GraphQL

5 Powerful Differences between GraphQL and REST APIs (GraphQL v/s REST)

January 25, 2018

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5 Powerful Differences between GraphQL and REST APIs (GraphQL v/s REST)

Since ages, REST has been used as a standard for designing and maintaining APIs for applications. It is useful for structured access to resources and stateless servers. But as complexities increase the REST API becomes inflexible. With an introduction to GraphQL, such limitations have been rectified to a great extent. GraphQL is much more efficient and flexible.

Performance Improvements for APIs with GraphQL

GraphQL boosts performance to a great extent. Since it tries to eliminate the issues of REST API, it get be very helpful and is expected to be the future of APIs from 2018. Let us see some of the reasons to choose GraphQL for your next project:

Schema and Type System:

To define functions of API, GraphQL uses strong type system. All these types are coded using SDL (Schema Definition Language) of GraphQL. This schema is the communication link between client and server. The schema also allows a client to access the required data. The best part is that it works independent of both frontend and backend. Thus both the teams can concentrate on their own tasks without needing to interfere with one other after the schema is defined and understood by both the teams.

Goodbye to Over and Under Fetching:

Over and Under fetching can become irritating faster than you would have imagined.

Over Fetching Data
In simple terms, over fetching means that an API returns more information than the client intents to get. For instance, if we want to fetch a title of the blog post, result from REST API would also contain extra information like blog content, tags, author, etc. Such information is redundant for client application as it only needs post title string. This may increase overload on both server and client application.

Under Fetching Data
On the other hand, under fetching means a specific API URL endpoint doesn’t return all the information required by a client. That is, the client has to make multiple requests to get each and every required information. Also, for relative information, the client would have to first fetch data from one endpoint and pass its result to the second endpoint as an argument. This can get really time taking and complex for long chains.

Efficient Data Fetching:

In REST API, one has to gather required information from multiple endpoints. Taking the earlier instance a bit further, in order to fetch the title of a blog post and its comments, a client would usually need to first fetch a particular post and request another endpoint for comments based on post id for every post. But in GraphQL, this can be achieved with a single instance query.

Drive Analytics:

Since all the clients specify the exact information they require, excluding any redundant data, it makes it easy to drive analytics to backend by understanding what users really need. It also helps to remove specific fields that are not requested by any of the clients.

Versioning:

In REST APIs, version control is used to introduce new features. You may have noticed versioning like v1, v2, v3, etc. While this can be helpful, it increases redundancy and maintenance efforts. But GraphQL eliminates versioning all together. New features, fields or types can be appended to the existing GraphQL API itself. It doesn’t affect the existing query base.

Conclusion:

Here we discussed different aspects of GraphQL and REST. We discovered some issues of REST and how beautifully GraphQL attempts to resolve them. One of the major issues of REST is Overfetching and Underfetching which is highlighted here. Know more differences? Comment them below!

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