SOAP vs REST vs JSON – Differences and How they are useful


Looking to get started with API and Web Services? Here’s a blog to give you a basic understanding of how the famous architectural styles for API construction like SOAP & REST work, their features, and comparison among SOAP vs REST vs JSON data format.

SOAP vs REST vs JSON – Comparision

While speaking about web services, we frequently mention abbreviations like SOAP vs REST vs JSON.
SOAP and REST are in a way similar and are two different leading approaches for data transfer over a network using API calls, and coming to JSON, it is a compact data format that can be used by RESTful web services.
In case you are planning to provide a web service, the important question is what API should you create, whether it should be SOAP or REST? To answer this question let us first find out what are web services and what does SOAP, REST, JSON stand for.

What are web services?

Web services are the reason for the machine-to-machine communication over the network. Our computers use web services to communicate with each other over the internet. So, in other words, web services are the services offered to an electronic device by another electronic device that wants to communicate over the internet.
It is only the front-end interfaces of the applications/website that the end-users can access. But all the back-end related data is stored on remote servers and gets transmitted to the users’ device through the APIs which provide web services for the clients. For the data transfer from the server to the client, APIs can use different architectures, such as SOAP and REST.

What does SOAP stand for?

SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. SOAP is a communication protocol used for interchanging data in a decentralized environment.

What does REST stand for?

REST stands for Representational State Transfer. REST is an architectural style that defines a set of recommendations for the design of loosely coupled applications that use the HTTP protocol for data transmission.

What are the main differences between SOAP and REST?

Although SOAP and REST both allow you to create your API.
● REST was created to address the problems of SOAP.
● The SOAP protocol comes with strict rules and advanced security features, like built-in ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability), Compliance, and Authorization. Higher the complexity, the more the resources and bandwidth are needed, and thus lead to slower page load times.
As REST was created to address the problems of SOAP, it comes with a more flexible architecture. REST’s loose guidelines allow the developers to implement the recommendations in their own way.

Benefits of REST Over SOAP

● While SOAP only allows XML, REST allows different messaging formats, such as HTML, JSON, XML, and plain text.
● Hence in REST vs SOAP, RESTful web services can have better performance so it became famous in the area where even a few seconds matter much.

Benefits of SOAP Over REST

● Though REST comes with a more flexible architecture, it is less secure compared to SOAP. Unlike SOAP protocol, there’s no contract between the clients and the servers.
● So in SOAP vs REST, REST is not recommended over SOAP in the case of the clients who want to transfer highly confidential files over the decentralized environment.

What’s the main reason to use SOAP?

As of now, in the mid-short-term period, SOAP can be used as an architecture for the APIs to transfer highly confidential files and complex transactions of securities or wealth, payment gateways, telecommunications, and identity management services.
Paypal’s payment API is one of the well-known SOAP APIs. SOAP can be a good alternative wherever the REST API can’t be used.

What’s the main reason to use REST?

In the present scenario, REST is a famous choice for building complex public APIs. Which are flexible and lightweight architectures. Many social media platforms use RESTful APIs so that the users can integrate their applications/websites into the platform.
One of the well-known Public REST APIs is Twitter’s APIs which serve a wide range of purposes.

What does JSON stand for?

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. JSON is commonly used in case of the data transfer over the web applications, i.e. transmitting the data from the server to the client which should be displayed on the web applications.
When it comes to JSON vs SOAP or JSON vs REST, JSON data format has different applications compared to REST API and SOAP API.


The REST architecture of APIs allows the clients to transfer the files in many formats. Similarly, the lightweight JSON format also gained popularity because of its suitability for speedy data transfer. So the RESTful JSON is a compact data format.
JSON web service is an easy to parse and lightweight data exchange format. Despite what its name suggests, JSON is not a language confined format. JSON can be accessed/used with any programming language, not only JavaScript. REST vs JSON.

Challenges/limitations in SOAP

● The SOAP style of API architecture can only transfer messages as XML files.
It is not recommended for tightly coupled applications, as you can’t opt for not having a client-server contract.
The programmer has little freedom of choice and it’s harder to code.

Challenges/limitations in REST

● The REST style of API architecture comes with more flexible but less secure data exchange facilities.
By definition, REST is a stateless architecture where sessions can’t be maintained on Web Services.

How to decide on SOAP or REST?

The following are the factors to decide whether to use SOAP vs REST for the client’s web services.

Security : For the management of confidential data, clients and service providers can choose an architecture that comes with more Security, i.e. SOAP.
Flexibility : For the use of multiple services and flexible usage, clients and service providers can choose the API architecture which offers more freedom of choice to the programmers i.e REST.
Coupling : In the case of Loosely coupled applications choose REST APIs, and for tightly coupled applications SOAP can be opted.
State : For processing stateful operations, clients can choose SOAP and in the case of stateless operations, REST is always a better choice.
By considering everything, if you don’t have an utmost important reason to use SOAP, REST will be a better choice as it’s easier to code, flexible for the programmers, data transfer requires less bandwidth, and provides faster web services.

SOAP vs. REST comparison table

Here is the comparison table of  SOAP Vs REST, that highlights the Differences between REST and SOAP which helps you to choose between them.

1. Simple Object Access Protocol. 1. Representational State Transfer.
2. Predefined strict rules. 2. Loose guidelines, recommendations.
3. By default stateless, can be made stateful. 3. stateless and unchangeable.
4. Secure, built-in ACID.     4. Less Secure.
5. Message format only XML. 5. HTML, XML, JSON, YAML, plain text.
6. High Security, standardized. 6. Better performance and flexible
7. More complexity, poor performance. 7. Less confidentiality and not suitable for the decentralized network.


As discussed, every style of architecture for the API, i.e SOAP vs REST vs JSON, every API has its advantages and limitations. Even though REST is more popular now, both the SOAP API and JSON data format have their own characteristics to be the client’s choice.

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