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Web services ensure that two (computer) systems can communicate with each other by exchanging information.
What are Web Services?
The communication between two (computer) systems takes place without any human intervention. The sender sends a stimulus and the receiver responds with an automatic response. An example of this is the automatic retrieval of weather forecasts. In addition, it implements information according to certain rules of a web environment.
They are therefore means of communication between a potential customer and a website, webshop or web application. In addition, web services also provide a solution for communication problems that may appear between systems. This is why they are often enabled when communicating between two systems via an online environment. People often see web services as a remote Application Programming Interface (API) link. Because of the similarities, people often confuse these two concepts with each other.
There are also some components within web services that are often used. This concerns the following components:
- XML or XML-RPC serve to exchange information between different systems on a network.
- UDDI is an XML-based standard for detailing, publishing, and discovering web services. It is basically an internet registry that companies use worldwide.
- WSDL is used to describe the availability of a service.
- SOAP serves to pass messages. By using XML, it is possible to communicate between systems.
- REST, also known as the term RESTfull services. This provides communication and connectivity between systems and the internet and is based on API link tasks.
What is important with Web Services?
Communication in a web service goes from a customer to a server, but the communication is actually between two machines. Web services consist of a database and business logic to exchange information. The business logic is an important aspect because it ensures that when you change something in the database, it is done in the right way. As a result, the business logic actually checks everything you enter in the database. In this way, customers get the right information with your web service.
In addition, this communication must also take place in the correct language. Therefore, most systems are written in a programming language, namely Web Service Description Language (WSDL). WSDL stores all obtained data from all outgoing information and then ensures that it is structured again. In this way it is possible for the customer to understand all the data. These structures are in turn stored by Extensible Markup Language (XML). XML ensures that all obtained data is presented in a plain text format, allowing both man and machine to read it.
What different types of Web Services are there?
In general, there are two types that we use today. The first of these is Web Services Description Language – Simple Object Access Protocol, or WSDL-SOAP. On the one hand, this is a programming language that we also discussed earlier, called WSDL, and on the other it consists of a protocol with rules and agreements that ensure that devices can communicate with each other. We call this protocol Simple Object Access Protocol, or SOAP. The second is RESTful service. HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE are the methods that are mainly used with a RESTfull service.
Within the different types you also have specific service languages that we generally use less often. Here you have XML-RPC (Extensive Markup Language – Remote Procedure Call) that serves to exchange information between different systems on a network. In addition, there is HTTP-RPC (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol – Remote Procedure Call). This supports other formats that are imported and exported.
What are the advantages?
Web services have a number of advantages. We list these advantages below:
- They are ideal during situations where it is of great importance that a quick response is obtained. For example, a customer does not want to wait too long to see whether or not a product is in stock.
- A lot of the big online players also use this. Consider, for example, the ERP system SAP.
- In terms of development, it is fairly easy to create and is also user-friendly.
- Most online systems use this to easily exchange information.
- Several application vendors today often use a cloud storage method, whereby the exchange of information usually takes place via web services.
What are the disadvantages?
In addition to all the advantages, web services also have disadvantages, namely:
- When a customer uses a web service, it is important that it has a good Wi-Fi connection. If this is not the case and a malfunction occurs, you cannot exchange data.
- They are not designed to handle large files. This makes it impossible to send a large brochure, for example.
What are RESTful Web Services?
REST is short abbreviation for Representational State Transfer and it is seen as an architectural style within the IT world. That means that each unique URL represents a separate object. A REST web service uses HTTP and supports or reuses various HTTP methods, including: GET, POST, PUT or DELETE. RESTfull also has some pros and cons. The advantages of RESTfull are that it is first and foremost a lightweight web service compared to other web services. In addition, it is easy to read for humans and easy to develop. Disadvantages of RESTfull are that it uses point-to-point communication and it lacks standards.
What are SOAP Web Services?
With this web service protocol, the structured data is easily exchanged using XML (Extensive Markup Language). SOAP also uses Web Service Description Language (WSDL) to spread the description of what a web service should look like. For example, it describes what the SOAP requests by the client should look like and what the responses from the server should look like. In addition, SOAP web services have security and addressing standards.
Again, there are some pros and cons. The advantages of SOAP web services are that they are easier to consume, more standards are used and they allow for the distribution of computing resources. Disadvantages are that they have a difficult set-up, are difficult to code and finally – they are also more difficult to develop.
API links and Web Services?
People often confuse API links and web services. This is not so strange, since they both have a clear and common basis. Most web services therefore offer an API link that is used to retrieve data. Although all web services can be APIs, not all APIs are web services. They also have a number of differences and similarities. We explain some of these differences below:
- API links can be hosted within an app or Internet Information Service (IIS), while you can only host a web service within an IIS.
- API links are also a link with a light impact, so that it also works perfectly on smartphones, for example. Web services have a much heavier architecture, in that they have to use SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to send and receive network data.
- In addition, API links can use any form of communication, while web services can only use SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). Access Protocol), REST (Representational State Transfer) and XML-RPC (Extensible Markup Language – Remote Procedure Call).
- The last difference is that web services only support HTTP, while API links also support URL, request/response headers, content formats, etc.
What similarities do API links and web services have?
- Both are accessible via HTTP/HTTPS to enable communication between service providers and customers.
- They both also invoke a function: they both process data and receive a response to it.
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