Introduction to GraphQL

January 27, 2018


Introduction to GraphQL

Most of the web and mobile applications face the requirement to fetch data from a database server. APIs are generated which serve as a bridge between the server and application. Basically, API structures the data for a client to load. GraphQL can be really useful for such instances. GraphQL is a brand new API standard introduced and open-sourced by Facebook in 2015. It is more efficient and flexible substitute for building REST.

# The Misconceptions

• One of the delusions floating around GraphQL is that it is a backend database engine. GraphQL is not a database at all; it is a Query Language for application APIs.

• Since Facebook has always approached GraphQL and React JS together, developers have thought that they are inter-connected. This isn’t true. GraphQL is not limited to React or Native, it can be used with any technology or library that requires a client communication with API.

# How GraphQL works?

GraphQL uses declarative data fetching approach where a client can request the precise data it wants from an API. It employs a single endpoint and responds with exact data the client asked for, as opposed to the multiple endpoints that REST exposes with fixed (at times, extra) data objects.

# Features of GraphQL

  • Get exactly what you want:

    Sending a query to GraphQL API returns the exact data the client asked for. Nothing more, nothing less – thus results are quite predictable.

  • Faster API response:

    Since client application controls the data with their requests and not the server, GraphQL API turns out to be stable and faster. It can be insanely fast even for slow mobile network connections.

  • Single request for multiple resources:

    A veteran REST API requires making requests to multiple URL endpoints to fetch data from multiple table resources. While GraphQL can access references and fetch all the data that client needs in a single request.

  • No more version errors:

    Field columns can be added or removed from GraphQL API without influencing existing application queries. A client can utilize a single GraphQL evolving version for newer API features.

  • API availability for multiple frameworks:

    With diversified platforms and frameworks in the market, it can be really tricky to maintain a single API that would perfectly fit with changing requirements and frameworks. Since GraphQL is independent of such interfaces, it can be used on a variety of platforms.

# Languages supported by GraphQL

As we discussed, GraphQL is not limited to any particular language or platform. Here are some of them:

  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Java
  • Ruby
  • C#
  • Scala
  • Go
  • PHP
  • & many more..

# Who uses GraphQL?

The number of companies using GraphQL is increasing day by day. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Facebook
  • Github
  • Twitter
  • Product Hunt
  • Yelp
  • Daily Motion
  • Myntra
  • Pinterest
  • Shopify
  • New York Times
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