API Documentation: SOAP API or REST API?

Application Programming Interface, commonly known as API, is designed to provide access to data and features of other applications, services, or operating systems. Therefore, the focus is on the documentation of API as it makes it convenient for its users to access and use the data.

API documentation covers every description, endpoints, parameters, etc. It gives the user an idea about the tool, without which it is highly difficult to use it. It has a direct impact on the API’s adoption. Other factors that emphasize the need for API documentation are:

  • Supports time and cost savings
  • Reduction in third-party/user frustration
  • Demonstration of functions
  • Easy guide for API consumption
  • Easier maintenance and version control

Now that we understand the importance of API documentation, the next step is to understand which API type should be used.

There are two types of API that are widely used in organizations: Simple Objects Access Protocol (SOAP) and Representational State Transfer (REST). SOAP has been preferred by developers for web service interfaces for a long time. However, REST now represents over 70% of public APIs.

In order to understand which one should be considered, it is imperative to understand the difference between the two:

  • SOAP is a web-based API that supports XML only. However, REST API offers a higher degree of flexibility. It supports multiple languages, such as JSON, PHP, Python, Java, etc.
  • REST API is highly used for public APIs due to its easier consumption. On the other hand, SOAP API is highly preferable by developers who need transactional reliability. It is generally quite verbose compared to REST API. To illustrate, in order to access banking services through the bank’s application, SOAP API is used. However, third-party payment applications use REST API.
  • Again, if a user loses reception while attempting to upload something on a mobile app, REST allows the process to be retried once the user regains cell service. It is not possible for SOAP API as it would require more initialization and state code. This is one of the reasons that many tech giants are moving from SOAP TO REST.

Therefore, before one considers which API to use, it is important to understand the need for adoption and security. At Metapercept, we are well acquainted with both forms of API and have worked with clients who come to us with different requirements. If you have any questions regarding which API to consider or any other requirements, feel at ease to contact our experts.

Leave a Reply