APIs do the crucial job of creating seamless connectivity and establishing a communication channel between an eCommerce store and the mobile ecommerce app developed for it, be it a Magento mobile app or for any other ecommerce development platform. Choosing your API is going to be the deciding factor of your mobile app’s performance, security and functionality.
Here we have come up with a discussion of sorts which highlights the positives and limitations of both REST and SOAP API which might help in choosing the appropriate one to build your mobile ecommerce app.
Use of REST and SOAP API
Both these APIs do the job of creating a platform through which the app interacts with the server. These APIs connect with the server in the backend usually for push notifications, data storage, file storage, messaging queues, monitoring and configuration, and social integration.
In case of REST the server response format or the output format is JSON/XML which can be easily understood or followed. In case of SOAP, server response is in the form of WSDL, an advanced form of XML.
Modern day developers adopt a API-first approach in mobile commerce app development in which the application programming interface is built first.
This approach helps developers to build, manage and deploy the different platform-specific appearances of an app using just one API backend as a service (BaaS). Thus it will be easy from a developer’s point of view to cater to audiences on multiple devices.
Having discussed the utilities of APIs let’s plunge into the pros and cons of it.
|Follows the open-web philosophy that opposes private and exclusive app solutions
||Difficult to enforce authorization and security
|Readable, easy to implement and maintain
||Not suitable for handling large amount of data
|Output format – JSON, XML
||Less secure compared to SOAP
|Prevents multiple calls that contributing for better performance
||It is stateless
|Not coupled to HTTP (server)
|Works on top of any protocol
||Eats up bandwidth for repeated communications with server
|Development method facilitates secured build
||Difficult implementation method
|Can be used for enterprises that require high security
||Uses only XML
Can both REST and SOAP be used to create an ecommerce mobile app?
Yes of course. These APIs can be used to perform different tasks within a mobile ecommerce app. For instance, REST API can be deployed for functions like browsing through the app, adding to cart, chat etc while SOAP can be used for those which involve top-of-the-line security like payment transactions (payment gateway) etc.
Having discussed the pros and cons of each API, let’s get into a sample code that would make things much clear about using each of these APIs to perform a particular function.
REST can be implemented locally, whereas SOAP needs the server’s authorization/permission for the same.
In this example of retrieving a user’s information, REST uses a single line of code.
The module (phonebook), action (User Detail) and ID (12345) are directly called locally whereas the same process is split into multiple client server interactions in case of SOAP
In the above mentioned portion of code, the version of the xml used specified and the server permission is requested to establish the connection.
Here, the module name, module, action and ID are called separately
Separate entities/parameters and functions are used for specifying the module, action and ID which clearly suggests that authorization and the layers of security are far more complex with SOAP compared to REST API. This draws the distinguishing line between the two APIs and explains the time taken and the amount of server load increased when you use SOAP to create an ecommerce mobile app.
Content management systems like Joomla, WordPress, social media like Twitter, LinkedIn make use of REST while cloud-based CRM like Salesforce and payment gateways like PayPal are built using SOAP.
Limitations of REST and SOAP API
|Cannot be used when client and server interactions are essential
||Cannot be easily understood and used by many developers
|Cannot be used for transactions involving multiple calls
||When there are bandwidth limitations
REST and SOAP APIs have their own set of advantages and shortcomings depending upon the purpose, environment and requirement of your application.
If you are planning to adopt your API for multiple mobile device OS, REST is the best to go for. While you are going to build a mobile ecommerce app with high-profile security, SOAP is the best one to serve your purpose.