GraphQL is a query language for APIs that was developed by Facebook in 2012, whereas REST (Representational State Transfer) is a widely-used architectural style for building APIs.
REST (Representational State Transfer) is a popular architectural style for building APIs. However, as applications become more complex, developers have started exploring alternative approaches to building APIs, such as GraphQL. It allows clients to request exactly the data they need and nothing more, and it has several benefits over REST APIs.
One of the primary benefits of GraphQL over REST APIs is increased efficiency. With REST APIs, clients often have to make multiple requests to retrieve all the necessary data. This can result in slower performance, especially when the client is on a slow network connection or the server is under heavy load.
In contrast, GraphQL allows clients to specify exactly what data they need and receive it all in a single request. This reduces the number of round trips to the server and can lead to faster performance.
For example, consider a REST API that returns a list of books along with their authors. If the client wants to display a list of book titles along with the author's name, it might need to make a separate request for each author to retrieve their name. With GraphQL, the client can specify that it needs both the book title and the author's name in a single request.
Better Control Over Data
Another benefit of GraphQL over REST APIs is better control over data. With REST APIs, the server determines what data is returned in the response. This can result in over-fetching, where the client receives more data than it needs, or under-fetching, where the client has to make additional requests to retrieve related data.
With GraphQL, the client can specify exactly what data it needs, including nested data structures and related objects. This provides more control over the shape and amount of data returned. For example, if the client only needs the title and author of a book, it can specify that in the GraphQL query, and the server will only return that data.
With REST APIs, changing the structure of the API can be difficult because it can break existing clients that rely on the old structure. This can make it challenging to add new features or change the schema without breaking existing clients.
GraphQL is designed to be backward-compatible, which means that new fields can be added to the schema without breaking existing clients. This makes it easier to add new features or change the schema over time.
Strongly Typed Schema
GraphQL has a strongly typed schema, which makes it easier to understand and maintain the API. This schema defines the types of data that can be queried, which can help catch errors before they occur. With REST APIs, the schema is often implicit and not well-defined, which can make it harder to understand and maintain.
The strongly typed schema in GraphQL also provides a self-documenting API. Clients can introspect the schema to see what data is available and what types are expected. This can be helpful for documentation and testing.
Improved Developer Experience
Another benefit of GraphQL over REST APIs is an improved developer experience. With GraphQL, developers can more easily explore the API and understand what data is available. The ability to introspect the schema and see available fields and types can be helpful for documentation and testing.
GraphQL also has a more intuitive syntax for querying data. Instead of having to construct complex URLs with query parameters, clients can send a simple GraphQL query that specifies exactly what data is needed.
In summary, GraphQL offers greater flexibility, efficiency, and control over data compared to REST APIs, making it a popular choice for building modern APIs. While REST APIs are still widely used and can be a good choice for some applications, GraphQL offers several benefits that can make it a better fit for the complex.