All of these standards first appeared in the early to mid 1980s. The standards prescribe the formats, character sets, and data elements used in the exchange of business documents and forms. The complete X12 Document List includes all major business documents, including purchase orders (called "ORDERS" in UN/EDIFACT and an "850" in X12) and invoices (called "INVOIC" in UN/EDIFACT and an "810" in X12).
The EDI standard says which pieces of information are mandatory for a particular document, which pieces are optional and give the rules for the structure of the document. The standards are like building codes. Just as two kitchens can be built "to code" but look completely different, two EDI documents can follow the same standard and contain different sets of information. For example a food company may indicate a product's expiration date while a clothing manufacturer would choose to send color and size information.
- EDI Codes - Frequently used EDI Codes
- Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web and elsewhere.
- ANSI X12 - The US standard ANSI ASC X12 (X12) is predominant in North America.
- UN/EDIFACT - The UN-recommended UN/EDIFACT is the only international standard and is predominant outside of North America.
- TRADACOMS - The TRADACOMS standard developed by the ANA (Article Numbering Association) is predominant in the UK retail industry. Note: effectively ceased in 1995 in favour of the EDIFACT EANCOM subsets
- ODETTE - The ODETTE standard used within the European automotive industry
- The VDA standard used within the European automotive industry mainly in Germany
- The HL7 a semantic interoperability standard used for healthcare administrative data