Do API’s really replace EDI?

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Do API’s really replace EDI?

Do API’s really replace EDI? This along with – “what’s the difference between EDI & API?” Are two questions we get asked on a fairly frequent basis.


Although opinions on API’s replacing EDI’s vary, for us what really matters is the requirement and the use case. A basic rule we go by – if you are exchanging reasonably small amounts of data in real-time (and we mean real-time, not every 15 minutes) then API is usually the way to go. Whereas, if you are working with large amounts of data and it’s not absolutely time critical, can wait 15, 30, 60 minutes, then usually EDI would be our recommendation.


Why? Because that’s what the technologies were created for
As usual, there are exceptions to the rule which takes us back to the initial point, you must consider the requirement and the use case.


Connecting a front-end application to its back-end simply wouldn’t be fit for purpose using EDI communication because the user interacting with the solution expects a responsive/real-time application.


On the other hand, if you are working with a logistics partner and you send tens of thousands of shipments with your partner every day (and for the purpose of this example, you only dispatch once a day), you’re working with lots of data which isn’t time critical and one EDI exchange before the dispatch is more than sufficient.


Pros of
API solutions: Real-time, responsive, good for small data exchanges, API provider can make updates/enhancements without requiring any development by you.
EDI solutions: Good for data exchanges of any size, self-sufficient (not dependant on third party API), no external calls meaning no latency.


Cons of
API solutions: Has limitations when working with large amounts of data, potential latency issues, reliant on up-time of API.
EDI solutions: Doesn’t work well for real-time requirements, has more steps in the process (pushes/pulls), any requirements for change must be completed by you.


So, do API’s replace EDI? In some cases – yes, however, there are still many use cases that are best left to traditional EDI communication methods. Again, requirement and use case is key.


At S9 Tech we have a vast experience of working with both types of technologies, so much so that we have created a solution for integrating EDI to EDI, API to API, EDI to API and vice versa.


If you’d like to know more about EDI/API technologies and how they can help your business please Contact Us.