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Which type of web services you need to use - SOAP or REST?

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REST services have gained popularity due to the nature of simplicity, scalability, faster speed, improved performance, and multiple data format support. But, SOAP has its own advantages too. Developers use SOAP where the services require advanced security and reliability.

Following are the questions you need to ask to help you decide which service can be used:

  • Do you want to expose resource data or business logic?
    • SOAP is commonly used for exposing business logic and REST for exposing data.
  • Does the client require a formal strict contract?
    • If yes, SOAP provides strict contracts by using WSDL. Hence, SOAP is preferred here.
  • Does your service require support for multiple formats of data?
    • If yes, REST supports multiple data formats which is why it is preferred in this case.
  • Does your service require AJAX call support?
    • If yes, REST can be used as it provides the XMLHttpRequest.
  • Does your service require both synchronous and asynchronous requests?
    • SOAP has support for both sync/async operations.
    • REST only supports synchronous calls.
  • Does your service require statelessness?
    • If yes, REST is suitable. If no, SOAP is preferred.
  • Does your service require a high-security level?
    • If yes, SOAP is preferred. REST inherits the security property based on the underlying implementation of the protocol. Hence, it can’t be preferred at all times.
  • Does your service require support for transactions?
    • If yes, SOAP is preferred as it is good in providing advanced support for transaction management.
  • What is the bandwidth/resource required?
    • SOAP involves a lot of overhead while sending and receiving XML data, hence it consumes a lot of bandwidth.
    • REST makes use of less bandwidth for data transmission.
  • Do you want services that are easy to develop, test, and maintain frequently?
    • REST is known for simplicity, hence it is preferred.

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