Introducing SOAP API

Salesforce provides programmatic access to your organization’s information using simple, powerful, and secure application programming interfaces. To use this document, you should have a basic familiarity with software development, Web services, and the Salesforce user interface.

Any functionality described in this guide is available if your organization has the API feature enabled. This feature is enabled by default for Performance, Unlimited, Enterprise, and Developer Editions. Some Professional Edition organizations may also have the API enabled. If you cannot access the features you see in this guide, contact salesforce.com.

Note
Salesforce.com Education Services offers a suite of training courses to enable developers to design, create, integrate, and extend applications built on the Force.com platform. Be sure to visit http://www.salesforce.com/training to learn more.

When to Use the SOAP API

The Salesforce prebuilt applications provide powerful CRM functionality. In addition, Salesforce provides the ability to customize the prebuilt applications to fit your organization. However, your organization may have complex business processes that are unsupported by the existing functionality. When this is the case, the Force.com platform includes a number of ways for advanced administrators and developers to implement custom functionality. These include the SOAP API, Apex, and Visualforce.

SOAP API

Use SOAP API to create, retrieve, update or delete records, such as accounts, leads, and custom objects. With more than 20 different calls, SOAP API also allows you to maintain passwords, perform searches, and much more. Use SOAP API in any language that supports Web services.

REST API

REST API provides a powerful, convenient, and simple REST-based Web services interface for interacting with Salesforce. Its advantages include ease of integration and development, and it’s an excellent choice of technology for use with mobile applications and Web projects. However, if you have a large number of records to process, you may wish to use Bulk API, which is based on REST principles and optimized for large sets of data.

Bulk API

Bulk API is based on REST principles and is optimized for loading or deleting large sets of data. You can use it to query, insert, update, upsert, or delete a large number of records asynchronously by submitting batches which are processed in the background by Salesforce.

SOAP API, in contrast, is optimized for real-time client applications that update small numbers of records at a time. Although SOAP API can also be used for processing large numbers of records, when the data sets contain hundreds of thousands of records, it becomes less practical. Bulk API is designed to make it simple to process data from a few thousand to millions of records.

Metadata API

Use Metadata API to retrieve, deploy, create, update, or delete customizations for your organization. The most common use is to migrate changes from a sandbox or testing organization to your production environment. Metadata API is intended for managing customizations and for building tools that can manage the metadata model, not the data itself.

The easiest way to access the functionality in Metadata API is to use the Force.com IDE or Force.com Migration Tool. These tools are built on top of Metadata API and use the standard Eclipse and Ant tools respectively to simplify the task of working with Metadata API. Built on the Eclipse platform, the Force.com IDE provides a comfortable environment for programmers familiar with integrated development environments, allowing you to code, compile, test, and deploy all from within the IDE itself. The Force.com Migration Tool is ideal if you want to use a script or a command-line utility for moving metadata between a local directory and a Salesforce organization.

Apex

Use Apex if you want to:
  • Create Web services.
  • Create email services.
  • Perform complex validation over multiple objects.
  • Create complex business processes that are not supported by workflow.
  • Create custom transactional logic (logic that occurs over the entire transaction, not just with a single record or object).
  • Attach custom logic to another operation, such as saving a record, so that it occurs whenever the operation is executed, regardless of whether it originates in the user interface, a Visualforce page, or from SOAP API.

Visualforce

Visualforce consists of a tag-based markup language that gives developers a more powerful way of building applications and customizing the Salesforce user interface. With Visualforce you can:
  • Build wizards and other multistep processes.
  • Create your own custom flow control through an application.
  • Define navigation patterns and data-specific rules for optimal, efficient application interaction.

For more information, see the Visualforce Developer's Guide.

Customize, Integrate, and Extend Your Salesforce Solutions

The Force.com platform allows you to customize, integrate, and extend your Salesforce organization using the language and platform of your choice:

For more information about Force.com solutions, developer resources, and community resources, go to Developer Force.

Supported Salesforce Editions

To use SOAP API, your organization must use Enterprise Edition, Performance Edition, Unlimited Edition, or Developer Edition. If you are an existing Salesforce customer and want to upgrade to Enterprise, Unlimited, or Performance Edition, contact your account representative.

To develop Web service client applications, it is strongly recommended that you use Developer Sandbox, which is an exact replica of your Salesforce deployment, including all customization and data. For more information, see http://www.salesforce.com/products/sandbox.jsp.

Developer Edition provides access to all of the features available with Enterprise Edition. Developer Edition is constrained only by the number of users and the amount of storage space. Developer Edition provides a development context that allows you to build and test your solutions without affecting your organization’s live data. Developer Edition accounts are available for free at https://developer.salesforce.com/page/Getting_Started.

Standards Compliance

SOAP API is implemented to comply with the following specifications:

Standard Name Website
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) 1.1
Web Service Description Language (WSDL) 1.1 http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/NOTE-wsdl-20010315
WS-I Basic Profile 1.1 http://www.ws-i.org/Profiles/BasicProfile-1.1-2004-08-24.html

Development Platforms

SOAP API works with current SOAP development environments, including, but not limited to, Visual Studio .NET 2005. In this document, we provide examples in Java and C# (.NET). The Java examples are based on WSC 20.0 (WSC) and JDK 6 (Java Platform Standard Edition Development Kit 6). Additional versions of WSC are available at https://github.com/forcedotcom/wsc and http://mvnrepository.com/artifact/com.force.api/force-wsc. To see a complete list of compatible development platforms and more sample code, go to developer.salesforce.com.

Note
Development platforms vary in their SOAP implementations. Implementation differences in certain development platforms might prevent access to some or all of the features in the API. If you are using Visual Studio for .NET development, we recommend that you use Visual Studio 2003 or higher.

SOAP API Support Policy

Salesforce.com recommends that your new client applications use the most recent version of the Force.com WSDL file to fully exploit the benefits of richer features and greater efficiency. You can navigate to the most recent WSDL for your organization from Setup by clicking Develop | API. When a new version is released, use the following steps in Quick Start to update your WSDL:

Backward Compatibility

Salesforce.com strives to make backward compatibility easy when using the Force.com platform.

Each new Salesforce release consists of two components:

  • A new release of platform software that resides on salesforce.com systems
  • A new version of SOAP API

For example, the Winter ’07 release included SOAP API version 9.0 and the Summer ’07 release included SOAP API version 10.0.

We maintain support for each SOAP API version across releases of the platform software. SOAP API is backward compatible in that an application created to work with a given SOAP API version will continue to work with that same SOAP API version in future platform software releases.

Salesforce.com does not guarantee that an application written against one SOAP API version will work with future SOAP API versions: Changes in method signatures and data representations are often required as we continue to enhance SOAP API. However, we strive to keep SOAP API consistent from version to version with minimal if any changes required to port applications to newer SOAP API versions.

For example, an application written using SOAP API version 9.0 which shipped with the Winter ’07 release will continue to work with SOAP API version 9.0 on the Summer ’07 release and on future releases beyond that. However, that same application may not work with SOAP API version 10 without modifications to the application.

SOAP API End-of-Life

Salesforce.com is committed to supporting each SOAP API version for a minimum of three years from the date of first release. In order to improve the quality and performance of SOAP API, versions that are more than three years old may cease to be supported.

When a SOAP API version is scheduled to be unsupported, an advance end-of-life notice will be given at least one year before support for SOAP API version is ended. Salesforce.com will directly notify customers using SOAP API versions scheduled for end of life.

Choosing a WSDL

There are two Force.com Web services for which you can obtain WSDL files for API access:

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