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SOAP Vs. REST APIs: What Enterprises Must Know?

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST (Representational State Transfer) are two different architectural styles for creating web services. Both protocols have been used for creating web services by the top API marketplace for quite some time, but they have different characteristics, advantages, and use cases. Understanding the difference between SOAP and REST APIs can help businesses & API marketplace choose the suitable protocol for your specific use case.

What’s the Difference between SOAP & REST APIs?

Parameters Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) Representational State Transfer (REST)
Set Of Rules & Protocols  SOAP, which stands for Simple Object Access Protocol, is a protocol for exchanging structured information to implement web services. It is an XML-based protocol that requires a lot of overhead and is often used in enterprise environments. SOAP APIs follow a set of rules and protocols called the SOAP specification, which makes it a more rigid and complex protocol. Because of this complexity, SOAP requires more resources to implement and can be more challenging to work with. However, the API marketplace makes decisions between the two by keeping many things in mind.  REST (Representational State Transfer) is an architectural style that can be used to create web services. RESTful web services use HTTP methods to POST (create), PUT (update), GET (read), and DELETE data. REST does not have a strict set of rules like SOAP, making it more flexible and easier for API marketplaces and developers. REST APIs are typically built on HTTP, making them easier to use and less resource-intensive than SOAP. REST APIs are often easier to test and debug because they can be accessed directly via a web browser.
 Advantages  One of the main advantages of SOAP is its built-in security features, such as WS-Security. SOAP can also access services behind a firewall, which can be useful for enterprise environments. Additionally, SOAP offers built-in error handling, which can make it easier to handle errors and exceptions. REST, however, is more lightweight and requires less overhead. RESTful web services are typically faster and require fewer resources than SOAP-based web services. REST is also easier to implement and test because it uses standard HTTP methods and can be accessed directly via a web browser.
Format For Data Exchange SOAP uses XML as the format for data exchange. REST can use a variety of formats such as XML, JSON, and plain text.REST can also use different formats for different operations, which makes it more flexible and easier to work with.

REST APIs Vs. SOAP APIs: Security Features

REST (Representational State Transfer) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) are two of the most widely used protocols for building web services, and they have some differences when it comes to security features.

Authentication: REST APIs often use JSON Web Tokens (JWT) for authentication, which are lightweight and can be easily integrated with other systems. SOAP APIs, on the other hand, often use WS-Security to secure SOAP messages, including encryption, digital signatures, and secure tokens.

Authorization: Both REST and SOAP APIs support role-based access control (RBAC) and access control lists (ACLs) to authorize users to access specific resources and perform specific actions, but REST API’s are often easier to implement and maintain.

Encryption:  REST and SOAP APIs can use HTTPS or SSL to encrypt data transmitted over the network, protecting against eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Input Validation: Both REST and SOAP APIs support input validation to ensure that data received by the API is in the correct format and does not contain any malicious code.

Logging and Monitoring: Both the APIs can implement logging and monitoring systems to keep track of all API requests and responses, allowing for the detection and prevention of security breaches.

Regularly Update Dependencies: Both REST and SOAP APIs should keep their dependencies up-to-date to ensure that any vulnerabilities that have been discovered and patched in those dependencies are also patched in the API.

Use a Security Testing Tool: Both REST and SOAP APIs can use security testing tools to test for common vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), or cross-site request forgery (CSRF).

In summary, REST and SOAP APIs have some differences in the security features they support. REST APIs are often simpler and more lightweight, and are often easier to implement and maintain, while SOAP APIs often use WS-Security which provides additional security features such as encryption and digital signatures.

It is important to point out that security is a continuous process, and even with the best security features, it’s essential to regularly review and update your security measures to keep your API and its users safe.

Wrapping Up

SOAP and REST are two different architectural styles for creating web services. SOAP is a more rigid and complex protocol, often used in enterprise environments, that offers built-in security features and error handling. REST, on the other hand, is more lightweight and flexible, making it easier to implement and test. The choice between SOAP and REST will depend on the specific requirements of the project and the environment in which the web service will be deployed. 

The API marketplace must consider the use case, security, and data format to be exchanged while choosing the right protocol. Additionally, if you want an industry-specific solution, you can rely on DigitalAPICraft. You can explore our website for customized solutions & services.