Exploring GraphQL in Ruby on Rails: A New Approach to API Development

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The new age of web development has created enormous opportunities for new software, which needs APIs for seamless communication. The fact isn’t hidden from anyone that APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are essential to creating modern applications.

Usually, developers rely on RESTful API that provides a systematic way of communicating with servers. However, with the ongoing technological advancements, adopting new approaches to enhance new forms of development is necessary.

One such approach is GraphQL, which when integrated with Ruby on Rails, opens new doors of possibilities for the development of APIs. GraphQL is widely accepted among the developer's community for API development, owing to its data fetching and manipulating capabilities.

In this blog, we will go through the nitty-gritty of GraphQL, its advantages, its preference over RESTful APIs, and the steps to create GraphQL API with Ruby on Rails. So if you are a seasoned developer or a newcomer looking for the latest web development trends, you just clicked on the perfect link. Let’s Explore GraphQL!

What is GraphQL?

In simple terms, GraphQL is a query language for APIs that allows you to fetch specific data from a server flexibly and concisely, without undergoing any additional hassle.

Unlike RESTful APIs, GraphQL provides clients with the only information they asked for and nothing more, ensuring time-saving and efficiency.

The major goal of GraphQL is to make APIs adaptable, quick, and developer-friendly. It is deployable even within the GraphiQL integrated development environment (IDE). Developers can create GraphQL requests as an alternative to REST that combine data from various sources into a single API call.

In addition, GraphQL allows API administrators the freedom to add or remove fields without affecting the queries that are already running. Developers are free to use any technique they like when creating APIs, and the GraphQL specification will guarantee that they work consistently for clients.

Advantages of GraphQL over REST APIs

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1. Preciseness

Users can receive the precise data they require with GraphQL. Traditional REST APIs frequently lead to over-fetching, which results in receiving more information than is necessary. While GraphQL only returns the information specified in a query, a REST query will extract all the data from a given resource.

2. Performance

Customized queries can be processed using GraphQL, which improves performance. The number of API calls is decreased by processing customized queries. GraphQL is far more predictable than REST, has a single endpoint, and is less likely to result in irrational API calls.

3. Flexibility

With GraphQL, a user can combine various systems and retrieve data from already-existing systems. This enables the use of GraphQL without the need to remove existing infrastructures, and it allows it to function with API management tools that are already existing.

4. Efficiency

Implementing queries needs less work than REST because of GraphQL's streamlined use. According to research, GraphQL takes less time than REST to execute remote service queries, ensuring maximum efficiency.

Why Use Ruby on Rails for GraphQL Implementation?

Developers can enhance their applications' performance and flexibility through efficient GraphQL API usage and RoR is an excellent choice for its implementation, and these are the reasons:

1. Ruby on Rails has a mature ecosystem along with an established framework, providing you access to a huge collection of libraries that can simplify the implementation of GraphQL.

2. Rails works on Convention over Configuration principle, this approach eases the GraphQL setup and promotes best practices to save the development time for developers.

3. Ruby is already popular for its easy syntax, showcasing its simplicity and readability among developers. This feature makes a good fit for GraphQL implementation.

4. Implementation of GraphQL puts a foot forward for RoR, owing to the scalability and performance of its existing applications, which are now being enhanced with GraphQL implementation.

5. GraphQL follows a schema-driven approach that goes well with Rails in defining clear structures. It improves collaboration between developers, leading to effective communication.

The above were some of the major features of RoR for GraphQL implementation. Now, let's take a look at a GraphQL API example to understand how data is queried and retrieved

Steps to Create GraphQL API With Ruby on Rails

GraphQL API development with Ruby on Rails involves a few essential steps. Let's walk through the process step-by-step:

1. Create a New Rails Project:

Open your terminal or command prompt and use the following command to create a new Rails project:

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2. Install Required Gems:

In the Gemfile of your Rails project, add the necessary gems for GraphQL and Rails. Run ‘bundle install’ to install them:

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3. Define GraphQL Schema:

Create a new folder called ‘types’ within the ‘app/graphql’ directory. In this folder, define your GraphQL schema by creating ‘.graphql’ files. These files will define your GraphQL types and queries.

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4. Create Queries and Mutations:

Within the ‘types’ folder, define query and mutation classes to handle data retrieval and modifications. Queries represent read operations, while mutations represent create, update, and delete operations.

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5. Set Up the Schema File:

In the ‘app/graphql’ directory, create a ‘schema.graphql’ file. In this file, combine all the defined types, queries, and mutations to build your overall GraphQL schema.

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6. Set Up GraphQL Controller:

Create a new controller to handle incoming GraphQL queries and mutations. In the ‘app/controllers’ directory, create a file like ‘graphql_controller.rb’ and define an action to process GraphQL queries.

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7. Configure Routes:

In the ‘config/routes.rb’ file, configure a route to handle incoming GraphQL requests. You can use the post method to route requests to the GraphQL controller action.

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8. Test Your API:

Start your Rails server (rails server) and navigate to the GraphiQL URL (e.g., http://localhost:3000/graphiql) in your browser (only for the development environment). Here, you can test your GraphQL API by writing and executing queries and mutations.

Frequently Asked Questions

GraphQL is a query language for APIs that allows you to fetch specific data from a server flexibly and concisely, without undergoing any additional hassle.

Traditional REST APIs frequently lead to over-fetching, which results in receiving more information than is necessary. While GraphQL only returns the information specified in a query, a REST query will extract all the data from a given resource.

The major components of a GraphQL API include Schema-defines structure, Query-requests data, Mutation-modifies data, and Resolver-retrieves data based on the query.

One drawback of GraphQL API is the potential for clients to create complex and inefficient queries, leading to over-fetching and performance issues on the server side if not properly managed.

While GraphQL offers significant advantages, it doesn't entirely replace RESTful APIs. The choice completely depends on the specific project requirements, data structure, and use cases. Moreover, some applications may choose to use a combination of both technologies.

Wrapping Up

In this blog, we have successfully explored the endless possibilities that GraphQL offers users. Moreover, it is necessary to understand that hopping on to new approaches of modern web development is important to discover new horizons. This way you not only figure out an improved way of doing things but can also experience better productivity and efficiency that can help you in the long run. Although, if you are still confused with all these technicalities, contact Protonshub Technologies, a one-stop solution for all your Ruby on Rails development and custom software development queries. Doesn’t matter if you are getting started with a brand new project or reworking your existing one, our doors are always open to guide you.