API 101 for EDI Compliance

By Carol Weidner, CEO, eZCom Software

What is an API?

Put simply, an API—Application Programming Interface—functions as a communications bridge between two or more applications, allowing them to interface in an automated or semi-automated manner.

The ‘client/server’ model can exemplify how an API functions, and can illustrate how an API works. On one side, the ‘Server’ provides data and functionality. On the other side, the ‘Client Program’ communicates with the Server and draws on the provided data and functionality to accomplish its tasks. In this manner, the Client Program ‘partners’ with the Server to complete its work.

An API allows this inter-application cooperation to happen. This ‘communications bridge’ includes a definition of possible functions, provided from the Server; the data layout being communicated between the Client Program and the Server; and the language of communication itself. Through the API, the Client Program can ‘pick and choose’ from available functions, using these functions as tools to accomplish its tasks. This gives the Client Program flexibility and power to create and run its own workflow—a custom sequence of events needed to accomplish a certain task or business need. (For example, an API can enable an ERP to access defined data in an EDI application, enabling that ERP to update reports and/or manage inventory.)

An API can also function to centralize information and/or functionality. When there are common or similar tasks that many Client Programs need to perform using shared information, it makes sense from both an efficiency and accuracy standpoint to draw from a single central location. This eliminates the need for each Client Program to implement and maintain tasks and data individually. (For example, both an inventory management system and an accounting system require information from an EDI application; an EDI application + API makes it possible for inventory and accounting to draw the data from one API location, as needed.)

Why do I need an API?

eZCom Software provides a high-functioning and well-reviewed API to enable integration of EDI with other applications. For more information, please contact us <link>; call 201-731-1800, option 1; or click here.

API, application programming interface, ERP, EDI application