When we start to look into establishment of communication between frontend and backend for our website we have to think about the webservices architecture we will follow.

SOAP vs REST

When we start to look into establishment of communication between frontend and backend for our website we have to think about the webservices architecture we will follow.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST (REpresentational State Transfer) are used to exchange information between server and client in web services. SOAP was designed as an object-access protocol to ensure that programs built on different platforms and programming languages could exchange data in an easy manner. Later on, REST was developed as an architectural style to use for HTTP requests.

Communication using SOAP and REST
Communication using SOAP and REST

Resources and Bandwidth

Resources and bandwidth usage must always be considered while developing a website. People always think less the use of resource and bandwidth the better, that might not the case in all the cases. Being function-driven and need to communicate information about objects and their states using XML (eXtensible Markup Language) infoset. Typically, these data models are serialized as textual XML which makes SOAP resource heavy and use more bandwidth than REST. REST uses less resources mainly due to being data-driven and support of JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) in its architecture. JSON is light-weighted and easier to parse as compared to XML even when we are dealing with large amount of data.

Stateless or Stateful

Maintaining a state between a server and a client can be a tricky business, but it has its advantages and disadvantages. REST being stateless is more easily accessible and can be deployed much more swiftly. But maintenance of a state from one request to another in SOAP helps it in cases liking billing service in e-commerce websites.

Cache  

If there is requirement of a resource from a server be requested multiple times by the same client, then caching that resource and storing in an intermediate location helps. REST allows for caching of requests whereas SOAP doesn't.

Security

Last but not the least, security. Security is a must in every communication over a network. REST and SOAP both support SSL (Secure Socket Layer) for data protection in an end to end communication. But SOAP supports WSS (Web Services Security) for enterprise-level protection which is absent in REST.

Summary

Both REST and SOAP have their features and constraints but when the question arises which one to use. The answer is not that simple; It depends on what are you trying to accomplish in your application, does it require more security, do you have to cache a lot of data from the server or how much bandwidth will your application be working with? After answering these questions only then can be sure of using either REST or SOAP.

Here at Probyto, we use REST for it's less bandwidth usage, statelessness and caching properties. Which one will you choose?

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