Updated March 4, 2023
Difference between WebSocket and REST
WebSocket is a communication protocol over a TCP connection, which provides a point-to-point communication system. The basic idea that WebSocket is built upon is a socket, or one can say that WebSocket protocol is an extension of the socket. Standardization of the protocol allowed people to use it, which was very efficient for transferring data to and from the server from the browser. REST, i.e. Representational State Transfer, defines a set of constraints to create web services. It is one of the architectural styles to create REST endpoints using HTTP in a web application. RESTful endpoints are being called, which would invoke APIs that are RESTful in nature and give an HTTP response.
- WebSocket protocol can overcome hurdles that were put forward by HTTP, like it can provide full-duplex communication. This protocol was standardized in 2011, and W3C is standardizing the relevant WebSocket API. At the same time, WebSocket does not compromise the security system of the web. All the WebSocket handshakes can be scrutinized by the browser using embedded developer tools in them.
- WebSocket represents a standard for both-way communication between client and server. Using this approach, a developer can come up with a function that works consistently across all the platforms. WebSocket represents a single TCP socket connection, thus eliminating the problem of connection limitation.
- Communication across domains can be dealt with efficiently within the connection handshake. Pusher-like services can easily utilize this connection to support a real-time platform, which is massively scalable in nature and can be used on any website, web, desktop or mobile application efficiently. It was referenced as a TCP connection in HTML5 specification the first time. All browsers implement the secure version of WebSocket protocol, whether it’s Firefox, Google chrome etc.
- Operations with REST are standard and stateless, making any system RESTful, fast performer, reliable and, at the same time, his ability to grow. A request would originate from the client with the HTTP verbs, i.e. Get, Post, Put, Delete. They react to the expected set of operations, receive the data, update it, or delete it depending upon the verb.
- REST can be cited as one of the standard ways of designing the APIs for the request. If the interaction from the user on any web application is less frequent, HTTP is suitable in that scenario. During idle time, a closed port socket can save resources.
- With REST architecture, the client and server can be implemented independently without knowing each other. This client/server paradigm has lots of benefits; client-side code can be altered anytime without the server getting affected. The clients with REST interfaces can hit the endpoints simultaneously and receive the same response.
- Also one other feature is statelessness. A server does not need to know which state the client is in, and the same holds true for the client. This statelessness property can be attained via using resources rather than commands. Hence implementation of interfaces becomes irrelevant since the REST system talks to each other through standard operation on resources.
Head to Head Comparison between WebSocket vs REST (Infographics)
Below is the top 8 difference between WebSocket vs REST:
Key Differences between WebSocket and REST
Both are popular choices in the market; let us discuss some of the major differences:
- WebSocket is a low-level protocol based on the concept of socket and port, which are the underlying transport mechanism, whereas REST is based on CRUD operation.
- WebSocket requires the use of IP address and Port details, which are lower-level details for any application, whereas RESTful application needs to design operations based on verbs and HTTP based.
- WebSocket is bi-directional in nature, i.e. way operation from client to server and vice versa is possible, whereas REST follows a uni-directional approach.
- WebSocket approach is ideal for real-time scalable applications, whereas REST is better suited for the scenario with lots of getting requests.
- WebSocket is a stateful protocol, whereas REST is based on a stateless protocol, i.e. the client does not need to know about the server and the same hold true for the server.
- WebSocket connection can scale vertically on a single server, whereas REST, which is HTTP based, can scale horizontally.
- WebSocket is ideal for a scenario where high loads are a part of the game, i.e. real-time scalable chat application, whereas REST is better fitted for occasional communication in a typical GET request scenario to call RESTful APIs.
- WebSocket works better, where the client-server communicates over the same TCP connection for the life of the web socket connection, whereas, for an HTTP request, a new TCP connection is initiated.
- WebSocket communication allows the client and server to talk independently of each other, whereas with the REST-based approach, either client is talking to the client or the server is talking to the client at any given time.
- WebSocket communication cost is lower, whereas REST-based communication is comparatively higher end on cost.
WebSocket vs REST Comparison Table
Let’s look at the top Comparison between WebSocket vs REST –
|The basis Of Comparison||
|HTTP||The use of HTTP occurs in the initial connection.||HTTP is a common protocol in RESTful web services.|
|Communication||Bi-directional in nature.||Uni-directional in nature.|
|Nature||Socket-based concept.||Resources-based concept, rather than commands.|
|Scenario||Real-time chat application.||Lots of getting requests.|
|Dependency||Rely on IP address and port number.||Based on the HTTP protocol and uses HTTP methods to relay data.|
|Cost||The cost of communication is lower.||The cost of communication is comparatively higher than WebSocket.|
|Performance||Better with high loads.||Great for occasional communication.|
|State||WebSocket is a stateful protocol.||REST is based on HTTP, which is a stateless protocol.|
REST is, so far, the most standardized way of structuring the web APIs for the request. Most web applications tend to go with the RESTful approach. Verb-based action, i.e. create, read, update or delete operation, is executed successfully over HTTP protocol. Certain benefits come along with the use of HTTP protocol; the client and server need not know about each other. Any operation on the client side won’t hamper the server-side operation, and the same holds true for server-side functionality.
On the other hand, WebSocket is based on the lower-level concept, like socket and port. Application IP address and port are required in this medium of communication. Moreover, a single TCP connection can be shared for web socket communication between the client and server. Also, it is a stateful protocol, unlike HTTP, which is stateless in nature.
Hence, usage of REST over WebSocket or vice versa depends upon the type of application and scenario. For a real-time, scalable application, WebSocket is the ideal choice, as it is less costly than REST. Any application with lots of CRUD operation invites the use of RESTful style. At the end of the day, it is the requirement and scenario which would decide WebSocket vs REST usage.
This has been a guide to the top difference between WebSocket vs REST. Here we also discuss the key differences between infographics and comparison tables. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –