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Difference between Rest and SOAP Web API Services

Updated Aug 02, 2019

The meaning of “web services” translates to different things for people related to different fields. If you are a general user, then you would be using web-related services for surfing the internet, listening to music, communicating, playing games online, etc. The term would however hold an altogether different meaning for programmers, web developers and webmasters. For them, web services relate to the communication taking place between different applications or devices with the help of world wide web (www). REST and SOAP are the two categorizes of this communication system.

REST and SOAP are often used interchangeably. However, there are quite a few differences in the way they function. The tools of SOAP and REST also showcase a fine line of distinction between them. Through this article, we would like to throw light on the main points of difference when it comes to rest vs. soap, the meaning of SOAP, the meaning of REST, etc. We begin with a comparison chart between soap and rest to help you understand their main points of distinction.


The following chart depicts the main difference between the SOAP web services and REST web services:

Basis of Differentiation



Basic nature and function

SOAP refers to a set of protocols that directs the functions of web services.

REST refers to a popular web architectural style. It is not in the nature of common protocols for guiding web services.

Full form

The full form of SOAP: Simple Object Access Protocol

The full form of REST: Representational State Transfer

Inter-dependence and usability

SOAP cannot be used by REST while the opposite is possible. This is because SOAP is a protocol.

REST being a web architecture concept, is capable of using SOAP web services. REST uses the protocols like HTTP, SOAP, etc. with ease.

Exposure of Business Logic

Services interfaces are utilized by SOAP for providing exposure to different types of business logic.

Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) are utilized by REST for providing exposure to business logic.


The JAVA API backing SOAP web services is JAX-WS.

The JAVA API providing support to REST web services is JAX-RS.

Definition of Standards

It is common for SOAP APIs and web services to define different types of standards and protocols that have to be followed strictly.

Too many standards or protocols are not defined by REST web services as it is not a protocol.

Bandwidth Requirement

More resources and bandwidth are required by SOAP in comparison to REST. This is because SOAP comprises of a lot of information within itself.

Lesser bandwidth and resources are required by REST in comparison to SOAP. REST messages comprise mainly of JSON messages.

Definition/ Inheritance of Security

The definition of security is defined by SOAP on its own.

Security measures are inherited by REST web services and not defined by them. The security measures are inherited by the underlying transport layers in REST.

Permission for Data Formats

Only XML data formats are permitted by SOAP.

Various kinds of data formats are supported by REST. For example, XML, JSON, Plain text, HTML, etc.

Preference Metrics

REST is more preferred when compared to SOAP.

SOAP is less preferred when compared to REST.


SOAP is a protocol that was pre-designed with a specification. SOAP includes WSDL files that have the requisite information pertaining to what web service are doing, along with stating the location of the specific web service.

REST, an architectural style, can be treated in the format of a RESTful service if it fulfils the constraints of being stateless, a client server, cacheable, uniform interface and layered system.

What is SOAP Web Services / API?

Soap refers to a communication protocol system. This standard lays down the groundwork for allowing processes that utilize various kinds of operating systems such as Linux and Windows for communicating via XML data formats and Hyper Text Transfer Protocols. The Application Programming Interfaces or APIs dependent on SOAP are specifically designed to develop, recover, update, edit and delete records linked to passwords, leads, accounts, custom objects, etc.

  • SOAP API provides more than twenty types of calls that are helpful for API developers to conduct correct searches, maintain their accounts, etc.
  • The calls provided by SOAP can be utilized by all programming languages that are supportive of web services.
  • SOAP APIs are backed by web-based protocols of the likes of HTTP, XML and other supporting calls.
  • As SOAP supports most operating systems, it is possible for developers to manipulate its web services in optimum ways.
  • SOAP gets its responses without being dependent on platforms and languages.

What is a REST Web Services / API?

Rest refers to a category of web services that is in the form of an architectural style. REST serves as a channel of communication that links up different systems or computers on the World Wide Web.

  • The application programming interfaces supported by different facets of the REST architectural system are known as REST APIs.
  • The computer systems, database systems, and web services compliant of REST API help the requesting systems receive robust access.
  • REST APIs redefine the representations attributed to web-based resources via the deployment of a predefined collection of standard operations and stateless protocols.
  • REST API systems are known to deliver reliable and fast performance along with more progression. The protocols and operations linked with them redeploy the updatable and manageable components without effecting the system adversely.


Security is an important concern with SOAP and web services. REST can function fitfully with the APIs open to public. However, it has to bank on SOAP API for implementing the requisite security levels in all other cases. The many differences between SOAP and REST place them in different categories of web services. In case you have any further queries with respect to the difference between rest and soap then do drop us a line. We shall revert to your questions in the Comments section given below.