What is the difference between an API and a Web Service?

Mon Dec 06 2021

2 min read

APIs and web services are often confused with each other. Although they might perform many of the same functions, they are not altogether similar. Let’s look at both of them and then the differences between them.

Application Programming Interface (API)

It lets the client communicate with the server and vice versa. Both the client and server call the API when they need to communicate. When one entity requests the API to bring some data from another entity or perform a CRUD operation, it gets back with a response.

Web Services

It is a medium, a piece of software that allows communication between client and server on the World Wide Web. It uses XML for the messaging system that encodes all communications to web service.

Difference Between API and Web Services

Let’s take a look at the differences between these two now.

APIsWeb Services
Although both essentially have the same purpose, not all APIs are web services.All web services are APIs.
APIs have several types. They support multiple response formats, including XML, JSON, or any other format. Web API’s MediaTypeFormatter formats these responses.Web Services supports XML.
API is simple to implement and has a lightweight architecture.Web services need a SOAP protocol to send or receive data over the network, requiring a high-performance architecture.
Any application that supports either JSON or XML can benefit from APIs.Web services can be used by those applications that use XML for communication.
APIs are versatile with their communication. You can write them in GraphQL, create a RESTful API, or use Web APIs that provide methods instead of calling an endpoint.Web services can use three types of design styles, i.e., REST, SOAP, and XML-RPC, for communication.
It supports both HTTP and HTTPS protocols.You can only use it with HTTP protocol.