Friday, July 1, 2011

Is XML a threat to EDI?

Since its inception, XML is considered to be a threat to EDI but in long run we will see that it compliments EDI not an enemy of it.

I'll do a fare comparison between the two and hopefully EDI wins over XML :)
  • XML (eXtensible Markup Language) provides tremendous flexibility that one can define its own set of tags , elements , types and structure while EDI do not follow this trend.
  • Industry can easily adapt XML as its free and cheaper to implement while EDI is traditionally expensive and has its own sets of standards.
  • About XML representation, its easy to read and highly structured language while EDI in its basic nature is cryptic and difficult to read.
Please don't make a hasty decision and don't think that XML wins here over EDI.

As i said, XML is flexible but its flexibility makes it unfavorable where industry demands standards like healthcare, retail , supply chain and many more. EDI has standards and it is tested with time and running everywhere successfully. Switching to XML means creating problems to industries where standards are mandatory like in US healthcare government has mandated X12 5010 to be implemented by Jan 2012.

Still if someone favors that XML can also be build and used in a standard way then i would say that it will become a part of EDI eventually. Because both will be treated as standard and XML will loose its flexibility for which it is popular. Taking this into consideration , XML is becoming a friend of EDI.

EDI is a time tested technology and been used among Fortune 500 companies and government organizations.Only initial investment is high but once understood , it is very easy to implement and its storage requirements are minimal.While in case of XML, storage requirements are huge, i heard somewhere that XML generated in certain applications is too huge to keep it in even a disk.

I'll show you a better example that how an XML file can grow drastically as compared to its equivalent EDI file.

XML Preview:
<Witness for Defendant>
      <Last name>Smith</Last name>
      <First name>John</First name>
      <Middle name>C.</Middle name>
      <address1>610 E.  Bel Aire Dr.</address1>
      <address2>Suite 300</address2>
      <zip>91503< /zip>
</Witness for Defendant>
Its equivalent EDI is :
NM1*WT*1* Smith*John*C.~N3*610 E. Bel Aire Dr.*Suite 300~N4*Burbank*CA*91503

Now I hope you will start believing that for a single line record of EDI , how big an XML can be.Although these days storage media is not a cheap but it does not mean that we will follow inefficient ways to deliver.

One more advantage is that in EDI we have acknowledgement in form of X12 997 transaction to confirm that EDI is received safely and processed successfully.XML does not guarantee whether file receiving is successful or not.

So we see that EDI is more reliable, follows industry standards, requires less storage space, safe and needs zero human intervention when it gets processed.Moreover, when space institution, reputed universities in the world and Defense Departments are using EDI for their functional and messaging work then we can't expect that EDI will become obsolete.

I would love to hear from you if i have missed anything or you want me to correct somewhere. Happy EDIng :)