Differences Between SOAP and REST: A Comprehensive Guide – IQCode

SOAP vs REST: A Comparison

In today’s world, exchanging data between different applications has become a complex process due to the use of various programming languages. To simplify this, web services have been introduced which is a standardized medium to propagate communication between client-server applications on the world wide web. There are two types of web services – SOAP and REST.

What is SOAP?
SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. It is a protocol that uses XML to exchange information between client and server via HTTP or HTTPS. It is primarily used for enterprise-level applications that require a high level of security.

What is REST?
REST stands for Representational State Transfer. It is an architectural style that uses HTTP protocol for exchanging data between client and server. It is used for web-based applications that require fast and lightweight interactions.

Features of SOAP:

  • Works with XML only
  • Uses WSDL for communication
  • Supports stateful operations
  • Works best with enterprise-level applications
  • Requires more bandwidth and resources

Features of REST:

  • Works with various formats such as XML, JSON, and HTML
  • Uses URI for communication
  • Supports stateless operations
  • Works best with web-based applications
  • Requires less bandwidth and resources


  • SOAP is more secure than REST due to its built-in WS-Security standard
  • SOAP is more rigid and structured, while REST is flexible
  • SOAP supports stateful operations, while REST supports stateless operations
  • SOAP requires more resources, while REST requires less
  • SOAP uses WSDL for communication, while REST uses URI

SOAP and REST have different features and are used for different purposes. SOAP is used for enterprise-level applications that require a high level of security, while REST is used for web-based applications that require fast and lightweight interactions.

Q.1: Is REST API better than SOAP?
Ans: It depends on the requirements of the application. REST is better for web-based applications, while SOAP is suitable for enterprise-level applications.

Q.2: Is SOAP more secure than REST?
Ans: Yes, SOAP is more secure than REST due to its built-in WS-Security standard.

Q.3: When should I use SOAP over REST?
Ans: SOAP should be used for enterprise-level applications that require a high level of security.

Q.4: Can REST use SOAP?
Ans: No, REST cannot use SOAP.

Q.5: What are the disadvantages of REST web services?
Ans: REST services are not suitable for heavy volume transactions and large binary objects.

Q.6: What is WSDL?
Ans: WSDL stands for Web Services Description Language. It is an XML document that describes web services.

Q.7: What do you mean by a SOAP message?
Ans: A SOAP message is an XML document that includes information about the method call and parameters.

Q.8: What are the different HTTP methods in REST?
Ans: The different HTTP methods in REST are GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, PATCH, and OPTIONS.

What is SOAP?

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is an XML-based protocol used for accessing web services via HTTP. It acts as an intermediate language, enabling communication between applications built in different programming languages. SOAP facilitates the exchange of XML data between applications, supporting both stateful and stateless operations. Stateful operations involve the server retaining information received from the client across multiple requests, while stateless operations require less information about the client’s state. Examples of stateful operations include bank transactions and flight bookings.

What is REST and its importance?

REST, which stands for Representational State Transfer, is a widely-used architectural style for creating web services. It follows a stateless client-server model, where clients request and servers respond to these requests. With RESTful APIs, clients send requests containing representations of resource state, and servers respond with the state of requested resources. The information can be conveyed in formats like JSON, HTML, XML, or plain text, with JSON being the preferred format due to its readability by both humans and machines. Understanding and implementing RESTful APIs is essential for creating scalable and flexible web services.

SOAP Protocol Features

* SOAP protocol is an XML-based protocol for sending information
* in web services. This code highlights its key features.

// Fully XML-based data formatting
// Platform-independent
// Open standard protocol
// Extension to HTTP protocol
// Broadcast messages to other computers
// Supports client-server architecture
// Provides data transport for web services
// Uses SOAP envelope with WSDL file in header and body
// Requires larger bandwidth

Features of REST

REST follows the below features-

* It is a light-weight and scalable service architecture consuming less bandwidth and resources.
* REST can be written using any programming language.
* These services can run on any platform.
* It supports HTTP verbs (GET, POST, DELETE, PUT and PATCH) for CRUD operations.
* REST supports basic communication encryption through TLS.
* It is simpler to develop.
* It requires less bandwidth as compared to SOAP.

This code explains the features of REST, a light-weight and scalable service architecture that can be written in any programming language and executed on any platform. REST supports HTTP verbs for CRUD operations, supports basic communication encryption through TLS, and requires less bandwidth than SOAP.Differences between SOAP and REST APIs

SOAP and REST are two types of APIs used to exchange information. Here are the main differences between them:

– SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol, whereas REST stands for Representational State Transfer.
– SOAP is a standardized protocol with pre-defined rules, while REST has loose architectural guidelines.
– SOAP can be stateful, but by default, it is stateless, whereas REST APIs are stateless.
– SOAP is functional-driven based on services, while REST is data-driven based on resources.
– SOAP has WS-security and built-in ACID compliance, so it is used for sensitive information, while REST supports HTTPS and SSL.
– SOAP API calls cannot be cached, while REST API calls can be cached.
– SOAP requires more resources, while REST requires fewer.
– SOAP only supports XML, while REST supports HTML, XML, and JSON formats.
– SOAP works on HTTP, SMP, and UDP, while REST only works on HTTPS.
– JAX-WS is the Java API for SOAP, while JAX-RS is the Java API for REST.
– SOAP cannot use REST, but REST can use SOAP as a protocol.
– SOAP exposes supported methods through Web Service Description Language (WSDL), while REST exposes methods through URIs with no technical details.

Comparison of SOAP and REST APIs

SOAP and REST are two popular web services with different benefits, and the choice between them depends on the application’s requirements and complexity. REST is easy to develop, while SOAP provides numerous alternatives, making it slightly more challenging to develop.

Comparison between REST and SOAP APIs

REST and SOAP APIs have their importance in different scenarios. REST is simple, scalable, and lightweight, making efficient use of bandwidth. It supports various data formats and is preferred for public APIs. On the other hand, SOAP is preferred for enterprise-level applications because it is more secure. Although REST is easy to write and understand, SOAP offers better security features. Ultimately, the choice between REST and SOAP depends on the specific use case and requirements.

Is SOAP More Secure than REST?

In general, SOAP is considered more secure than REST due to its incorporation of standardized security protocols like WS-Security and WS-AtomicTransactions. SOAP is particularly advantageous in situations where transaction reliability is a top priority.

When to use SOAP over REST?

SOAP is a better option when dealing with transactions that require multiple calls to complete a task. It is suitable for enterprise-level services. SOAP is widely used in the banking industry for this reason. In case of errors or failed transactions, SOAP handles the situation by retrying the transaction until the request is successfully completed. On the other hand, in REST, failed calls must be manually handled by the requesting application.

Can REST Utilize SOAP?

Yes, REST can make use of SOAP as SOAP is another protocol, similar to HTTP, that REST can incorporate into its system.

// Example code for using SOAP in REST

Disadvantages of RESTful Web Services

The limitations of RESTful web services are:

  • Asynchronous calls are not possible as the protocol works only on HTTP
  • REST does not provide any inherent support for session maintenance

Understanding WSDL

WSDL, short for Web Service Description Language, is an XML document that provides crucial information about a web service such as method name and parameters. Some crucial components of WSDL include operations, message types, and port types.

// Sample WSDL document structure

... ... ...

By understanding the contents of a WSDL document, developers can create client-side code for consuming web services.

SOAP Message

A SOAP message contains data transmitted between applications using web services. It is an XML document that sends data to clients written in different programming languages. SOAP messages are sent through HTTP.

// Example SOAP message in XML format

New York

HTTP Methods in REST

In RESTful API, there are different HTTP methods with specific actions:

GET: Retrieve information from the resource.
PUT: Create a new resource or update an existing one.
DELETE: Delete the specified resource.
POST: Submit an entity to a specific resource, often causing a change in state or side effects.
OPTIONS: Describe the communication options for the resource.
HEAD: Retrieve only the HTTP header of the resource.

Using these HTTP methods, clients can communicate with the APIs to perform their desired operations.

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