Tip #19. When to use Web Services and when API

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SharePoint provides you two models for development – Web Services and API for object model. But very often developers are a bit confused about what to use and when.

SharePoint API provides access to all pillars of SharePoint – advanced functionality via features set and good performance . It’s a preferable solution when code resides on the SharePoint server with the access to server to deploy features and other’s library.

SharePoint Web Services provide almost the same level functionality to manage SharePoint. There is a small performance challenged due to object’s serialization/de-serialization and network latency, comparing to API. But the principal only difference with API in the context of usage. Web Services are applicable to remote SharePoint instances, when you have limited access, or don’t have any access to deploy your features and libraries. The only way to manipulate with SharePoint data in this case is via standard Web Services, which can be found in the following MSDN article.

There is a tend that Microsoft moves their services online and we have Microsoft Online Services which demonstrate how SharePoint, Exchange and other servers works in SaaS model. In this case managing online SharePoint services is available only via Web Services.

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