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Business Analysis in B2B/EDI: 2.5.3. Paths

In my spare time I’m working on a huge document/book “Business Analysis in B2B/EDI”, decided to share a small part…

  • 2.5.3. Paths
  • In the structures of different complexity, it is necessary to be able to indicate the exact path to the record/segment and/or field/element. For example, in X12 there might be DTM segments at different levels, and just “DTM” won’t be enough to understand which one is needed in many cases. So, you should know how to provide the right paths. And, different formats use different approaches.

    Since records/segments are named entities, their names are a good starting point to use. But while records in SAP IDoc are unique (i.e. you cannot have 2 records with the same name at the different levels) and you can use the name to identify its exact position, the other formats can use the same records/segments at different levels.
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    Typical X12/EDIFACT/SAP IDoc mapping: transportation stages in logistics EDI

    (Disclaimer 🙂 I’ve been working with logistics documents (Ocean and Road primarily, plus some Rail and Air) a lot recently, but I see them from the EDI prospective and might not fully understand business behind them. So I probably not always use the right terms, or misunderstand some details. This technical article is more about the structures used to describe transportation stages and related data.)

    Another complex EDI case, related to the logistics EDI documents, is how different formats describe transportation stages (legs, conveyances, …). There are 2 main ways of describing transportation legs: stages and stops. For example, we need to move cargo from point A to point D, with points B and C in between.

    A -> B -> C -> D

    In case of Ocean Logistics it might be:

    • A-B, pre-carriage (warehouse to loading port)
    • B-C, main-carriage (loading to unloading ports)
    • C-D, on-carriage (unloading port to delivery destination)

    In case of Motor it might be A as the loading point (warehouse) and B, C and D as Ship To store locations.

    So, we could describe this route (A->D) as a set of stops (A, B, C and D) or as a set of legs (stages, conveyances, …) (AB, BC and CD). As we’ll see, different formats use one of these approaches.

    Of course, for very simple cases, when we are interested in the first and last points only, we can always use Ship From and Ship To locations (N1 in X12, NAD in EDIFACT and something like E1EDKA1 in SAP Idoc (depends on the document)). It is typical for Orders or ASNs. But when it comes to Logistics, especially complex scenarios (like Ocean) and such things as Booking Request/Response, Shipping Instructions or Load Tender Motor documents, we need to know much more details – locations, requested/estimated/scheduled/actual dates of departure/arrival, carriers and sub-carriers, information about consignments/products loaded/unloaded in different points and so on. And logistic-specific documents contain structures for them.
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    Typical X12/EDIFACT/SAP IDoc mapping: ASN (Ship Notice) and Packaging structures

    One of the most complex things you can encounter working on the maps is the mapping of hierarchical (nested) packages/products in ASNs (Ship Notices). Things like partners, dates or references usually are straight-forward and in a lot of cases you can use simple direct connections. But different formats use different approaches when it comes to hierarchical (nested) structures.

    So, let me show you how X12, EDIFACT and IDocs describe this: one container C1 with 5 pallets, 2 pallets (P1 and P2) are for Product A, 2 pallets (P3 and P4) are for Product B and 1 pallet (P5) is a mixed load with Product A and Product C

    C1
        P1
            Product A, 100 KGM
        P2
            Product A, 100 KGM
        P3
            Product B, 90 KGM
        P4
            Product B, 90 KGM
        P5
            Product A, 20 KGM
            Product C, 90 KGM
    


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    GXS AI: how to process slash in XML data

    If you are working with XML in GXS AI and your data contains a slash (like <Date>2016/01/08</Date>), you might face a situation when your map cannot process it, since slash is a special symbol.

    Since this question is raised from time to time, I decided to write a short post about it. There are 2 ways (we are speaking about the map development, not about the map working in the production system):

    1. you can change your data manually and add a release character in front of your slashes in the data
    -or-
    2. you can run otxmlcanon.exe pre-processor which would “fix” your XML file and do the same as it described in #1

    otxmlcanon.exe -r \ _in.xml
    

    Then, in your source model you should add release character:

    SET_FIRST_DELIM(62) ; >
    SET_SECOND_DELIM(60) ; <
    SET_THIRD_DELIM(47) ; /
    SET_FOURTH_DELIM(34) ; "
    SET_FIFTH_DELIM(39) ; ,
    SET_RELEASE(92) ; \ – this one is important
    

    Gennady Kim