Discussing, Learning, and Using Delphi and related technologies to create Great Applications!

November - EDI

November, 2022


This month’s presentation is on EDI, a Business-to-Business (B2B) data transfer protocol.

Just about any industry you can think of uses EDI in some form or other. Generally, EDI “documents” (AKA “messages” AKA “transaction sets”) are transmitted from one business to another. For example, a subset of EDI, called HL7, can be used to transfer a patient’s lab test results from a medical laboratory to a doctor or a clinic. But it’s also used to transmit data from a device to a service; for example, to transfer readings from medical equipment such as blood glucose monitors or even treadmills (in a “wellness center”) to a service that stores the results in a database for later processing.

There are two big problems a developer will face when implementing an EDI interface:

  • The first is, EDI messages are difficult to parse. Unlike some other data transfer protocols, such as XML or JSON, an EDI document cannot be fully parsed without a “map”, and this map can (and does) change from industry to industry and from user to user.
  • The second is, EDI isn’t so much a protocol as a suggestion. It is part of the EDI “standard” that every user may “interpret” the standard to fit their particular needs. The result is, every EDI sender implements EDI slightly differently.


Jonathan Eaton is a Delphi programmer and an author. He has worked on EDI systems in Insurance, Health Care, and Trucking. His brief presentation will highlight why EDI messages are difficult to parse, and one possible implementation strategy for dealing with an EDI system that will be receiving documents from multiple senders, each with their own “interpretation” of the EDI standard.

Our casual conversation will include things in Delphi we’re thankful for to keep with the traditional Thanksgiving season here in the U.S. Please come enjoy some pizza with us and learn about EDI.