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AccessA database program produced by Microsoft. While the files created by the various versions of Access all have an "MDB" extension, they are not all compatible.
ASCIIAmerican Standard Code for Information Interchange. The character coding scheme used by PC's and most other computers. Slowly being replaced by Unicode. Also see EBCDIC.
ASNAdvance Shipment Notice. A data transmission sent to a business partner to inform them of a shipment prior to its arrival. This is intended to act as a manifest and allow "pre-receiving" in the partners system, thus improving the efficiency of the receiving process.
B2BBusiness to Business. Data or financial transactions, usually taking place over the internet, in which both parties are businesses. Contrast with B2C.
B2CBusiness to Consumer. Generally refers to the process of a company selling directly to a consumer over the internet.
CASSCoding Accuracy Support System. A mailing list enhancement service offered by most mail presort software. Addresses are "standardized" ("Road" is shortened to "Rd", etc.) and then compared to a database supplied by the USPS. If the address falls into a range of valid values, it is assigned a Zip+4 code. This must be done to assign a proper Postnet bar code to a mail piece.
Comma delimitedThis file format uses commas ( , ) to separate fields in records. It is often combined with quotes (") to mark text fields. This format can cause problems because many files will contain extra commas or quotes that will "trip up" the importing application.
CRMCustomer Relationship Management. A special group of programs that attempt to enchance a businesses ability to please their customer. For example, these programs often include call logs that allow anyone talking to the customer to know what has been discussed in the past.
CSVThe file extension placed on comma delimited files by Microsoft Excel.
Data miningA term used to describe the practice of analizing historical data in order to find patterns that will lead to increased sales, improved efficiency, etc.
DatabaseStrictly, this is a special type of data file, produced by a "database engine" such as Access, Oracle, DB2, etc. In practice, many people use this to simply mean "file".
DatasetA group of related and identically coded items. In many systems a file would be one dataset. However, in many databases, a file can contain more than one dataset. These are usually called tables.
DB2IBM's primary database program. It is very powerful and well supported even though its been around since 1983. Though originally only available on IBM mainframes, it can now be found on many platforms, including PCs.
dBaseA database program popular in the 80's. Due to its widespread usage, many other companies produced compatible products. Also known as "xBase", these programs read and write "DBF" files. Borland now owns the actual dBase program. Microsoft offers Foxpro. Other example programs include Clipper and Alpha Four.
DBFThe file extension used for dBase files. These are database files containing a single dataset. There are additional, non-standard files that provide the indexes into the data.
DelimitedA file format that uses special characters to separate the fields in a record. Also see Tab delimited, Comma delimited, and Pipe delimited.
EBCDICExtended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. A character coding scheme used primarily by older IBM mainframe computers. Also see ASCII and Unicode.
EDIElectronic Data Interchange. In general, the exchange of data between computer systems. Can also specifically refer to "X12" communications protocols. X12 EDI format is a delimited file with special line and field separator characters. One of its prime characteristics is a numeric record type prefix that identtifies the record type (message, shipment request, etc).
EDIFACTElectronic Data Interchange For Administration Commerce and Transport. A newer standard than X12 EDI, EDIFACT coded files still use unusual line and field separators (though different than X12). They also allow subfield separators. EDIFACT record type indicators are text codes.
ExcelA spreadsheet program produced by Microsoft. It creates files with an "XLS" extension.
ExportPreparing a file in one program to be read by another.
Fast ForwardSee NCOA.
FieldThis can be thought of as a column in a table. It is a piece of data about a record, such as name, color, size, etc.
FilterA programming concept through which records are compared against a set of desired values, and accepted or rejected. For example a file of email addresses could be filtered by service provider to eliminate "free" email systems.
FirmwarePrograms stored in ROM chips on a device.
Fixed lengthIn fixed length record files, fields are separated by their length. For example, an inventory file might have a 10 character SKU code, a 30 character description, and a 20 character location. Even if the actual SKU code is only 5 characters, and the description is only 15, the location field will still begin at character position 41. In a variation on this format, all of the fields present in a record are fixed length, but a line break is inserted after the last field that contains data. These are often called line delimited files.
FormatThe way the columns or fields of a file are arranged.
FTPFile Transfer Protocol. A standardized means of sending files between computers on a TCP/IP network, such as the internet. This is used my many people and companies due to the wide ranging support on different computer platforms.
HardwareGenerally taken to mean the physical devices making up a computer system or network.
ImportBringing a file produced by one program into another.
IndexA programming term that denotes a list of records, sorted by some value. An index could be formed from a mailing list to sort by name. The actual list would not be sorted, but by reading the index, the file could be presented in sorted order.
LANLocal Area Network. Generally a group of networked computers in the same building or campus.
LayoutThe way the columns or fields of a file are arranged.
Legacy (data or systems)Data or programs housed in an older computer system. This is usually seen in the context either of needing to interface an older system to newer internet based programs, or in a discussion of moving the information from an old system into its replacement.
Line delimitedSee fixed length.
MDBDatabase files produced by Microsoft Access. These files can contain multiple datasets called tables.
Merge/PurgeThe process of combining multiple files, then reducing the combined list to a single representative of each unique record. Usually seem in address lists where lists of multiple sources are combined, then duplicates are removed before mailing.
NCOANational Change Of Address. A process through which a service provider compares the addresses in a mailing list to the change of address records filed with the USPS. NCOA processing checks for moves in the last 48 months. An alternate system, called Fast-Forward, only compares the last 13 months.
NixieCoding assigned to "near misses" in a NCOA processing session. Values range from 1 to 4 indicating the expected likelyhood that the address represents a move. See also NCOA.
Operating System (OS)The main program running on a computer. All other programs use services provided by the operating system to accomplish their tasks.
OracleA database program produced by the Oracle corporation. It is very popular for enterprise and internet development. This is due to its power and its support of many different operating systems.
ParsingWhen a computer program examines a set of values, and breaks it into fields, words or commands based on some separator. A spell checker program parses the words to check by looking for spaces and punctuation.
PDFPortable Document Format. A file format created by Adobe Systems. It is the de facto standard for sharing "paper like" reference material over the internet. Anyone can download the Acrobat reader for free from Adobe. They, and others, sell programs to produce the files.
Pipe delimitedUsually produced by Unix based systems. These files use the "pipe" symbol ( | ) to separate fields in a record.
PRNThe file extension placed on comma delimited files by some programs (such as Lotus 1-2-3).
RDBMSRelational Database Management System. A special database engine that allows a user to create connections, called relations, between datasets. For example an address file could be linked to an orders file by a common customer code field. The resulting "join" would appear as a new dataset.
RecordA single entry in a file. An item in a list. This might be a mailing address, an inventory item, etc.
SDFSee fixed length.
SoftwareThe programs running or stored on a computer.
SpreadsheetAn application allowing a user to arrange data in rows and columns. Though actually best suited to computation tasks, many people use them to manage their data files too. Microsoft Excel is an example of a spreadsheet program.
SQL ServerMicrosoft's main database program. Though not as popular, widely supported or powerful as Oracle or DB2, it is still a major presence in the market.
Tab delimitedA file format that uses "tab" characters (ASCII 9) to separate fields. This is usually a very flexible and compact format.
TableSee Dataset.
TCP/IPTransmisson Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. The low level "language" spoken by computers communicating on the internet (and most LANs).
TXTA text file. This can be either free form, tab delimited, or comma delimited.
UnicodeA new "universal" character coding scheme. The older standards ASCII and EBCDIC used a single "byte" to correspond to a letter. They were also mostly oriented toward english. Unicode uses two-bytes to describe sets of language specfic characters.
URLUniform Resource Locator. A standardized means of naming a resource on a large network. Web page addresses on the Internet are the most widely used form of a URL. However, this can also be used to refer to files or programs.
VPNVirtual Private Network. A means of creating a "private" connection on a public network. The data is Encrypted (encoded) before being placed on the network. It is decrypted upon receipt on the other side. There are both hardware and software solutions for providing this service.
WANWide Area Network. Two or more connected LANs.
WKSSpreadsheet files produced by Lotus 1-2-3. Later versions of Lotus had files with wk1, wk2, and wk3 extensions.
X12See EDI.
xBaseSee dBase.
XLSSpreadsheet files created by Microsoft Excel. Can contain multiple datasets called worksheets, sheets or tabs.
XMLA file format related to HTML. On one level, XML allows a programmer to "make up" a file format that is very portable. In practice, both sides of a data transaction must still agree. There are many standards boards, and supporting file formats, for this technology. XML is quickly becoming the base for all data transactions on the internet.
ZIPA file format in which several files are compressed and packaged together. This is usually done to ease transmission. The files can also be encrypted in the archive.