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All About SOAP & REST Web Services in 2023


Welcome to this article of ServiceNow Spectaculars.

In this article, we go through the SOAP & REST Web Services.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST (Representational State Transfer) are two popular web service architectures used for communication between applications over the Internet.

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What is SOAP(Simple Object Access Protocol)?

SOAP is the XML-dependent messaging protocol that is used to exchange information between web services. It uses XML for its message format, which provides a standard format for data exchange between applications. It is transmitted over HTTP, SMTP, or other Internet protocols.

SoapUI uses WSDL( Web Services Description Language ) files to generate requests, assertions and mock services.

Example: Consider a bank that provides a SOAP web service to check account balances. The client application sends a SOAP request message to the bank’s web service with input as the customer’s account number. The web service then processes the request and responds with the account balance.

When the developer should consider using SOAP?

SOAP is used to implement:-

  • complex business logic
  • transactions require high reliability, security, and validation
  • SOAP uses XML & supports transport protocols like HTTP, SMTP, and TCP making it highly flexible and suitable for enterprise-level applications.

Here are some scenarios where developers might consider using SOAP:

  1. When transactions involve multiple systems: SOAP supports multiple systems transactions consistently and reliably.
  2. When message validation is required: SOAP provides built-in support for message validation, ensuring that messages conform to a specific schema or structure.
  3. When security is a concern: SOAP comes with built-in support for various security mechanisms best for highly secure applications.
  4. When complex business logic is required: SOAP provides support for complex business logic that allows developers to implement complex workflows and transactions.
  5. When legacy systems need to be integrated: SOAP can be used to integrate with legacy systems that use SOAP-based APIs.

Developers should consider SOAP when they need to build robust and reliable applications that need a higher degree of security, validation, & transactional support.

What Is REST(Representational State Transfer)?

Representational state transfer (REST) is a software architectural style that describes the architecture of the Web. RESTful web services use JSON or XML, to exchange data between client & server. Unlike SOAP, REST does not have any specific message format, and does not depend on WSDL.

Example: Imagine an e-commerce website offering a RESTful web service to retrieve product information. The client sends an HTTP GET request to the endpoint product ID as a parameter. The response is received as a JSON or XML, which includes details such as the product name, price, and description.

When the developer should consider using REST?

Developers should use REST when they have to build simple, lightweight, and scalable applications.

Here are some scenarios where developers might consider using REST:

  1. When simplicity is a priority: REST provides a simple and lightweight approach to building a web service, best suited for applications that require fast and easy development.
  2. When scalability is a concern: REST can handle large volumes of requests and traffic.
  3. When easy integration is required: REST is widely supported and can be easily integrated with other systems & platforms, suitable for application interoperability.
  4. When caching is required: REST provides support for caching, to improve performance and reduce latency.
  5. When statelessness is desired: REST is a stateless protocol, meaning it contains all the necessary information to perform the request, making it suitable for applications that need high availability and fault tolerance.

Difference between SOAP & REST web services?

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)REST (Representational State Transfer)
SOAP is a protocol for exchanging structured and typed information between web services.REST is an architectural style for building web services that use simple data formats.
SOAP messages are typically transmitted over HTTP, SMTP, or other Internet protocols.REST uses HTTP as its primary protocol.
SOAP relies on XML as its message format.REST uses simple data formats such as JSON or XML.
SOAP-based web services have a well-defined contract or interface that is described using WSDL (Web Services Description Language).RESTful web services do not have a contract or interface, but rely on a uniform interface instead.
SOAP is considered to be more formal and complex than REST.REST is considered to be simpler and more lightweight than SOAP.
SOAP-based web services can use different protocols such as HTTP, SMTP, or JMS.RESTful web services typically only use HTTP.
SOAP-based web services are generally slower and more resource-intensive than RESTful web services.RESTful web services are generally faster and more lightweight than SOAP-based web services.

Precautions while using SOAP & REST?

SecuritySOAP supports a wide range of security standards like WS-Security, authentication, encryption, & message integrity. However, it is complex and may need additional infrastructure.REST have no built-in security mechanisms therefore all communication between client and server is secure. This can be achieved using secure HTTP (HTTPS) or implementing additional security measures such as OAuth.
CompatibilitySOAP supports different platforms and programming languages, as long as they support the same standard and message format.REST is designed to be simple and lightweight.
PerformanceSOAP can be slower and more resource-intensive than REST because of its complex message format and additional processing required.REST is generally faster and more lightweight than SOAP due to its simpler message format and uniform interface.
DocumentationRESTful APIs can be easier to test using tools such as Postman or Curl, which allow developers to send HTTP requests and view the responses.RESTful APIs can be more flexible and easier to understand, but they require clear and detailed documentation to ensure that clients can use them effectively.
TestingTesting SOAP services can be more challenging due to message complexity. Tools such as SoapUI can be used to test SOAP servicesRESTful APIs can be easier to test using tools such as Postman or curl, which allow developers to send HTTP requests and view the responses.

Similarities between SOAP & REST?

Both are used to build web services that allow communication between different systems and platforms.YesYes
Both rely on HTTP as the underlying protocol for communication.YesYes
Both can use XML as a message format for exchanging data.YesYes
Create APIs for clients & servers to access resources.YesYes
Create APIs for client & servers to access resources.YesYes
Both require proper error handling and status codes to provide meaningful responses to clients.YesYes
Both can support various authentication mechanisms to ensure secure communication between client and server.YesYes

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Robert Carlos

    Interesting and informative post in detail.

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