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API Protocols
User Experience

A Quick Guide To API Protocols

19 December 2023 by Daria Andrieieva

In web development, the cornerstone of seamless communication between software systems is set by API protocols. 

API protocols, often abbreviated as Application Programming Interface protocols, serve as the digital dialect enabling applications to share data effectively. 

Join Kapsys as we explore the multifaceted world of API protocols, discussing their types and spotlighting two significant players: GraphQL and REST.

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Understanding API Protocols

API protocols act as linguistic bridges, dictating how different software applications communicate. 

They establish a standardized set of rules, ensuring data exchanges occur smoothly and coherently. "API protocols" embody diverse communication standards tailored to specific development needs.

When do you need API protocols?

Let's take a look at some of the most common use cases for API protocols: 

  • Integration of Systems: Essential when disparate systems need to communicate and share data, facilitating integration scenarios like CRM systems with e-commerce platforms.

  • Microservices Architecture: Critical in a microservices architecture, where independently deployable services communicate seamlessly through APIs.

  • Cross-Platform Development: Needed for applications running on multiple platforms, ensuring a consistent user experience by streamlining cross-platform communication.

  • Third-Party Integrations: Crucial for incorporating external services into an application, enabling seamless interaction with third-party tools and services.

Benefits of API protocols

Implementing API protocols has proven to be highly beneficial. Here are some  of the benefits of API protocols that you need to know about: 

  • Seamless Communication: Establishes smooth data exchanges, eliminating communication barriers between diverse software systems.

  • Flexibility: Offers flexibility in communication standards, allowing developers to choose protocols based on project requirements.

  • Efficiency: Minimizes data transfer overhead, reduces latency, and optimizes communication efficiency.

  • Interoperability: Enables applications developed using different technologies to exchange data, fostering collaboration and integration seamlessly.

  • Enhanced Security: Contributes to enhanced security measures through encryption, authentication, and authorization mechanisms.

  • Scalability and Growth: Lays the foundation for scalable systems, ensuring seamless expansion and growth without compromising performance.

In the intricate dance of digital communication, API protocols emerge as silent architects, orchestrating seamless exchanges and unlocking possibilities for robust, scalable, and secure applications. 

Read: Integrating with External APIs in Next.js: A Comprehensive Guide

API Protocol Types

API protocol types constitute a diverse landscape of communication standards, each tailored to specific development needs. Let's explore the critical API protocols shaping the digital communication landscape.


GraphQL, developed by Meta (formerly Facebook), is a query language and runtime for APIs. It introduces a paradigm shift by allowing clients to request only the needed data, minimizing over-fetching and under-fetching issues.

Key characteristics

  • Schema-Driven: GraphQL uses a schema to define data types and relationships, establishing a clear contract between clients and servers.

  • Flexible Queries: Clients can specify the structure of the response, enabling efficient data retrieval and reducing unnecessary data transfer.

Use cases

GraphQL API protocols excel in scenarios where flexibility in data retrieval is crucial. They are well-suited for applications with complex data relationships and dynamic data requirements.

Also Read: Strapi's GraphQL Plugin: Setting Up And Querying Data With GraphQL

REST (Representational State Transfer)

REST is one of the most prevalent API protocols embodying an architectural style rather than a strict standard. It utilizes standard HTTP methods such as GETPOSTPUT, and DELETE to perform operations on resources.

Key characteristics

  • Stateless Communication: RESTful APIs follow a stateless communication model, where each request contains all necessary information, making them simple and scalable.

  • Resource-Based Architecture: REST revolves around resources, each identified by a unique URL. Standard HTTP methods act as operations on these resources.

Use cases

RESTful API protocols find applications in scenarios where simplicity, scalability, and resource-centric communication are essential. They are well-suited for straightforward data retrieval and manipulation operations.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)

SOAP represents a protocol standard that uses XML for message formatting and relies on HTTP or SMTP for message negotiation. It is known for its strict standards and strong typing.

Key characteristics

  • XML-Based Messaging: SOAP messages are formatted using XML, providing a platform-independent, language-neutral communication standard.

  • Strict Standards: SOAP adheres to strict standards, making it suitable for enterprise-level applications with complex business processes.

Use cases

SOAP API protocols find their niche in scenarios requiring a robust and standardized communication protocol. They are often preferred in enterprise environments for their strong typing and reliability.


JSON-RPC and XML-RPC are remote procedure call (RPC) protocols that use JSON and XML to define the data format for messages exchanged between computers.

Key characteristics

  • Lightweight: JSON-RPC and XML-RPC are lightweight protocols, making them suitable for scenarios where simplicity and efficiency are paramount.

  • Platform-Agnostic: They provide platform-agnostic communication, allowing different systems to interact seamlessly.

Use cases

JSON-RPC and XML-RPC API protocols find applications in scenarios where simplicity and efficiency in remote procedure calls are essential. They are commonly used in distributed computing environments.


While not strictly one of the API protocols, WebSocket deserves mention. It provides full-duplex communication channels over a single, long-lived connection, enabling real-time data transfer between clients and servers.

Key characteristics

  • Full-Duplex Communication: WebSocket allows bidirectional communication, enabling real-time updates without repeated connections.

  • Low Latency: The persistent connection reduces latency, making WebSocket suitable for real-time applications.

Use cases

Despite being one of the traditional API protocols, WebSocket finds applications in scenarios where real-time communication is crucial. 

It is commonly used in chat applications, online gaming, and other applications requiring low-latency updates.

Also Read: Real-time Updates: Integrating Next.js WebSockets On Vercel

api protocol types

Why REST and GraphQL Considered the Best Choices?

REST (Representational State Transfer) and GraphQL are considered the leading choices for designing APIs due to their distinct features, advantages, and historical significance. 

Let's explore why these two have become predominant in the API landscape:


Here are some of the additional benefits of REST that make it one of the most popular API protocols:

  • Widespread Adoption: REST has been widely adopted and is supported by various programming languages, frameworks, and tools. This ubiquity makes it a pragmatic choice for many applications.

  • Caching: RESTful APIs support caching mechanisms, enhancing performance by allowing responses to be cached at various levels, such as the client or intermediary servers.


Like REST, GraphQL is a go-to choice in API protocols. Here's why:

  • Flexible Data Retrieval: GraphQL allows clients to request only the specific data they need. This eliminates over-fetching (receiving more data than necessary) and under-fetching (not receiving enough). Clients have control over the shape and structure of the response, which is particularly beneficial for applications with complex data requirements.

  • Single Request for Multiple Resources: Unlike REST, which may require multiple requests to different endpoints for related resources, GraphQL enables clients to retrieve all necessary data with a single query.

  • Real-time Updates: GraphQL supports real-time updates through subscriptions, making it suitable for live data applications like chat or collaborative editing tools.

Reasons for their prominence

Now, let's take a closer look at some more general benefits that make this API protocols so comfortable to  use:

Ecosystem support

REST and GraphQL have extensive support in libraries, frameworks, and tools. This support simplifies development and integration efforts for developers.

Developer community

The developer community plays a crucial role in the adoption of any technology. These API protocols have large and active communities, providing resources, documentation, and support.

Backward compatibility

REST and GraphQL can coexist in an application. It's possible to introduce GraphQL alongside existing RESTful endpoints, allowing for a gradual transition or experimentation without a complete overhaul.

Maturity and stability

REST has been around longer and is considered mature and stable. GraphQL, while relatively newer, has gained rapid adoption and is supported by major tech companies.

In practice, the choice between REST and GraphQL often depends on the specific requirements of a project, but in general, these API protocols remain the preferred choice among developers. 

Also Read: 10 Best Next js Plugins To Extend Your Application

what is graphql

Choosing Between API Protocols

When choosing between API protocols, consider the following factors:

  • Use Case: Different protocols may be better suited for specific use cases. For example, WebSocket is used for real-time applications, REST is used for simple CRUD operations, and GraphQL is used for flexible data fetching.

  • Scalability: Consider the scalability requirements of your application. Some protocols may be more suitable for large-scale distributed systems.

  • Compatibility: Ensure the chosen protocol is compatible with your existing technology stack, frameworks, and tools.

  • Development and Maintenance Effort: Evaluate each protocol's learning curve, development effort, and long-term maintenance requirements.

  • Performance: Consider the performance characteristics of the protocol, especially if you have specific performance requirements for your application.

Ultimately, the choice between  API protocols depends on your specific needs and the trade-offs you are willing to make regarding simplicity, flexibility, and performance.

rest vs graphql


API protocols are the backbone of seamless communication between applications in the intricate tapestry of web development. 

From the simplicity of REST to the flexibility of GraphQL, developers must navigate the diverse landscape of API protocol types to make informed decisions aligned with their project needs.

As the digital landscape evolves, staying abreast of the latest advancements in API communication protocols becomes paramount. 

This journey through API protocols unveils their critical role in shaping the future of interconnected applications.

Stay tuned with Kapsys for more actionable insights!