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  • August 31, 2020

API vs EDI, Part 2: Pros and Cons

In part 1 of our blog series on API vs EDI connections, we gave an overview of both technologies. Now we'll discuss the various advantages and challenges associated with each.

Welcome back to our blog series on API vs EDI connections. In part 1, we gave a brief overview of both technologies. Here in part two, we'll discuss the various advantages and challenges associated with each.

EDI Advantages:

  • EDI is a highly evolved method of integrating business systems in virtually every industry. Within the standards there is great deal of flexibility as many businesses have unique business philosophies, constraints and practices.
  • Can be much more cost effective than an API.

EDI Challenges:

  • EDI standards vary by industry, geographic location, and other factors. So even though EDI is a widely accepted data
    format, unique requirements surround every organization’s EDI exchange process.
  • A common complaint about EDI is that it delivers standards without any set guidelines, which means that the standards are a superset of most business needs and each company can pick and choose what aspects of the standard to implement.
  • Though rare, some companies violate the standard which can cause havoc on some systems.
  • EDI is not a real-time concept. Instead transactions are batched and transmitted with lag times that can cause issues. Errors are often identified later after the transactions have failed in the partners’ system when it may be too late to avoid the operational impact of the data errors.


API Advantages:

  • API often has more flexibility than standards-based exchanges such as EDI.
  • API's can provide real-time error tracking.

API Challenges:

  • Without standards, each API can have its own rules, capabilities and limitations and it often requires a
    developer to create and support it. If the API exchange fails midstream, or if there is error handling and roll back, this can cause problems.
  • API integration is not always easy and requires testing to determine its resiliency. Smaller organizations may not
    have the right resources to test or quality of implementation which can lead to production issues later on. Your API framework must be able to properly capture all of the errors, alert the user/administrator and have the ability to repair and reprocess failed transactions.
  • While API's have the potential to provide real-time error trapping and response, which sounds valuable. However, what level of validation will occur, how scalable will it be and how much will it cost? For example, Amazon
    regulates the volume of API requests and may not match the volume needed by your business, especially in busy season.


Next time, we'll talk about specific reasons you might use EDI instead of API, vice versa, or even both. If you want all of this information in one easy place, download our white paper, API vs. EDI.

Read the White Paper

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