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When to Use SOAP and REST Web Services

By Arvind Rai, April 02, 2014
SOAP web service is based on simple object access protocol whereas REST web service is Representational State Transfer. Here we will discuss when to use SOAP based web service and when to use REST web service in our application.

When to Use REST Web Services

RESTful web service is desirable to use over the web. It provides loose coupling, scalability and simplicity. In web application RESTful web service is suitable because many clients can consume it with other web based services. Find the different scenarios when to use REST web service.

1. Use REST when basic integration is required. REST web service works over HTTP protocol and use existing W3C. REST is lightweight and needs minimal configuration to setup. This is because REST web service is very low expensive and can easily be adopted.

2. REST web service is stateless. Suppose we need to get some data from web service and do some manipulation and again send it back to web service to get response. So if there is the case that connection can break. In this case REST web service is most suitable because REST web service is stateless and it connects for every request like normal webpage over HTTP.

3. Another scenario is when the response is not dynamically generated. So in this case we can cache the response and performance can be increased highly. Caching can be achieved easily in RESTful web services.

4. When the producer and consumer agrees mutually on the content being passed and there is not any tight format to exchange the data, then RESTful web service will be suitable.

5. In case of mobile and PDAs, there is limitation of bandwidth. In that case RESTful web service is best option. RESTful web service is lightweight because the data is not filled in herders and also there is no overload of SOAP elements.

6. RESTful web services can easily be used with AJAX. In that case a developer has not to learn new things a lot to work with it and he can easily start and develop fast.

When to Use SOAP Web Services

SOAP based web services is desirable in case of enterprise application where advance services need to integrate with it. SOAP retains the state of transaction. Find some scenarios where we should use SOAP based web service.

1. SOAP based web services interacts over XML data which is well defined and standard message format that uses web service description language (WSDL). Use SOAP when data can be consumed in desirable languages.

2. In the scenario where multiple calls are requested to complete a task, SOAP will be desirable because data transfer in SOAP is faster. Once request is failed, SOAP will automatically try to complete the transaction.

3. For security point of view, SOAP based web service is robust. In application where security has high measurement, then use SOAP based web service.

4. SOAP implements standard exchange format and is more ideal for enterprise application. In case of complex contract between producer and consumer to transfer message, use SOAP based web service.

5. SOAP based web service is supported by different tools. So in the development environment where different tools are being used, then SOAP will be better choice.

6. SOAP supports SMTP, JSM, TCP etc transport protocol. So in scenario where the above protocol is being used, SOAP web service will be the choice over REST.

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