Sharing data is crucial for any organization, whether it be between different departments or with other organizations. The data can come in various forms like text, documents, and videos. To make the process of data sharing seamless, organizations can use technologies like APIs and web services. Among these technologies, GraphQL, gRPC, and REST are popular options for creating APIs. In this article, we will explore the main differences between GraphQL, gRPC, and REST, so that you can choose the right one for your data exchange needs.
GraphQL is a data query language for APIs that was developed by Facebook and released publicly in 2015. It is implemented in multiple languages, and its results are returned in JSON format. The GraphQL Schema Definition Language became part of the specification in 2018.
It allows clients to specifically request the data they need. Unlike REST, which uses HTTP methods, GraphQL uses queries, mutations, and subscriptions to access and manipulate data. Queries request data from the server, mutations send and modify data on the server, and subscriptions provide live updates when data changes, typically through web sockets.
GraphQL has a unique approach to the client-server relationship, as it allows the client to determine the data they want and the format in which they want it. This approach reverses the traditional client-server dictation and facilitates extended functionality.
This uses the HTTP protocol and can be accessed through a simple POST API or via the GraphQL playground. It offers different verbs such as Query and Mutation for performing CRUD operations.
GraphQL allows clients to request multiple data fields at once, but the response will be as fast as the slowest requested field. Therefore, users should optimize queries based on usage patterns to improve performance. In general, gRPC will be faster than GraphQL.
GraphQL also supports a wide range of languages, including Perl, PHP, Java, Python, and others.
gRPC is an open-source, high-performance, remote procedure call (RPC) framework that was developed by Google. gRPC was released as an open-source project in 2015, and since then it has gained widespread adoption in microservice architecture for its low latency and high throughput.
It is based on contracts and agreements defined by the relationship between the server and client rather than the architecture.
It utilizes Protocol Buffers (Protobuf) to serialize structured data and improve communication.gRPC is lightweight, and requires minimal resources, making it a suitable option for low-powered situations. This makes it ideal for situations where the data requester wants to conserve resources, commonly used in IoT devices such as smart light switches, voice controllers, cameras, and smoke alarm locks.
gRPC is based on the concept of Contracts. In this architecture, the client-server relationship plays a significant role in determining the functionality of the API. The client is given a lot of power and responsibility, while the server is responsible for handling and computation work.
gRPC uses the HTTP/2 protocol, which is an improvement over HTTP/1. It supports bidirectional and multiplexing communication and uses a binary protocol instead of JSON.
gRPC has a strong focus on performance through features such as compact data format, use of HTTP/2 as the transport layer along with fast encoding and decoding of messages. It also uses code generation for both the client and the server, which helps in saving developers time and improve performance.
REST (Representational State Transfer) is a popular architectural style for building web services. It was introduced by Roy Fielding in 2000 in his PhD dissertation. REST is widely used because of its simplicity, scalability, and compatibility with the existing web infrastructure. RESTful APIs have become the standard for building web services and are used by many companies and organizations, including Twitter, Amazon, and Google. REST provides a flexible and scalable solution for building and consuming web services, making it a popular choice for many web developers.
It uses various HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE for data retrieval, transfer, modification, and deletion, respectively.
REST also allows for re-sending requests if necessary and includes all the necessary information for the server to process the request. As a result, the server in a REST API does not store the client state, making it stateless. Additionally, REST uses HTTPs native caching headers to implement caching, as it encourages requests to be cacheable whenever possible.
REST, or Representational State Transfer, is a broad architectural style that does not have a concrete API framework or specification. This can lead to ambiguity and interpretation, which has resulted in the creation of frameworks like JSON: HAL, API, and OData to help guide developers in building RESTful APIs.
It uses the HTTP 1.1 protocol and resources are accessed through a common interface using standard HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.
REST, which uses the HTTP 1.1 protocol, can be slower due to its request-response model of communication. Each request is served one at a time, which can slow down the entire process.
The selection of the appropriate API technology for a project is crucial as it can greatly impact the performance, scalability, and ease of use of the final product. The three main options to consider are REST, GraphQL and gRPC, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
REST (Representational State Transfer) is a widely used and well-established option that is suitable for generic APIs that will be used by a large number of clients. GraphQL is a more recent technology that allows clients to create their own unique queries and receive only the specific data they need quickly, making it ideal for flexible and dynamic requests. gRPC is a high-performance framework that is designed for fast and seamless communication between internal services.
Combining different technologies can also be effective and help achieve optimal results. In the end, the choice of API technology will depend on the specific goals and requirements of the project.