An EDI translator provides a way to for computers to read EDI files using an EDI parser engine. The EDI translator provides software that is written specifically for the EDI specification, provided and maintained by X12.org. The EDI spec is well documented and schemas are also available.
How does an EDI Translator Work?
In order for an EDI translator to read an ANSI X12 EDI file, the computer program must automatically convert a raw EDI message into either XML or a programmable object, like .NET or Java. Typically it will go through the following processes:
1. Identify the EDI file type - for example, X12 5010 837P is an EDI 837 healthcare professional claim
2. Parse and translate the header and footer. In EDI terminology, this is the transport information identifying the envelope with sender and receiver communication data.
3. Then, it reads EDI segments, loops, and data elements and resolves to the underlying schema
4. A EDI reader, should also validate EDI results and show the errors.
5. Optional - The EDI reader splits the EDI file by ST (transaction level) or other segment (like the claim level in a 837 EDI file.
6. Typically, the parser will also generate an acknowledgement back to the sender, this typically takes on the format of a 999 ACK in healthcare 5010 format.
Compare your EDI Translator and How to Select
Depending if you need a set of tools that do basic parsing or a larger enterprise solution that has all of the integration plumbing, your choices come down to a few categories:
1. Open Source parsing and translators - Typically, these are available on the internet, but most require some significant ramp up, coding skills, and often lack the enterprise ability to translate and read larger EDI files.
3. Cheap is not always Affordable - In the long run, cheap EDI parsing solutions on the market cost more with setup and their basic functionality is limited in terms of performance oriented processing. Most of these platforms require EDI expertise because their API and tools are only provided at the EDI spec/schema level. Additionally, there is no room to grow with these and you can't grow your platform's features as your organization has additional EDI needs.
2. Online EDI Apps and tools like X12Hero.com - In some cases, an organization just needs added EDI capabilities to perform EDI translations like parsing, validating, splitting, convert to CMS-1500 form, and CMS-1500 form to EDI. This is a great option that does not require any software installations and is subscription based as a SaaS solution.
3. Enterprise-grade tools and platforms like T-Connect SDK software packages that do heavy EDI processing. T-Connect also provides a "business object" interface and does not require EDI expertise (but you could if you wanted to). This provides two interfaces: and EDI interface and business object interface. So instead of dealing with 2400 loops in EDI, a non-EDI developer can code against "claim lines" objects. Additionally, T-Connect provides a complete relational database that automatically stores transaction as they are processed.
5. Full EDI Integration Platforms like T-Connect EDI Gateway - provides everything required to process compliant 5010 healthcare EDI transactions with an easy-to-use portal for administrators.
Build More Features as You Grow
Companies just starting out with an EDI translator, can start small with basic validation and translation capabilities and then work their way up as needed. Some of those features can be added as modules in products like T-Connect such as:
1. Custom rules
2. Elevated SNIP Edits
3. Trading Partner Management
4. SFTP Connectivity
5. Workflows and Routing
6. Maps and other EDI Transformations
Free EDI Editors
Check out X12 Studio, a free download that lets users process EDI files, validate, and translates into an easy to read hierarchical format. The tool is great for new users as well as experts in the field. It provides the standardized SNIP 1, 2 edits and conforms to the X12.org specifications. It's more than an EDI parser, it handles very large files and provides searching capabilities.