This white paper provides an overview to the BSH’s EDI adapter. It contains a description of the EDI data format, the issues that arise when working on a business-to-business integration solution with an EDI-based system involved, a technical description of the BSH’s EDI adapter and the problems it tackles with.
What is EDI?
EDI or Electronic Data Interchange is a standardized way of electronic communication between two or more parties (companies or systems that need to talk to each other). It originates back to the 80’s, in the pre-XML era, when it quickly gained popularity because of its effectiveness against the paper transactions. Nowadays it’s a common format in the healthcare, automotive, financial and retail industries and billions of dollars circulate yearly through EDI channels.
This popularity leads to the issue of difficult talking to such systems when doing business-to-business integration with XML-based or some other format-based software.
Despite its popularity EDI is a difficult to read and understand format with complex syntax rules. Also due to the immense investments in the EDI technology companies are not going to scrap their software and move to some newer and friendlier format. So often when doing some kind of integration one has to deal with the complexities of the EDI syntax.
BSH’s EDI Adapter for BizTalk Server 2004 and 2006
The solution we propose is based on Microsoft’s BizTalk 2004 and 2006 platform. We propose an EDI adapter that handles the complexities of EDI message generation, parsing and communication which allows one to concentrate on the business problems and prevents him from learning and dealing with a complex new syntax.
Why does the BSH’s EDI adapter help?
Suppose we have to prepare an order in EDI format and send it to some kind of EDI-based software. All we have to do is to prepare an order message in convenient for us format and use the BizTalk graphical interface to do a map to a standardized XML schema:
Then this standardized message is sent to the BSH’s EDI adapter that prepares the EDI message and sends it to a specified folder in the file system.
In a similar way, if we have to receive an message in EDI-format, we configure the BSH EDI adapter to listen for incoming EDI messages, then bind our orchestration to it and what we have to deal with is a standardized XML message that contains all the information from the EDI file.
Then we can use the BizTalk graphical mapping interface to convert this message to a convenient for us format. The BSH EDI adapter hides the complexity of parsing the EDI message in this case.
Here follows the list of the technical features our adapter supports:
- Full support of 3925 EDIFACT messages issued in the period 1988 – 2007 – we provide a standardized XML schema for each EDIFACT message that you can use in your orchestrations and maps.
- EDI to XML and XML to EDI transformation – sending and receiving EDI messages is supported.
- EDIFACT syntax versions 1, 2 and 3.
- Dynamic configuration of EDI messages – EDI header data can be configured at runtime by using message context properties.
- Batching outgoing messages – outgoing messages can be batched into one interchange. The batching process can be managed at runtime. INVOIC messages with TAXCON footer can easily be prepared by batching.
- Functional acknowledgements – an acknowledgment message can be configured and sent back to the trading partner with information whether the EDI message is accepted.
- Integration with BizTalk parties – the adapter fully integrates within the BizTalk 2004 and 2006 infrastructure, allowing to havehaving the trading partners as BizTalk parties.
- Grammar checking – grammar checking is done when processing EDI messages.
- Custom UNA segment symbols – custom symbols for component data element separator, decimal notation, data element separator, decimal notation, release indicator and segment terminator are allowed.
- Wrapping segments functionality – custom wrapping symbol is allowed for segments.
- Explicit nesting support – explicit segment nesting is allowed when parsing or generating EDI message.
- Detailed error logging – a detailed error is logged if there is a problem with processing an EDI message.
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