XML vs JSON, Which One is Better to Use in API Development?


XML vs JSON, Which One is Better to Use in API Development?

XML vs JSON, Which One is Better to Use in API Development? 1200 628 Status200


As far as we are concerned about XML vs JSON and their use in API. We must have first-hand knowledge about an API (Application Programming Interface). It will help you to have a better understanding of the role of XML and JSON. Once you know the significance of an API in both web and mobile app development, you will certainly know how vital it is to use either XML or JSON.

An API is a path of communication between the web server and different application servers. API provides an SDK that any system uses to either define or inherit the business logic. Therefore, API is a middleware between client and server that acts as a data layer. The medium that API can use to present data in human-readable form can be JSON or XML. So, from here, you’ll specifically explore JSON vs XML performance.


When we specifically talk about both XML vs JSON API, we must clarify that they both are the same thing with the same objective. Meanwhile, performing their actions in a different way can result in different results on multiple communication routes between the applications. Although the choice among the two of them also depends upon the motive for which an application works. So, let’s start with defining each of them separately in detail to make their purpose quite clear.


XML precisely stands for eXtensible Markup Language as it exchanges human-readable documentation in the electronic data form. As we can get from its name that XML is a markup language that helps to insert notation in a human-readable text. These notations bound the text and show us the Metadata in the form of a tree-like structure. It supports custom attributes for the data that makes it portable across all platforms.

When we discuss JSON vs XML performance, this is how XML works.

XML Syntax

If we precisely discuss the syntax of XML, there are several logical rules. You can easily understand each rule with the help of the specific code and explanation.

Root element: An XML document can have multiple elements but it must contain a parent element that we call as the root element. Below is the syntax for root element:






Closing tag: Every XML element must have a closing tag. Once you define an element, you must close it; otherwise, it will show an error instead of operating. As you can see in the above example, all elements have a closing tag, whether it is a root element (<root></root>) or a child element (<child></child>).

XML Prolog: For the prolog. XML contains this specific line of code. Although this prolog is optional and if the file contains it, it must be on the top of it. XML documents can have different characters from multiple International languages. For that purpose, you must specify the encoding within the XML file as UTF-8. You also need to save your file as UTF-8 is that it is the default encoding for different characters in XML documents.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

Attribute value: Any XML element can contain multiple custom attributes for the value of the variable. In that case, the value of the attribute must be quoted as you can see in the code below:

<note date=”12/11/2007″>




Entity references: There are some characters in XML, which contains a specific meaning. You just can’t put special characters like “<” with an element. The parser will interpret it as the beginning of a new XML element and show an error. To provide you a better concept, here is an example:

This is a code with error: <message>salary < 1000</message>

This an accurate code to insert the above character: <message>salary &lt; 1000</message>

If you want to use such a character in your element, there are several entity references:

&It; for  <  (less than)

&gt; for  >  (greater than)

&amp; for  &  (ampersand)

&aspos; for    (apostrophe)

&qout; for   (quotation mark)


JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It is considered as a much simpler language for both demonstrating and retrieval of the data. That’s the crucial difference between JSON and XML. JSON is supported by multiple data structures, unlike XML which only supports type text/string data structure.

Meanwhile, JSON contains the data in the form of key-value pairs. If we talk about the performance of XML vs JSON, then JSON has got the upper hand. It has got the fluency in the API code and web services, both in the form of data retrieval and parsing.

JSON Syntax

While talking about JSON’s syntax, you must clear one thing that it is a subset of the JavaScript syntax. That’s the reason it has much more similarities, like a simple JavaScript code. Meanwhile, the syntax rules of JSON are much more precise and human-readable as compared to XML.

JSON Data: As stated earlier, JSON contains the data in the form of a key-value pair. A JSON object must start and end with curly braces “{ }”. Each key-value pair must contain a colon as separator and the key must be encapsulated within quote-unquote. Below is the syntax of a typical key-value pair of type string:


Evaluation of JavaScript: The format of the JSON code is almost similar to JavaScript. The only difference is that in JSON, the keys must be in string form and double-quoted. Meanwhile, in JavaScript, the keys can be alphanumeric.

For JSON: { “name”:”John” }

For JavaScript: { name:”John” }

JSON Data Structure: The JSON supports the following data types:

  • String
  • Number
  • Object
  • Array
  • Boolean
  • Null

Meanwhile, in JavaScript, the values can be in the form of the above data types. Apart from them, you can also define them in other valid expressions like:

  • Function
  • Date
  • Undefined

JSON vs XML Example

From the beginning of this blog, you must have known that both XML and JSON can receive data from the webserver. That’s how they help an API to produce the pathway from communication between different applications. From a programming point of view, the difference between JSON and XML is their syntax and structure. This fundamental difference is the leading cause behind the other differences between both languages. You’ll realize it by considering the examples for both of them. 

Example for JSON:


  { “firstName”:”John”, “lastName”:”Doe” },

  { “firstName”:”Anna”, “lastName”:”Smith” },

  { “firstName”:”Peter”, “lastName”:”Jones” }


Example for XML:



    <firstName>John</firstName> <lastName>Doe</lastName>



    <firstName>Anna</firstName> <lastName>Smith</lastName>



    <firstName>Peter</firstName> <lastName>Jones</lastName>



So, by considering the above JSON vs XML example, the first thing that will pop up in your head is the code’s preciseness. You can see both codes are in the human-readable form describing the list of the names of employees. Meanwhile, the XML code is quite extensive as it doesn’t support arrays. On the other hand, the JSON code doesn’t contain any end tag as it can define the list by only using an array. As there is no rush of tags in JSON code, you can easily understand it. That’s why JSON over XML has been a priority for many programmers since its release.

Difference between JSON and XML

Despite having the same objective of transferring the API data, both XML vs JSON have considerable differences. So, the following are the differences between these two languages:

Language: XML is a markup language, unlike a programming language. It contains several elements that need tags to define them. Meanwhile, JSON is just a simple language following the JavaScript format.

Data Storage: XML stores the data in a tree structure by defining each value one by one. On the other hand, JSON stores the data in a mapping structure with key values of the names. It makes the code even shorter and simple to understand. The traversal time in JSON is also comparatively short as compared with XML, making its processing time faster than XML.

Processing: XML is not only a language, but it can also process and do the further formatting of the documents and their objects. However, JSON is incapable of doing any processing of the documents itself.

Speed: Due to bulky data, the XML files’ processing speed is quite slower than JSON. The size of the JSON file is comparatively smaller. Meanwhile, parsing JavaScript through JavaScript engines makes it even faster. 

Document size: The tree data structure of XML makes the document size heavier, and the continuous tags are a bit complex to read. JSON is relatively compact as there are no empty tags or lengthy code to make the file heavier.

Data types: It’s one of the advantages of XML over JSON that it provides access to complex data types. You can include charts, images, and other non-primitive data types in your XML file. Meanwhile, JSON only allows Strings, Numbers, Booleans, and Objects of the data types. However, the objects can only handle primitive types of data.

Security: It is one of the key advantages of JSON over XML in that it offers better protection of data. Data rendering in JSON is quite secure if you are using JSONP for it. However, XML structure has always a threat from the DTD validation by default. If there is no such violation, the data is safe.

Advantages of XML Over JSON

There multiple advantages of XML over JSON, as you can read below:

  • If we specifically consider the exchange of data between different platforms, XML is more efficient. It transports the documents across other systems and among various applications.
  • It has a unique identity for the data by keeping it separate from the HTML.
  • XML is 100% portable; that’s why any application can use its data regardless of the platform if it can process XML.
  • Besides this, XML is quite extendable as you can create your own tags according to the attributes you need.
  • The accessibility of XML through different systems simplifies the platform exchange process.

Advantages of JSON Over XML

Following are the advantages of JSON over XML:

  • When we consider XML and JSON, the key benefit of JSON is that it supports all browsers due to its relation with JavaScript.
  • Due to its precise and simple syntax, JSON is quite easy to get a hand on.
  • Meanwhile, being the subset of JavaScript, JSON can be easily parsed in JavaScript.
  • Almost every JavaScript framework supports JSON, which makes it easy to program.
  • You can perform the transmission of the data by using a network connection, which makes the process faster.
  • The sharing of JSON files is easy due to their compact size, which makes the data transfer quite fast.
  • Meanwhile, the fast parsing of JSON on the server side makes operating quite efficient. It helps to enhance the user experience.
  • Writing test cases for API built-in JSON are quite easy. Therefore, it provides an easy way in troubleshooting API endpoints.

Why JSON over XML?

This whole article revolved around XML vs JSON by covering all the aspects in detail. Meanwhile, you might have noticed that JSON is superior to XML by having the JSON vs XML example or its advantages. People usually ask why JSON over XML? So, to sum up, all the above discussion and to make things more precise, we are presenting you the key reasons that make JSON before XML.

Less extensity

JSON has a compact and accurate style; that’s why it is easier to read than XML. The lightweight JSON documents can make the process faster and improve the performance of an API of any web application.


JSON is quite efficient in terms of JSON vs XML performance. As it requires less memory for its storage in any software, so the processing speed increases. Meanwhile, JSON also saves you from over-investing in server resources.

Data Structure

It uses a mapping structure for the data, unlike the tree structure of XML. So, whenever the value limits the data, you can easily get a predictable data model.

Objects alignment

The great thing about JSON coding is that its objects always match with the JSON objects. It gives a special advantage to the JavaScript developer to quickly understand how JSON operations are actually being performed.


When it comes to XML vs JSON, JSON has the upper hand in terms of its usage. The main reason is the popularity of JavaScript in web and mobile development. XML is now becoming kind of old school and we are already witnessing a great impact of GraphQL.

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