Difference between EDI and API

TLDR - Here’s what you need to know

  • EDI stands for Electronic Document Interchange and is about moving documents around 
  • API stands for Application Programming Interface and is used to automate actions 
  • Rose Rocket can support customers that need to use EDI or API 
  • Learn more about the Rose Rocket TMS 

When talking to your customer or partners, you’ve probably heard the terms EDI and API. These terms are usually mentioned in the context of connecting the software you use to those that your customers or partners use. 

If you’re unfamiliar with these terms or maybe heard them but never had to implement an EDI or API connection, you might find yourself wondering, what do these terms even mean? What is the difference between EDI and API? 

In this article and below video, we’ve explained what EDI and API are, as well as how to know if you potentially need to use either.

EDI for trucking

So what is EDI in trucking? EDI stands for Electronic Document Interchange. 

It’s an older technology and dates back to the early days of using computers for business. It was created to speed up the tasks that used to be done on paper, and was a replacement for sending documents that were put in envelopes and sent in the mail — this includes things like catalogs and purchase orders. 

In transportation, EDI is still used for things like load tenders, status updates, and invoices. 

How EDI works in trucking 

EDI is all about documents moving around. 

For example, if one of your customers is going to send you a load tender, their software will generate an EDI version of that tender. The EDI document that gets generated is an ugly document to the human eye and is really meant for computers to read. 

After that document gets generated by your customer, software that is close to you will read it and turn that document into something that’s easy for the human eye to read. Once you receive it in a readable form, you’ll be able to say, “Yes, we accept this load” or “No, we decline it.” You’ll then send back an EDI document that says yes or no. 

Once you have EDI set-up, it’s lightning fast and works really well to move info between you and your customers or partners; however, it can be tough to set-up. It often involves talking to a lot of people about detailed specifications of what those computer readable documents should look like and can also involve dealing with multiple vendors. 

API for trucking

The next term we’ll be looking at is API. API stands for Application Programming Interface. 

How is API different from EDI? Well, API is about making it possible to automate things when one system talks to another one. EDI is about exchanging documents and API is about doing actions, which can include exchanging documents, but also any other action that can be done within a software.  

For example, one of the best ways to think about API, is that in a TMS software you can click around, type in an order and dispatch it to a driver — with an API you can let a computer do all those same things. 

How API works in trucking 

When using API, you can let the computer create an order and the computer can dispatch that load to a driver. Basically, API lets you write a program that does stuff in someone else’s application and is often used to automate actions. When one API talks to another, you can do all kinds of amazing business. 

Here at Rose Rocket, we use API a lot. We’ve built API connections with accounting softwares, so that when you generate bills or invoices in Rose Rocket, they automatically get exported to your Xero or QuickBooks. We’ve also built API connections with a software called BorderConnect, to streamline the process of crossing the border and with ELD vendors, so that you can see your assets in real time. 

How do you know if you need to use EDI or API?

So when do you need to implement an EDI or API connection? If the people you’re doing business with are on the Rose Rocket network, you don’t need to implement either because one Rose Rocket TMS instance can easily talk to another. 

If you need to set-up an EDI connection with one of your customers or partners, they will let you know. EDI is almost always associated with large retailers or huge organizations. They’ll want to use EDI to push orders to you, and they’ll want you to use EDI to push status updates and invoices to them. 

When might you want to use the Rose Rocket API? A great time to explore the Rose Rocket API is when there is something you want to automate, like order flow or manifest dispatch, or something else in a way that isn’t already pre-built in Rose Rocket. To get started, your developer and your IT team can find everything they need to know about the Rose Rocket API in the Developers section of our website. 

Setting up EDI and API 

If you’re a Rose Rocket customer and you need to set-up an EDI connection, we can help! 

If you’re interested in exploring what the Rose Rocket API can do, the good news is you already have access and can start exploring. 

If you’ve got questions about setting up an EDI connection with Rose Rocket or an API connection, reach out to your dedicated account manager. New to Rose Rocket? Book a demo here.

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