Web services debate: SOAP up or REST easy?
December 1, 2008 —
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Related Search Term(s): REST, SOAP, Web development
The veterans of holy wars past line the repositories with their dead, and from the CORBA faithful to the Amiga maniacs, the technology world is rife with standard bearers unwilling to concede the fight. Now, as Web services and SOA eye the advance of Web 3.0, a fresh conflict is roiling the Internet: SOAP vs. REST.
Of course, the battle lines here aren’t as clear as in most religious conflicts. For starters, SOAP is a strictly designed set of protocols and rules for ensuring the integrity and security of network transactions that will be using the Internet as a transport. Representational state transfer does not carry the weight of surrounding standards, such as the WS-* specifications that give SOAP its teeth. But that also means REST is much less governable.
It’s not entirely an apples-to-apples comparison, said Rod Johnson, creator of the Spring framework and a member of the Java Community Process executive committee. Spring is only just now adding REST support, but already it’s won him over.
“We certainly see a lot of growth in REST. We are building significant REST support features into Spring 3.0, and it’s one of the features our community most requests,” Johnson said. “I think recent economic events will really help REST.
"IT departments are looking to cut costs. They really need to look toward simpler solutions. Complexity is a luxury you can afford in good times.
“Certainly, one of the things that stands out about REST is that it’s very simple. Despite the ‘simple’ in its name [Simple Object Access Protocol], SOAP isn’t that simple.”
Randy Heffner, analyst at Forrester Research, said the battle for Web services is not a new one.
“The conversation has been going on in the industry since 2005. What’s changed since then is the level of the conversation, but not the dynamics,” Heffner said. “Sometimes the conversation gets turned into SOA vs. REST and Web-oriented architecture. That’s a wrong-headed argument, because we’re missing protocols and perspective. SOAP and Web services are two different things.