Can u recall the process of searching your favourite TV shows on YouTube? You just type the name and start your search, and once the search starts, you can see a list of all the videos in a row. Here is where API (Application program interface) plays the role of running in the background to find even those videos that have not been famous. API basically acts like a bridge that links two apps for them to interact and exchange data for the user’s benefit.
A lot goes on behind the scenes like the movies that are not directly viewable by the user. But, in case you have to decide to create & implement API to give added benefit to the users, you must know what is happening behind the scenes. What will you use the REST API or GraphQL?
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Though Web API is a trivial and simple-to-use solution that has shown to be a trendy choice for many developers, you still have many factors to consider. How can you tell if it’s the right decision for your specific project requirements? Will the final products meet your requirements?
A better choice for Web API
One must consider four things while choosing Web APIs are Routing, Versioning, Error Handling and Documentation.
What is REST?
REST is an API design architecture for web apps. This represents one of the ways to transmit data over HTTP.
REST has been in existence for years, defining precisely how APIs are going to look and act. It’s a secure, time-tried-and-tested platform. REST’s full form is “Representational State Transfer”, and it comprises a set of guidelines developers stick to as they churn out APIs. In REST APIs, the information that is requested is highly dependent on the query technique. Let’s take an instance here, a rule says that you can get a piece of data if you link it to a specific URL. Here, the URL is the request, whereas the data you get is the response.
PROS of REST
- REST depends on the cache that is developed in HTTP specification. The semantics of obtaining the information you need has already been defined and are easy to follow. GET requests…
- Can be stored in the cache
- Can remain in the browser history
- Can be bookmarked
- REST could also be easily checked with the control from HTTP status code.
CONS of REST
- They deliver only a single-resource fetch.
- Any request should be connected to the client before creating the answer.
- Implementation is necessary.
- When using REST APIs, users must manually apply to parse and return reasoning to stipulate the information they need.
- JSON schemas can be used to show schemas and strong types
- Query languages such as OData can be used.
To understand better, REST is time-tested and a handy API with remarkable multitasking capabilities, despite that it still requires certified enhancements every now and then to make the most of it.
What is GraphQL?
GraphQL is a query language for APIs that allows fetching explanatory data to provide the client with the power to define exactly the data required from the API, making it easy to develop APIs over time. Facebook developed GraphQL to be able to run queries with existing data. GraphQL can improve RESTful API calls. It also has a declarative approach of procuring and upgrading your data.
GraphQL assists you in uploading data from server to client. It allows programmers to select the types of requests they want to make.
PROS of GraphQL
- Strong data typing, contract-driven by nature.
- It supports Boolean, String, Int, Float, ID, Scalar, etc., all specified in the Schema.
- Uses SDL, which is lucrative and beneficial. Because:
- Fewer errors appear.
- Has an improved-authenticated integrated development environment (IDE).
- Streamlines the process through auto-completion.
- Capable of fetching data in no matter what is the volume.
- Having strong typing, you get the exact data when it is fetched.
- This is used specifically for serverless work. Serverless functions do not require the users to worry about subscriptions and works well with a single endpoint.
CONS of GraphQL
- It can be tough to monitor.
- Caching gets very difficult with GraphQL.
- It allows only JSON representation.
- Fewer vendors in the ecosystem while the main one pretends it owns the show
- Stiffer testing makes it more complicated to predict and solve all of the potential problems beforehand.
Currently, GraphQL can be used by teams of all sizes in different languages & environment. Companies that are using it are Facebook, Github, Shopify & Pinterest.
Where GraphQL is better than Rest APIs
When using REST API to retrieve the information, it will always come back with a complete dataset. If you request the data from two objects, it is required to carry out two REST API requests. The main benefit of using the REST API is its easiness because, in REST APIs, there is a single endpoint that focuses on a single task, making it easy to understand and control.
In REST API, extracting information from a specific endpoint, the end result will be that you get a complete data set because you cannot restrict the fields that the REST API returns. This instance is called over fetching. But, while using GraphQL, you can run away from the over fetching. You can request to fetch the exact information you need from multiple objects. Once you familiarize yourself with GraphQL, it is simple and powerful. It enables you to retrieve only the required data, so; allowing you to restrict the amount of processing required.
How is REST better than GraphQL?
REST is a basic industry standard for most of the companies deploying APIs. It provides many great features such as client-server architecture, stateless server, cachability, layered system, load balancer, uniform interface, etc. Here are a few benefits of using REST that also deserve mention.
GraphQL enables you to retrieve the exact information that you want from the server, leading to some security concerns. If a hacker intends to take out a DDoS (Denial-of-service-attack) to an exposed server, all he must do is perform an expensive nested query to overload your server. But with REST this is not the case, giving you a freehand to use separate HTTP calls to extract data.
HTTP caches are being used by contemporary browsers to recognize the means and ensuring no two resources are the same to avoid re-fetching. With GraphQL, there is no method to use a universal identifier as it uses the same URL for all the requests leaving you with no choice but setting up your own cache in GraphQL, which is very tedious at times.
Difference between GraphQL & REST
REST API is a time and tested approach used for developing APIs. This is still not specific and methodical enough. Most of the requests end up recovering either too much or too little information with very fewer statistics on performance. Not only this, developers frequently need to check the status of front-end and back-end, ensuring the data requirements are consistent with.
GraphQL exemplifies an easy approach, but debatably more viable in the long run. If you are developing a small service, REST and its robust typing system will be doing a far better job. Nevertheless, GraphQL and its robust typing familiarize the organization to the code base restricting changes, based on personal development styles making GraphQL more appropriate for large teams and enterprise-level development.
Finally, both approaches are worth considering, leaving the final choice on the scope of the project, team size, and requests received.