SOAP vs REST is a never-ending debate. Both terms are different from each other; still, many people fail to understand the difference between SOAP and REST. Both SOAP and REST are the most dominant design and data layer models for web services. They play a vital role in running the whole procedure of our web platforms. Actually, this topic is a bit diverse and intense, so we must start things from the basics to gain the exact objective. To understand both REST and SOAP API, we must recognize what exactly is an API.
What is an API? (SOAP and REST)
An API (Application Programming Interface) provides a path for communication between two applications. When you request to perform a function through a web app, the requests forward through the webserver to the app server. The server then interprets it and processes that request to perform that function. After that, it provides the result as an output of your request. This whole communication back and forth between the browser (client) and the server is done through APIs.
It brings and assures a concept of security to your data at the same time. When two independent apps are connected via an API, they share particular packs of data. In that sense, when you are connecting through another server, you don’t have to be worried about the business logic of the server. Meanwhile, the server doesn’t need to know how you are presenting its data to the end-user. All you have to do is to make use of a system’s data presentation layer to make the best use of it for your cause.
Example of an API:
The main role of an API is to provide communication between two apps. Just like an app needs a feature that can be easily accessed from another app, there is no need to build the whole app for that function. You can just simply use an API to get the job done easily. For example, if you need a feature of an interactive map in your application, you don’t have to create the whole map by yourself. All you need to do is connect the google map through its APIs and inherit this function in your app.
What is SOAP API?
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) introduced as the first protocol to exchange data between different applications built on different languages. SOAP API operates on its standard method, and it heavily depends upon XML for conveying the request and providing the response. It has a built-in error handling function that increases the stability of the software. All of the communication cycles of SOAP API are associated with WSDL (WEB Service Description Language). WSDL is just like a contract among the provider (the source) and the consumer to settle all the conditions.
What is REST API?
REST (Representational State Transfer) is a way to provide communication for two different computers through HTTP/HTTPS. Although it seems quite simple according to REST API history, it took years to make it possible. REST API works on an architectural structure to access the web services. REST uses data in the format of any machine-readable program like XML or YAML, but mostly it uses JSON. There’s not any standard format description in REST-like Soap has in the form of WSDL. Meanwhile, when it comes to REST API vs SOAP then it depends upon several terms:
Client-Server: When a system communicates with another system, it makes an HTTP/HTTPS request through the URL of that system.
Stateless: As REST is stateless, the client must provide the complete information to get the response.
Cacheable: In REST API, the server’s response is always settled as cacheable or not.
Layered: REST API works in a layered structure, so each layer performs a specific function, and it transmits to another layer. In that sense, the client and server can’t have any control over both sides of the information.
REST API History
Before REST APIs the developers had to use SOAP to employ API, and the process was quite complex. So, according to REST API history, Roy Fielding and his fellows created REST API that can create communication between different servers through an architectural structure. They developed the first-ever REST API in 2000, and eBay was the first e-commerce platform that implies the REST API to provide their services.
Difference between SOAP and REST
When it comes to REST API vs SOAP, then there are several points that we must consider to differentiate them. Following are the points that will define the difference between SOAP and REST:
- When it comes to SOAP vs REST, SOAP API works as a protocol, and it operates on a standard pre-programmed principle. Meanwhile, REST works on an architectural style that enables a web app as a RESTful service.
- There is no way that SOAP API can access the REST API as it is a standard protocol. However, REST can use SOAP as a protocol to employ web services. It is where the REST takes advantage of SOAP API for being an architectural structure.
- To offer a SOAP API, it uses a WSDL file that explains the services a specific web service can provide. However, REST utilizes Swagger generally to depict the purpose and method of its usage.
- The amount of data that SOAP carries in its messages is quite a lot. For that purpose, it needs more bandwidth to transfer it. REST uses JSON to convey the requests, so it doesn’t need much bandwidth as the message size is already too small.
- Due to its too many formalities and standards, SOAP API is quite difficult to employ. It will show errors whenever you cross the line of the standards. RESTful APIs don’t have such limitations but sometimes it ends up as a corrupt API if poorly implemented by the backend developer.
XML Vs JSON
So, while discussing the difference between SOAP and REST, there is a 100% chance for a debate about XML vs JSON. Both these formats work as a language to define the APIs’ rules in both human-readable and machine-readable formats. The main reason to consider XML vs JSON is that both of them play their role for two different forms of APIs i.e., SOAP vs REST. The following are the differences between XML and JSON.
- When it comes to XML vs JSON, the difference is that JSON has its object types like string, number, array, and Boolean. Meanwhile, XML does not have any objects type as it piles up data in string only.
- JSON has got vast accessibility through different browsers. However, the cross-browser formatting of XML is complex.
- XML is a markup language, so it has the quality to present the data while JSON can also present the data as beautifully as XML.
- The data retrieval time of JSON is faster than XML.
- Most importantly, security among XML vs JSON is equally top-notch.
What are the Benefits of Rest API vs SOAP?
According to the difference between SOAP and REST, it is quite clear that REST is better than SOAP. Most of the developers choose REST over SOAP when it comes to employing an API for an app. There are some benefits of REST API vs SOAP which clearly show that REST API is a better option to choose:
Variety of data formats
REST doesn’t bind you for a specific data format like SOAP API. Although REST API prefers JSON for data formatting, you can still create any sort of data presentation technique to expose the data for front end clients’ usage.
Speaking of REST vs SOAP, the efficiency in data caching and retrieval for processing is quite better in REST. It doesn’t affect the performance of the apps while having multiple requests at a time. It stores the clients’ requests in an intermediate location that doesn’t put any burden on the performance.
Since REST API keeps clients separate from the server, this feature increases its scalability. Now the development team can employ their product on a large scale without any complexity.
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