<-- /notes<-- /notes/how-to-graphql

What is GraphQL

It may sound confusing, but GraphQL is actually just a new type of API standard. It was invented and open-sourced by Facebook. It functions similarly to a RESTful API, however it only exposes one endpoint and responds to declarative data fetching via queries.

Lots of words there, but it's actually not too complicated, and best understood through an example.

Say we had a link-sharing website with multiple users, and their friends (and their links). If we wanted a user's name, their top 3 friends and top 3 links, instinctively we'd just hit up each endpoint for all their data. This would get our ENTIRE user object, their ENTIRE friends list, and their ENTIRE link history.

This is a common problem with REST endpoints: over-fetching/under-fetching data. We can solve this through a refactoring of the API, but this takes time, and can get messy quick.

Instead we use GraphQL.

GraphQL will let the front-end developer outline exactly the data they'd like from the server as a query. This query designs the entire JSON data object, and tells the endpoint to only provide this explicit data. A pseudo-code query would look like this:

query {
  User(id: "11619258") {
    links(last: 3) {
    friends(last: 3) {

and bam! We'd only get the info we need, not the id's of the friends, or the number of clicks on each link. We've trimmed the fluff.