GraphQL vs. REST: Which API Design Should You Choose?


As innovation in technology improves, more questions arise for developers and administrators on how to better manage data needs. GraphQL vs. REST API designs are the two main contenders for how to optimally transfer data between clients and servers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Should you go for a GraphQL or a REST API? What is the ideal use case for one or the other?

The problem with traditional REST APIs is that they do not scale as well as GraphQL APIs. For example, traditional REST APIs, as described by Martin Fowler, require more resources to create requests and responses and also result in reduced performance when compared to GraphQL. According to the official GraphQL website, GraphQL provides a way to access data more efficiently as it is able to craft requests for exactly what is needed, instead of the more generic endpoint calls of a REST API. That is, GraphQL allows developers to specify what data is needed, and can include the logic for how the data should be organized and requested.

In this article you will learn how REST versus GraphQL can be used efficiently to deliver data between clients and servers. We will cover examples of situations where one might be preferable to the other, as well as explore the pros and cons of each for various scenarios. Furthermore, the article will focus on the best practices for implementing either technology and the best ways to maximize the benefits of each API design.

GraphQL vs. REST: Which API Design Should You Choose?


GraphQL and REST are API design protocols. GraphQL was designed by Facebook as an alternative to REST. REST (Representational State Transfer) is a protocol established in the early 2000s as a way to access web services. The main difference between the two is that GraphQL allows the client to request specific data, while REST has a rigid structure for its requests.
GraphQL is based on queries for data. It allows clients to access data quickly and in a specific format. With GraphQL, multiple requests are done in a single call, reducing overall server load and decreasing latency.
REST is a well-established protocol with a more rigid framework. It uses HTTP request methods such as GET, POST, and DELETE to access resources. A REST request contains the specific resource that the client wishes to access. The response is then an entire document containing the requested data and other details about the resource.
When choosing between the two protocols, consider the needs of the client. GraphQL is ideal for clients that need to acquire specific data quickly, while a REST request is better suited for obtaining a large amount of data from a resource in a document form.

Comparing the Foundations of GraphQL and REST APIs

The Basics of GraphQL and REST APIs

The internet is the greatest interconnected network of computers out there. It’s no wonder that behind all these connections we need various technologies to help keep everything humming. Depending on the nature of your project, you may be in need of a way to access and transfer data across different applications. GraphQL and REST (also known as Representational State Transfer) API are two approaches that can help you do just this.
GraphQL, which stands for “Graph Query Language,” is a query language developed by Facebook. It is the first tool that allows developers to query across multiple databases and services with a single endpoint. GraphQL is designed to expose the underlying data layer as a series of nested resources that can be queried. Its main advantage is that it makes it easy to get only the data you need without being bogged down in minor details.
On the other hand, REST APIs are the other side of the coin. In this case, REST API is an architectural style which is key to developing web services, web-based applications, and distributed systems. It is a set of guidelines that developers have to follow when they create their APIs. REST API helps developers create APIs that adhere to the same principle of Representational State Transfer (REST). This helps to ensure that the data in a response is easy to understand and not cluttered by a lot of irrelevant information.

Comparing GraphQL and REST APIs

GraphQL and REST APIs have certain major differences. The main one is the focus. GraphQL has a very different level of abstraction, which allows it to simplify certain processes. It also makes it easier to add new fields or related resources to a query without affecting code readability. On the other hand, REST API focuses on providing a set of URLs that can be used to create, retrieve, update, and delete resources in an application.
With that in mind, let’s compare GraphQL and REST APIs more closely.

  • GraphQL is more efficient than REST because it only returns the data that is requested, while REST returns the entire resource.
  • It is often easier to explore a GraphQL API than a REST API, since GraphQL queries are limited to a single endpoint.
  • REST APIs require a lot of manual work and are usually harder to maintain and update whereas GraphQL simplifies the process.
  • REST API is considered more efficient for mobile phones since it can require fewer round trips to the back end.
  • GraphQL works better when there is a higher level of abstraction, it is more scalable, and its type system allows for a greater level of predictability.

To sum up, GraphQL and REST APIs are both powerful tools for managing data and working with web services. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and it is important to take a close look at your project’s needs in order to decide which one works better for you. Keep in mind that each approach serves its own purpose, so choose the one that best suits your needs.

Exploring the Benefits and Shortcomings of Each Option

Forsaken Relationships and Eternal Promise

What relation do GraphQL and REST share in the context of developing APIs? With different capabilities, specifications, and structures, what do these two have in common? It is the promise of an orchestrated and an improved communication within APIs.
As we look further into the details of GraphQL and REST, we find a tale of two creatures: one that has been around for years, providing a secure way of communication between application and client, and one that is rising as a promising new option. Both have their own advantages, along with certain drawbacks, and selecting one over another may, at times, prove to be a difficult choice.

A Desperate Bargain Between Checkered Past and Restored Hope

For many years, developing and designing interactions with the back-end of servers required the need to send a request back and forth through the REST protocol commonly referred to as API. This was the norm, and thus came to be thought of as the simplest and the most efficient way to organize communication between client and server.
Yet a thought-provoking question has been raised – can there be a more powerful alternative to REST for the world of API? Starting from this question, came GraphQL, an alternative to the traditional REST protocol, and a method for establishing smoother communication between client and server. It helps to reduce the number of requests sent as data can be filtered and organized in one single request-response cycle, thereby bringing down the needs for over- and under-fetching.
Although GraphQL shows some progressive features and potential for growth, REST cannot be overlooked so easily. While there could be a potential growth of data with GraphQL, it can also provide its own challenges. Reasons such as a lack of cacheability, the lack of standard protocols, dynamic query complexity, and an adjustment in user interface can lead to difficult situations.
Thus, the choice between GraphQL and REST can be one of conscience – of selecting a checkered past in terms of security and simplicity versus the potential of restored hope with its features of query flexibility, real-time updates, and an open platform.
Although the choice between the two can be that of a conscious decision on the part of the user, it must still be realized that both options have their own advantages and disadvantages. In the end, it is up to you as the user to decide which API, in its own unique way, provides the level of solution you desire.

Defining the Future of Application Programming Interfaces

A Challenging Quandary

Gone are the days of good old application programming interfaces (APIs). Even with the emergence of the web, the same old technologies powered by the same old processes served as the foundation for data transfer. But now, the introduction of GraphQL and REST APIs means that the future of the software industry is ripe for redefining.
Companies and developers must decide between the two, leaving the difficult task of choosing between GraphQL and REST. While both offer unique advantages, the decision-making process is not as simple as “one size fits all.” After all, even if the right choice is made today, the world will not stop and wait while all the necessary adjustments are made in the face of any given situation.

Unsettling Uncertainty

The core question that constantly bubbles up is – which API design should you choose? The answer to this question lies in the capabilities and deficiencies of each API. They both have different procedures to request and receive data, yet it’s in the efficiency of GraphQL in comparison to REST that begins to stand out. On one hand, REST requires many requests for multiple pieces of data, while GraphQL allows certain requests to contain “all the data in one go”. So, while complex data requests might take longer with GraphQL, the return is quicker since it will supply the data in one go.
Adding to the challenge, staying flexible in order to cater to different APIs means that it’s essential to develop a multi-platform approach. A successful API design must be able to fit any situation with flexibility and agility. Depending on the expected end-users, their needs, and the application, either GraphQL or REST can bring developers closer to success.

A Complex Dilemma

Software developers and dev teams encounter a complex quandary when making the decision of which API design to choose. On one hand, implementing GraphQL can eliminate the headache of abstracting multiple end-points each time a new feature requires data. On the other hand, the architectural nature of the REST API makes it more suitable for complex web applications that require immense amounts of data retrieval.
Though the look of the finished product has a great impact, defining the right API is key. Enterprises lean more towards REST APIs, whereas startups opt for GraphQL. It boils down to the trade-off between speed and scalability. Speed is important for startups, while scalability is for enterprise applications.
Ultimately, both GraphQL and REST play a significant role in the evolution of application development. The challenge lies in choosing the right API design for the task at hand. In every decision, business owners, developers and end-users must all come together to agree on the path – should it be GraphQL or REST? By holding true to the needs of the application and the expected users, the question can be answered. With the right decision, any situation can be transformed into success.


When building a new API, one of the most important decisions to make is whether to choose GraphQL or REST. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one for the project depends on numerous factors. What then should developers prioritize when considering these two options?
The truth is that there is no concrete answer to this question. Every API design choice comes with tradeoffs and thus, developers must consider all the different possible factors before making a decision. While GraphQL may have the upper hand when it comes to efficiency and flexibility, REST is often the preferred choice when it comes to understandability and scalability. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each technology and come up with a design choice that best suits the project’s needs.
So, if you’re perplexed when it comes to deciding which API design will be the best for your project, we encourage you to stay tuned with our blog. We regularly publish content that helps make design choices for web developers easier. Subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss out on any of the new releases!
Moreover, if you want to be sure you are making the right choice, it might be beneficial to consult with an experienced web developer who is acquainted with GraphQL and REST. They will be able to provide you with valuable advice in this situation.


Q1 What is the difference between GraphQL and REST?
Answer: GraphQL is a data query language designed for retrieving data from an API, while REST is an architectural style used when designing the interface of the API used for retrieving data. GraphQL was designed to make data retrieval more efficient, while REST is focused on performance.
Q2 What advantages does GraphQL have over REST?
Answer: GraphQL allows for more efficient data retrieval since it is operated using a query language, while REST requires numerous API calls to retrieve data. GraphQL is also flexible in that you can request exactly the data you need without tangential response fields.
Q3 What advantages does REST have over GraphQL?
Answer: The main advantage of REST is that it is simpler to use compared to GraphQL. With REST, developers don’t need to learn a new query language so it can be implemented more quickly. REST is also established and well-known.
Q4 Is GraphQL SQL-based?
Answer: No, GraphQL is not based on Structured Query Language (SQL). GraphQL is actually based on Facebook’s query language designed to optimize communication between client and server.
Q5 What type of environments benefit from GraphQL?
Answer: GraphQL is best suited for environments that have large amounts of data and need to facilitate efficient data retrieval. GraphQL is typically most beneficial for mobile and web applications with a dynamic content structure.