Freight Technology: EDI vs. API

Anyone with a software background, or even technology enthusiasts, are familiar with the term API. It’s a pillar of modern web development that has become so commonplace its often overlooked. Prior to the onslaught of API connectivity in the 2000s, EDI technology was primarily used to connect and exchange data between systems. Rest assured that Silicon Valley has moved on; however, many industries and companies have been slow to fully adopt API technology.

At Priority1, we embrace change in many ways, and we fully support API technologies, but it’s important to understand the differences between the two in order to understand why we firmly believe API is superior.

What is EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a technology that pre-dates the modern Internet. In its simplest form, EDI is the transmission of data from one system to another, via text files, in batches. Information is stored and forwarded without confirmation. Very little is standardized, and nothing is real-time.

What is API?

Application Programming Interface (API) is powered by the Internet. Similar to how humans interact with computers using a user interface (UI), an API is a specification that allows computer systems to interact with each other. It ensures a request made in the documented format will always get a response or initiate a defined action.

EDI is like eating from a buffet, API is like ordering off a menu.

Reasons to Choose API over EDI

Infrastructures don’t last forever — replacement is inevitable.

Faster and Real-Time
API responses come in seconds. When a pickup or dispatch is requested, a confirmation is returned almost instantly. With EDI, you must wait minutes, oftentimes only to learn the request was rejected and must be resubmitted. Tracking updates can be delayed with EDI but are readily available over API. Shipment information can be requested at any time.

More Powerful
Even when implemented correctly, EDI integrations often leave significant gaps in data. Inherent limitations exist within the technology. Where EDI can place limitations on reference numbers or consignee information, API offers an almost limitless degree of data transmission.

Although EDI has standards, there are many different versions in use today. Parties must agree on EDI versions, formatting, transmission protocols, etc. There are high costs associated with these customization and development efforts, not to mention time wasted. API code is simplified and relies on a common protocol: the Internet. Most developers are more comfortable and familiar with API development, which can greatly reduce costs associated with these efforts.

API technology not only improves standard freight transactions like dispatch and tracking updates, but it also offers the possibility to automate manual tasks and introduce new operational efficiencies. Get geocode metadata, send a text message, manipulate a PDF, or convert currencies. Scale your business beyond pickup, in transit and delivered.

Reliable and Future Proof
Rely on the cloud infrastructure and API to ensure your technology investments last longer. By investing in API technology, you ensure your company is technologically competitive for the foreseeable future.

Priority1 offers a full API designed to be easy to use and simple to test in order to help our customers and partners get up and running quickly. Leverage the Priority1 API to obtain rates, dispatch and track shipments, and access the documents needed for managing your business.


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