Satguru Technologies

Choosing the right technologies for your next project’s tech stack can be a challenge, especially when it comes to deciding between GraphQL and RESTful APIs. The decision often comes down to choosing the best API design architecture.

When it comes to building APIs, there are four main options: SOAP, GRPC, REST, and GraphQL. However, many people tend to focus on just REST and GraphQL as these have replaced the older SOAP and GRPC methods of API development.

GraphQL is often considered an improvement over REST, as it offers a superior method of building APIs. Despite their differences, both GraphQL and RESTful APIs have their own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will thoroughly examine these two transformative technologies that have impacted the development and scaling of APIs.

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s first define GraphQL and RESTful APIs.

What is GraphQL?

GraphQL is a query language for APIs that also serves as a runtime to execute those queries using existing data. With robust features, it can efficiently handle complex queries. One of GraphQL’s key benefits is its capability to only request and receive the precise data needed, making it easier to scale your APIs in line with your application.

What Is RESTful API?

REST stands for “Representational State Transfer,” which is a software architecture style for distributed hypermedia systems. It outlines the principles and limitations for exchanging resources between the server and client.

An API that follows these principles is referred to as a “RESTful API.” A good example of this is the WordPress REST API.

To be considered a RESTful API, it must adhere to the following principles and constraints:

1. Client-Server Separation

The client (frontend) and server (backend) are completely independent and can only communicate through endpoints.

2. Uniform Interface

The data displayed in the interface is consistent across all devices.

3. Statelessness

The server does not keep track of whether a request has been made previously. Each request must contain all the necessary information to be processed from scratch.

4. Cacheability

Caching and session storage are allowed, but users must be given the option to opt out of data caching.

5. Layered System Architecture

The API design must not reveal whether the client and server are communicating directly or through an intermediary.

Advantages of GraphQL

The following benefits of GraphQL show why it is a suitable option for creating the next big application:

1. Single API Endpoint for Data Retrieval

One of the main issues with RESTful APIs is having too many endpoints to obtain information. With GraphQL, there is only one endpoint, so multiple requests are not needed to retrieve different information about an object.

2. Elimination of Over-fetching or Under-fetching

Over-fetching or under-fetching is a common problem with RESTful APIs. This occurs when clients either retrieve more or less data than required, as a result of hitting endpoints that have fixed data structures.

Over-fetching results in obtaining more data than what the request actually needs.

3. Fast and Secure

The over-fetching issue can cause a high consumption of bandwidth for clients, which can lead to a slower performance of the application over time. Sorting through a large payload to find the required information can be time-consuming when using RESTful API design patterns.

With GraphQL’s capability to eliminate over-fetching and under-fetching, the server returns a secure, readable, and predictable format, resulting in faster API requests and responses.

Benefits of REST

Despite the increasing popularity of GraphQL, REST remains a widely used API standard. Let’s take a look at why.

1. Ease of Learning

RESTful APIs are the simplest to learn and comprehend, which is a significant advantage over other APIs.

2. Serialization

REST offers a flexible approach and format for serializing data in JSON.

3. Caching

REST APIs can handle high traffic through the use of an HTTP proxy server and cache.

4. Handling Complex Requests

REST APIs have separate endpoints for different requests, making complex requests easier to manage.

5. Clean and Simple Design

REST APIs are elegant, straightforward, and simple to use.

6. Standard HTTP Procedures

REST uses standard HTTP procedure calls to retrieve data and make requests.

7. Client-Server Separation

REST follows a client-server architecture, allowing for separation of business logic from presentation.

8. Statelessness

All messages exchanged between client and server contain all the necessary context to complete the request.

Drawbacks of GraphQL

Although GraphQL has many benefits over REST, it also has some drawbacks worth mentioning:

1. Steep Learning Curve

GraphQL can be more difficult to learn and understand compared to REST. The biggest challenge in building a GraphQL API is designing the schema, which requires a significant amount of time and specialized knowledge.

2. File Uploading Limitations

GraphQL does not have a built-in file upload feature, which can make it necessary to use Base64 encoding for this purpose, but this can be time-consuming and costly.

3. Web Caching Issues

Caching is an important tool that helps reduce the burden on servers by keeping frequently accessed information close to the server. GraphQL does not use standard HTTP caching methods and relies instead on the caching mechanisms of specific clients like Apollo or Relay.

4. Not Ideal for Small Applications

If your application is small and doesn’t require the flexible queries offered by GraphQL, then REST is a better choice. GraphQL may not be the best choice for smaller applications.

5. Complex Query Problems

Although GraphQL’s ability to provide clients with exactly what they want can be an advantage, it can also lead to complex query issues. If a client submits too many nested queries, it can result in the wrong queries being sent, which can be time-consuming for the server. In these situations, using REST with custom endpoints may be more effective.

Drawbacks of REST

Let’s take a look at some of the limitations of REST APIs:

1. Multiple Requests

REST APIs have numerous endpoints, meaning that a client needs to make multiple requests in order to retrieve all the resources required for a complete application.

2. Data Over-fetching and Under-fetching

REST APIs are susceptible to over-fetching and under-fetching, which can lead to poor response times as the client fetches large amounts of unnecessary data.

3. Hierarchical Structure

REST APIs are based on URI references to resources, making them not well-suited for resources that cannot be easily organized or accessed in a hierarchical manner.


GraphQL is a modern API architecture that is gaining popularity due to its ability to deliver faster responses and efficient data access through a single endpoint and a well-defined schema. This has led many large companies to adopt GraphQL, even in its early stages. Despite its advantages, REST, the predecessor of GraphQL, still holds its ground and remains a widely used API standard.