Reflections on B2B

XML vs. EDI

Posted in B2B, EDI by Edward Aguiar on July 30, 2008

In the past several years, there has been much talk about XML and how it could or would replace EDI. I personally believe that EDI is here to stay for many more years. Here are my reasons why -

  • EDI has been around for a long time and organizations have invested heavily into it.
  • Today, there are no significant immediate benefits for organizations using an EDI standard in moving to another standard including to one based on XML.
  • There are many different XML standards hoping to be the next default format – it is not easy to choose one.
  • Very few companies can ‘choose’ the format to use – it is usually mandated to them.

Having said this I know that XML has its merits and companies are starting to look more closely into taking advantages of what XML has to offer. While many praise XML for being easy to read and understand I think that the real power of XML is found in the many tools available today that simplify work with XML.  Many of the tools used to validate and manipulate EDI are beginning to use XML as a preferred internal format in processing or mapping EDI data.

How exactly will XML integrate into the EDI world is not yet really clear.  Of course, everything can change very quickly if a major company (someone like WalMart) decides to require XML as the new standard for B2B integration.  With other initiatives capturing the attentiion of these companies and considering the limited  financial reward from enforcing XML I do not see this happening any time soon.

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One Response

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  1. EDI Eddy said, on August 13, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    You are right about organisations being heavily invested in EDI.
    The TRADACOM standard was abandoned years ago infavour of EDIFACT, yet in UK retail it is still dominant.
    I think XML hindered EDIFACT take up.
    I think JSON or PROTOCOL BUFFERS (or the next big thing) will hinder XML take up.
    Yet, I bet CSV use has grown and grown…


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