REST vs GraphQL


When it comes to developing API’s, you will come across two choices, REST and GraphQL. While REST has been there for a long time, GraphQL is a relatively new contender. REST has been a very successful approach in designing API’s for web-based resources and how web applications work. However, to overcome the limitations of REST, GraphQL came into being. GraphQL. by Facebook, is actually a query language as compared to REST which is more of an architecture style. In this article, we will discuss REST vs GraphQL, compare both these approaches, along with their use cases and sample API responses. Let’s start by understanding REST API. 

What is REST?

Stateless Communication

As we all know, the primary protocol for web-based communication is http, which is a stateless protocol. This is exactly how REST API’s work. They are stateless, hence one request cannot be linked to a previous request. Each request is independent and contains everything needed to process that request. No other words, the server processing the REST API does not have any memory of previous requests. 

Client-Server Model

REST operates on a client-server model where a client can be a web application, mobile app, or even a desktop application. The server receives the API request, processes the request, and sends the response back, without even needing to know which client it is. 

Resource-Based Design

REST API’s are designed around the resources. These resources are your business entities. For each business entity, you will create an endpoint URL and use different REST methods (GET, POST, DELETE, etc.) on that business entity. For example, “ GET /users/4534” will fetch the user’s details with User ID 4534. To create a new user, you would use “POST /users”. 

What is GraphQL

Precise Data Requests

In REST API, if you want to get just the age of a user, can you do that? No. You will have to get the whole data of the user and then extract the age from that data collection. Not so with GraphQL. With GraphQL, you can mention in the API request “Get only the age of user with ID 4534”.  That makes GraphQL not only more simple but also reduces the amount of network traffic as well. 

Single Endpoint

Unlike REST, which might use different endpoints for different data requests, GraphQL uses a single endpoint. This can be both a pro (simplified interactions) and a con (potential for complexity in queries).

Strongly Typed Schema

GraphQL APIs are defined by a strict schema. This is akin to having a contract that specifies exactly what data can be requested and in what form, ensuring consistency and predictability.

When to Use REST

Simple APIs

REST is ideal for simple, straightforward APIs where resources align neatly with database entities. Think of a blog with posts and comments as separate, easily identifiable resources.

Caching-Friendly Scenarios

REST excels in situations where caching can be leveraged to improve performance, such as retrieving the same resource multiple times.

Legacy Systems

For older systems already structured around the RESTful principles, sticking with REST can ensure a smoother transition and integration.

When to Use GraphQL

Complex Data Requirements

GraphQL shines in complex applications where data is deeply interconnected, like social networks where a single view might include nested queries for friends, posts, likes, and comments.

Dynamic Client Needs

Applications with rapidly evolving front-end designs benefit from GraphQL’s flexibility, as clients can adjust their data requests without backend changes.

Aggregating Data

When data needs to come from various sources, GraphQL can act as a unified interface, simplifying the process of fetching and combining this information.


Sample Endpoints and Responses


REST Endpoint and Response

A GET request to /users/1 might return the below response. Note that you do not have any control over the response attributes. 

  "id": 1
  "name": "Jane Doe",
  "email": "[email protected]"

GraphQL Query and Response

A query to fetch the same user’s name and email is shown below. Note that you are explicitly specifying the response attributes i.e. name, email. 

{ user(id: "1") { name email } } 


  "data": {
    "user": {
      "name": "Jane Doe",
      "email": "[email protected]"


REST is resource-centric, perfect for straightforward, cacheable interactions. GraphQL is query-centric, offering precise, flexible data retrieval for complex or rapidly changing systems. At Vizzon, we are committed to elevating your tech infrastructure with the most appropriate API solutions. Whether your project demands the structured simplicity of REST for straightforward, cacheable data interactions or the dynamic, query-focused flexibility of GraphQL for complex and evolving systems, our team of seasoned experts is ready to assist. We utilize the latest technologies to ensure that your software architecture not only meets but exceeds your expectations.

Elevate your application’s potential by integrating cutting-edge API solutions that promise efficiency and adaptability. Connect with us today to explore how our tailored API strategies can propel your business forward. Let’s make your software development journey a remarkable success!