What is flat file?

A flat file in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a plain text file used to exchange data between different systems in a structured format. Flat files are simple and straightforward, making them widely used for EDI transactions.

Key components

Plain text format: Data is stored in a readable format, simplifying processing and debugging.
Delimited fields: Each record consists of fields separated by specific delimiters, such as commas (CSV), tabs (TSV), or other characters.
Rows and records: Each row in the flat file represents a single record, and each record follows a consistent structure.
No hierarchical structure: Flat files are linear and do not contain nested or hierarchical data.
Fixed and variable flat files: Fixed and variable flat files are essential components of EDI, enabling efficient and reliable data exchange in formats that can be easily managed and implemented.

Fixed flat file in EDI

A fixed flat file in EDI uses fields with predefined, fixed lengths. Each field occupies a specific number of characters, regardless of the actual data length, and shorter data is padded to fit the fixed length.

Fixed-Length Fields: Each field has a specified length, ensuring uniformity across records.
Padding: Fields with shorter data are padded with spaces or zeros to match the fixed length.
Consistent structure: Ensures each record has an identical format, simplifying data parsing and processing.

Benefits of fixed flat file

Enhances predictability: Fixed lengths make it easier to read and parse data since the position of each field is known.
Simplifies processing: Reduces complexity in handling and interpreting data, as every record adheres to a strict format.

Variable Flat File in EDI

A variable flat file in EDI includes fields that can vary in length, providing more flexibility in the data structure. Fields are usually separated by delimiters, allowing for different data sizes within the same record.

Variable-Length Fields: Fields can vary in length, accommodating data of different sizes.
Delimited Fields: Fields are separated by delimiters, such as commas or tabs, which indicate the end of one field and the start of another.
Flexible Structure: Supports a more adaptable format for diverse data requirements.

Benefits of variable flat file

Increased flexibility: Allows for more complex and diverse data to be included within each record, making it suitable for scenarios where data size can vary.
Accommodates diverse data: Supports a wider range of data types and sizes, making it adaptable to various business needs.
Simplifies data handling: Eases managing and interpreting data that does not fit a rigid structure.

Message types

EDI flat files support various message types, each designed to facilitate specific business transactions. Here are some common message types in EDI flat files:

Purchase Order: Used to place an order for goods or services.
Purchase Order Acknowledgment: Confirms receipt and acceptance of a purchase order.
Advance Ship Notice (ASN): Provides detailed information about a pending delivery.
Invoice: Used to bill for goods or services provided.
Payment Order/Remittance Advice: Used to make a payment and provide remittance information.
Price/Sales Catalog: Contains product information, including descriptions and prices.
Inventory Inquiry/Advice: Communicates inventory levels and status.
Functional Acknowledgment: Confirms receipt of an EDI transaction and indicates whether it was processed successfully.
Purchase Order Change Request: Requests changes to an existing purchase order.
Purchase Order Change Acknowledgment: Acknowledges the changes requested to a purchase order.
Transportation Carrier Shipment Status Message: Provides status information about a shipment.
Warehouse Shipping Order: Instructs a warehouse to ship goods.
Warehouse Shipping Advice: Confirms the shipment of goods from a warehouse.
Motor Carrier Freight Details and Invoice: Used by motor carriers to provide freight details and invoices.
Motor Carrier Load Tender: Used to offer a shipment to a motor carrier.

How Qvalia supports flat file

Qvalia offers solutions for managing and converting business documents to and from fixed and variable flat file formats. Our platform integrates with your existing systems to facilitate efficient and accurate electronic data interchange (EDI). We handle various transactions, including purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices, ensuring reliable and compliant data exchanges.


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