As new technological innovations continue to emerge, buoyed by an explosion of digital devices and changing consumer habits, businesses continue to search for the fastest and most effective means of keeping up with the changing digital ecosystem.
Over the last years, REST has been a widely used API design. But in 2015, Facebook released GraphQL to the public, a query language for APIs, and it became an alternative to REST. The two approaches have a different way of working, and clients will have to implement a certain type of communication, based on the architecture used on the server.
In this article, we’ll take you through each option so that you can decide which will work best for your needs.
What is GraphQL?
GraphQL is a query language for APIs that enables declarative data fetching in order to give the client the power to specify exactly the data that is needed from the API. It makes easier to evolve APIs over time.
GraphQL helps you to load data from server to client. It enables programmers to choose the types of requests they want to make.
Features of GraphQL
Here are important features of GraphQL:
- GraphQL can decouple frontend from backend.
- It is language and HTTP agnostic.
- Documentation of GraqphQL comes with no extra cost.
- No over or under fetching of data.
- It is statically typed, so you do not need to define variable before using it.
Advantages of GraphQL :
- GraphQL provides a human-readable query.
- It is hierarchical and product-centric.
- GraphQL automatically keeps documentation in sync with API changes.
- GraphQL fields can be shared to a higher component level for reuse.
- It can be used for rapid application prototyping.
Disadvantages of GraphQL :
- Performance issues with complex queries.
- Lack of resources on the backend part.
- Overkill for small applications.
- It is not a good solution for simple applications as it can add complexity.
- It does not base on the HTTP caching methods that enable storing request content.
What is REST?
REST is an acronym for Representative State Transfer. It refers to an API architecture style, or set of constraints developers follow when creating APIs. RESTful web services can be consumed by HTTP requests to fetch and manipulate data.
The main benefit of REST is that it is scalable and decouples client and server, allowing developers to work on products and applications independently. Compatible with a wide range of formats, it can meet a variety of needs.
Features of REST API
Here are important features of REST API:
- REST allows you to store frequently used information in the memory.
- Resources can be easily accessed by name.
- REST has a uniform interface.
- The API of REST can be served from more than one server.
- Database resource in an application can be quickly mapped with a REST API endpoint.
Advantages of REST API
- REST is very easy to build and adapt.
- The protocol becomes easy for developments across different projects.
- Developers can build API that can meet a user-specific need.
- It enables you to scale software without any difficulty.
- The client machine does not need routing information.
Disadvantages of REST
- Poor data searching facility.
- Query validation is not available.
- REST does not maintain states of a previous interaction between client and server.
- Manipulating nested resources is not possible.
- It does not handle API additions, deprecations, and changes.
Let’s dive deeper and analyze the core differences between GraphQL and REST.
GraphQL vs REST, which is better?
The answer to the question above is extremely subjective and largely depends on your specific project requirements.
For example, if you want to breathe some fresh air into your API development using a modern design style that does not require making multiple round trips to fetch data, then GraphQL could be your best option.
On the other hand, if you intend to use a tried-and-proven technique that comes with robust native caching or authentication capabilities, then REST could be your best option.
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