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API : a form of EDI web service

EDI webservice

EDI as a web service is ideal for enabling applications to communicate with each other. As a web developer, you’re often faced with the question of whether to use standard EDI flows or dedicated web services. The two approaches complement each other well. This brief overview will help you make the right choice. You’ll also have the opportunity to visualize how to implement them concretely for your website, and thereby generate a better experience for your customers.



What are APIs and web services ?



What is an API ?


An API (Application Programming Interface) is an interface through which software offers services to other software. It enables functions internal to an application to be called up, so that one program can interact and exchange information with another. When this action involves sending data over a network, web services come into play. All web services are APIs, but not all APIs are web services.


What is a Web service ?


A web service is a computer program that enables remote applications to communicate and exchange data over the Internet. In this way, applications can communicate and call functions remotely, independently of the platforms and languages on which they are based. This type of communication is based on the standard principle of requests and responses. Messages are mainly in XML format. HTTP is the most frequently used communication protocol.

Web services can be of three types: SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), REST (Representational State Transfer) or XML-RPC.

Tip : using the http protocol means you don’t have to pay for specialized networks.




When should you use your EDI as a web service ?



EDI remains the most robust and reliable means of exchanging mass data between different information systems. With EDI standards, you benefit from a wide choice of pre-defined business documents, particularly in order-to-cash and purchase-to-pay processes, and throughout the supply chain cycle.

For companies working with several logistics providers, the deployment of EDI standards avoids the development of as many web services as remote portals.


Depending on your information system and trading volumes


However, depending on data volumes and the disparity of systems involved, your ideal architecture will probably call for Electronic Data Interchange supplemented by web services. Some clients leave you no choice but to set up portals accessible only via their APIs.

Note : ERPs such as CEGID or MS Dynamics have native APIs for exchanging data with external software.

Web services enable global interaction. They provide portal functionality and access to new types of transactions, often more user-oriented. Optimize your warehouse (WMS) and
your transport (TMS) by opening up your ERP to the outside world and see what’s going on. You can consult all information in real time. Connections via API are made in real time, without any intermediate platform : data visibility is instantaneous.


EDI as a web service for exception handling


When using a web API, you may want to be able to handle exceptions with your customers, which is difficult to set up with EDI. You can also display shipment tracking information, made available by your logistics provider via their web application. You can even retrieve data from a supplier’s portal to create and feed service level statistics.

Tip : using a portal’s APIs may require you to evolve your developments in line with the portal’s lifecycle. Ask your partner about short- or medium-term developments.



Example of use with the Chorus platform



Chorus PRO is the French government’s public portal, through which all electronic invoices for public services will gradually be transferred. It is a shared portal for all suppliers and public administrations.

The State’s objective is to dematerialize 100% of the invoices it receives, according to a timetable that began on January 1, 2017 and ended on January 1, 2020.


Classic EDI


In conventional EDI mode, public-sector suppliers send dematerialized invoices in the form of standardized files, and receive an acknowledgement from Chorus in return.


As a web service


The web service also provides invoice tracking information: invoices can be found using a multi-criteria search, and the PDF view generated by Chorus Pro and the processing history can be retrieved.

The Chorus Pro API enables you to send more complete information to your invoicing tool, for better tracking by your users.
follow-up by your users.

Companies are looking to provide more services to their customers. In this context of increasingly open and interoperable IT ecosystems, web services are certainly the best way to connect two applications.


For over 30 years, Tenor has been helping you to dematerialize your invoices and set up your EDI in SaaS, WebEDI or even OnPremise. Take a look at all our EDI solutions on this page.