Megan Sullivan

[Sketchnote] Why Use GraphQL?

December 13th, 2020

(3-minute read)


Since I started working at Gatsby, I've been learning more about GraphQL. One resource that has been really helpful is How To GraphQL.

I made a sketchnote based on my current understanding of their video: GraphQL is the better REST. The rest of this post describes the content of the sketchnote.

A sketchnote about why to use GraphQL

But First... What is GraphQL?

  • An API standard created by Facebook.
  • An alternative to the REST API standard.

Why Use GraphQL?

Reason #1: Only One Endpoint

A GraphQL server exposes a single endpoint that handles all incoming requests, regardless of the data being requested.

An analogy:

  • REST is like shopping at multiple, smaller retailers. You have to make multiple trips to different stores to buy all the things you need.
  • GraphQL is like doing all your shopping at one big-box retailer (like Costco). You can make a single trip to buy everything you're looking for in one place.

Reason #2: No Underfetching

Underfetching: When the response from the first endpoint doesn't have all the information you need, so you have to make another requst to a different endpoint.

An analogy:

  • REST is like solving a crime by following a trail of clues. Each clue on its own isn't enough to solve the mystery: you have to put them all together to get the final answer you're looking for.
  • GraphQL is like identifying a thief directly by playing back security camera footage. You can get the information you're looking for in one step.

Reason #3: No Overfetching

Overfetching: When the response from an endpoint includes more data than you actually need for your use case.

An analogy:

  • REST is like asking a chatty person for information. You ask them, "When is your birthday?" and they start telling you their entire life story.
  • GraphQL is like asking a terse person for information. You ask them, "When is your birthday?" and they tell you a date. They give you only as much information as you ask for.

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