Understanding the Difference Between API vs Web Service - [Which is Better For Your Business]

In August of 1991, the World Wide Web was born. It was not anything like it's far these days. It became gradual and entirely exposed, with hardly ever any websi

Understanding the Difference Between API vs Web Service - [Which is Better For Your Business]

Sep 30, 2022 2:51 AM - Jack Dalton

blog post cover photo

Image credit: Marvin Meyer

In August of 1991, the World Wide Web was born. It was not anything like it's far these days. It became gradual and entirely exposed, with hardly ever any websites online. If you had your personal internet site, you would have been one of the few available! At that time, we barely had this many facilities, but now we have plenty of them. With other evolutions on the Internet, we got two terms Web Services and API.

Web services and API are two of those overlapping terms that people might mix most of the time. Due to their somewhat similar functionality, the terms are regularly confused. With some overlapping properties, web services and API are different concepts. However, both are used as a means of communication.

To understand the difference between both terminologies, some key points will help you understand the concept clearly.

What Is An Api?

API stands for Application Program Interface, a set of instructions and protocols allowing different applications to communicate with each other. APIs provide a more standardized way to talk between two distanced entities. In short, they act as a glue that holds the internet together. API's are not only accessible over the internet. They can also be exposed through local files like JAR FILE IN A java PROGRAM that allows two local applications to communicate.

API can also be packaged in SDK (Software Development Kit), but the SDK and API are not the same. So in such cases, no network is required because both communicating applications will be in a single device.

Api Advantage: Flexibility & Control

The main advantage of using different types of APIs is its flexibility and easy control. When access is provided to an API, the controls are generated automatically, and every channel can access it. This feature makes it easily shared and distributed quickly.

Disadvantages of API

However, APIs do stand with some disadvantages. The main disadvantages of APIs are:

  • Implementation of APIs can be costly in terms of development times.
  • APIs require extensive programming knowledge, so it could be difficult for some developers to understand how to develop and program APIs.
  • Creating an API is a time-consuming process.
  • It can crash while testing.

What Is A Web Service?

A web service is a collection of different open-source protocols that are used for the sake of exchanging data between systems or applications.

For a simple understanding a web server is a resource used over the internet to generate requests from the servers.

These web services are provided by an electronic device to communicate with other electronic devices via the internet. Web services are so easy to use as they are self-contained, self-described, and language independent.

Web Service Advantages: Faster Results & Affordability

The key advantage to using web service is its low cost and ability to easily and quickly drive results. Web services provide quick results of searches, and the cost is reduced because new systems are developed by using packaged web services. So the saved cost becomes beneficial for both the customer and the service provider.

Disadvantages of Web Services

  • Sometimes, most service salespeople deal with some disadvantages by using web services. These are:
  • Matching requirements means handling a variety of customers; you need specialized machine requirements.
  • Availability means everyone (every user or client) who uses web services has acknowledged that these services are not available at all times.
  • Security, the real and main issue with web services. These services are available to all users by using simple HTTP-based protocols, making them less secure.
  • The HTTP Protocol is also not reliable, so there is no guarantee of delivery of the response.

Key Differences Between API and Web Services

Now reading everything about both individually, you must be wondering about those things that define these terminologies differently.

Contrary to your thinking, make sure that API and WEB SERVICES are not mutually exclusive.

1st of all, keep in mind that

All web services are APIs (as it exposes an application's data), but all APIs are not web services.

All web services are hosted on IIS. API can be hosted either on IIS or within an application
The source is not open for web services; however, if any client knows about XML, he may use it. The source for API is open, and it can also be used with a bit of knowledge about XML or JSON.
It only supports HTTP protocol. It supports HTTP Protocol: URL, Request/ Response Headers, Caching, Versioning, Content Formats
It uses only three styles of communication: SOAP, REST, XML-RPC It uses any style of communication.
A SOAP protocol is needed to send or receive data over the network. API's have a lightweight architecture.
So there's no need of having a lightweight architecture.
A web service works like advanced URLs. API uses only the Programming Interface.

Web Services Or APIS, Which One is Right for Your Business?

As we see, both (web services and APIs) have some major advantages that will surely help manage your business activities. However, it's still difficult to only choose one.

Let's have a look at the use of both in business.

Benefits of Using APIs in Your Business

API interfaces offer businesses the opportunity to unleash their potential and attain their business. Because of their major advantages, companies can advance their growth and compete effectively in the current digital era.

APIs in business:

  • Increases productivity
  • Saves cost
  • Encourages innovation
  • Improves marketing
  • Creates new revenue opportunities

Benefits of Using Web Services in Your Business

The evolution of the internet has seen the integration of modern web-based applications into business operations.

Here are some main advantages of using web services in businesses.

  • No leasing costs
  • Lower inventory costs
  • No equipment or fixtures cots
  • Little or no employee costs like wages and benefits


With each second, the digital World is changing. A well-growing business accepts all the changes. Nowadays, Web Services and API are taking most of the digital World. These are two things that serve from totally different perspectives. So the opinion is to make use of both to grow your business.

There you go with a clear view:

API is an interface that is used to build on the data and functionality of another application. At the same time, a web service is a network-based resource that is used to communicate between two distanced devices.

In the end, facts showed that for the growth of the business, no one could deny the importance of APIs and web services. For the enablement of new technologies, APIs are great, and for having costless and rapid communication over the internet, web services play their major role.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is REST API a Web Service?

YES! REST API is a type of Web Service APIs. It is a standardised architecture style for creating a Web Service API.

REST API is based on representational state transfer and can be built by using programming languages like JavaScript or Python.

Is SOAP an API or Web Service?

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a standard-based web services access protocol. It's an XML-based protocol for the access of web services. It was developed before REST to ensure that programs built on different platforms and programming languages could securely exchange data.

It's a W3C recommendation that is used for communication between two applications. The use of SOAP makes it easy to interact with other programming language applications.

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