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TLDR:

  • Unlike REST (REpresentational State Transfer), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a messaging service.
  • REST operations are data-driven, whereas SOAP is a function driven architecture.
  • SOAP solely uses the XML schema data format. On the other hand REST is permitted to use HTML, XML, JSON, and more.
  • As far as bandwidth, REST APIs are going to need less resources than SOAP APIs.
  • SOAP is used more often by large enterprises than REST is in those environment. One reason for this is that SOAP has tighter WS-Security. It's architecture also enables it to scale more easily and efficiently than REST.
  • SOAP has a strict payload communication contract in which it needs every detail before message communication happens. REST is not bound by these same constrictions.
  • REST can be cached, whereas SOAP cannot.
  • SOAP has built in ACID Compliance and REST does not.

In this article we will look at what an API does, and why developers choose to use them. As you can see, even though SOAP and REST are both APIs, their architecture varies. REST was developed earlier than SOAP architecture. APIs for web services streamline IT architecture, and provide standardization for communication between client and data accessed through web services. Let's have a closer look.

Table of Contents

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What Is an API?

In the development world, an API is an acronym which stands for Application Programming Interface. Although the majority of Internet users may not know what or how an API works, nonetheless, APIs are working in the background during their online experiences. APIs are responsible for the connectivity between applications, data, and devices. They are the back-end technology to deliver data and create connectivity across the web. Airline booking engines, messaging apps, and even Facebook all use APIs to access specific data between systems without worrying about their varying architectures.

Moreover, using an API helps developers to reduce the amount of code they must write. It also creates consistency between data sharing systems, helping to maintain compatibility and security during communication between services. APIs are secure because developers can control access to both hardware and software, yet allow applications permissions to interact with the data and functions they wish to provide. One thing to note is that APIs are not limited to online uses, but are also used in accessing operating file systems, or hardware, including camera and GPS peripherals. In this manner, developers focus on writing minimal code by using APIs provided to them by the platforms they are building upon.

What Is REST?

REST is a software architectural style, which provides standardization of the communication between computer systems. REST APIs make use of the HTTP protocol to access and use data in this type of web service. In this scenario, a server will expose its services to the Internet, by providing an endpoint that a client will send HTTP requests to. Using REST to build HTTP services ensures compatibility across systems, as well as scalability, data integrity and security. It should be noted that REST can use both the HTTP and HTTPs protocols, depending on the security requirements of the API.

Endpoints exposed on a server in the REST architectural style works by having the client send HTTP(or HTTPs) requests to talk to web services. From there, operations can be performed that Create, Read, Update, Delete, also known as CRUD operations. These operations are performed by using standard HTTP methods. These standard HTTP methods are GET, POST, PUT, UPDATE, and DELETE. For example, a REST API will expose resources from endpoints on the server, allowing a client to then send an HTTP GET request to return data arrays or data objects to the requesting client. With REST APIs, the data format most commonly used is JSON, but can also be plain text, hypertext, and XML. Clients in this case can be a mobile app, web app, browser, or other types of clients that can make HTTP requests to a RESTful web service API.

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What Is SOAP?

SOAP is a web communication protocol, which stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. It is a type of standardized messaging protocol that uses an XML data format to communicate requests between server and client. Many large enterprise organizations prefer SOAP because it provides for greater security and scalability. However, SOAP implementation is common with all size organizations, and not reserved for solely large enterprise corporations such as banks.

Main Differences of REST vs. SOAPWeb Services Protocol: SOAP vs REST

As mentioned previously, SOAP is only XML based. REST is mainly JSON formatted data. However REST can use additional data formats such as HTML, plain text, and even XML. Functionally, REST is without a standardized messaging protocol. SOAP uses more enterprise level security on the other hand, and is in itself a messaging protocol. Architecturally, SOAP needs more bandwidth than REST requires for usage. When it comes to caching, REST calls can be cached, but SOAP calls cannot.

Finally, event payload handling is by the SOAP messaging protocol in a logical success and result communication between the client and server. In contrast, REST has no way of resolving communication failures but to retry the message to the web service endpoint of the API.

 

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