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Difference between Web APIs and Web Services

Web APIs and Web Services

Web APIs and web services are often interchangeable. So let’s distinguish between the two.

Web APIs are an evolution of web services.

Both facilitate information transfer, however web APIs are more dynamic than web services.

What is an API?

An API specifies how software components should interact with each other. It is a set of protocols and routines, with responses generally returned as JSON or XML data. APIs can use any type of communication protocol and are not limited in the same way a web service is.

What is a web service?

A web service is any piece of software that makes itself available over the internet and uses a standardized XML messaging system. XML is used to encode all communications to a web service.

How are they different and related?

By definition, a web service is any piece of software that makes itself available over the Internet and standardizes its communication via XML encoding. In contrast, a typical Web API specifies how software components should interact with each other using the web’s protocol (HTTP) as the go-between.

Now let’s discuss their similarity. APIs and web services have things in common; both web APIs and web services serve as a means of communication between consumers and providers. They also both support XML-based data payloads, while JSON is the more common payload type for web APIs. Last but not least, both Web APIs and web services are essentially a means to an end and the same problems can be solved by both. And they can be configured to operate over a network or within a machine.

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