I am new at GeoServer. I connected to database from admin panel and published layers. But I could not understand difference of WMS, WFS and REST service.

What is the difference?


2 Answers 2


More practically, WFS services provide editing capabilities WMS services don't. REST is a style of request and can be applied beyond geospatial web services, whereas WMS and WFS are types of endpoint services defined by Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) specifically for geospatial data.


Web Map Service (WMS): The Standard Web Map Service (WMS) provides a simple HTTP interface for requesting map images from one or more distributed servers on the Internet. A WMS request defines what the layer and the geographical area of ​​interest to be processed. The response to the request is one or more images of the map (in JPEG, PNG, ...) that can be displayed in a web browser. The Standard also supports the ability to specify if the image returned should be transparent, so you can combine any of layers from different servers.

Web Feature Service (WFS): The Standard Web Feature Service (WFS) provides, similar to the WMS, a simple HTTP interface for requesting direct geographic objects (images and maps) from one or more distributed servers on the Internet. The mechanisms of request and response are similar to the WMS, with the difference that images are not returned, but the descriptions of individual spatial objects contained within the area of interest to be processed (spatial coordinates and any alphanumeric attributes).

  • 2
    I still wonder what is the role of REST?
    – eglatorre
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 10:27
  • ... I mean, are REST, WMS, WFS, W*** all different APIs to access GeoServer? Or are all of them different "APIs"... 1) REST: API to get GeoServer config information and avilable datasets, 2) WMS: API to get data as simple images, 2) WFS: API to get/save vector data ...
    – eglatorre
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 10:43
  • 1
    Your answer is not complete!
    – jlSta
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 6:34
  • REST is ressource oriented and WFS is service Oriented
    – jlSta
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 7:13
  • WMS and WFS aren't restricted to HTTP, but that is how they are commonly implemented. Also like REST requests to WMS and WFS are stateless.
    – nmtoken
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 14:13

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