API vs Web Service

What is an API?

A programming interface (API) connects two computers or computer programs. It’s a software interface that connects to other applications and offers them a service. An API specification describes how to build or use such a link or interface.

An API is defined as being implemented or provided by a computer system that complies with this standard. API is used to refer to either the specification or the implementation.

An application interface connects computers or pieces of software, which in turn connects a computer to a human. It is not meant to be put to use directly by anybody other than a computer programmer who incorporates it into the software. An API is made up of various components that serve as tools or services to programmers. An application or programmer who makes use of one of these components is said to use that feature of the API.

What is a Web Service?

The expression Web service (WS) refers to one of two things, i.e., a service supplied by an electronic device to another over the World Wide Web, or a server running on a system that listens for requests across a network and provides web content at a certain port (HTML, JSON, XML, images).

A Web technology such as HTTP is used in a Web service to communicate machine-readable file formats such as XML and JSON. In reality, a web service often offers an object-oriented Web-based interface to such a database server, which is then used by another Web server or a mobile app to give an end-user experience.

Many firms that give data on HTML-formatted websites will also supply the same data on their server as XML or JSON, frequently via a Web service, to enable syndication. A mashup is another application that may be presented to the end-user, in which a Web server consumes various Web services on separate computers and combines the results into a single user interface.

API vs. Web Service

While APIs and web services both can ease data transfers between programs well over the internet, they aren’t the same should not be utilized interchangeably in all cases. The distinguishing factor is that web services are a subset of APIs: all web services are APIs; however, not all APIs are web services.

The name “API” refers to a larger category since an API is defined as any software component which works as an intermediate between two otherwise separate applications.

Web services qualify as APIs since they are meant to share data with some other unconnected applications. Conversely, a web service is only one method of implementing an API. Let’s look at what distinguishes a web service from other sorts of APIs in use today.

Networked Communication

Web services must interact over a network, which is a system that connects several software programs on distinct computers. This network is often the internet.

While many APIs use networks, they are not necessary to do so; APIs can also function offline. APIs, for example, might allow two programs on the same computer to communicate with one another. Data is still transmitted, but not across a network.

Formatting and Structure

An API can be designed in a variety of ways, including REST, SOAP, XML-RPC, or JSON-RPC. In contrast, Web services are generally SOAP-based. That’s due to the SOAP protocol being more secure and effective at maintaining data integrity than alternative API architectures.

The fundamental disadvantage of SOAP is that its requirements are more stringent than those of RESTful design, rendering it much more code-heavy and procedure. As a result, a web service might integrate REST or XML-RPC concepts. Nonetheless, it is widely accepted as SOAP is the preferred protocol.

Furthermore, web services often use the XML format to encapsulate data, whereas APIs can use any language to store data — most usually, the language is JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), a markup language, a simpler one.

Accessibility Issues

APIs are classified into kinds based on their user base. Some APIs enable any developer to experiment with them with no monitoring, whilst others are only available to paid clients. Web services fit under the latter type; typically, only authorized partners may use a web service. This allows web service owners greater control over who may access and utilize their data and services.


Web service – a network-based resource that performs a certain activity, whereas an API comprises an interface that allows users to build on the data and performance of another program. Yes, there is some overlap: all web services are APIs, though not all APIs are web services.

Both web services and APIs are, at their core, quite valuable and widely utilized today. However, web services connected using SOAP and Service Oriented Architecture are losing momentum.