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Updated 15 October 2018

SOAP and REST are the APIs(Application Programming Interface). First we need to know about API.

What is API ?

API is an interface or a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. In general terms, it is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components.
Example : Imagine you’ve got a black box with a big red button on top. When you press the button, the black box lights up. In this example, the application is the box itself. The interface is the understanding between you and the box. In other words, it is an interface for programming the application (the box). The API, therefore, lets you know how to write out the commands to make the box do stuff.


Every programming language can understand the XML markup language. Hence, XML was used as the underlying medium for data exchange. But there are no standard specifications on use of XML across all programming languages for data exchange. That is where SOAP comes in.

SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. SOAP was designed to work with XML and have some sort of specification which could be used across all applications.

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REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer,  just like regular websites, REST APIs use HTTP for communication. The data can be sent or received in the form of JSON or XML. It follows these 6 principles :

  • Client-Server : This concept explains that the client and the server should be separate from each other and allowed to evolve individually.
  • Stateless : REST APIs are stateless, meaning that it does not save history of any request or response. Once the request is sent by the client it closes the connection and establishes the new connection to give the response.
  • Cache : Because a stateless API can increase request overhead by handling large loads of incoming and outbound calls, because for each request and response it creates a new connection, a REST API should be designed to encourage the storage of cacheable data.
  • Uniform Interface : The key to separate the client from server is having a uniform interface that allows independent evolution of the application without having the application’s services, or models and actions, tightly coupled to the API layer itself.
  • Layered System : REST APIs have different layers of their architecture working together to build a hierarchy that helps create a more scalable and modular application.
  • Code on Demand : Code on Demand allows for code or applets to be transmitted via the API for use within the application .


Data Transfer

SOAP uses WSDL (Web Service Descriptive Language) for data validation. It validates the data with WSDL then proceed for the data transfer else it gives the error message and terminates the data transfer process.
WSDL : As it’s name indicates it is a description or a specific standard to validate the SOAP data. WSDL validates the data with .xsd file which have predefined structured format.A SOAP request have these elements :
Envelope : As it’s name indicates it envelopes the SOAP message, that means it is a starting and ending tag.
Header : It contains the attributes used in processing the message.
Body : It is a message part of the SOAP request.
Fault : An optional Fault element that provides information about errors that occur while processing the message. Refer the image for SOAP request.

REST does not use any standard or predefined structure to validate data. It sends the request message and gives us the response. It uses HTTP methods to send or receive the data. HTTP methods are :

POST : POST Request to create a new user.

POST /api/2.2/auth/signin HTTP/1.1
HOST: my-server
  "credentials": {
    "name": "administrator",
    "password": "passw0rd",
    "site": {
      "contentUrl": ""

GET  : GET request to get the existing users.

GET /api/2.2/sites/9a8b7c6d-5e4f-3a2b-1c0d-9e8f7a6b5c4d/users/users HTTP/1.1
HOST: my-server
X-Test-Auth: 12ab34cd56ef78ab90cd12ef34ab56cd

PUT : PUT request to update the details of existing user.

PUT /api/2.2/sites/9a8b7c6d-5e4f-3a2b-1c0d-9e8f7a6b5c4d/users/9f9e9d9c-8b8a-8f8e-7d7c-7b7a6f6d6e6d HTTP/1.1
HOST: my-server
X-Test-Auth: 12ab34cd56ef78ab90cd12ef34ab56cd
Content-Type: application/json

  "user": { 
    "fullName": "NewUser2", 
    "siteRole":  "ViewerWithPublish"

DELETE : DELETE request to delete an existing user.

DELETE /api/2.2/sites/d0356794-bb9d-4c5c-b43d-ec384a2baf5a/users/2798bf2f-964d-4cf6-994a-0744c4555f84 HTTP/1.1 HOST: my-server X-Test-Auth: 12ab34cd56ef78ab90cd12ef34ab56cd

Secure Transfer :

REST API is the stateless protocol that does not maintain the record of any transaction , from the security point of view it is not good to use REST for confidential data sharing.

SOAP provides the secure connection to the server for sending request and receiving response.

Data Manipulation :

SOAP follows the ACID property that ensures the data should not be alter in between the transaction.

REST does not follow any of the standard to maintain data manipulation.

ACID property stands for Atomicity , Consistency , Isolation , Durability.

Atomicity : Atomicity guarantees that each transaction is treated as a single “unit”, which either succeeds completely, or fails completely.

Consistency :Consistency ensures that the data should be validated with the predefined rules.

Isolation : Isolation ensures that concurrent execution of transactions does not affect by other transactions .

Durability : Durability guarantees that once a transaction has been committed, it will remain committed even in the case of a system failure.

Processing Time :

REST process the data faster than the SOAP API, as it uses JSON data format whereas  SOAP uses XML format for data.

Some Other Differences :

  • SOAP cannot use REST because it is a protocol whereas REST can use SOAP web services because it is a concept and can use any protocol like HTTP, SOAP.
  • SOAP recommended for the areas where we need high security : enterprise apps, high-security apps, distributed environment, financial services, payment gateways, telecommunication services whereas REST recommended for the areas where we do not need security :public APIs for web services, mobile services, social networks.


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