Are APIs faster than EDI?

We’ve heard some businesses say that they want to go to API because it’s so much faster than EDI.” Before you prescribe the solution and rebuild existing, working messaging connections – let’s take a few moments to unwrap that idea.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI for short) simply means enabling electronic commerce messaging between two business partners. While the industry has used EDI as shorthand for X12 stan­dard­ized messaging, sending an API with a JSON payload to transfer the data isn’t really all that different. Whether that message is sent or received in one format or another really should not affect the speed of the process, since you’ll be utilizing the same connections. It may also be that one company is using a legacy EDI system and their trading partner utilizes APIs. Transfer of data, trans­for­ma­tion of data, and delivery in most cases takes just a fraction of a second.

The trans­for­ma­tion itself may have some nuances specific to each of the companies involved, and variables exist in both the API/JSON messaging as they have with X12 messaging. Even with data standards, setup and testing involves checking both partner’s formats and making sure that the field mapping is not only right, but conforms to the message recipient’s standards. A simple example of this: Supplier Co. uses a MM/DD/YYYY format for dates and their trading partner uses a DD/MM/YYYY format. The trans­for­ma­tion ensures that the intended message is conveyed accurately, so the request intended to be for January 3 doesn’t get delayed to March 1. Once the setup has been tested and confirmed, the speed of processing should be the same – whether the messages sent between these two companies are X12 to API, API to X12, or API to API.

The real time factor comes into play when you look at the process. If your messaging is feeling a little slow and you’d like to find improve­ments, investigate the following:

  • Is your electronic data being held for a period of time before it is sent to (or called for by) your business partner?
  • What protocol is being used? Is data transferred using AS2, SFTP, FTP or HTTP(s)?
  • Are messages being sent one at a time, or a batch at a time? 
  • What is the process for message error resolution? (And what delays might be introduced if a message errors out?) 
  • Are you running translation software in-house, and running into hardware speed limitations when message volume is high?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will likely have ideas for improving the speed of cross-company inte­gra­tions. If you’d like some help looking at options to improve your business message speed or reliability, Klein­schmidt would be glad to help.

About Klein­schmidt: Our service functions as a clear­ing­house that receives, translates, and sends electronic commerce data in the most efficient means possible for your specific needs. We are equally proficient in working with X12 as we are with APIs with a JSON or HTML payload (or any other format, for that matter) –and can offer real-time business connec­tivity through hosted or cloud-based envi­ron­ments. You can contact us by phone at 847 – 945-1000 or email