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Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)

Definition - What does Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) mean?

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is a protocol for implementing Web services. SOAP features guidelines that allow communication via the Internet between two programs, even if they run on different platforms, use different technologies and are written in different programming languages.

Today, this term is simply known as SOAP and is not considered an acronym.

Techopedia explains Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)

As a protocol, SOAP has four basic parts:

  • Guidelines for the contents of a message and how it is processed
  • Encoding guidelines for application-defined data types
  • Guidelines for remote procedure calls (RPCs) and responses
  • Guidelines for exchanging messages through certain protocols

SOAP is written using Extensible Markup Language (XML). The XML document structure is therefore also made up of four basic elements:

  • Envelope
  • Header
  • Body
  • Fault

The envelope element is where an XML document can be identified as a SOAP message. A SOAP message is an XML document structured with the envelope element encapsulating both the header element and the body element, in that order. The fault element is located within the body.

The header element is actually optional. But when present, it is where information may be found about the application, such as authentication, payment, transaction ID, etc.

The body element is where the actual message is found. The fault element contains errors and status information.

Although SOAP messages use HTTP as their delivery system, other transport protocols are also supported.

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