Introduction to GraphQL
Introduction to GraphQL
Learn about GraphQL, a platform that uses flexible syntax and systems that simply describe your data requirements and interactions.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Download "Why Your MySQL Needs Redis" and discover how to extend your current MySQL or relational database to a Redis database.
Creating a web application can seem like a complicated task depending on how many functions should be in it. In any situation, development requires lots of effort from developers — starting with architecture, then frontend and backend development, and then, of course, testing. Some may compare the process of application creation to an onion, which has lots of different layers. One of the layers that is really important is where you have to arrange a special inquiry tool.
Don’t know what it is?
Inquiry tools are the bridges that make it possible to get data from the backend. Seem clear and simple? The process of such tool-building can be really challenging, especially if you are a junior developer. For that purpose, various companies and organizations have created a lot of helpful platforms that make it easier to start and understand the development process. One of such platform is GraphQL. Despite its newness, many top development companies globally have used it a lot in their projects.
Surely, you want to know more, but let’s start with the basics.
What Is the Purpose of GraphQL?
GraphQL was created directly for different APIs. Its main purpose is to use flexible syntax and systems that simply describe the data requirements and interactions. Throughout its history, GraphQL became an example of properly functioning and reliable software, which could be used in a pretty simple way — even by junior-level programmers. Thanks to its features and opportunities, which have been implemented by the creators, GraphQL was able to replace other earlier customized tools, which have been designed for the same purpose. When we discuss the functions and aspects of GraphQL, it is essential to present those key opportunities.
GraphQL was based on the usage of different important functions. What are they?
- First of all, the essential primary function is schema. When you are using that tool, you get the opportunity to collect various inquiries in a proper way to avoid a mess. Even more, thanks to the simplicity, the entire process of collecting all needed inquiries became much faster and easier. So, there is no need, for now, to write a huge piece of code just to achieve an easy purpose.
- The second one is a function called query. That function operates with the inquiries on reading types with attributes. For any system operating with APIs, that function could play one of the most important roles. Thus, in order to make it much more straightforward, the creators replaced various functions and options with only one, which is also really useful if you have a bit of practice in this area.
- Mutation is another essential function focused on the inquiries of the type recording. It’s interesting to know that GraphQL is operated only through the usage of several function sets, and it is really better comparing to those systems that have been used previously.
- The attribute function makes it possible to launch a filtered and detailed search. It becomes valuable if you need a direct and certain response to a certain inquiry.
- The last two tools, type and field, were made regarding entity description and key characteristics of a type, respectively.
Advantages and Disadvantages of GraphQL
No one could argue that a tool is totally perfect. While you are thinking about starting to use GraphQL, it's good to learn the advantages and disadvantages of it.
What Are the Pros?
- Development time. As you may have already noticed, one of the main benefits of GraphQL is that you, as a potential user, can do some development things much more quickly. For example, instead of writing huge texts of code, it may be enough just to use one or two primary functions to achieve what you need.
- Opportunity to simply perform changes. The next pro is the high level of flexibility of your project. It is possible thanks to the simplicity of code writing. Even if you have a fully operational and finished program, you still have the opportunity to alter it in any way you need and want, making it more sophisticated — or, as a contrast, more simple and clear for those who are going to use your application. So, the flexibility of the code structure and entire system deserves the first place in the list of all of the benefits of that very system.
- Simple understanding. Another positive feature is the high level of organization within the system itself. You may remember that previously, we were talking about the type function. Thanks to this function, the searching process becomes elementary for any user. Due to the existence of such a tool, any person can get what they need without a mound of useless data and information. Thus, you may be able to evaluate the entire potential of GraphQL as a system for the usage of any person regardless of their qualification in a specific area.
- Documentation magic. Another benefit of GraphQL is a function of self-documentation, which allows you not to worry about the formalities. If you are using an older version of the software similar to GraphQL, it is possible to face useless and pretty complicated documentation within the code itself, which is not good if you are dealing with a big project and have to deal with other many essential aspects of it while setting the priorities wisely.
However, don’t forget about inconvenient features. You may think that they are not so valuable during the development process. But forewarned is forearmed.
What Are the Cons?
GraphQL suffers from a lack of a proper middleware structure. This could be solved by dividing it into different schemes. It is possible to make the API so that the functionality is grouped according to which middleware they need closed, but many schemes are not the best option.
Of course, the development process would not be stuck if your entire project is functions-compact. Keep in mind that you may have to deal with such an issue.
Another thing is the problem with bugs. We have to admit and keep in mind that during the development process, it will not be a surprise at all if you face several severe and harmful bugs that will make it impossible to properly regulate the API. Due to this, making backups becomes an essential task if you are interested in a good result and a fully functioning and well-regulated program. But who doesn't face this, right?
How to Use GraphQL
These steps will help you organize the right flow. Just follow them one by one.
Installation of GraphQL
Operating with this language, in theory, looks pretty simple. To install GraphQL, you may need only your brain, your hands, and a computer. The installation begins with a composer that is already really comprehensive. This means, that you do not need a tone of various additional extensions and programs to launch that machine. Installation can be launched only through one particular function:
composer.json. If you are going to use it with a connection to Laravel, going here is a good decision.
How to Create a Schema
As with the majority of things in GraphQL, the creation of a schema is simple. Schemas are useful if you have to include public endpoints into your project. Moreover, those that need identification may require a lot of your attention. So, in order to arrange a schema, you may need two basic tools: function and facade. Combining these tools, you may be able to operate with a finished version of a schema for your API without any problems and complications.
How to Create a Query
First of all, you have to arrange a type. After you create one, you must add it to a special files folder, which is config/graphql.php. After that, you may be sure that a half of the job is done and you need only to implement some final frames to get a proper result. After that step, you need to be really careful and find out the queries that have to return a particular type. Finally, you must add all that you have to the same folder config/graphql.php.
How to Arrange a Mutation
The creation of a mutation may be similar to the query creation. Lots of the operations within GraphQL tend to have similar algorithms, meaning that you just need to keep in mind how to use the basics and then later put more and more layers on your fundamental knowledge. Mutations accept arguments and then return certain types. For example, you may use it if you have an obligation to change your password. Now, you need to use the function, which is called resolve. That tool allows you to upgrade an existing model and then return it after the improvements. You may also use different validation rules. Yes, maybe it's going to be more complicated, but anyway, it is a kind of diversity. In the very end, when you already have a finished function, you have to add it to an already well-known folder, which is config/graphql.php.
How to Make a Flow
The flow is the most complex part of the usage of GraphQL due to the fact that you need to make a lot of movements here. So, first of all, you have to write the type for each of the objects. And for creation type, you need the finished model.
After its creation, you must define for which fields you need them and then deal with the method of returning them. After that, you have to register all of the types in the schema, as in the example above. But there is a pretty important feature that you have to keep in mind: if the object you are going to make is independent, you must write a query for it. Finally, after you have all of the needed elements, you have to design a mutation while using all of the components.
In this article, our team was doing our best to show how to operate with a query manager as widespread as GraphQL. Due to the fact that it is becoming more and more popular, lots of the businessmen and beginning programmers who are interested in the creation of their own applications start looking for the skilled experts who always are ready to help. Mostly, they face two options: choosing highly expensive IT companies or choosing freelancers, who are not always reliable.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.