How GraphQL is better than REST APIs.

Hey there, fellow Laravel developers! If you've been hearing about GraphQL and wondering what the buzz is all about, or if you're just...

Karan Datwani
Karan Datwani

Hey there, fellow Laravel developers! If you've been hearing about GraphQL and wondering what the buzz is all about, or if you're just curious about how to integrate it with Laravel, you're in the right place. Today, we're going to dive into the world of APIs and have a friendly chat about how GraphQL is the new superhero in town, beating the traditional REST APIs.

So, What's With All The Buzz About GraphQL?

Imagine you're at a buffet with REST APIs, and you have to go back and forth to get all the dishes you want. That's how REST APIs work – you make multiple requests for different data points. But, with GraphQL, it's like you have a magic plate that gets you all your favorite dishes in one go! 🍔🍟

It's a query language for your API, allowing clients to request exactly what they need and nothing more. This means fewer over-fetching and under-fetching issues, leading to a more efficient and predictable system.

A Bit of History -- "To appreciate the present, we need to understand the past."

GraphQL was born at Facebook in 2012, it was designed to help mobile apps fetch precisely what they need and no more. Facebook went public with it in 2015, and since then, it's been making waves in the developer community. Now, it’s our turn to dive in!

What are the benefits of using GraphQL?

It Improves Both User and Developer Experience:

  1. Loading Time: With GraphQL's reduced request size and the need for fewer requests, pages load faster, offering a smoother user experience, especially in environments with slower network connections.

  2. Consistency: Since GraphQL fetches all data in one go, all elements on the page (user info, posts, comments) render simultaneously, providing a more cohesive user experience.

  3. Reduced Latency: Multiple network requests in REST, especially in nested data scenarios, can introduce noticeable latency. GraphQL's single request model minimizes this latency, making applications feel snappier.

GraphQL is a Network Layer Superhero for your Modern Applications.

What makes GraphQL better than REST?

1. Get exactly what you need - no more, no less. Payload is as small as possible.

Let’s say you want user data:

REST: an endpoint might give you name, age, address, and 10 other fields. But what if you only needed the name?

GraphQL: you can request just the name, and that’s all you’ll receive!

That results in faster load times - especially crucial for mobile users or those with limited bandwidth.

2. The Magic of Nested Queries

REST: Want user data and their recent orders? That's two trips: one to the user store and another to the order store. With REST, if you need related data, you might end up making multiple requests, leading to a performance hit.

GraphQL: It's like a shopping assistant who fetches both for you in one go!⚡ You can nest your queries and fetch related data in one request and reduce round trips 🤯

Example: With GraphQL, you can query and get both user data & their orders in one response:

  user(id: 1) {
    orders {

This reduces the latency associated with multiple network requests, offering a more efficient data retrieval process, especially beneficial in mobile network scenarios where connection overheads can be significant.

3. One Endpoint Wonderland

REST: Think of each REST endpoint as a different store in a mall. Need shoes? Go to the shoe store. Need a book? Head to the bookstore.

GraphQL: With GraphQL, it's like a mega-store. One place where you can get shoes, books, and everything else!

Example: In REST, you might have /users for user data and /orders for order data. In GraphQL, you just have /graphql for everything!

4. Live Updates with Subscriptions

REST: It's like getting a newspaper. You're informed, but only once a day.

GraphQL: It's like a news app with real-time notifications. Always updated!

Example: Imagine a chat app. With GraphQL subscriptions, the moment a friend sends a message, you receive it. No need to refresh or poll!

While REST is primarily request-response based, GraphQL introduces the concept of subscriptions. GraphQL subscriptions use WebSockets to maintain a persistent connection between the client and server.

5. Versioning? No More Headaches!

REST: Remember having v1, v2, v3 of your API? It's like DVD sequels. Some are great; others, not so much.

GraphQL: It's like Netflix. Always updated, always the best version!

Example: If you add a new field in GraphQL, existing queries remain unaffected. Clients that need the new field can simply start asking for it.

With GraphQL, APIs can evolve without breaking existing queries. New fields can be added to the schema, and old ones can be deprecated, all without affecting existing app functionality. This means:

  • Faster Iterations: No need for versioning means quicker feature rollouts.
  • Backward Compatibility: Older apps continue to function smoothly.

It's a breeze! No more creating new endpoints for each version. Just update your queries, and you're good to go. It's like a seamless software update! 🚀

6. Strongly Typed - A Developer's Dream 💪

REST: no types; you don't know what you're getting, you have to parse, cast or validate everything you receive.

GraphQL: all about types. This means you know exactly what data to expect, reducing the chances of surprises.

The GraphQL schema is strongly typed, ensuring that the client knows exactly what format of data to expect.

7. Frontend Freedom - Client-side developer's Dream 😍

REST: If the front-end developer needs to get some info, they have to ask the back-end developer to provide it. And wait for it.

GraphQL: You can request just that, without waiting for the backend developer to create a specific endpoint. You get what you want!

8. Devs Imagine Clear Picture of Relationships

REST: APIs can get messy with nested routes and linking resources.

GraphQL: Graph-based approach, allowing devs to traverse relationships effortlessly. It's like drawing connections on a whiteboard – clean and straightforward! 🧠

A little about GraphQL community

The vibrant GraphQL community has developed a plethora of tools that speed up development. For example?

  • Need to test queries? Use GraphiQL - it's an excellent interactive IDE.
  • Need to manage state? Use Apollo Client

Developers have a rich toolkit at their disposal.

That's enough of theory☝️, ready for practical?

Sure thing, we're not done yet! Let's grab up that GraphQL wisdom and make it work with laravel.

Get ready to embark on this thrilling journey into GraphQL and Laravel. I promise it will be a mind-blowing experience that'll have your programming passion soaring to new heights!

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