WebMethods and Neon have both released adapter software aimed at bridging the gap between EDI (electronic data interchange) systems and XML, writes Antony Adshead.
Neon's Paperfree EDI adapter provides connections between XML and common EDI formats, such as X12 and Edifact. WebMethods' EDI adapter also covers a library of EDI variants, including X12, Edifact, UCI and Vics, and can be customised by companies to suit their own EDI transaction sets.
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EDI has been in existence since the 1960s and about 30,000 companies worldwide use it for data transfers between themselves and business partners. Companies have invested large amounts in their EDI systems and much time has been spent in consolidating business processes into a common set of components.
EDI consists of direct computer-to-computer transactions between partners' databases as highly compressed machine-readable data over value added networks such as Telenet or Tymnet. Unlike EDI, XML is basically a scripted language which, though it will enhance business-to-business links, does not offer the same degree of efficiency as its predecessor.
Neon and WebMethods believe that both systems will coexist for a number of years and that their products will provide a much-needed bridge between the old and new technologies.