Before SOAP when two different applications talk to each other there are some proprietary protocols available like RMI/IIOP (Internet Inter-Orb Protocol) which obviously works well only with java (though there are ways you can work with other technologies using other interfaces). SOAP over HTTP brought a neutral platform independent way of communicating between two different applications/services with open standards using XML, this is the reason why SOAP is useful in web services. Actually SOAP messages transport over HTTP protocol.
Now RESTful web services only works with HTTP protocol and supports different HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT etc. Also it supports different message formats like XML, JSON etc.
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