What is EDI?

Interested in EDI? See below, where we help answer some questions about EDI.

Q: What is EDI?

A: Any form of electronic data exchange between companies can be considered EDI. Whether the data is sent as an Excel spreadsheet, X12 transaction, CSV file, or unique proprietary format, it’s all EDI. The only exceptions are PDF files or images.

Q: Can We Do Business via EDI Between Two Different Companies in the Same P21 Database?

A: Yes, that is possible. We can treat individual companies in the same P21 database as each other’s customer or vendor, and send the full spectrum of transactions back and forth that would typically occur in such a relationship. Company #1’s purchase orders will be imported into company #2’s system as sales orders. Order confirmations, ASNs and invoices will flow back the opposite way.

Q: What is a 240 Transaction?

A: A 240 is a package status transaction, typically used by carriers like UPS to send the shipment status of individual packages. Comparatio can handle and process 240s.

Contact Us Today to address any questions you may have about EDI, including its suitability for your company and the best methods for implementation. We are always here to help!

Why Should My Company Consider EDI?

At Comparatio, we spend a lot of time explaining the differences between our EDI processing solutions and other methods. In the simplest terms, EDI—which Comparatio broadly defines as virtually any electronic data transmission—is powerful automation. It eliminates manual-intensive processes and the errors that inevitably result.

Perhaps you’ve just recently implemented Prophet 21 at your company—or you’ve been using it for some time. If you don’t have EDI yet, you are probably wondering when it makes the most sense to launch, or whether customers or vendors should be first.

At Comparatio, we’ve had 1,000+ conversations with Prophet 21 users on the topic of EDI. As a result, we have developed a deep understanding of the situations where EDI is essential, when it may be helpful, and even when it doesn’t suit a particular company.

Whether it’s to benefit your customer or vendor relationship, we believe the following situations provide more than enough reason to implement EDI:

• Your company needs to automate processes to accomplish more with fewer people.
• You have a time-sensitive pattern of communication involving rapid-fire electronic transmissions.
• Automatic error correction is needed to simplify incoming orders, bypassing human intervention.
• A customer or vendor expresses interest, or perhaps offers an incentive.
• Complex data transmission is needed, requiring clean communication technique.
• Your customer knows exactly what they need to order.

Once your company has decided to proceed with EDI, we encourage all Prophet 21 users to consider the significant benefits of Comparatio’s EDI solutions:

• Unlimited implementation of new trading partners at no additional cost.
• Direct connection to trading partners—no VAN or other intermediary required.
• Automated error detection and correction.
• Handling of outside data formats within Prophet 21.
• Integration of custom workflows and processes.
• A direct, fully-automated approach, which comes with a simple and affordable pricing model.

Contact Us Today to address any questions you may have about EDI, including its suitability for your company and the best methods for implementation. We are always here to help!

What’s New at Comparatio: EDI for Prophet 21

As a Prophet 21 user, you may have already experienced one of the few options available for utilizing EDI within the software: Epicor’s Trading Partner Connect, the use of an external VAN for simple data delivery, or semi-automated solutions with custom data delivery. Comparatio’s EDI solution is different, direct, fully integrated and affordable.

At Comparatio, we connect directly–no third parties are needed to connect with trading partners–and we speak everyone’s language, regardless of data format. We include any and all maps and modifications to connect to your trading partners at no extra cost, and can store and handle auxiliary data that doesn’t have dedicated fields in Prophet 21. We are constantly updating our processes to better fit the needs of our customers.

Some of our latest updates:

  • Inventory Adjustment Imports into Prophet 21
  • Support for Outbound 830s to Vendors
  • Picking Up Formatted Emails and Importing as EDI Transactions
  • Support for 210 Carrier Invoices
  • Support for Dynamically Switching Between Prophet 21 Production and Test System for Individual Trading Partners
  • Importing Sales Order Changes into Prophet 21
  • Automatic Order Report to Show Orders Received but Not Imported
  • ChannelAdvisor Integration
  • SellerCloud Integration
  • Added AS2 Compatibility Mode to Support Non-Standard AS2 Servers
  • PO List Report to Show All Sent POs to Vendors Each Day
  • Added Support for 812 Transactions
  • BillTrust Integration
  • Amazon Integration
  • Improved Handling of Invalid, Switched or Partially Missing Customer Part Numbers and/or Item IDs in Inbound Orders
  • Updated Handling of Default Contacts, Order Takers and Default Ship-to’s if Insufficient Data in Prophet 21 or Not Provided in Inbound Orders
  • Splitting up Orders for Prophet 21 if Order Lines for Multiple Locations or Ship-to’s
  • Checking Prices of Imported Orders, Comparing Them with EDI Orders and Send Notifications about Discrepancies
  • Support of 940 and 945 Transactions – 3PL Warehouse Orders
  • Full eBay Integration
  • Added Price Catalogs (e.g. 832)
  • Added Inventory Reports (e.g. 867)
  • Vessel Receipt Imports
  • Full EDIFACT Support
  • Magento Integration
  • API to Allow Remote Access in Real-Time
  • Google Distance Matrix Integration to Determine Closest Warehouse to a Customer and Automatically Set Locations

Contact us today to find out how Comparatio can make your EDI for Prophet 21 needs a reality!

Four Programs We Use to Develop HTML5

After testing out several different software combinations over a number of months, we finally found the perfect combination for our development. We code with a number of languages (HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, etc), and our HTML5 team develops on both Macs and PCs, so we needed software that allowed us to work quickly, efficiently, and help us sync our projects so we always have the most up-to-date code. These four programs are essential to our workflow:

PHPStorm – An IDE that works incredibly well when developing for the web. With it’s simple layout, fast responsiveness, and optional advanced features, it’s an ideal software package for our use. It also connects to the other following programs we use very easily.

Bitbucket – When working on a project with a team, it is crucial to always have the most current code on your machine. Bitbucket makes managing this traditionally tedious process manageable. It integrates beautifully with PHPStorm and with just a couple clicks, the project code can be backed up or updated. Bitbucket also has a great website that can be used to see the history of the code, check statistics, and roll back changes.

Firefox – We use firefox while in development because it is available on every major operating system, has good compatibility with HTML5, and makes it easy to debug code.

XDebug – XDebug is used whenever we want to debug our PHP code. It integrates with both PHPStorm and Firefox to create an elegant, end to end debugging system.

Transition to HTML5

It’s clear that today there is a need to move towards platform-independent software solutions. Clients now have higher expectations for applications than ever before. They expect simple, intuitive, and powerful applications that solve the problem at hand in a clean and elegant way. Adobe has discontinued support for flash on mobile devices, creating a need for a new web technology to take its place: HTML5.

In a stark contrast with the past, today’s applications need to be built mobile-first. With phones and tablets with fast processors and large displays, it’s possible to do more with a mobile than ever. This includes things such as inventory management, data entry, and more.

There are many significant advantages to using HTML5:

1. Mobile-Ready – Applications are built with responsiveness in mind – meaning the app can change it’s view easily based on what device the client is using. Clients will love that they have one product that works amazingly well across desktops, tablets and mobile phones.

2. Powerful – By utilizing multiple web technologies such as CSS and Javascript, it’s possible to create desktop-class applications using web technologies that look and behave like they are running natively.

3. Elegant – HTML5 makes animations and the designing the user interface easier than ever.

With these advantages in mind, it is clear that HTML5 is the way to go for developing new applications for clients. Because the software is web-based, clients can access the software on any device with a web browser, and because our framework is designed with responsiveness in mind, it looks great on desktops, phones, and tablets.

More than that, HTML5 enables us to build robust, desktop-class applications in the cloud without requiring additional plugins. By utilizing the framework our team has been developing over the past year, we are able to create business applications faster than ever. The applications look beautiful, are feature-rich, contain all relevant business logic, and have all the great benefits HTML5 provides.

Throughout the development of our new framework over the past year, we learned a great deal about best practices, and the possibilities with software currently available. We plan to share our experiences on our blog at Toolbox.com.

Learn more at www.comparatio.com

Rapid Development of Business Applications

Businesses have varying needs for software, but they all have one thing in common: they want it delivered fast and reliable. At Comparatio, we are able to deliver on these needs for three main reasons: our in-house framework, our team, and history.

By utilizing our new in-house Comparatio Framework based on HTML5, we can rapidly create new applications. It utilizes technologies such as Twitter Bootstrap and MySQL for database. These applications are responsive, so they automatically reorganize to look and work great on PC’s, Macs, Phones, Tablets. In addition, we incorporate PHP and MYSQL so there is a powerful backend for the apps that can support any amount of data.

Developing great applications is typically a time consuming process, but our team is able to develop very quickly. Our team has trained extensively on the framework and all the technologies it uses and has already used the new framework to create several applications. The proficiency gained allows the developers to accurately gauge the scope of a given project, and complete it within a given time frame.

Finally, having experience in writing business applications allows us to work very quickly. Comparatio has been developing applications for over a decade. Some of these include Inventory Systems, Asset Management Systems, Customer Management Systems, EDI and more. Our developers have a solid understanding of the business logic that needs to be implemented into the software.

These advantages have enabled us to create robust business applications faster than ever and we are eager to create more.

Learn more at www.comparatio.com

How to Set Up PHP, HTML & MySQL Development on Mac OS X

The following are instructions for setting up a development environment on a Mac that can be used for HTML, PHP and MySQL.

1. Install NetBeans
NetBeans is the IDE used for programming.
Install NetBeans for HTML5 & PHP from this link:

https://netbeans.org/downloads/

2. Install MySQL & MySQL Workbench
MYSQL is used for databases.
Follow the tutorial at this link:

Install MySQL on OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Install Workbench from this link:

http://www.mysql.com/downloads/

3. Activate the built-in Apache Server on the Mac
Apache will provide a local server we can use to test websites.
Follow the tutorial at this link:

http://osxdaily.com/2012/09/02/start-apache-web-server-mac-os-x/

Test that Apache is properly installed by navigating to “localhost” in Safari
The root of the Apache Web Server folder is: /Library/WebServer/Documents
Change the permissions on the above mentioned Documents folder by right clicking on it, then click Get Info, then in the opened dialog box: click on the icon of a lock and input password, then under the Sharing & Permissions tab at the bottom, provide Read & Write Privileges to everyone who appears in the box.

4. Enable PHP in the built-in Apache
PHP is needed to test PHP functionality in the web pages
Follow the tutorial at this link:

http://php.net/manual/en/install.macosx.bundled.php

Restart Apache server in terminal using:
sudo apachectl restart
Test that the PHP server is functional by:
1. Navigate to /Library/WebServer/Documents
2. Copy the attached “index.php” file to this folder
3. In your web browser, navigate to: localhost/index.php
4. If you see a phpInfo page, then PHP is functional

5. Installing Xdebug
XDebug is needed to debug issues with code
XDebug is already installed in the computer, you simply need to enable it. To do that:
In Finder, in the top menu bar, click on the menu header: “Go”. From the drop down list, select: “Go to Folder”
In the dialog box that appears, enter: “/private/etc/“ (without quotes)
In that folder, open php.ini with Text Edit
Copy and paste the following lines of code to the end of the file

[xdebug]
zend_extension=”/usr/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20100525/xdebug.so”
xdebug.degault_enable=1
xdebug.remote_enable=1
xdebug.remote_handler=dbgp
xdebug.remote_host=localhost
xdebug.remote_port=9000
;xdebug.remote_log=”/var/log/xdebug.log”
xdebug.remote_autostart=1

Now, test if Xdebug is working:
Restart Apache server using terminal:
sudo apachectl restart
In Safari, navigate to “localhost/index.php”, (as done in Step 4)
Scroll through the page and search for “xdebug”
If you find it, that is a good sign. Next, we are going to verify that Xdebug was installed properly.
Using Command+A, select everything on the page (all the text and images); (see “Select All Screenshot” for a visual)
Copy everything by using Command+C
Navigate to: http://xdebug.org/wizard.php
Click inside the large white box in the page, and paste using Command+V; (see “Paste Screenshot” for a visual)
Click the “Analyse my phpinfo() output” button
If XDebug installed provides a version number, it works!

6. Running a test page on NetBeans
Now, test if Xdebug is working with NetBeans:
Open NetBeans
Go to: NetBeans>Preferences in the top menu bar
Check that the Web Browser:
Under the PHP Tab, then the General tab:
Php 5 Interpreter should be: /usr/bin/php
Click okay. Preferences are complete. Now create a new project:
Go to File>New Project
Create a PHP Application Project
Click Next
Project Name: test
Sources Folder: /Library/Webserver/Documents/test
Click Next
Run As: Local Web Site (running on local web server)
Click Next and Finish
Paste the following code into the index.php page:

 

In the code, next to the line “echo phpinfo(); there is a number 3. Click on that number to set a break point for debugging. This will replace the number 3 with a red square.
Save the project
Right click on the project in the “Project” Section on the left and click “Debug”
If you see content under the Variables, Call Stack and Breakpoints tab, then it worked.
Your development environment is now complete.

7. Good to know
httpd.conf: /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf
php.ini: /private/etc
xdebug.os: /usr/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20100525/xdebug.so
Root dir of Apache: /Library/WebServer/Documents
Apache Server Terminal Commands:
sudo apachectl start
sudo apachectl stop
sudo apachectl restart

Common EDI Questions Answered

We had our leading expert and CEO, Jan Poehland, answer some common EDI questions our team has encountered.

Your customers or vendors are providing Web portals to enter orders or invoices. Can we automate that with P21? 
Yes, many systems today provide options to interface. We define EDI as anything that allows sending data back and forth electronically. So, Excel spreadsheets, CSV files, XML files and many other data formats can be seen as EDI. Many of the Web portals also have APIs that allow retrieving data electronically and thus processing it automatically and vice versa. Examples are Amazon, eBay, Channel Advisors, Ariba and many others. The best of it all is that most of those systems allow connecting directly so there is no other third party or transaction fee involved.
What is a VAN and do we need VANs when doing EDI with P21?
VAN stands for value added network which essentially acts as a mailbox between different trading partners. In many cases today VANs are no longer needed because we can connect companies directly. However, customers or vendors sometimes require their trading partners to communicate with them through a VAN as a single point of contact. In such cases VANs are required and we can work with whichever one has been chosen by your trading partner. Most VANs have so-called interconnects which essentially relays information between different trading partners from VAN to VAN until transactions reach their final destination.
We would like to provide the availability of stock to distributors. Can we do that with EDI via P21?
Yes, there standard transactions for this type of information that can be sent to distributors (customers) or vendors. The data format typically varies between different trading partners but as long as customers or vendors can receive these transactions electronically this is very doable and part of our system.
What is a PO Acknowledgement and how does it work?
PO Acknowledgments are really order confirmations. Every time a new sales order gets approved in P21 then we can send out a confirmation to your customer to indicate order dates, expected delivery dates, back order status, changed prices or quantities, etc. Such a transaction is typically called an 855. PO Acknowledgments (855) are not to be mistaken with regular acknowledgements (997) which only indicate the receipt of a transaction but no further detail.
In Comparatio’s EDI system do ASNs and invoices get sent in batches or individually or combined?
ASNs and invoices are typically based on existing, unpaid invoices in P21. Such transactions get sent as soon as they have been created and marked as done. However, we do have the ability to combine multiple ASNs into a single transaction in case customers require to send a single ASN either per shipment or a single ASN per day.