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Getting Started

Getting Started

Why should I use GraphQL?

It depends on your use case, but in general, GraphQL has a few key features that stand out. For example, GraphQL enables you to:

Our homepage outlines even more reasons to use GraphQL.

You can try out GraphQL without rewriting your entire application. For instance, starting with a single HTTP request that wraps an existing REST call. Your GraphQL schema and business domain model can expand gradually. We recommend focusing on one use case at first and only building the part of the schema needed for that.

Does GraphQL replace REST?

No, not necessarily. They both handle APIs and can serve similar purposes from a business perspective. GraphQL is often considered an alternative to REST, but it’s not a definitive replacement.

GraphQL and REST can actually co-exist in your stack. For example, you can abstract REST APIs behind a GraphQL server. This can be done by masking your REST endpoint into a GraphQL endpoint using root resolvers.

For an opinionated perspective on how GraphQL compares to REST, check out How To GraphQL.

Is GraphQL a database language like SQL?

No, but this is a common misconception.

GraphQL is a specification typically used for remote client-server communications. Unlike SQL, GraphQL is agnostic to the data source(s) used to retrieve data and persist changes. Accessing and manipulating data is performed with arbitrary functions called resolvers. GraphQL coordinates and aggregates the data from these resolver functions, then returns the result to the client. Generally, these resolver functions should delegate to a business logic layer responsible for communicating with the various underlying data sources. These data sources could be remote APIs, databases, local cache, and nearly anything else your programming language can access.

For more information on how to get GraphQL to interact with your database, check out our documentation on resolvers.

How can I learn GraphQL?

There are many resources available to help you learn GraphQL, including this website. In our documentation, you’ll find a series of articles that explain essential GraphQL concepts and how they work. Our Community page is full of resources to reference and groups to join.

For more practical guides, visit the How to GraphQL fullstack tutorial website. We also have a free online course with edX, Exploring GraphQL: A Query Language for APIs.

Before you start your learning journey, make sure you know what an API is and how communication generally works between client and server.

Is GraphQL only for React or JavaScript developers?

No, not at all. GraphQL is a specification that can be implemented in any language. Our Code page contains a long list of libraries in many different programming languages to help with that.

It’s understandable why you’d think this, though. GraphQL was introduced at a React conference and GraphQL.js is one of the most widely used implementations to date. We know this can be confusing, so we’re working to improve our documentation and add more code samples that aren’t written in JavaScript.