Is REST getting downcasted amidst the preferences of API designers changing to GraphQL for selecting architectural styles for API design? You might say so because trends are showing that GraphQL is gaining popularity at a very good rate compared to REST.The raging argument between the performance of REST and GraphQL is perplexing companies’ decision in what to choose for creating or using API.
While some say that REST is the standardized API designing tool some developers opine that GraphQL should be more appropriate for API designing as it overcomes the flaws present in REST. REST and GraphQL facilitate data retrieval, the only difference is that the former is considered to be a traditional one. Through this article, we are hoping to take you through the differences between REST and GraphQL, and determining which will work better for your needs!
What is REST API?
REST (Representational State Transfer) is a software architectural style that comes with a uniform and predefined set of stateless operations that enables API designers to access and manipulate web data. REST generally deals with media components, files or hardware devices.
In REST, API functionality is exposed as resources that can be service, data or an object that clients will have access to. These functionalities-turned-resources come with a URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) that clients can access by simply sending a request to the server. This means that when a client calls a RESTful API, the server will respond with a portrayal of the state of the queried resource. For calling servers, most of the common REST implementations utilize standard HTTP methods like GET, POST PUT, DELETE, and PATCH.
What is GraphQL?
GraphQL is a query language, an application layer server-side technology for working with the APIs. It enables clients to make HTTP requests and fetch responses for new as well as existing data. GraphQL offers a declarative method to get and update your data. You can load data from server to client and enable programmers to select the types of requests they want to make.
The set of information in GraphQL is viewed as a graph (like the name suggests). Nodes defined using GraphQL schemas are the objects, and the edges represent the connections between nodes in the graph. This way there will be perfect clarity in query connections and improvement in objects’ connectivity. In GraphQL, a single request will fetch data from several resources. Using ad-hoc queries to a single point for fetching all the required data, GraphQL eliminates the need for sending multiple requests for fetching data.
GraphQL alsol comes with the extra feature of fetching the exact type of data to be received from the server, thus making the data retrieval process very readable and efficient.
GraphQL implements Apollo for serving data transfer between the cloud server and the UI of your app. The implementation of Apollo leads to the build of such an environment that you will be able to handle GraphQL on the client-side as well as the server-side of the application.
What are the differences between REST and GraphQL?
Even though REST and GraphQL have the same functionality of transmitting data through internet protocols such as HTTP, they have a lot of significant differences. REST API is an architectural pattern whereas GraphQL is a query language. THe key factors that differentiates one from the other includes popularity, usability, performance, and security.
To help you with the right decision between the two, let us now evaluate the differences between GraphQL and REST in the coming section.
Key Difference between REST and GraphQL
- REST is a software architectural style having a set of permissions for creating web services whereas GraphQL is an application layer server-side query language used for executing queries.
- REST is organized in ‘endpoint’ format and GraphQL is organized in ‘schema’ format.
- In terms of development speed, REST is slow and GraphQL is fast.
- REST can have any message format for mutations whereas GraphQL follows string for message format.
- REST does not have machine-readable metadata cacheable, but in GraphQL a query is validated using metadata.
|Application layer server-side technology for query execution with existing data.||Software architectural style that defines a set of parameters for creating web services.|
|Client-directed architecture.||Server-directed architecture.|
|Organized in terms of schema.||Organized in terms of endpoints.|
|The community system is growing.||The community system is already established.|
|Development speed is fast||Development speed is slow.|
|Has a difficult learning curve.||Has a moderate learning curve.|
|The identity is separated after data fetching.||The endpoint is the identity.|
|Available resources are identified by the server.||The properties of the resources are determined by the REST server.|
|Consistency across all platforms.||Difficult to be consistent across different platforms.|
|The message format for GraphQL mutations is in string format.||REST mutations’ message format can be anything.|
|Strongly typed.||Weakly typed.|
|API endpoints are single.||APIs have multiple endpoints.|
|Metadata used for query validation.||Does not have machine-readable metadata cacheable.|
|UX is consistent and of high quality across all operating systems.||Not consistent with all operating systems.|
|API customization required for GraphQL partners.||New applications can be easily enabled as it offers a flexible public API.|
|Common problems faced for API integrations are solved efficiently and flexibly.||Considered as a conventional standard for API designing.|
|Single endpoint is used for deploying over HTTP and provides full capabilities of the exposed services.||Deployed over a set of URLs and each URL exposes only one resource.|
|Caching mechanism lacks automation.||Automated caching.|
|Nil API versioning||Multiple API versions available.|
|JSON representation for data formats.||Multiple data formats supported.|
|For documentation, only a single tool is used which is GraphiQL.||Open API and API Blueprint for automated documentation.|
|Error identification through HTTP status codes is complex.||Error identification through HTTP status codes is easy.|
If you ask us which is better- GraphQL or REST, we will have a subjective response to this question and also we need to have a thorough understanding of the specific project requisites. REST is an already known and ‘tried and proven’ version, but if you want to try something new and different then GraphQL will be the one to try!
Understand what your use case is, and understand the constraints of each API design style, or else you can even try a ‘mix and match’ approach if you feel that would be befitting your project needs. Whatever you choose, make sure that your API design satisfies the requirements of all those involved in the API value chain like API provider, API developer, and the end-user!
Thanks For Reading!
POST YOUR COMMENTS
Sign up for our newsletter the monthly updates
How about a lil' game of fill in the blanks?
We love working alongside ambitious brands and people