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PathFinder for traditional EDI

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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has been used as a means of exchanging business documents in electronic form between trading partners for some twenty years now.

During this period, a number of national and international bodies have created 'standard' message structures to handle specific business documents. For many businesses, this is an integral part of their infrastructure and these internationally-agreed formats are still the best way of exchanging their data. These standards tend to be referred to as 'traditional' EDI standards, to distinguish them from the more recent XML-based and deregulated methods of document exchange.

Such formats include:

  • EDIFACT - the United Nations-sponsored international format for trade document exchange. There are also a number of industry subsets of these messages such as EANCOM and EDIFICE
  • Tradacoms - UK retail standard created by the ANA, and widely used in retail and logistics messages
  • ANSI X12 - US standard used in all sectors, but particularly manufacturing and retail
  • VDA - German standard used particularly in the automotive sector

PathFinder is used by many customers exactly because, as well as its other abilities with data exchange and application interfacing, its open Syntax design means that it completely supports the traditional EDI standards. Any traditional EDI message can be received and transformed into either a file that can be imported into an application (XML Interface file, SAP IDoc, etc), a report that can be sent by email or viewed in a browser, or a CSV file that can be viewed as a spreadsheet. Similarly, any Interface file or spreadsheet CSV file can be transformed back into an EDIFACT or Tradacoms (or any other traditional format) and sent off to a trading partner.

PathFinder communications are independent of the actual file format transmitted, and so traditional EDI data can either be exchanged directly with a trading partner using such protocols as AS/2 or FTP, or sent via a mailbox on a Value Added Network (VAN) according to business requirements.

Please see the sidebar for PathFinder's other abilities in the areas of data exchange and as a middleware application.

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"The ability to use our existing PathFinder system helped keep development costs down and as we already had complete confidence in PathFinder we knew that from going live our orders would arrive. We needed an efficient on-line ordering system to help save our time and our Spare Parts customers' time, so we asked Orion to build a system which would enable quick transactions without the overhead of a consumer site designed for window shopping. When a large retailer said 'The website is very easy to use....it's one of the easiest sites I've ever seen and because it's not cluttered it loads very quickly too' it confirmed that we had got the balance right."
David Wareing, IS Manager at Daewoo Electronics Sales UK Limited