As an engineer in the property management software industry, you are likely to encounter a variety of API technologies when building integrations. In this article, we'll explore the differences between two key API styles - SOAP and RESTful - and discuss their implications when integrating with property management systems. Many of these systems, including major vendors like Yardi and RealPage, use SOAP APIs, which can present unique challenges for developers. If you are not leveraging a service like Propexo, you will need to be prepared to deal with these SOAP APIs. We'll delve into the difficulties of working with SOAP APIs, the limitations of developer tooling, and the downsides of integrating SOAP APIs with modern tech stacks.
SOAP APIs vs. RESTful APIs
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST (Representational State Transfer) are two distinct approaches to building web services, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. SOAP is a protocol based on XML, and it's widely used in property management software systems, particularly those provided by Yardi and RealPage. On the other hand, RESTful APIs follow a more modern, architectural style that leverages HTTP and JSON, making it a popular choice for contemporary web applications.
Challenges of Integrating with SOAP APIs
- Learning curve: SOAP APIs can be more difficult to work with, particularly for engineers who are unfamiliar with the technology. This may pose challenges for developers who are used to working with more modern API styles, like RESTful APIs.
- Limited developer tooling: Another challenge with SOAP APIs is the lack of modern developer tooling. Many tools and libraries that simplify integration tasks, such as automated testing and code generation, may not be available for SOAP. This can result in additional time and effort for engineers to build and maintain integrations.
- Compatibility with modern tech stacks: Integrating SOAP APIs with modern tech stacks can also prove to be problematic. The archaic nature of SOAP can lead to increased complexity when working with modern programming languages and frameworks that are designed for RESTful APIs. This may necessitate additional workarounds or custom code to ensure seamless integration between systems.
Overcoming the Challenges
Despite the difficulties of integrating with SOAP APIs, there are strategies that can help engineers overcome these obstacles:
- Invest in education: Understanding the ins and outs of SOAP APIs is crucial for success. Engineers should invest time in learning the intricacies of the protocol and familiarize themselves with available resources, such as documentation and online forums.
- Leverage existing tooling: While modern developer tooling may be limited for SOAP APIs, some existing tools can still be utilized to streamline the integration process. Engineers should research and leverage these tools whenever possible to save time and effort.
- Plan for compatibility: When integrating SOAP APIs with modern tech stacks, it's essential to plan for potential compatibility issues. This may involve creating custom middleware or adopting alternative approaches to minimize friction between systems.
How Propexo can help
Propexo’s universal property management API will ensure that your team doesn’t have to interact with the SOAP APIs that are common to our industry. While you will still need to be an approved integration partner with the vendors, we will allow your team to work with modern API tech and clear documentation which will drastically reduce the effort for your team.
While integrating with SOAP APIs in property management software systems can be challenging, understanding the differences between SOAP and RESTful APIs, as well as being prepared for the unique challenges that SOAP presents, can help engineers succeed in their integration efforts. Propexo’s API can make these integrations easier for you by allowing you to focus on one set of RESTful APIs.