GraphQL is an API specification developed by Facebook in 2012 to handle specifically iOS and Android application performance and reliability problems created by the complexity of Facebook’s mobile apps. When GraphQL was developed, mobile bandwidth was still a significant point of frustration for mobile app developers. GraphQL provided a way to cope with these low-bandwidth performance requirements; it allowed for front end developers to bring very discrete pieces of data as opposed to returning complete results.
In the eCommerce world, companies strive to supply the most relevant experiences for all the users and shoppers. Many companies have chosen”headless” or API first approaches as it allows for greater flexibility in creating front end experiences, as compared to more monolithic eCommerce platforms which closely couple the backend and frontends. Because headless trade places emphasis on the data, GraphQL enables front ends to retrieve precisely what they require. This permits organizations to build more unique experiences. There are several benefits provided by the GraphQL:
Simplified Front-end Development
It’s simple for developers to iterate their own frontend applications quickly because the GraphQL layer is responsible for supplying up-to-date data. The developers don’t have to spend time chasing down the API, which has the most up-to-date information. This can help to accelerate time-to-market for new experiences.
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GraphQL allows to fetch only data that’s needed by the application by making parallel requests to different systems within an application ecosystem. This allows to minimize over- and under- yanking, which improves network performance developing a positive impact on customer experience.
With GraphQL, frontend applications do not need to maintain the logic required to call unique systems and reconcile the information. GraphQL also removes the requirement for backends for frontends. Altogether, this reduces code duplication and allows you to remove channel siloes that could lead to inconsistent customer experience.
Much like its intentions at the time of start, GraphQL is excellent for situations where developers are trying to lessen the amount of data being retrieved by their own frontend application. By means of instance, if you are trying to make an experience available to users in very rural areas where their bandwidth is constrained, GraphQL will aid in attaining those clients. Moreover, GraphQL allows for each and every application to recuperate only the discrete data that it needs to execute its purpose, making each application lightweight.
When is GraphQL not the ideal alternative?
In the domain of performance and efficiencies, GraphQL has a lot of promise. Still, it’s far from being a silver bullet, and like REST APIs, developers will have to adhere to best practices–more so than with REST APIs–to be sure that the approach lives up to the hype. By means of instance, simply because the information is provided to the front end is more streamlined does not indicate the retrieval of the information is more compact. If multiple resources and multiple fields will have to be obtained, they will need to be accessed via REST API or GraphQL. Additionally, due to the nature of GraphQL, it can get challenging to comprehend SaaS platform intake, compared to RESTful applications measure resource requests. Consumers of SaaS application using GraphQL can suddenly reach their API rate limits, seeing their functionality their costs increase. Last, there’s a missing piece to the puzzle: how can you execute any business condition or logic that is unique to your company that’s not found in the out of the box commerce functionality of your eCommerce platform? With GraphQL, this logic is going to need to reside in the frontend application. With numerous frontend applications, companies will see an explosion of custom business logic either residing in the frontend application or a backend for frontend (BFF), each of which existing maintenance complexity similar to that of a monolith.
How Elastic Path Commerce Cloud addresses the same challenges
When creating the Elastic Path Commerce Cloud, we have designed the APIs with the developers in mind. Our aims were to give RESTful APIs that are available for the developers to learn and use while eliminating complexity and providing maximum flexibility.
Simplified Front-end Development
Elastic Path Commerce Cloud provides cleanly-designed APIs with only 166 tasks that expose well-defined packed business capabilities to the developers. This hastens time-to-market for new frontend applications and enables rapid iterations.
The clean and minimalistic design allows to optimize data fetching to boost network performance and provide superior customer experience.
Less Code to Maintain
Well-designed packed company capabilities exposed through APIs eliminate the need to reconcile the data across multiple APIs as there’s just a single source of truth with one API. This allows to reduce unneeded code migrating to the frontend.