Why GraphQL is Better Than Basic REST and SOAP APIs

SOAP and REST have been the dominant protocols for years. However, GraphQL has emerged in the last few years as a powerful alternative, offering numerous advantages over its predecessors. In this article, we’ll explore why GraphQL is often considered better than basic REST and SOAP APIs, and why you might want to consider it for your next project.

Understanding the Basics


SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a protocol for exchanging structured information in the implementation of web services. It relies on XML-based messaging and is known for its strong standards and security features. SOAP is often used in enterprise-level applications where reliability and security are paramount.


REST (Representational State Transfer) is an architectural style that uses standard HTTP methods and is known for its simplicity and ease of use. REST APIs typically exchange data in JSON format and are widely used for web and mobile applications due to their flexibility and ease of integration.


GraphQL, developed by Facebook in 2012 and released publicly in 2015, is a query language for your API, and a server-side runtime for executing queries by using a type system you define for your data. It enables clients to request exactly the data they need, nothing more, and nothing less.

Why GraphQL is Better Than REST and SOAP

1. Precise Data Fetching

One of the most significant advantages of GraphQL is its ability to allow clients to request exactly the data they need. This contrasts sharply with REST, where you might need multiple endpoints to gather related data, often leading to over-fetching or under-fetching of data.

Example: In REST, to get user information along with their posts, you might have to hit two endpoints:

GET /users/1
GET /users/1/posts

In GraphQL, a single query can fetch exactly what’s needed:

  user(id: 1) {
    posts {

2. Strongly Typed Schema

GraphQL APIs are defined by a schema, which is a strong, self-documenting contract between the server and the client. This schema is introspectable, allowing developers to understand the structure of the API without external documentation. REST and SOAP do not enforce a single way to define and discover the API’s schema, leading to inconsistencies and increased reliance on external documentation.

3. Single Endpoint

GraphQL operates on a single endpoint, which simplifies the API structure and reduces complexity in routing. In contrast, REST typically involves multiple endpoints for different resources, which can become cumbersome to manage as an application grows.

Example: A REST API might have the following endpoints:

GET /users
GET /posts
GET /comments

A GraphQL API would have a single endpoint, e.g., /graphql, where all queries and mutations are directed.

4. Reduced Overhead

GraphQL reduces the number of HTTP requests needed to fetch related data. This is particularly beneficial for applications with complex relationships and nested data structures. By reducing the number of round-trips between the client and server, GraphQL can lead to improved performance and a better user experience.

5. Better Developer Experience

GraphQL’s introspection capabilities allow for powerful development tools, such as GraphiQL, an in-browser IDE for exploring GraphQL APIs. These tools can significantly enhance the developer experience by providing real-time feedback and auto-completion.

6. Evolution Without Versioning

GraphQL allows APIs to evolve without the need for versioning. New fields and types can be added to the GraphQL schema without impacting existing queries. In contrast, REST APIs often rely on versioning to manage changes, which can lead to fragmentation and increased maintenance overhead.

Example: Adding a new field in REST might involve creating a new versioned endpoint:

GET /v2/users/1

In GraphQL, you simply add the new field to the schema, and clients can start querying it immediately.

Use Cases Where GraphQL Excels

  1. Mobile and Single-Page Applications: These applications often require efficient data fetching to improve performance and user experience.
  2. Complex Systems and Microservices: GraphQL can serve as an aggregation layer, fetching data from multiple sources and presenting it through a unified API.
  3. APIs with Rapidly Changing Requirements: The flexibility of GraphQL allows for quick adaptation without the need for extensive versioning and maintenance.


While REST and SOAP have their strengths and are still widely used, GraphQL offers a modern approach that addresses many of the pain points associated with these older technologies. Its ability to fetch precise data, introspectable schema, single endpoint architecture, reduced overhead, enhanced developer experience, and smooth evolution without versioning make it a compelling choice for many applications. If you’re looking to build an efficient, scalable, and developer-friendly API, GraphQL is certainly worth considering.

See Also


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