The services in the financial sector are in the mid of an open banking revolution. With scalable banking units becoming more numerous, API-driven microservices provide more fluidity to financial services than ever before. Having said that, the design ideology for such interfaces is experiencing changes.

GraphQL and Rest API are the two API design styles that deal with the same purpose i.e, transferring data through the internet protocols including HTML.

However, their operating methods differ greatly. To be precise, Rest is an architectural design, whilst GraphQL is a query lingo.

For a long time, REST has been a prominent architectural concept for APIs. but, in current times GraphQL prominence is intimidating REST domain.

The squabble over GraphQL vs RestAPI is infuriating, and most enterprises are uncertain among the two when it comes to making use of APIs. GraphQL and RestAPI are both methods for data retrieval. Nevertheless, one is a traditional method and one has been introduced in 2015 but surprisingly has really taken off with the programmers.

Today, through this article we are going to cover some details on how GraphQL is different from Rest API and how both of them are improving the developing community. And will help you decide which will work best according to your needs.

Let’s move ahead!

REST APIs

REST stands for “Representational State Transfer”. It is an architectural design that obeys a set of constraints while developing web applications.

It was brought in as an inheritor to SOAP APIs. RestAPIs are web service APIs (Application Programming Interface) that obey the REST values.

Diverse from SOAP, the Rest API is not stiff to an XML format and, in fact, can return multiple data formats based on what one requires. The data constructs backed by the Rest API are JSON, XML, and YAML.

To explain it more clearly see, if a customer calls Rest APIs the webserver will supply the resources in a homogenous representation. They operate by giving back information about the source for which the request has been made. And it is rendered into an understandable format.

Rest APIs approve of modifications and additions from the customer side to the server.

A REST request comprises of- “endpoint”, “HTTP method”, “Header”, and “Body”.

An “endpoint” consists of a URI that guides in identifying the online resource.

An HTTP method tells about the type of request made to the server. While working with data a Rest API makes use of HTTP methods to complete CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) tasks.

Headers give information to the customer and the server for caching authentication, and much more.

The body involves a set of information that a customer wants to send to a server. For example- request for the payload.

GraphQL

GraphQL is an open-source data query software and operational language for APIs. at the same time, it also acts as a runtime for completing queries with the prevailing data.

It is managed and developed mainly by the GraphQL Foundation.

GraphQL has seen amazing acceptance across a variety of areas and applications in big organizations like Twitter, Expedia, and Shopify.

In GraphQL the information is visualized in the form of a graph. Nodes represent objects and edges interpret the relatedness between the nodes in the graph. This entitles a coherent relationship amongst queries and improves the connectivity amongst objects.

GraphQL API permits users to request data from multiple sources through a single request. Instead of making multiple requests to collect data, you can use GraphQL to make improvised queries at one endpoint and access all the needed data.

Additionally, GraphQL feeds the clients with the amenity to indicate the exact type of data to be accepted from the server. Nonetheless, it is a predictable information structure that makes it highly readable and efficient.

GraphQL vs Rest API

GraphQL vs RestAPI- this has always been a fierce debate in the API category. And without beating about the bush, both of them are two different methods for unfolding the same problem, that is, accessing data from the webserver.

With having some similarities they also have a slight difference that helps you make the right decision to select one. 

We will discuss these differences based on the below-given facets:

  • Popularity
  • functionality
  • Performance
  • Security

Let’s state an in-detail remark on these facets.

Popularity

The popular open-source software will likely be community-tested and will be more stable and developed.

In addition to this, accepting a popular technology can help you sway community support if you go through any issues during the execution.

In the case of GraphQL and RestAPI popularity, the latter is undeniably up ahead. The former is the new technology which is like a new kid who is trying hard to progress with an already settled API design style.

For instance, according to a recent survey, 82% of the surveyed API exponents and clients use the RestAPI whilst only 19% of them use GraphQL.

However, the popularity of GraphQL is also expanding. Based on a report, only 5% of the surveyed practitioners used it in 2016, but the percentage increased to 38.7% in the year 2019.

Furthermore, GraphQL’s practice is increasing exponentially, but it is still new and it needs more time to catch up with the arenas of RestAPI.

Functionality

Concerning GraphQL and RestAPI functionality, they both are completely different hulks, more specifically in terms of their predictability and editions.

The strongest alluring point of GraphQL is its great predictability. GraphQL will enable you to send a request to your API and receive the same result you need- without any redundant inclusions. Its queries yield predictable results, which greatly increases its functionality.

Conversely, RestAPIs behavior usually differs depending on URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) and HTTP practices. This makes it vague for an API client to understand what to expect when bringing a new endpoint.

When it comes to editions, RestAPI does not have any clear and standardized protocols for versioning. This means that every source is free to execute its own approach. REST developer Roy Fielding speculates that the API shouldn’t go through versioning. However, it is something that the whole REST community is against. What’s your point on it?

Notwithstanding, in current times, there has been a boost in acceptance of the OpenAPI specification format, which offers a customary process to describe and version RestAPIs. On the contrary, GraphQL follows a smooth and fluent approach to versioning.

Thus, if we have to compare GraphQL vs Rest API in terms of functionality, GraphQL simplicity adds up. GraphQL needs fewer efforts to associate remote service queries.

Contradictorily, RestAPI flexibility is a neutral trait that can impact the functionality either positively or negatively based on users’ preferences.

Performance

Another competitive point in the GraphQL vs RestAPI argument is their performance. The tendency of under-fetching and over-fetching is one additional critique against RESTful service. 

Over-fetching occurs when an endpoint provides more data than required. And under-fetching happens when an endpoint can’t receive a considerable amount of data.

Because RestAPI has a robust data structure that is crafted to receive the specific data whenever they get chosen. So, there are chances of you receiving unnecessary data.

These deficiencies also increase the total time the server takes to deliver the requested information.

On the other hand, GraphQL, instead of using fixed endpoints, uses an extensible format that enables you to retrieve what you need with a single API request. This avoids the fright of under-fetching and over-fetching.

Moreover, the debate on GraphQL and RestAPI performance mostly favors the former.

Security 

When it comes to GraphQL and Rest API security, the bar seems to bend towards the latter’s side.

RestAPI gives many innate ways to impose the security of your APIs.

To explain it clearly, you can confirm RestAPI security by doing API authentication practices, like HTTP authentication, where sensitive information is consigned in HTTP headers, or through JWT, where sensitive information is shipped as a JSON data structure.

Whereas GraphQL also offers some operations to ensure clients’ API security, they are not as advanced as those of REST.

Furthermore, one can notice that GraphQL embroils perform rate-limiting and other service denial safety measures. It lacks proper attestations for self-defined data types. Also, its self-examination function can disclose sensitive internal pieces of information.

GraphQL And RestAPI Differences

The table below will highlight their main differences.

      GraphQL        RestAPI
An inquiry language provides efficiency and resilience for unfolding general problems when incorporating APIs.It is an architectural design and is seen as a traditional standard for API designing.
Make use of client-driven architectureMake use of server-driven architecture.
Devoid of the automatic caching system.An automatic caching mechanism is present.
Lacks API versioningApproves multiple API versions.
Only a single apparatus is used for documentation- GraphiQLSeveral options are there for automated documentation like OpenAPI and API Blueprint.
GraphQL is still a growing communityRestAPI is a large community

GraphQL And RestAPI- Which One Is Better?

The answer for who wins in GraphQL vs RestAPI is entirely subjective and it mainly depends on distinct project requirements.

Like, if you want to use a modern design style that doesn’t ask for making multiple rounds to collect data then GraphQL is the best option.

However, if you want to use a tried-and-tested technology with sturdy caching then RestAPI is the best option.

In the end, you should select an API product that meets the necessities of all the partners in the API chain- API provider, API developer, and the client.

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