EDI is a way to transmit business documents between information systems over the network.
Today companies use the internet to send and receive different types of EDI messages across the network and speed up their supply chain, fulfillments, shipping and payments processes.
One of the downsides of EDI is that it’s not synchronous which makes it hard for the receiver to know if the messages was accepted successfully. Yes, there is the 997 message, but it's not always mandatory and implemented. On the other side, the structure of EDI messages can accommodate different types of industries (retail,ecommerce,logistics, healthcare, banking, …) so the benefit to use EDI is greater than any other format out there today.
API is a modern technology which helps connecting information system and other web services over the internet, however, it lucks the flexibility that EDI has. Each API message is unique to its own creator and can not be shared with other API service, which means much ,more work needed in order to transfer data from one endpoint to another. The main benefit of API over EDI is that it synchronous and the sender will know what was the response right after calling the service. On the other hand, developers have to build an integration to each and every API to connect to their system and can’t share one common map between different services which takes much more time to implement/integrate, difficult to maintain and support because of all the different touchpoints. With EDI, you could have one generic map for each message (say 850), and with some minor modification it can be customized to any specific requirement or change between different partners.
Both, EDI and API are here to stay, each technology have its own benefits and downsides and no one technology can replace the other.
We recognized the need to bridge between the two technologies and build API for EDI for those who can use API and wants to exchanges messages only via API and need to communicate via EDI with the business partners.