When we are talking about APIs and web services, we need to know one thing. We can say that all of the web services are APIs. However, can`t say that all APIs are web services. They are often confused for one another. But, we need to know that web APIs emerged from the web services. Both web services and web APIs are a way of facilitating data transfer.
Still, web services are less dynamic and flexible than web APIs are.
When you are using an API, that means foreign developers can write code that will interface with another code.Web service is a type of API which operates over HTTP. The only way you can use web services is through the network.Some of the sources are saying that doesn’t need to be the case always, in 99% it is.
While we’re not going to talk about web API design in too much detail, we’ll cover the basics and shed some light on the fundamental differences between them and web services.
Table of Contents
What is a Web Service?
We can say that a web service is a software that has its communication standardized with XML, and it makes itself available on the internet.They are invoked by clients who are sending a request in XML and service responds in XML as well.Sure enough, this is done with HTTP, which usually means the connection between the two systems.
For a majority of people, web services are the same as SOA, and they are relying on SOAP services and XML-RPC.For many, the issue with web service approach is the percentage of server and client togetherness. This issue emerges whenever a client requests a procedure on a secluded system.If you have an interest in seeing examples of web services see REST, XML, and SOAP.
What is an API?
Application Program Interface, or APIs in short, present an array of regulations and protocols which are used for communicating between two pieces of software. This communication is, at most times, done with XML and JSON data. It is important to know that APIs are pretty flexible when it comes to their communication protocols. Opposite to web services, APIs can use any sort of communication protocol.
A common metaphor for APIs is that they are like aspirin for developers – they take care a lot of headaches. For example, just imagine that there is no Google Maps API. As you probably know, this API is widely used today. Without this API, the developers would need to create all of the maps for their applications. By offering it to third-party developers, Google secured additional revenue for itself and helped others in developing their applications.
The Common Ground
Web services and web APIs are both serving as a middleman in the communication between providers and customers.Although they are both supporting XML data, web APIs are more using JSON than web services.When we are comparing web APIs to the web services, we can say that the importance is in the quantity of work that needs to be done both by consumers and providers.
This process is more known as deserialization and serialization.These processes are requiring less work when used by web APIs. With knowing that, we can see why web APIs are a good choice for information transfers on tables and mobile phones.On the desktop platform, they are pretty restricting by their processing environments.
Why is a Web API Not a Web Service?
Usual web API will define how the software components should communicate with each other through the network. The trick is, the client doesn`t need to know which procedures to call on the server. Although, without knowing the procedure, the client can use a set of commands built into HTTP. After the command comes, the receiving system needs to know what to do with it.
The next advantage of web APIs is flexibility. It is so flexible that the serving and client systems can be even in different languages. It is possible for them to be so independent in the process of implementation.Web API data payloads can be received in multiple types such as XML or JSON. The most common communication protocol is RESTful APIs, but they are not as limited as web service is.
The Bottom Line
Even with the countless of articles on this theme available, people are still confusing these two for one another. Like we said, all APIs are not web services, although all web services are APIs. We named all of the important differences and the common ground of APIs and web services.They are both widely used today. They are pretty specific, so it is important when is the right time to use them.
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