Choosing GraphQL to Build Drift's Messaging Platform

Choosing GraphQL to build Drift’s messaging platform

Like most internet companies today, we built our platform starting from a RESTful JSON API. But even with a clean slate, we still ran into familiar challenges that all API developers face: schema definition and introspection, versioning, paging, data aggregation and response shaping.

GraphQL allows you to create a schema that exposes your entire organization’s data model via read and write operations. This creates a single point of entry into your API and enables clients to ask in a single call what most REST JSON APIs take many calls to fulfill.

GraphQL is the post-REST API.

I did some work putting together GraphQL servers in Node and Elixir and really enjoyed the ease that clients had in getting the exact data they needed in a single call. It has a learning curve (but so did REST), but it really made for a better API experience.

Relay (and Apollo) are the client side companions for GraphQL. The learning curve for Realy was steep – it is very specific about its expectations for schema which is sometimes not so clear – but getting past the steep learning curve (it is very early) I was amazed that I had written no network/data code for my client app. That’s about 30% of the code for a comparable app that just isn’t there.

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