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GraphQL vs. REST

When you want to build an API, you have to use REST, which is a standard for designing web APIs. REST is used by many developers and is widely regarded as the traditional way to send data over HTTP, but this trend is changing with the increase of GraphQL popularity.

GraphQL is a new and revolutionary technology and provides an approach to develop web APIs to replace legacy REST APIs. It can be used as an alternative to REST APIs.

What is REST?

REST stands for Representational state transfer. It is a conventional and standard way to design web APIs. It defines a set of constraints that are used to create Web services. It was popular among developers because of its great features such as stateless servers, structured access to resources, etc. The main problem with REST is that it is not so flexible to cope up with the rapidly changing requirements of the clients that access them. That's why we need an alternative to overcome this limitation.

What is GraphQL?

So, GraphQL was invented to provide more flexibility and efficiency. It solves many problems and inefficiencies that developers face when working with REST APIs.


  • We must know that GraphQL is not any type of database. It is not an alternative to SQL.
  • GraphQL is also not a replacement for REST. It is only an alternative. You don't need to choose between one and the other. You can easily use both in the same project.

Differences between GraphQL and REST

GraphQL is invented to provide more flexibility and efficiency. It solves many problems and inefficiencies that developers face when working with REST APIs. REST is a conventional and standard way to design web APIs.
GraphQL is a data query and manipulation language for APIs, a specification, and a set of tools that operates over a single endpoint using HTTP. A REST API is an architectural concept that provides network efficiency, scalability which allows support of large numbers of components, simplicity, modifiability, visibility, portability, reliability, etc.
GraphQL follows client-driven architecture. REST follows server-driven architecture.
GraphQL has a graphical structure. In GraphQL, objects are represented by nodes, and edges represent the relationship between nodes. REST can be organized in terms of endpoints.
The development speed in GraphQL is fast. The development speed in REST is Slow.
GraphQL is slightly difficult to learn. REST is easy to learn.
GraphQL provides high consistency across all platforms. In REST, it is hard to get consistency across all platforms.
Over the last few years, GraphQL mainly focuses on optimizing performance and flexibility. Over the last few years, REST has mainly focused on making new APIs.
GraphQL is growing day by day. REST is already an extensive community.
In GraphQL, error handling is difficult. Error handling in REST is simpler as compared to GraphQL because of its rich features.
GraphQL doesn't have any automatic caching system. REST uses caching automatically.

Where GraphQL is better than REST API

When you use REST API to fetch information, it will always return a complete dataset. For example, if you want to request information from two objects, you have to perform two REST API requests. The biggest advantage of using the REST API is its simplicity. In REST APIs, you have one endpoint that does only one task, so it is easy to understand and manipulate.

In REST API, if you retrieve some information from a specific endpoint, you will always get a complete data set because, in REST APIs, you couldn't restrict the fields that the REST API returns. This is called over fetching. On the other hand, by using GraphQL, you can escape from over fetching. You can query your request to fetch exactly what you need from multiple objects. Once you get familiar with GraphQL, it is easy and powerful. It facilitates you to fetch only the required data, so; you limit the amount of processing required.

Where REST API is better than GraphQL

REST is already an industry standard for companies deploying APIs. It provides a lot of great features such as client-server architecture, stateless server, cachability, layered system, load balancer, uniform interface, etc.


So, by comparing both, we can see that GraphQL is an API of the future. A lot of companies such as Facebook, Github, Twitter, Coursera, yelp, Pinterest, Serverless, ProductHunt, Shopify, etc. are using it now. Both GraphQL and REST are used to send data over HTTP, but GraphQL certainly has many advantages over REST.

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