Web API vs. Rest API: What Are The Main Differences?

Aditya Rayaprolu
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Updated · Jun 06, 2023

Aditya Rayaprolu
Technology Architect | McKinsey & Company | Joined February 2023 |

Aditya, an Azure DevOps and Infrastructure Virtualization Architect with experience in automation, i... | See full bio

Lorie Tonogbanua
Joined June 2023 |

Lorie is an English Language and Literature graduate passionate about writing, research, and learnin... | See full bio

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An API (Application Programming Interface) refers to a method created and used by developers. It allows data sharing and communication between two applications or servers

There are many types of APIs today. However, the most commonly used types are Web APIs and Rest APIs.

A Web API lets users reach a web server through HTTP calls or requests. On the other hand, a Rest API allows users to connect to any server over HTTP.

Both APIs are the same in that they are stateless, cacheable, and resource-oriented. Despite these similarities, Web API and Rest API differ in many aspects. 

Continue reading to learn more about what sets them apart from each other. 

Differences Between Web API And Rest API

Web APIs work between a web server and an application. 

A user starts a call commanding a web application to do a particular task or request. The application will respond using an API to ask the web server to make the request. 

This case shows that the API is the middleman between the web server and the application.

On the other hand, Rest APIs work like any other website.

A user starts a call to a server. The server responds using the HTTP protocol. A great example is Facebook's Graph API. It's an API designed for tasks like photo uploads, data queries, and more. 

Check out the table below to see how the Web API and Rest API differ:



Rest API

Architectural style

Allows fine-coordinated changes between client and server-side 

Rest Architecture allows independent development on the client and server-side


Provides customized interfaces based on the API provider

Features an industry-uniform interface


Flexible for making use of any communication style

Mainly use XML, JSON, and plaintext formats


Ideal for streaming services since it’s binary data

Ideal for cloud services, apps, and data manipulation

Benefits Of Using Web API And Rest API

Web APIs help businesses make use of third-party data. It is an open-source framework that also supports seamless data integration. This makes it ideal for streaming services or any business communicating binary data.

Rest APIs only work when a request is successful. You can migrate between servers and update the database anytime with these APIs. 

Web APIs and Rest APIs come with advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these things can help you choose between the two based on your needs.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a Web API:



Support for all architectural styles and communication protocols are available

Development cost is high

Can be used online and offline

Requires regular maintenance

Communication is more secure since it supports HTTP features

The process of creating this API is time-consuming

Can host it inside IIS or outside as a self-hosted application


On the other hand, below are the benefits and downsides of using a Rest API:



Easy to understand and learn

No state mechanisms in place

Organizes complex applications for easier resource management

It does not demand security, unlike SOAP

Caching versioning and an HTTP proxy server allow it to manage high loads

Not ideal for sharing private or confidential data

Supports HTTP calls for retrieving requests and data

Difficulty in transferring or sharing binary data

Can easily synchronize data with any website 

Only supports limited representational state transfers

Fexible with XML, JSON, or plaintext formats.


Rest request verification is possible using OAuth protocols


Evolution Of Web APIs And Rest APIs

With APIs, developers can synchronize data within websites without any issues. Web APIs and Rest APIs have made significant progress in data sharing and communication.

Here's a timeline showing the beginning of APIs as well as how Web and Rest APIs developed until today:

1950s – The beginning of the API idea

The first API idea aimed to help two computing devices communicate and share data. It was only limited to simple command-line interfaces. 

With this application program interface, programmers were able to interact with computers.

1960s to 1970s – The evolution of the API concept

APIs developed as more people used computers. From there, the term “API” referred to the interaction of an application with the rest of a specific computer.

1980s – The introduction of API for the Internet: The start of Web API

With the rise of the Internet, APIs have become valuable. This also marked the start of Web APIs. 

These interfaces made remote procedure calls possible. The APIs used by local networks also started connecting to computers outside the network.

1990s – The growth of Web API

The high demand for applications made developers use Web APIs for data exchange. The process remained simple thanks to a standard set of protocols.

Early 2000s – The beginning of REST API

As developers recognized the potential of Web APIs, they invented REST APIs. It helped create a standard protocol that allowed two remote servers to communicate and exchange data from anywhere. 

Mid 2000s – Businesses and platforms started using Rest APIs

eBay and Amazon used the first Rest APIs. Then, Flickr used its own Rest API for social sharing. 

Facebook and Twitter joined later on. Amazon also used its API to contribute to the Cloud.

Late 2000s – Revolution of Companies using API

APIs became helpful for web development and even assisted companies in managing infrastructure.

2010s – New generation APIs for social media

As social media grew popular, developers created a new generation of APIs. Cloud platforms and third-party services used them to integrate with organizations' information systems.

2020s – The modernization of API

When everyone started depending heavily on web services, APIs continued to become mainstream. It is now used for AI construction and has become essential for IoT (Internet of Things) devices.


Web and Rest APIs help developers create applications that share data over or through HTTP. However, they offer different features to meet various needs. 

Developers usually prefer these two because they are lightweight and interchangeable in some instances.

A Web API is ideal if you need a customized experience and support for several data types. Otherwise, Rest APIs offer a more straightforward and accessible option.


Can a Web API be RESTful or not?

A Web API can be RESTful when the developer designs it using the REST architectural design. RESTful Web APIs are noticeable since they are independent of the technology used to create them. 

How do I find the REST API of a website?

You can find the REST API of a website by pinpointing the API endpoint. For example, the website uses a REST API if the endpoints have a domain, path, port, or query string.

How many types of APIs are there?

Web services use four APIs: partner, public, private, and composite. These types vary in scope of use. The API types based on protocols or architectures are Rest, RPC, and SOAP.

What is the default URL for the REST API?

The default URL for the Rest API uses the format: "<scheme>://<host>/<basePath>/users." For example, IBM's default URL to access the messaging REST API is "https://localhost:9443/ibmmq/rest/v1/messaging."


Aditya Rayaprolu

Aditya Rayaprolu

Aditya, an Azure DevOps and Infrastructure Virtualization Architect with experience in automation, infrastructure management, and designing and implementing virtualization solutions. His expertise encompasses both on-premise and cloud-based systems. Aditya's primary focus lies in Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, where he leverages his skills to streamline and optimize processes. As an Azure DevOps expert, he is adept at utilizing Azure DevOps tools and services to facilitate collaboration, automation, and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. By leveraging these tools, Aditya helps organizations achieve efficient software development and deployment workflows, ultimately enhancing productivity. Furthermore, Aditya excels in infrastructure virtualization, enabling him to design and implement virtualization solutions for different infrastructure scenarios. Whether it's setting up virtual machines, containers, or orchestrating Kubernetes clusters, he employs his expertise to build scalable and resilient architectures. Aditya's passion for technology and his drive to stay ahead of the curve is evident in his contributions to the Techjury blog. Through his research and in-depth understanding of cloud computing, automation, infrastructure-as-code, and Azure, he shares valuable insights, thought-provoking ideas, and practical recommendations with the readers. Aditya's articles on Techjury serve as a reliable resource for individuals and organizations looking to harness the power of cloud computing, embrace automation, and leverage infrastructure-as-code practices.

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