Lately ‘GraphQL’ is the term that has been creating waves in the IT industry. Although the reviews are mixed, so much talk about anything means there’s something to it. The major highlight is that GraphQL could become the sole reason for Rest APIs to turn into ghosts from the past. In this article we’ll have a look at how GraphQL has surpassed the functionality of Rest APIs and then you may decide whether it’s really worth the hype.
The Concept of GraphQL
GraphQL can be called the new way of building and querying APIs. It is actually an app layer query language and server-side runtime that produce APIs as a strongly built schema, instead of countless endpoints. It may also be described as an API technology connected to front-end that allows developers to request data by simpler means, as compared to traditional methodology.
It Works Smart
Apps integrated with GraphQL let users specify what data they are looking for and deliver just what is relevant. Classic rest APIs fetch data in a rather vague fashion and tend to go back and forth between numerous sources, requiring multiple requests from the user. This results in higher time consumption and generally additional loads of useless data. Therefore, you’re either getting too less or too much. GraphQL works efficiently and smartly – it only brings back useful information from a single point.
GraphQL and Rest APIs can be compared using a Shopping trip metaphor:
Suppose you have to bake a cake and must go out to buy the ingredients. When you enter the store and get to the baking aisle, you are faced with hundreds of options. You are unable to decide what to purchase, so how convenient will it be to buy all of them?
Another method is that you make a list of particular items and then go to shop; assume you have to get 5 ingredients in total. However, you can only buy one ingredient at a time so you make 5 trips between the store and your house.
The routes mentioned above are similar to the way Rest APIs perform. On the contrary, if you go the shop and bring back all five ingredients in one trip, that is the most convenient and suitable strategy. That’s precisely how GraphQL rolls.
GraphQL is Popular
This open-source data query and manipulation language was developed by Facebook as a more efficient, powerful and flexible alternative to the conventional Rest and Adhoc web service architectures. The community support for GraphQL is increasing steadily and thousands of organizations are already employing it in their applications; some prominent names are Twitter, Pinterest and Yelp. Since it’s official release in 2015, it has rapidly developed into a mature, stable and resource rich platform. There’s nothing GraphQL can’t do that Rest APIs can, in fact it is far better at everything.
It Interprets Better
GraphQL converts API into a simplified and logical form. As a consequence, businesses can understand their data on a deeper level and follow the flow of that data. Any bugs and/or errors in the system become conspicuous, giving an edge to developers. It almosts acts as a universal translator by increasing readability and preventing misconceptions.
The relationship between the client-side and server-side is made more convenient because GraphQL is not limited by data type or language. Unlike traditional APIs, it can be natively discovered as it is based on relational data and self-describing. This makes it highly compatible with 3rd party apps and free of restrictive mechanisms.
Easy, Inexpensive & Efficient
Developers (client and server side) can learn to use GraphQL within a few hours, because it’s that straight forward! They simply have to change their queries instead of redrafting code when changes have to be applied. Developers don’t have to write hefty API documentation, thanks to the GraphQL schema that can auto-generate. Moreover, application data can be manipulated or altered via backend code, independent of how the client interacts.
The client tells what they want and the server has full authority over how to respond. GraphQL unifies data that is defined on the server using a graph based scheme. When the user makes a request, they are given a single entry point in place of complex repeat retrievals. This not only speeds up data delivery but also cuts down the volume of resources utilized per request. Many features like caching, realtime and UI updates are basically free.