The Bulk API provides programmatic access to allow you to quickly load your organization's data into Salesforce. 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 only if your organization has the Bulk API feature enabled. This feature is enabled by default for Performance, Unlimited, Enterprise, and Developer Editions.
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.
SOAP API provides a powerful, convenient, and simple SOAP-based Web services interface for interacting with Salesforce. You can use SOAP API to create, retrieve, update, or delete records. You can also use SOAP API to perform searches and much more. Use SOAP API in any language that supports Web services.
For example, you can use SOAP API to integrate Salesforce with your organization’s ERP and finance systems, deliver real-time sales and support information to company portals, and populate critical business systems with customer information.
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.
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.
The REST Bulk API lets you query, insert, update, upsert, or delete a large number of records asynchronously. The records can include binary attachments, such as Attachment objects or Salesforce CRM Content. You first send a number of batches to the server using an HTTP POST call and then the server processes the batches in the background. While batches are being processed, you can track progress by checking the status of the job using an HTTP GET call. All operations use HTTP GET or POST methods to send and receive XML or CSV data.
You process a set of records by creating a job that contains one or more batches. The job specifies which object is being processed and what type of action is being used (query, insert, upsert, update, or delete). A batch is a set of records sent to the server in an HTTP POST request. Each batch is processed independently by the server, not necessarily in the order it is received. Batches may be processed in parallel. It's up to the client to decide how to divide the entire data set into a suitable number of batches.
A job is represented by the JobInfo resource. This resource is used to create a new job, get status for an existing job, and change status for a job. A batch is created by submitting a CSV or XML representation of a set of records and any references to binary attachments in an HTTP POST request. Once created, the status of a batch is represented by a BatchInfo resource. When a batch is complete, the result for each record is available in a result set resource.
At any point in this process, you can abort the job. Aborting a job has the effect of preventing any unprocessed batches from being processed. It doesn't undo the effects of batches already processed.
For information about using Data Loader to process CSV files, see the Data Loader Guide.