In our blog, we will talk today about the origins of the EDIFACT language, its evolution and its conversion to XML.
To begin, XML/EDIFACT is an Electronic Data Interchange(EDI) format used in business-to-business transactions. It allows EDIFACT message types to be used by XML systems.
EDIFACT D96A is a formal description of electronic business documents. It uses a syntax close to delimiter-separated files. This syntax was invented in the 1980s to keep files as small as possible. Because of the Internet boom around 2000, XML began to become the most widely supported file syntax. But for example, an invoice is still an invoice, containing information about the buyer, the seller, the product, and the amount due. EDIFACT works fine from a content perspective, but many software systems have difficulty handling its syntax. That's why the combination of the EDIFACT D96A vocabulary and grammar with the XML syntax results in XML/EDIFACT D96A.
And then, like many people new to EDI, we searched the Internet to learn more about the standard. We didn't find much on the subject, except for some companies and other solutions. We quickly realized how difficult it is to learn this message.
So we started developing Docloop to try to create something useful, which could automatically convert EDIFACT to XML.
XML/EDIFACT is used in B2B scenarios as shown below:
- Newer B2B systems often cannot handle EDI (electronic data interchange) syntax directly.
- A company does not want to invest in new vocabularies from scratch. XML/EDIFACT reuses the business content defined in UN/EDIFACT. Since 1987, the UN/EDIFACT library has been enriched by the global business needs of all sectors of industry, transportation and utilities.
- Large companies can order goods from small companies via XML/EDIFACT. Small businesses use XSLT stylesheets to parse the message content into human-readable forms.
Unfortunately, not all countries implement this standard in the same way. To complicate matters further, different industries use only certain segments that fit their needs to conduct e-commerce.
Today, our Docloop tool can automatically convert an EDIFACT D96A data field into XML. Thanks to a selection of predefined variables, the user can set up his code.
Once the brick is installed, each line of EDIFACT code will be processed, converted, and automatically returned in XML format as a webhook to a given URL.