The Main Differences of SOAP and REST Protocols

soap and rest api

Without saying anything about the definitions, we’ll come right out of the gate and say that SOAP and REST represent two solutions to one particular issue.

And that issue is accessing web services without a problem. Whether you know or don’t know much about the processes, choosing between one of them can be very difficult at times.

The Differences between the Two Protocols

Developed by the Microsoft, SOAP has a long tradition. SOAP consists of web services that are standards-based. On the other hand, REST is a brand new technology that still hasn’t been used to its full capabilities. It was developed to fill in the gaps that SOAP couldn`t and to provide a simpler method of accessing web services.

But don’t get us wrong, that doesn`t mean that REST is a better choice. In certain situation, SOAP can be easier to use than REST. Both of those technologies have their positive and negative sides. Your choice should be based on your own needs. We can say that SOAP is a more rigid than REST, which is more flexible when it comes to messaging patterns.

What is a Representational State Transfer (REST)?

The majority of developers consider that SOAP is too rigid and difficult to use. In order to execute simple tasks through JavaScript and SOAP, it is expected of you to write a ton of code. Moreover, every time you need to get something done, you need to create a separate XML structure. REST changed that completely; RESTful API design doesn`t use XML to make a request, instead, it uses a simple URL.

In some cases, the process requires some extra information, but in most situations, REST will rely on obtaining information with a simple URL approach. REST uses 4 HTTPs to perform the tasks. Those are GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.  When it comes to obtaining the data you need in a certain form, REST is far superior than SOAP. That form should be easy to parse in the language you are using for your app.

What is a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)?

As we said, SOAP was developed by Microsoft. It was developed to take the place of DCOM and CORBA, far older, outdated protocols. They couldn`t be used in the age of the internet due to their rigidness. SOAP’s developers designed it to support the expansion. As we said, SOAP is relying only on XML when it comes to providing message services, different from later developed REST.

Even if you are using only the parts you need for a particular task, SOAP can be pretty hard to understand. The requests and responses can become extremely confusing in SOAP. Some of the languages require you to build all those requests manually. Furthermore, SOAP will not tolerate any mistakes made. Nonetheless, SOAP has some great features as well, and one of them is built-in error handling, which is pretty valued in the development community.

What are the Benefits of REST over SOAP?

We’ve already said that REST is much more flexible than SOAP, however, that’s not the only advantage it has over it. Some of the more notable ones include:

  • SOAP will allow only XML data format, REST allows a variety of formats.

  • REST protocol is used by the Yahoo, Google, and Amazon, etc.

  • When combined with JSON, REST is easier to use.

  • REST offers much better support for browser users.

  • REST is faster, is easier integration with websites, and requires no refactoring.

  • REST has better performance, catching information is not dynamic and not altered.

Even though the tradition is on the SOAP side, REST powers more than 70% of public APIs today. The number could be even higher, however, in some cases SOAP cannot be completely replaced, but nonetheless, REST is much more used.

What are the Benefits of SOAP over REST?

Unlike REST, SOAP has a built-in error handling. That feature could be of great help in some situations. Believe it or not, SOAP has a couple of more advantages over his more modern counterpart:

  • Although it is a small percentage, sometimes you will need improved transactional reliability. That`s where you should use SOAP rather than REST.

  • Because of the SOAP protocol, operating across firewalls is much easier, and it doesn`t need any modifications. Operating over firewalls in XML format can be dreadfully slow at times.

  • Sometimes, designing SOAP services is simpler than REST. Web service that is needed to support structured operations requires less coding.

The Bottom Line

As you already know, opinions about SOAP and REST are divided. When it’s all said and done, it depends on what you need, so the best protocol for your operation is the one that fits you the best. However, you should also know that a vast majority of APIs today are made by JSON and REST. SOAP remains a good resolution to certain problems.

We hope our article was enjoyable and informative. If you have something to add, or a question to ask, leave a comment in a comment section down below. Thank you for reading our article.

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About the Author: Gaurav Dhaked

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