What is SOAP?

SOAP which is the acronym for Simple Object Access Protocol is a messaging protocol that allows various distributed elements of a software application to communicate with each other. SOAP can be transferred over a variety of low-level protocols, including the web-related HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).  SOAP basically defines a header structure that classifies the actions that various nodes of SOAP are expected to take on the message, in addition to a payload structure for the transmission of information. The idea of routing a message through a string of nodes that carry out different functions is how SOAP sustains various things like addressing, security and format-independence. Basically, the headers recognize the roles, which in turn provide the SOA features which are then routed by SOAP. Stringing messages through a series of steps is uncommon in today’s development environment that is microservice-centric.

SOAP is an essential part of the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the Web services specifications that are associated with SOA. Because it allows the sender to construct a message route that is based on the logical services that have to be applied to the message on the way to its target, it presents itself by implementing secure and compliant connections, offering reliable delivery and failure recovery, controlling access, and supporting dynamic service discovery. It is very difficult to imagine SOA without SOAP.

SOAP’s messages are specified at a high level in XML(extensible markup language), but most SOAP software applications use the Web Services Definition Language (WSDL), which is written in XML.  The XML structure of SOAP makes it very beneficial for applications that need their information to be presented in the form of XML, and the fact that SOAP can ride on a diversity of network protocols, including HTTP, means that it can be easily transferred through firewalls, where other application protocols might require special service.

SOAP uses a data type that is based on XML, which is very similar in many ways to HTML which is used to define web pages. Like HTML, XLM is mostly human-readable, this feature makes it fairly easy to understand a message defined in SOAP, but also makes the messages relatively big when compared to the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) and its Remote Procedure Call (RPC) protocol that will hold the binary data.

Features and Characteristics of SOAP

There are three major characteristics of SOAP and they are:

1. Extensibility: SOAP applications are can be easily extended to support more features.

2. Neutrality: SOAP can run over any protocol for example, HTTP, TCP, SMTP, JMS or UDP.

3. Independence: SOAP allows you to work with any programming model.

Benefits of SOAP

SOAP is the protocol that is used for the exchange of data between software applications. Below are some of the benefits as to why SOAP is used.

1. When developing Web services, you will need to have some language that can be used to let the web services communicate with client applications. SOAP is the perfect tool that was developed in order to achieve this purpose. This protocol is also recommended by the W3C consortium which is the governing body for all web standards.

2. SOAP is a light-weight protocol that is used for the interchange of data between applications. Since SOAP is based on the XML language, which on its own, is a lightweight data-interchange language, therefore, SOAP as a protocol that also falls in the same category.

3. SOAP is developed to be platform-independent and it is also designed to be independent of any operating system. So the SOAP protocol can also work any programming language based applications on both Linux, Windows and Mac platforms.

4. SOAP works on the HTTP protocol which is the default protocol that is used by all web applications. therefore, there is no sort of customization required to run the web services that are built on the SOAP protocol to work on the World Wide Web.


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