GraphQL Backend Framework

GraphQL Backend Framework

Are you thinking about creating a successful mobile app? Its quite possible, but the process is stressful, time-consuming, and quite expensive too. However, the procedure can be a lot easier when you use technology like the GraphQL Backend Framework. This article discusses the benefits of GraphQL and the value you can get when you deploy the technology on a backend as a service platform.

Here is the summary of crucial titles in this article

  • A Brief Overview of Graphql
  • Optimizing Query for Performance
  • What is GraphQL?
  • Mutations, Queries, and Subscriptions
  • Comparing GraphQL and REST
  • Why use GraphQL?
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of GraphQL
  • Benefits of GraphQL
  • Shortfalls of GraphQL
  • The Best Time to Use GraphQL?
  • Deploying GraphQL with a BaaS
  • GraphQL BaaS Providers

A Brief Overview of Graphql

You might have heard about GraphQL before but do not know what it means and the value it can bring to your development projects. Perhaps GraphQL is the best for your project. So, it would be worth your time to consider using it.

Let’s take you back to how it all began.

Facebook developed GraphQL for its internal use to perform the following tasks, which were not available for Facebook mobile apps as of then.

  • Display lists of posts through API
  • Display the list of users that liked each post
  • Show the details of each user object, such as name, profile, pictures, friends list, etc.

GraphQL made all these possible on the mobile app without exhausting system resources.

Optimizing Query for Performance

The goal of creating the GraphQL query language is to enhance the efficiency of data usage while making mobile apps more responsive.  This would save Facebook millions of dollars on data transfer costs.  This is a better approach than making an API for each data structure and manually querying the database to collect each data. With GraphQL, the developer can specify the precise data they need every time a query is sent to the database.

What is GraphQL?

GraphQL presents developers with a new way to build and query APIs. It is basically a syntax that guides data requests from the client to the server.

The three main features of GraphQL are:

  • It allows the client to specify what they need with precision.
  • Makes the aggregation of data from multiple sources easy.
  • It uses a unique system to describe the data.

The result of these features is that the programmer can fetch multiple information with a single call. This is in contrast to REST API, which requires several requests to perform the same function.

This is how it works. A client sends a set of strings (GraphQL) to a server. The server interprets it and returns a JSON to the client. 

Because the query replicates the responses, it is easy to predict the shape of the data returned from the server.  Also, the developer can write queries easily as long as they know the kind of data they need to fetch from the server.

So, GraphQL is hierarchical as opposed to RESTful services, and complicated join statements in SQL.  In essence, it uses relationships between an object which is perfect from graph-structured data typical to hierarchical user interfaces.

Another unique fact about GraphQL is that it leverages existing code for its queries. So, there is no need to dictate or provide data stores. The implication is that GraphQL can handle queries for all the types that it supports. This means that different tools can access data from a GraphQL server to achieve their objectives. 

The baseline is that, in GraphQL, the client’s query determines the shape of the data that is returned. So, additional fields can be added to the server if the clients need to access a new set of data.  A typical example is when you add a new feature to your product. It also makes the procedure of sunsetting a feature seamless because such field queries will continue working after deprecating the field.

This kind of feature is excellent for backward compatibility. So, there is no longer a need for incremental versioning.

Mutations, Queries, and Subscriptions

The schema of GraphQL is quite simple. It is formed by three main types that support different actions.

  • Mutations worked for creating, updating, and deleting data.
  • Queries are used exclusively by clients to request data from the server.
  • Subscriptions are used to create a real-time relationship with the server. 

Comparing GraphQL and REST

You can see GraphQL as a platform in-between SOAP and REST, borrowing features from both of them. The table below gives a good comparison between GraphQL and REST APIs

DescriptionGraphQLREST
EndpointSingleMultiple
HTTP SemanticsQuery, Mutation, SubscriptionGET, POST, PUT, DELETE
Error CodesSingle 200 status codesMultiple status codes
CacheableNoYes
StatelessYesYes
OverfetchingNoYes
UnderfetchingNoYes

Why use GraphQL?

GraphQL is useful in solving several challenges in which REST has failed.

  • API versioning.
  • Overfetching and Underfetching.
  • Slow performance of large APIs

Advantages and Disadvantages of GraphQL

Since you have a good overview of what GraphQL and the reason it was created by Facebook, you must still have other questions.  That is, what do you stand to gain from using GraphQL. Here is the list of the benefits.

Benefits of GraphQL

  • You will be saving lots of costs on data transfer both on the server-side and client-side. 
  • The response from the server is superb, even with a slow connection.
  • It guarantees faster load time for mobile apps.
  • A more stable backend.

Shortfalls of GraphQL

  • One major drawback is that you will need to learn GraphQL.
  • Caching is not possible GraphQL
  • All queries always return code 200

The Best Time to Use GraphQL?

The following scenarios are excellent for GraphQL.

  • The projects that need you to process data quickly.
  • The application that needs high data throughput.
  • A project that must recover data from multiple sources.
  • Retrieve data from different stacks.
  • Integration with third-party services.
  • Required deployment in multiple platforms (web, mobile, IoT)

Deploying GraphQL with a BaaS

  • You can enjoy the following benefits when you use a backend as a service.
  • You can focus on developing your core product without writing new codes for app functions.
  • It can automate several functions, such as managing database and server infrastructure.
  • The total costs of deployment are reduced substantially.

So, combining the advantages of a backend as a service with the flexibility and simplicity of GraphQL brings the developer more value.  The developer can create schema easily and deploy them seamlessly on ready-to-use infrastructure.

GraphQL BaaS Providers

The following are the list of backend as a service provider that supports GraphQL. Some of them offer managed GraphQL hosting, while others provide self-hosting options.

Back4App

This platform excels in simplicity, flexibility, and scalability.  The backend is based on GraphQL and Parse, which is opensource.  

  • Production Ready: Yes.
  • Pricing Options: A free plan is available, and the paid plan starts at $5 per month.
  • Supported Database: MongoDB and Postgres
  • Hosting Options:  Shared hosting and private hosting options available. Other options include AWS, Azure, Google Cloud

Parse

This platform uses the opensource NodeJS backend framework.

  • Production Ready: No.
  • Pricing Options: There is no support or paid plan. You can only download it.
  • Supported Database: MongoDB and Postgres
  • Hosting Options: It can be deployed on any cloud platform. Commonly used hosting options include AWS, Digital Ocean, and Azure.

AWS Amplify

This is a JavaScript library with essential tools for application development through cloud services. 

  • Production Ready: Yes.
  • Pricing Options: Free download option. The price structure uses pay as you use. 
  • Supported Database: MongoDB and Postgres
  • Hosting Options: It can be deployed in any cloud service such as AWS, Digital Ocean, and Azure.

Hasura

A GraphQL platform with a Postgres database.

  • Production Ready: Yes
  • Pricing Options: Free plan available. Premium plans start at $99/month.
  • Supported Database: Postgres
  • Hosting Options: Integrated with Heroku. It can also be deployed at AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.

GraphCool

This is an open-source backend as a service for developing serverless GraphQL backends

  • Production Ready: Yes
  • Pricing Options: Free plan available. Premium plans start at $35/month.
  • Supported Database: MySQL and Aurora.
  • Hosting Options: GraphCool cloud hosting, but also supports self-hosting with Docker.

Prisma           

This takes the form of a database abstraction layer that converts your database into GraphQL APIs. It also creates CRUD (creating, read, update, and delete) procedures in real-time.

What is GraphQL?

GraphQL presents developers with a new way to build and query APIs. It is basically a syntax that guides data requests from the client to the server.

Why use GraphQL?

GraphQL is useful in solving several challenges in which REST has failed.
– API versioning.
– Overfetching and Underfetching.
– Slow performance of large APIs

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of GraphQL?

Advantages
– Save data transfer costs.
– Faster server responses, even with a slow connection.
– A more stable backend.
Disadvantages
– One major drawback is that you will need to learn GraphQL.
– Caching is not possible GraphQL.
– All queries always return code 200.


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