REST vs SOAP Web Services

Image by — google

In order to differentiate ‘SOAP’ and ‘REST’ first, we should know about web services.

A web service is a standardized medium for transmitting data between client and server On the World Wide Web.

Modern business applications use multiple programming languages such as java, .net to develop web-based applications. Since these applications are written in various languages, it’s extremely difficult to ensure accurate communication between them.

Here is where web services come in. Web services provide a common platform such as XML and JSON that allows multiple applications built on various programming languages to have the ability to communicate with each other.

How web service work — Image by-guru99

look at the above image, here client and server may built using different programming languages but they will communicate using a standard platform such as XML and JSON.

Mainly there are 2 types of web services available. They are,

  1. SOAP web service (Simple Object Access Protocol)
  2. REST web service (Representational State Transfer)

So let’s differentiate each.

Difference between SOAP and REST

When to use SOAP?

  1. To provide Security — if the client requires a high degree of reliability and security, the new SOAP 1.2 standard adds a lot of new functionality, especially in terms of security.
  2. A formal means of communication — if both the client and server have an agreement on the exchange format, then SOAP 1.2 gives the rigid specifications for this type of interaction.

For Example Imagine a scenario, suppose a service only accepts the name, quantity, and unit price of a product. In this case, it’s best to use a SOAP web service.

3. Stateful operations — if the application should maintain the “State” from one request to another, then the SOAP 1.2 standard provides the WS* structure to support such requirements.

When to use Rest?

  1. Limited resources and bandwidth — Since SOAP messages are heavier than REST, SOAP consume a greater bandwidth. REST should be used in instances where network bandwidth is a constraint.

2. Statelessness — If there is no need to maintain a “state” of information from one request to another then REST should be used.

3. Caching — If there is a need to cache a lot of requests then REST is the perfect solution. The results of the most frequently asked queries can be stored in an intermediate location by using a cache. As a result, if a client requests a resource, it first checks the cache. It will not proceed to the server if the resources are available. As a result, caching will help reduce the number of trips to the webserver.

4. Ease of coding — Implementation of REST service is much more easier than implementation of SOAP. Therefore, REST is best if we want to implement a web service quickly

Challenges in SOAP

WSDL file — The WSDL file is a document which contains all information such as the data types being used in the SOAP messages and what all operations are available via the web service. The biggest challenge is WSDL file is having a tight contract between the client and the server. Therefore, one change in operation could cause a large impact, on the whole, client applications.

Document size — Since the document size of the SOAP messages is very high it consumes more bandwidth.

Challenges in REST API

Lack of Security — Unlike SOAP, REST does not enforce any kind of security. This is why REST is ideal for publicly accessible URLs, but REST is the worst mechanism for passing sensitive data between the client and the server when it comes to web services.

Lack of state — Most web applications require a stateful mechanism. Unfortunately in REST, the client is responsible for managing those “Sessions”, which makes the client application heavier and more difficult to manage.

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Associate Software Engineer at Virtusa