SOAP vs. REST API: A Quick Comparison

SOAP vs. REST API: A Quick Comparison

When it comes to discussing API design; planning & modeling tools, two of the most talked about web services are SOAP and REST. Both applications share a similar function: to provide seamless communication between two systems or components. However, they are inherently different technologies. Each program has its own set of advantages which can address the specific needs of computer programmers and web developers. To know which web service suits your organization’s goals; here is a quick comparison between SOAP and REST APIs.

What is SOAP API?

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) was designed before REST. It’s a protocol that ensures two completely different programs (e.g. Windows and Linux) are capable of exchanging data via HTTP and XML. SOAP also uses a standardized set of messaging patterns that are capable of recovering, updating, creating, and deleting records. What’s more; SOAP has a built-in ACID compliance and offers support for WS-Security, giving developers additional security while fortifying data privacy and integrity.

Advantages of SOAP with  built-in standards and securities:

  • Operate across firewalls and proxies without having to modify the protocol itself
  • Get access to more enterprise-level security features
  • Have a higher successful/retry logic
  • Encounter fewer anomalies when transactions take place with the database

However, SOAP is a heavyweight protocol. It requires more bandwidth, and developing a system with SOAP can be complex. It relies more on XML—even though it can be sent over HTTP.

What is REST API?

REST (Representational State Transfer) on the other hand, is an architectural style that allows the transmission of data over a standardized interface like HTTP. It uses basic create, read, update, and delete operations, so it’s easier to understand and work with. REST supports many data formats (predominantly JSON) making it browser-compatible. As a result, it’s no surprise that REST has become the most popular choice among public APIs.

Advantages of developing an effective RESTful architecture:

  • A smaller bandwidth and faster operations
  • Mark data as cacheable
  • Better browser support
  • Be able to integrate SOAP in the design
  • Allows the use of a variety of data formats (e.g. HTTP, JSON, URL, etc.)

However, REST does not have an official standard, so it does not have the same robust security features that SOAP has. In addition to it depending on how it’s designed, RESTful APIs can also be complex to use.

SOAP or REST which one is Better for Me?

Now that you are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both services you must choose the one that is most compatible to work with at your organization. If you have limited bandwidth and resources but require caching of data, REST API is the best option. However, if you require more comprehensive features since you are handling formal contracts and financial transactions; SOAP API is a better choice. You may also get the best of both APIs by incorporating both in your system.

It’s essential to implement a web service that suits the goals and needs of your organization. With the correct platform, your web developers will be able to create and maintain an API protocol that provides smooth data transmission between you and your consumers.

If you need to create efficient APIs using either SOAP or REST architecture, then Stoplight can help you. Stoplight offers specialized API training and products for developers and enterprise-level companies. If you are interested in learning more about SOAP and REST APIs then visit our website.


Roy M is a technical content writer for the last 8 years with vast knowledge in digital marketing, wireframe and graphics designing.

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