REST vs SOAP? What’s the Difference?

REST vs SOAP? What’s the Difference?

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Nov 2, 2022 16:18 IST

REST and SOAP are two commonly used approaches to online data transmission. However, many people are perplexed whether these words are related in any way. In this article, we will look go through REST vs SOAP.

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REST vs SOAP, deciding one over the other might be challenging because they answer the same question: how to access online services or develop application programming interfaces (APIs). There is no direct comparison of REST vs SOAP. However, there are several distinctions that allow a person to make a more informed decision when picking between these two.

But, before proceeding further, let’s understand what does the term API actually means and its importance. Everything requires a medium to communicate, computer-human interactions done using hardware and software, human-human interactions through language and gestures, but what about software-software interaction? So, software products share data and functionalities through machine-readable interfaces or APIs. A software bridge called an API enables the communication between two applications. You utilize an API every time you use a mobile app like WhatsApp, send an instant message, or check the news, weather forecast, etc.

Now, that you know what APIs are and what they do, let’s continue with REST vs SOAP. The significant difference between these two is that SOAP is a protocol, whereas REST is not. After reviewing the table of contents and the topics covered in this article, let’s look at other differences between these two.

Table of Contents (TOC)

REST vs SOAP

REST vs SOAP, each of these approaches has its own set of pros and downsides, according to which you can distinguish between these two. There are various differences between REST and SOAP (REST vs SOAP); let’s explore them in a tabular format for better understanding.

Benchmark REST SOAP
Full form Representational State Transfer Simple Object Access Protocol
What is it It is an architectural style  It is a protocol
It uses Uniform Service locators  Service interfaces
Can make use of each other Yes. SOAP can be used as the base protocol for web services in REST. No. REST cannot be used with SOAP because SOAP is a protocol, while REST is an architectural pattern.
Java API JAX-RS JAX-WS
Defines standards to be strictly followed. No Yes
Requires more bandwidth Less More
Defines its security No Yes
Inherits security measures Yes No
Data format permitted Plain text, HTML, XML, JSON etc. XML
Preferred by More people Fewer people

What is REST?

Representational State Transfer is referred to as REST. When a client uses a REST API to make a request for a resource, the server responds with the resource’s current state in a defined format. REST APIs use the highly browser-compatible JSON data format and are based on URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers, of which a URL is one type) and the HTTP protocol. For interacting with the necessary components, a restful service would employ the standard HTTP verbs of GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. RESTful web services are those that are based on the REST architecture.

Reasons to develop a RESTful API include resource constraints, reduced security needs, data health, browser client compatibility, discoverability, and scalability—all of which apply to web services.

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Features of REST

In regards to REST vs SOAP, some of the features of REST are:

  • Any programming language can be used to create REST.
  • Any platform can be used to run these services.
  • The REST architecture-based service is scalable and lightweight.
  • Using HTTP protocols, clients can use REST APIs to change and even add new things to a server.
  • For CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) activities, it makes use of HTTP verbs like GET, POST, DELETE, PUT, and PATCH.
  • REST-based web services that provide data in Command Separated Value (CSV), JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), and Really Simple Syndication are available (RSS).
  • It is less secure than SOAP because it allows simple communication encryptions with TLS (Transport Layer Security).
  • REST Services are simpler to code and implement than SOAP.

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In terms of REST vs SOAP, what are the advantages of REST 

There are various advantages of REST, and some of those advantages are:

  • REST results can be cached, which improves performance and scalability.
  • It is significantly simpler than Web API because it uses ordinary HTTP.
  • REST optimizes bandwidth and is lighter than the web API because it eliminates unnecessary parts.

What is SOAP?

An XML-based protocol called SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is used to access web services through HTTP. It is created as an intermediary language to enable effective communication between software applications in different programming languages. Higher degrees of security (such as a mobile application interacting with a bank), messaging apps that require dependable communication, and interaction with legacy systems are some reasons you would wish to design an application with a SOAP API.

Features of SOAP

In regards to REST vs SOAP, some of the features of SOAP are:

  • Web services can easily convey data, thanks to SOAP.
  • Broadcasting messages from one computer to other computers is made possible through SOAP messaging.
  • In order for SOAP to function, an envelope with instructions for using web services must be sent.
  • The client-server architecture can be implemented as well. Using a SOAP protocol message, the client can activate a server-side remote procedure call.
  • Building APIs using SOAP, which encrypts data in XML, is a very tight and secure process.
  • The creation, retrieval, updating, and deletion of records from a server, including passwords, accounts, leads, and custom objects, can be done by a client using SOAP APIs.
  • Even when using SOAP intermediaries, SOAP offers end-to-end reliability due to its built-in successful/retry logic.

In terms of REST vs SOAP, what are the advantages of SOAP

There are various advantages of SOAP, and some of those advantages are:

  • SOAP can be written in any language.
  • It can be built in any language and run on any platform.
  • SOAP messages are in a reasonably basic XML format.
  • Because SOAP employs the HTTP protocol for transport, it is scalable.

Case studies related to REST vs SOAP

The strategy that might be most appropriate in a given situation is left up to the web developer. Numerous web issues and challenges can be resolved using both REST and SOAP. Let’s examine a few SOAP and REST API use scenarios.

REST APIs

  • REST is the method to use if you require stateless CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) activities.
  • Due to its widespread use, REST is a good platform for creating public APIs.
  • REST will work significantly faster and produce better outcomes in these circumstances than SOAP if your business currently makes less money or has restricted bandwidth.
  • You may do activities more simply with REST API because you don’t need to construct intricate XMLs to carry out simple, one-time jobs.
  • REST is the ideal approach when it comes to caching numerous requests. Clients may occasionally make repeated requests for the same resource. This may result in more queries being made to the server.

SOAP

  • REST is not the optimal method if an operation must be continued; instead, SOAP can be a better fit.
  • SOAP 1.2 adds extra requirements to assure this type of functioning if your application requires a specified level of dependability and security.
  • The WS* structure in SOAP 1.2 has an additional specification to provide contextual information and conversational state management if those features (Security, Transactions, Coordination, etc.) are required by the application.
  • As an illustration, consider an online learning platform where you want to purchase the course. Students can add courses to their carts before checking out. Assume that the final payment is handled via a web service. There can be an agreement that the web service can only accept the course name, details, and fees. It is always preferable to use the SOAP protocol in this situation.

Conclusion

REST vs SOAP, the primary distinction between these two is that SOAP is a protocol that adheres to a strict standard to allow communication between the client and the server. In contrast, REST is an architectural style that adheres to six constraints: Uniform Interface, Cacheable, Layered System, Client-Server, Stateless, and Code on Demand.

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Selecting REST vs SOAP comes down to the programming language, the environment in which it is used, and the requirements. Whether you use REST or SOAP for your online service, be sure your APIs are extensively tested. You will be able to employ these ways more successfully now that you have a good understanding of REST vs SOAP.

Author: Neetika Khandelwal

FAQs

REST vs Soap, what's the difference?

REST vs SOAP the difference between these two is that SOAP is a more rigid set of messaging patterns than REST.

REST vs Soap, why is REST preferred over SOAP?

In terms of REST vs SOAP, REST is recommended over SOAP because it supports a wider range of data types, whereas SOAP only supports XML.

REST vs Soap, which is more secure?

In terms of REST vs SOAP, SOAP is more secure. SSL, or Secured Socket Layer, can be used by SOAP and REST to protect data during API call requests. However, SOAP goes above and beyond by supporting Web Services Security.

How REST is better than SOAP?

REST is a lightweight service that is easy to use and scalable. Because it sends a postcard to the service provider instead of using SOAP, it effectively utilizes bandwidth. Numerous data formats are supported. Enterprise-level SOAP is favored; however, it is preferable for public APIs. REST is simple to read and write.

How is SOAP better than REST?

When a transaction must be carried out that necessitates making several calls to a service in order to finish a certain activity, SOAP is advantageous. Enterprise-level services work well with SOAP. The banking sector is one real-world application of SOAP over REST.

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio