV DESADV01 Distribution Despatch advice, delivery note & shipment data
AVIEXP DESADV DESADV DELVRY03 Distribution Despatch advice, delivery note & shipment data
AVIEXP DESADV SHPMNT SHPMNT02 Distribution Despatch advice, delivery note & shipment data
AVIGRU       Distribution Grouping center despatch advice
AVIREX RECADV     Distribution Receival Discrepancy Advice Message
BASDAT         Basic Data
CALDEL DELJIT     Planning Delivery Instruction
CONTRL CONTRL STATUS SYSTAT01   Ackowledgement, status
CREDIT CREADV CREMAS CREMAS04 Payment Credit memo, advice
CREDIT CREADV CREADV PEXR2002 Payment Credit memo, advice
CREDIT CREEXT GSVERF GSVERF03 Payment Credit memo, advice
DEBNOT DEBADV DEBMAS DEBMAS06 Payment Debit memo, advice
CREDIT DEBADV DEBADV PEXR2002 Payment Credit memo, advice
DEBNOT CREEXT GSVERF GSVERF03 Payment Debit memo, advice
DELINS DELFOR DELINS DELFOR02 Planning Delivery schedule
DELINS DELFOR DELFOR DELFOR01 Planning Delivery schedule
DELINS DELFOR DELJIT DELFOR01 Planning JIT delivery schedule
FORDIS DESADV DESADV DESADV01 Planning Forecast of despatch message
INVTRL INVOIC     Payment Summarize invoice documents
KANBAN DELJIT KANBAN KANBAN01 Planning Delivery Instruction
ORDELI INSDES     Planning Directing deliveries
OSTENQ OSTENQ     Ordering Order status inquiry
PRILST PRICAT PRICAT PRICAT02 Price catalog Price list/catalog
REMADV REMADV REMADV PEXR2002 Payment Remittance advice
REPDEL DELFOR DELFOR DELFOR01 Planning Reply to delivery instruction
REPINV INVOIC     Payment Reply to invoice
REPORD ORDRSP ORDRSP ORDERS05 Ordering Order acknowledgement
SELBIL INVOIC INVOIC INVOIC02 Payment Self-billing message
STATAC STATAC     Payment Financial transactions & outstanding balances
STOACT INVRPT PROACT PROACT01 Distribution Inventory report
SYNCRO DELJIT DELJIT DELFOR01 Planning Transport material in sequence with production requirements
SYNPAC DELJIT DELJIT DELFOR01 Planning Transport material in sequence with packing pattern
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