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Dec 12,2013: It has been a while since my last news update. We are still working hard on EDI, trying to make business to business communications more efficient.

I am a regular reader and contributor on the EDI-L mailing list. It's a great resource for EDI information and includes people from around the world. If you want to be connected with a large EDI comunnity, you should subscribe:

There was a recent post on the EDI-L list about the problems implementating the ACA in the USA. The poster included a link to this article in Information Week and said "In my opinion, this Information Week article is one of the most logical, rational and information articles written in recent weeks regarding the misfortunes of HealthCare.gov web site."

My reply to EDI-L on Dec 11,2013 follows:

I'm going to have to disagree.

Certainly, some computer systems are complex and healthcare.gov is more complicated than most, but:
Anything done by the government is going to be a grossly expensive,inefficient mess. They have absolutely no incentive to do a good job.

The original contract was in the range of $56 million. Now we're closer to $1 Billion and still counting.
The lack of basic load testing indicates a fundamental disconnect from reality. They had YEARS to do this.

The article starts with an example of finger pointing. CGI Federal blames Optum/QSSI. Where have I seen this before? In _anything_ where there is more than one person doing the work, there is an opportunity to blame someone else. If another person is not available, we can blame our tools ;-)

The article then compares modern automobiles with "100 million lines of software code running its climate control, transmission, and other systems. Compare that to the meager 24,000 lines of code that put a man on the moon."

Give. Me. A. Break.

The moon landing was in 1969, almost 45 years ago. The computer technology onboard was very specific and minimal.
From this article in Computer Weekly
The thousands of employees and dedicated computer equipment on earth is conveniently ignored.
The changes in technology is astounding. Are we comparing an in-dash entertainment system and GPS with the 1969 NASA built on-board calculator?

This analogy is totally wrong and sets the pace for the rest of the article.

The author discusses frameworks and services and says nothing except things are complex and come from different sources.

The existing software development environment is a totally normal consequence of dealing with a global audience.

If I want to setup a blog today, I don't have to code communications, security, graphics or databases. Instead, my ISP will host my site, allow me to use an Open Source browser (Firefox) to enter a few keystrokes to install free blogging software (Wordpress) and give me all kinds of customization options.

If anything, the compartmentalization of tasks has made the entire process much simpler and efficient.

We see it every day in the EDI field. One company generates POs from sales and the replacement stock can be shipped by the supplier and be on the shelves in a few days (or less). We take for granted all the programs and suppliers that get involved inbetween.

The article closes, claiming that the "best result would have come from a project manager viewing the entire software delivery lifecycle and more fully engaging the participating vendors, including the ultimate customer."

This wasn't done. It's not a reflection of the complexity of the system or the lack of modernization, but rather the incompetence of the project managers who just didn't do their jobs.

There are plenty of complex systems that were built on-time and for a reasonable amount of money. eBay, Amazon, Waze, Google Maps, etc..

But software development is also littered with incomplete projects that never worked or were never finished.

The NHS in the UK flushed $15 BILLIONS down the toilet for an EMR that never worked.

I do business with medical clinics in Canada every day. I refuse to do business with the government or a hospital. Life is too short to waste trying to get around the bureaucracy, incompetence and inefficiency of most of these organizations.

Aug 12,2010: Not much news to report. Inovis and GXS merge. Resource links are updated regularly. See the Links/News section for recent EDI news.

Sep 25,07: Internet Commerce Corporation (ICC) buys EasyLink Services Corporation.

August 20, 2007

†Dear Valued EasyLink Customer,

†I am pleased to announce that EasyLink Services Corporation has been acquired by Internet Commerce Corporation (ICC), and the combined company will be known in the marketplace as EasyLink Services International Corporation. In addition to sharing this exciting news, I want to let you know how this transaction will benefit you.

This acquisition brings together two recognized market leaders in a variety of messaging services. †We will continue to provide the value added network, simple web-based fax delivery for small businesses, sophisticated fax hosting, tailored corporate e-mail messaging, and specialized Telex protocol transmissions for marine and finance industries you currently rely on.† In addition, you will now have access to expanded EDI offerings which include solutions such as Managed Services and E-Commerce Outsourcing alternatives.

EasyLink and ICC share a strong commitment to customer satisfaction and quality delivery of industry leading services and support. Thatís why you can be confident the commitment remains a priority during integration and beyond. ICC has a history of successfully integrating acquired companies and technologies, so you have our pledge this acquisition will be handled with the attention to detail and focus on our customers that has enabled success in the past. With us, you continue to have a partner committed to nothing less than the excellence you require.

I am excited about the market presence of a combined ICC and EasyLink and how we will deliver value each and every day as your trusted provider of document and data exchange solutions. With our expanded product set, you can depend on us as your partner-of-choice to simplify the business challenges you face with all your messaging needs. †I invite you to talk to your account manager about our solutions and look forward to a growing partnership with you in the years to come.

Thomas J. Stallings
Chief Executive Officer

Feb 3,06: May Company is now a part of Federated. When you click on a May Co. vendor link, you are brought to the Federated web pages.

Jan 15,06: Federated to Sell Lord & Taylor. Another sale probably means a change to the EDI specifications. The buyer s/b announced soon...

Walmart is converting specifications to version 5010

Jan 13,06: A local Montreal company has sued one of their customers for unauthorized discounts and chargebacks. Marc Allen Fashions has sued Fairweather Group. This brought to mind other current illegal chargeback issues against Saks and Federated.
"Previously, Federated moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that that the contracts between the parties allowed them to take the challenged discounts, and that the vendors could not complain after-the-fact.", but they were refused.

I can understand some kind of expense recovery due to errors or damages, but some of these penalties, discounts and chargebacks are totally outrageous. As an EDI software supplier, we see these practises, and do our best to help our clients avoid them. Perhaps the news of these legal actions will encourage some suppliers to fight back.

Nov 10,05: The following is an extract of a letter sent by Linens 'N Things, and received by one of our clients::

Dear Trading Partner:

Linens N Things has selected INOVIS as our Value-Added Network (VAN) for EDI communications.

It has always been Linens N Things policy to have our trading partners maintain a mailbox on the same VAN as Linens N Things. We do not allow interconnects. We also require that our partners pay for 100% of the transaction cost associated with VAN traffic. We understand that you may need some time to obtain a mailbox on INOVIS so we will temporarily interconnect to your mailbox. We have set a November 30, 2005 deadline for you to obtain a mailbox with INOVIS to communicate with Linens N Things.

If you have not moved over to INOVIS by November 30, 2005, your organization will be assessed additional charges associated with interconnect fees.

After further research, it turns out that, yes, they DO allow interconnects with a few VANs, and only if you pay for 100% of the costs.

This is a big difference from what was written. Inovis offers an Interconnect Agreement for $500.00 per year. I was quoted a minimum of $1,500.00 per year for a regular mailbox, with certain restrictions.

Considering that Sterling had a similar deal for WalMart suppliers in Canada, it seems reasonable. The only alternative is a direct connection, using AS3. LNT is probably using AS3 because it is a followup to their previous initiative in 2001, when they pushed a proprietary and expensive ftp based system by Trailblazer.

Apr 21,05: Too much news, not enough time!
We'll try to update this page more frequently.

Marshall Fields, previously a division of Dayton Hudson, is purchased by May Department Stores.

QRS, operator of the major UPC Catalog service and reseller of IBM/Advantis VAN services, is purchased by Inovis (aka Peregrine, Harbinger, Extricity). Inovis has their own VAN, and now that IBM/Advantis VAN is purchased by GXS, it means that all the QRS clients using IBM/Advantis are supporting Inovis's competition - GXS. Inovis is now trying to migrate their QRS customers to the Inovis VAN.

JCPenney is allowing interconnects!

May 13,04: Target changes 860/POC mappings. Retail price changes now being sent. Click Recent News for details.

Apr 7,04: WalMart and their push to AS2 is causing a feeding frenzy among AS2 software suppliers. Expensive bisynch modems and long-distance charges are being replaced by overpriced AS2 software. Be very careful when installing some of these 'WalMart only' solutions. You may be very surprised when you have to add an additional Trading Partner!
All the AS2 component specifications have been published and are available as Open Source Software. Unfortunately, WalMart is insisting that whatever is used for them be certified by the Drummond Group. Drummond Group is currently charging US $60,000.00 for certification, plus US $25,000.00 per year for maintenance! This makes it very difficult (impossible) for small companies to create their own AS2 solutions.
Perhaps the OpenAS2 project will solve this problem in the coming months.

Nov 13,03: Gottschalks is moving from QRS/Advantis to GXS. Interconnects ARE now allowed.
Normally, this would not be news, except that I have a letter from Gottschalks dated Nov 17,2000 which states the following:
"Gottschalks has recently selected QRS Corporation as our sole solution provider." and "All vendor based EDI communications must utilize the QRS network. Interconnecting between VANS will need to be eliminated".
When I asked them about the elimination of interconnects, they backpedaled and admitted that interconnects were still allowed, but that any charges due to interconnect problems would be sent to the client.
Now, 3 years later, they are switching away from Advantis. What about all the clients that were forced to create a second VAN account in order to exchange documents with Gottschalks?
Discouraging interconnections is a very bad idea. It goes totally against the openness of EDI.

Sep 2,03: WalMart is in the process of converting from bisynch modems to EDIINT with AS2. This should replace expensive modems and long-distance calls with expensive AS2 software. We have been implementing the free software from bTrade. Look around before you spend thousands of dollars on software.

Apr 15,02: JCPenney switches their 'preferred' VAN from Sterling to GE. Although they have always said that they do not support interconnects, this has never been a problem in the past.

Dec 10,01: Sears Canada is moving from version 3060 to version 4030. This is expected to happen during the 2002 calendar year.

Sep 20,01: Linens 'N Things is encouraging their partners to switch from VANs to direct ftp. This is a step in the right direction to reduce transmission costs.

Hudsons Bay / Zellers have modified their document mapping to be more compatible with the 4010?? standard. These changes are very minor.

More news coming here soon!

Older news will be rolled down the page, and ultimately removed.


We will try to keep you updated on the latest EDI news & developments. If there is something you want more information about, let us know.

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