WCF vs Web API: What to Choose for Your Project?

Comparing WCF vs Web API for developing your project is not an easy task. These frameworks are competing with each other in terms of functionality and approach. Final result of selecting the one for development will greatly affect the project. Here we will see the important features and use cases of WCF and Web API that will help you to choose the right technology for your project development.

What is WCF?

WCF stands for Windows Communication Foundation. It is an effective platform for developing service-oriented applications. It allows developers to create secure, reliable, and also high profile development solutions which can be integrated across platforms and interoperate with existing investments.

  • HTTP services are easily built with this new framework.
  • Web API is open source. It is a perfect platform to create REST-ful services over the .NET Framework.
  • As opposed to WCF Rest service, it uses the complete features of HTTP (such as response/request headers, caching, versioning, and numerous content formats)
  • MVC features support controllers, routing, filter, action results, IOC container, model binders, or dependency injection, and unit testing that simplifies it and makes it more robust.
  • It can be hosted on IIS or within the application.
  • Its lightweight design makes it ideal for devices with minimal bandwidth.
  • Replies are formatted by Web API’s MediaTypeFormatter into XML, JSON, or any other format you wish to add as a MediaTypeFormatter.

What is Web API?

Web API is a framework which allows you to build HTTP services for browsers and mobile devices. It is an ideal platform for developing RESTful applications on the ASP .NET Framework. The ASP.NET Web API is an extensible framework for building HTTP based services that can be accessed in different applications on different platforms such a web, windows, mobile devices, etc.

It’s similar to ASP.NET MVC because it consists of MVC features such as routing, controllers, filter, action results, IOC container, model binders, and dependency injection. It isn’t a part of the MVC Framework, though. It’s an aspect of the core ASP.NET platform which can be used with MVC and similar Web applications such as Asp.Net WebForms. It can also act as an individual Web services application.

  • Only HTTP protocol is supported.
  • Any client who understands XML can use it, but it is not open-source.
  • It is based on return data and SOAP in XML format.
  • Only IIS can host it.
  • It supports HTTP POST and GET verbs by [WebInvoke] and [WebGet] attributes.
  • webHttpBindings must be enabled if WCF as WCF Rest service use is required.
  • Sending data via parameters using a WebGet warrants configuration. The UriTemplate must be specific.
  • JSON, XML, and ATOM data formats are supported.

WCF vs Web API-

WCF vs Web API

1. Security-

When looking at WCF vs Web API, both frameworks have accepted security standards. Concerning WCF, skilled security helpers and also frameworks can offer protection on an enterprise-level, which includes security that holds the WS-I (Web Services Interoperability Organization) guidelines. in Web API general web standards are used for security, like Token and Basic authentication . If correctly enforced, security in both frameworks will be as effective as the other, keeping in mind that several organizations sometimes need exact execution of protection. However, RESTful services offer more flexibility than SOAP. This can be helpful when authenticating an outside service like Google, Windows Live IDs, Twitter, or Facebook.

2. Purpose/ Functionality-

As mentioned above, SOAP services must be action-oriented. Also OData/REST must be very resource-oriented. While all action-oriented service can be changed to a resource-oriented service, there are several instances where a single SOAP may result in numerous REST calls. This generates extra overhead in calling the service, so that it makes the client’s code more complicated, and may result in data problems in badly developed systems. Properly developed REST services have the ability to mitigate this with indirect steps.  For example, a SOAP call that purchases an item for a shopper may do this:

 1. Produce order 

 2. Minimize the item’s stock quantity

 3. Produce a new shipping job

 3. Update customer’s order history.

That SOAP call may lead to a quartet of individual REST calls updating all of those resources, or, in a correctly developed system, one produce (POST) PurchaseOrder call that stimulates actions to update the remaining resources as needed. In short, RESTful services must be basic and atomic, yet SOAP services have the adaptability to be complicated and bulky.

Because they can be accessed freely in URLs, REST services are easier to find than SOAP services. Additionally, proper REST services are keen enough to set up the extent that idempotency and endpoints are concerned.

3. Overhead coding-

On the client’s side, it is easy to use HTTP to call a RESTful service, but deserializing and serializing items, hardcoding resource endpoints, and reproducing personalized returnable classes can be problematic. Minimal-level engagement with the web service is abstracted in SOAP services automatically. WCF has many configurations and warrants meticulous XML work to configure it properly. Apart from this, Web API has a regular ready-to-use setup that is effective for many services and offers personalized services.

4. Client Interoperability-

Not only RESTful services but also Web API, focusses on ease of use and being lightweight. Using the same HTTP calls, all applications that can access a website can also access RESTful service. If you’re directly comparing WCF vs Web API, this is different from SOAP, as the client needs to know the web service inside out when using the WSDL file. The WSDL configuration supplements some complexities and warrants extra details that may not be accessible on some devices (smart TVs, phones, and the like) as well as frameworks and programming languages.

5. Bandwidth/speed-

Because RESTful services use only basic HTTP, the response and request packets are usually smaller than SOP response and request packets, which package objects, parameters, metadata, etc. in an XML payload. This is necessary to consider when handling low bandwidth or mobile devices. The easy HTTP response and request also usually easy for people to read than SOAP response/requests. While that is more important because these services tend to be programmatically consumed.

Selection of WCF vs Web API-

  1. If you Require a support for Message queues, end to end message security, duplex communication, distributed transactions, etc., you should choose WCF.
  2. When you already have existing working WCF services and Wants to add HTTP support additionally, choose WCF.
  3. A case where you want to create a resource-oriented service over HTTP you should choose, Web API.
  4. If your project is an MVC application and wants some functionality over HTTP, choose Web API.
  5. If you want to build an HTTP / RESTful services, select Web API.

It’s not possible to select a best in WCF vs Web API competition and state that which choice is superior to the next. There is a simple method of selecting best framework most suitable when developing a new web service. If it’s an internet/external web service, use Web API. While, if it’s an intranet/internal web service, use WCF.

Are you looking to develop a web application for your business? Then you are at the ideal platform. Solace is a software development company which specializes in custom applications development using WCF and Web API as our core strength and foundation. Contact us and we’ll be glad to help you through our experts to develop your next web app.