An EDIF description is expressed in the form of a hierarchy, abstract at its higher levels, and becoming progressively more detailed as it descends the hierarchy. At the highest level of this structure the EDIF description contains, in a single logical file, all of the information that is shipped for a design. The file may contain several designs and several libraries of cell definitions. Each library is a collection of relevant EDIF design information including a grouping of cells according to a set of common characteristics. It should be kept in mind that EDIF is a format for the transmission of design data.
It is neither a programming language nor a data-base system. EDIF is not designed to be executable, and its definition does not specify any means of interacting with the information contained in an EDIF file, such as a graphics editor or a simulator. An EDIF file is intended to be read or written in its entirety by a database translator. It does, however, provide sufficient association between the elements of the format and electronic design automation concepts that such external interaction should be expected to produce predictable results. In other words, the meaning of a design should be preserved during its transfer to another design system through EDIP.