Frequently Asked Questions

Embrace the FAB-DIS approach

FAB-DIS is a highly operational tool that capitalises on the move towards digital technology. It enables users to better organise themselves to manage and provide enhanced, reliable content that is easy to use in the webshops of manufacturers, distributors or e-commerce pure players.

Keywords, photos, descriptions and product benefits, characteristics and technical data sheets, marketing segmentation: a whole host of raw materials that FAB-DIS organises to directly populate media (print, web, etc.) and shed more light on customer purchasing decisions.

In this digital age, manufacturers and distributors would like to put an end to the time-consuming management of multiple, unstable and inconsistent listing file formats that contain, to a certain degree, the same information. By meeting this requirement, FAB-DIS has naturally established itself on the market, becoming an essential part of business relationships in the construction sector.

By adopting this stable and free unified exchange format, led by key players in the building supply sectors, you can:

  • Increase productivity by optimising the listing of your offers in distribution channels in France,
  • Reduce time to market by ensuring that your data and its updates are quickly integrated by distributors, while better managing the life cycle of products,
  • Optimise your offers in ERP tools and on merchant sites, with enhanced media content and compliance guarantees, adapted to the growing expectations of customers.

Leave your details on the contact page of our website. You will be sent exclusive and free information on upcoming changes to the exchange format, newsletters and invitations to take part in the annual satisfaction survey.

Your details will not be sent to any third parties and will not be used for commercial purposes, in accordance with the amended French data protection law of 06/01/78.

Would you like to promote the FAB-DIS approach and contribute to the development of the reference system? Contact your trade organisation to find out if it is an official member of the FAB-DIS committee. If it is not, its representation will have to be organised through the submission of an application via the contact page on our website.

If accepted, your organisation will be able to appoint one of its members to express its business needs and put its expertise at the service of this collective process.

Submit your application via the contact page on our website, explaining your reasons. It will be processed by the FAB-DIS committee when the FAB-DIS exchange format is being updated.

Remember that the technical properties of the products (standard-based characteristics, fitness for purpose, performance, component materials, colours, etc.) are covered in the ETIM block. Work on this standard is carried out by ETIM France (more information can be found on the association’s website).

Comply with the reference system

The reference system to be applied immediately is Version 2.2, which has been in force since 01/01/2017. Downloadable here, this version is to be applied by 31/12/2017 at the latest. Please note that, on this date, data published according to version 2.1 will no longer be accepted.

In force since 01/01/17 for application by 31/12/17, version 2.2 comprises three main improvements:

  • Adding of the Regulatory Block confirms the conformity of products to regulations that have a direct impact on their marketing and on the legal responsibility of those concerned: marketing suspended until regulatory data available (e.g. DoP of the Construction Products Regulation, energy class, etc.), passing on of the eco-contribution (WEEE or Furniture waste (“DEA”), provision of certificates (ACS certificate, F-GAS declaration, etc.).
  • The definition of rules on writing descriptions for various purposes (shelf label, quotation and invoice, descriptions for merchant sites, etc.) as well as sales pitches and keywords (ARGU, ARGUG, MCLES, SLOGAN) in order to facilitate their use for marketing.
  • The introduction of a title block means that from now on, the issuer of the file and its parameters can be directly identified: version of the format used, updating of the file (total or patch), price application date, contact details of the publication manager, etc.

These modifications do not affect the structure of the file or the processes used by the companies to integrate the FAB-DIS format in its previous versions. For further information, please consult the Changes Log.

Being “FAB-DIS ready” means making three major commitments that are necessary for the fluidity and the quality of the exchange of information between manufacturers and distributors:

  • Respect the FAB-DIS exchange format in force (file structure and rules for using version 2.2),
  • Promote it when supplying or requesting product data in digital format
  • Rely on an organised process to maintain a level of data reliability and freshness over the long term, particularly by frequently updating files.

The commitments are explained on the Rules of use page on our website. To promote them among your partners, a “We are FAB-DIS” mark of conformity is available to you (download it here).

“Progress is worth nothing unless it is shared”. Popularised by a railway company, this slogan, which aimed to bring people together, fits the FAB-DIS approach perfectly.

To benefit fully from the advantages expected from this initiative (namely, a single format for all, guaranteed simplicity and productivity), raising the awareness of as many people as possible across the construction, industry and infrastructure sectors, and across their professional organisations is decisive.

By using the “We are FAB-DIS mark of conformity, you highlight your company’s commitment to providing or integrating high-quality product data. You shall also contribute to the success of a powerful and promising initiative to master the digital revolution.

The “We are FAB-DIS” mark of conformity is restricted to those firms that comply with the commitments defined in the Rules of use (manufacturers, distributors, ERP tool publishers). The “We are FAB-DIS” mark is designed to be freely available to post on your website and in the email signature of employees involved in data management, e-commerce or EDI.

Soon! The FAB-DIS community is working on tabling a control script in the second half of 2017. This tool will enable the user to verify the conformity of a file to the FAB-DIS reference system online, according to an official verification standard (e.g. presence of mandatory blocks, compliance of columns, value type and the number of characters per field, etc.).

The advantages of this standardised file qualification tool include: a quicker and simpler process, increased reliability and constant thoroughness over time.

Please note that the control script is no substitute for the thoroughness expected of users. Manufacturers are responsible for the quality of their data and are exposed to commercial or legal risks if any errors are made. For example, a simple error regarding the weight of a product (kg rather than g) can increase delivery costs and divert customers towards other offers with qualified data.

In light of its success in France, the approach is being watched with interest by our European partners as key market leaders herald this initiative abroad. A growing number of international firms are using the FAB-DIS format to market their offers on the French market. The English and Spanish translations of version 2.2 will be published in the coming months.

FAB-DIS boasts several benefits to appeal without any difficulty to users outside France:

  • Its precise trade-specific description of the fields and values, illustrated by instructional examples,
  • Its ease of integration (.xls file compared to the complexity of a file exclusively in .xml) and flexibility of use (consideration of the particular characteristics of manufacturers in the Specific block),
  • Its multi-trade vocation (adapted to all building supply trades),
  • Its completeness (e.g. table of basic units that respects international coding systems, encapsulation of the technical data of the ETIM model).

The FAB-DIS community is pursuing a constructive dialogue with partners such as BMEcat and GS1 to favour the convergence of formats.

Clarify a few key points

In a “FULL” publication, no products should be missing as long as they are marketable or referenced as replaced. This includes: spare parts, accessories and worksite references.

As well as products, the FAB-DIS format can also be used for listing and optimising service offers.

According to the standard procedure, the description of a reference must start with its function, then display all of the attributes specific to it or deemed important when choosing the item, not forgetting any legal names.

The 80- and 240-character descriptions are used to clearly present the product and its advantages, which are expressed in the form of customer benefits. The descriptions must be written correctly in French, with no acronyms or abbreviations with the exception of the usual abbreviations. To facilitate understanding and searching, dimensions are expressed using the metric system and the description consists of usual characters and words with standard typography, with the first letter in upper case and the following letters in lower case. However, to facilitate reading, the names of ranges, series or collections should appear in upper case.

Writing rules are provided in the description of the reference system to make it easier to produce and integrate keywords, sales pitches for ranges and products (ARGU, ARGUG, MCLES, SLOGAN). Please refer to the Media block.

In the same way as the description, the keywords (MCLES) aim to make searching for commercial references easier in ERP tools or Webshops, as long as they are relevant and meaningful. Phrases or groups of words should be avoided. Instead, you should favour a set of words separated by a vertical bar “|” (Alt gr+6 on PC or “Alt + Maj + L” on Mac OS).

To be selected with the “end customer” in mind, these keywords can relate, for example, to the product’s main function, the key technical characteristics, the replacement reference, etc.

FAB-DIS is THE solution for handling specific cases encountered by a small number of manufacturers or sectors.

The SPECIFIC block is designed precisely to transmit data specific to the manufacturer, in addition to that structured in the eight tabs, while managing only one reference system.

Example of data not structured in FAB-DIS: identification of the manufacturer’s distribution logistics centre through which the commercial reference passes.

Yes. The implementation of the FAB-DIS format, segmented into blocks (commerce, logistics, media) facilitates the more frequent application of full or patch updates, particularly between two price updates. Do not wait until your price list changes to update FAB-DIS data. The title block is used to notify the distributor of the type of publication proposed (full or patch).

For the update to be performed properly and to ensure that it is taken into account as quickly as possible by distribution partners:

  • Manufacturers must ensure that all of the attributes of the reference are updated
  • Distributors are committed to quickly integrating all of the attributes and systematically updating the media files, when the distributors store these files, either by downloading the attributes or by taking into consideration documents provided by manufacturers (email, Web-Transfer, CD-Rom, USB key, etc.)


For the update to be performed properly and to ensure that it is taken into account as quickly as possible by distribution partners:

  • Manufacturers must ensure that all of the attributes of the reference are updated
  • Distributors are committed to quickly integrating all of the attributes and systematically updating the media files, when the distributors store these files, either by downloading the attributes or by taking into consideration documents provided by manufacturers (email, Web-Transfer, CD-Rom, USB key, etc.)

Yes. Cooperation between manufacturers and distributors has enabled this key concept to be clarified. Determined by the manufacturer, the product’s status changes over the course of its marketing cycle. Originating from the FAB-DIS format’s “Commerce” tab, the table below defines the three marketing statuses for which a date is associated:

The diagram below identifies, for each stage of a product’s marketing cycle, the corresponding life status:

Yes. These two independent approaches contribute, in a complementary way, to the need to facilitate and improve the reliability of the exchange of digital data on products in a controlled framework. They respond to the same flow logic directed towards the Distributor target for similar uses: ERP tools, merchant sites, preparation of commercial events, etc.

Focused on the technical properties exploited by distributors (standard-based characteristics, fitness for purpose and performance, component materials, colours, etc.), ETIM data is encapsulated and published in the FAB-DIS file, thanks to the structure defined in the ETIM block of the FAB-DIS reference system.

The content of the technical data to be entered in this block (classes, properties, values) is defined by the ETIM classification model with the support of manufacturers. To participate in the classification and technical characterisation of products, please visit the ETIM France website.

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