When you invest in a software package, you’ll want to get as much use from that software as possible.
That’s why, although PathFinder was originally designed as an EDI solution, we have continued to develop it into a complete solution – one that can be used for both external and internal movement of data.
We call it our Data Exchange Solution.
PathFinder data exchange
What is included in data exchange? Anything where there is a requirement to move a electronic business document between separate computer systems in a controlled, monitored and reliable fashion.
The most common use is for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the exchange of business documents (orders, invoices, despatch notes etc) in pre-defined formats between separate companies or for inter-company transactions. The majority of our customers use PathFinder for that purpose. It can handle both traditional delimited EDI standards and modern XML ones with equal ease, and even convert between them if you wish.
However, PathFinder can be used for document transformation and communication for any purpose, even those not traditionally under the banner of EDI. As our product has developed, we have found our customers utilising PathFinder for many different non-EDI applications. For example, they are using it to load orders into databases, automatically extract and store attachments from emails, and transfer large backup files in a controlled fashion that retries and notifies in the event of a failure.
Why should your EDI communications be any less visible than your email? All PathFinder communications can be monitored, configured and controlled through a single client remote to the actual PathFinder server. This is because, unlike many of our competitors, PathFinder handles all its own communications without the requirement for external software packages. This means that there is a single client Interface for configuring and monitoring the different communications protocols.
PathFinder’s already wide range of communications are extended again in the latest release. AS/2 and RosettaNet allow secure direct communication with trading partners and E-commerce marketplaces. FTPS links into IBM Information Exchange or can be used to run your own secure file server. And that is on top of the existing FTP, HTTP(S), OFTP, SMTP and POP3 protocols already in place.
The multiple simultaneous PathFinder communications sessions can be watched in real-time through the PathFinder monitor, down to the progress in sending each file.
PathFinder data processing
PathFinder’s open-Syntax translator is designed for transforming structured data of any sort. A data structure can be defined in flat, delimited or XML syntaxes, either created manually in the mapper or imported from a number of standard file types. Two such templates are then linked in a transformation map using a powerful set of instructions to allow conditional modification of the data.
Effectively, this means that PathFinder is not limited to specific EDI standards. Any structured document that can be defined in one of the three syntaxes above can be identified, transformed and communicated through PathFinder. By separating the Syntax used from the message standard, PathFinder cannot be outdated by developments in XML messages, or any new EDI standards.
PathFinder is configured, controlled and monitored using a Windows client, whatever platform is selected for the server itself. Multiple clients can be connected at once. The client has been specifically designed to reduce the amount of time spent in EDI administration.
Locating a file in the PathFinder data archive is easy and quick. You can search for files on a given day or a particular company or message profile. PathFinder’s ContentSearch allows selection of files using data fields – you can search rapidly for a particular order number or part number in incoming or outgoing data. Having found the file you are looking for, it can be saved to disk, printed, reprocessed or resent at the click of a button.
Monitoring a communication session is equally easy. PathFinder automatically retries all failed communication sessions a configurable number of times, and then notifies a defined email address of the problem. The administrator can immediately find the session in question, look at the logging in a variable level of detail, and once the problem is corrected can easily retry any failed files.
Today’s businesses are increasingly needing to do more with their data exchange. The same file regularly needs to be transformed several different ways, and then each result routed in a number of different directions. Or maybe no transformation is required in some cases – the file just needs to be routed. PathFinder has the flexibility to handle this.
The product has been specifically designed not to limit what the user wishes to do. An incoming file can be identified either by its content, its filename or by external control. It can then be passed through any number of profiles to transform the file as required, or to leave it completely alone. Each resulting file can then be routed as many ways as is required, using any of the protocols available.
For example, an outgoing file of invoices exported from a business application could be split by PathFinder into a file for each trading partner. Each such file can be converted into an EDI document of the appropriate type for that partner, and transmitted using AS/2 or FTP. The same files can also be converted into an HTML report using PathFinder’s integral Report Writer, and that report can be emailed to an accounts department, printed automatically to given printers and stored in a network file area.
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With continually increasing volumes of data coming from many disparate sources, organisations are spending more time than ever managing that information and how it is exchanged with their key customers and partners, and within their own business.
PathFinder – the complete Data Exchange Solution
The latest release of the PathFinder EDI solution builds on the success of previous releases and the growing PathFinder user base. It is supported by consultancy services and training courses to allow users to get the fullest value from their product. It won’t transform your life – but it will give you complete control over your data exchange traffic and handle your future requirements.
Companies upgrading to PathFinder from other solutions have told us that PathFinder far surpasses the capabilities of their previous products. Case studies are available on this website.