APIs — short for Application Programming Interface — and web services are modern technologies that are tremendously important to any business regardless of the type of software infrastructure they have in place. APIs or web services are more useful for organizations that have a large software infrastructure and spend a lot of money to synergize between the different systems of technology that constitute their software infrastructure.
Due to their ingenuity, many business owners find it hard to determine which would serve their business better. To answer that question, you must first understand what APIs are, what web services are, their differences, similarities, advantages, and disadvantages.
What are APIs?
Application Programming Interface (API) is a type of software interface that offers rules and functions which enable two or more unrelated applications to communicate with each other. It encompasses any service or resource that is used to establish communication between two or more otherwise disconnected programs/software.
There are various kinds of architecture that software developers may employ to build an API. The most popular ones are referred to as Representational State Transfer (REST) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). These architectures standardize the process of API building and ensure that a common and recognizable language or procedure is used to communicate between the various applications.
What are web services?
Web Services are services that provide a standard means of interoperating between different software applications running on various platforms or frameworks. They allow software applications to collaborate and share vital information even if they work differently or are built on different platforms/frameworks.
Is a web service the same as an API?
Absolutely not! It’s easy to get confused because of their glaring similarities in concept and usage, but they’re not the same.
APIs or web services: The Differences
Here are a few differences between them:
- Web Services cannot function without a network, while APIs are not necessarily dependent on a network to function.
- Web Services only use three styles of communication: XML-RPC, REST, and SOAP. APIs, on the other hand, can be used for any style of communication.
- Web Services support only the HTTP protocol, while API supports both the HTTP and HTTPS protocol.
- Web Services support responses that come in the XML format while APIs accept responses that come in the XML or JSON format.
Advantages and Disadvantages of APIs and web services
Advantages of API
- It allows for faster innovation for businesses.
- API supports traditional CRUD (Create Return Update and Delete) operations.
- It reduces most hindrances to change and enables the businesses’ software to quickly adapt to new and necessary software or hardware.
- It easily allows companies to move into new markets and even integrate with other enterprises.
- APIs can facilitate the delivery of various services like personalization, integration, and data collection.
- Easy integration of backend data and applications.
- It helps the organization scale its application beyond the walls of its software infrastructure. With APIs, these companies can share their business data to external devices, cloud applications, etc. This means the process of enterprise architecture management is hastened because using the API technology encourages IT integration.
Drawbacks of APIs
- Creating an API could be a time-consuming process, especially if the API to be built would integrate across a vast range of programs.
- Building APIs require highly technical programming know-how.
- Maintenance cost could be quite high
Advantages of Web Services
- It hastens communication within and between organizations.
- Each service that constitutes the software infrastructure of the organization can stand independent of other services.
- It helps you share data between different applications running on different platforms.
Disadvantages of Web Services
- Security – A major feature of web services is that anyone with a connection can have access to it at any time through the http protocol.
- Web Services also have problems with how long they are available. i.e. they are typically not open for use 24/7.
To decide if APIs or Web Services are best for your business, note their functions, advantages, and disadvantages. Then, highlight what kind of frameworks and programs constitute your software infrastructure.
Most importantly, you must consult experts on which would work best for your specific requirements. It is not a question of which is better, but which is more suited to your organization’s requirements.
Reach out to us at Tezza to schedule a consultation and help you decide which of the two similar options would work best, and for a quality business solution to any technical problems you might encounter.