These unique advantages are beneficial for API developers as they make their lives easier when working with modern API ecosystems. This post focuses on those advantages and how APIs can be used to further enhance the overall experience for both developers and end-users.
API management is key for digital transformation. Today, it is hard to find a company that does not use APIs to perform and enhance business operations. APIs can be seen in a wide range of applications and industries such as transport, e-commerce, medical, banking, and even in the airline industry.
Since APIs have become the heart of many digitally transformed businesses, API management has become a billion-dollar industry in recent years. Owing to increasing demand for APIs, the ability to design robust API-based solutions has become a “must-have” skill for developers.
For a significant amount of time, APIs have been based on traditional REST and SOAP-based protocols. These technologies have been there for more than a decade, and, now owing to the growing popularity of APIs, it is time to think of adapting novel technologies and trends to cater to modern business and software development requirements.
Now, the time has come to combine the popularity of APIs with trending technologies such as GraphQL to develop systems to facilitate modern development and business needs.
When it comes to using GraphQL with APIs, it will be beneficial in many ways. The final solution will have a well-structured and well-defined definition. This will enhance the developer experience to create, build, and manage fully functional API based applications using GraphQL.
On the other hand, applying the quality of service (QoS) is a huge advantage. These QoS aspects are a must when it comes to exposing digital services in a digitally transformed business environment. Moreover, the ease of managing these digital services is also another benefit. In other words, a GraphQL-based API can be designed, developed, and maintained by a set of people in the organization. This capability unlocks the possibility to have segregation of duties in the system.
Last but not least, security is a major concern in any application. Having a robust, secure API management system to expose GraphQL-based APIs will make sure that everyone can use the solution without worrying about information theft.
GraphQL for Development
Multiple benefits can be found when using GraphQL in the API management space.
Here are some major benefits for developers and system administrators. These benefits will make lives easier for API developers and application developers. At the same time, end-users will be able to have a better user experience.
When GraphQL is used, it makes sure to retrieve only the required data (for a given request), nothing more, and nothing less. In other words, this can be considered as zero over-fetching or zero under-fetching. This makes sure that the requests are served in the most efficient way (by serving the information needed to complete the operation).
Another benefit of GraphQL is that it enables API developers to expose data using a single endpoint. Therefore, developers can retrieve data using a single API call. Also, since GraphQL supports fetching data by using a“no more over-fetching or under-fetching” method, this is much easier than traditional protocols like REST or SOAP. In REST (or SOAP), it may serve data via multiple endpoints, but in GraphQL APIs, this is not needed.
When using GraphQL-based APIs, it is possible for front-end and back-end developers to work independently. If the schema is defined, this can be done easily because both parties can continue their work using mock data structures.
GraphQL is a new emerging query language developed by Facebook for mobile applications. It was initially used for web-based APIs, and, over the past few years, has gained popularity in the API management arena as well. The language’s unique advantages have been the main catalyst behind its popularity.
Multiple versions of the same API would need to be maintained in a typical API management solution. This is owing to the continuous improvements done to the API (or the service). Introducing new changes will force API owners to create a new version of the same API because the implementation is going to change significantly. This will cause misbehaviors in existing applications. However, with GraphQL, there will be a ‘versionless’ approach. Since GraphQL APIs return only the required amount of data, applications will function normally without any hassle. If any additional data is needed, it is a matter of changing the query, not the API. Maintaining the API becomes much easier.
API documentation is a lifesaver for developers when it comes to developing information systems. From time to time, new changes are introduced to APIs. API documentation needs to be updated along with those changes. In traditional REST API-based development efforts, this takes a considerable amount of time. But, with GraphQL, it is easier to auto-generate API documentation automatically with the GraphiQL tool. There are many resources available to get familiar with this tool and provides significant advantages for developers.
Sometimes, GraphQL-based APIs are faster than traditional REST APIs because of the reduced number of API calls. This will become an advantage when developing applications based on APIs. This is very useful in data fetching networks. The reason is GraphQL-based APIs can fetch the required data in a single call. If a traditional mechanism (like REST) is used, then, there might be multiple calls needed. Eventually, it might increase the complexity of the solutions.
QoS for GraphQL APIs
When new technologies arise, the industry should adapt to those to keep the business running. This is common for the API management space as well. GraphQL-based APIs unlock a number of benefits to cater to these modern business requirements. At the same time, it is necessary to make sure the required quality of service (QoS) is also there.
When GraphQL APIs are exposed to a well-established API management system, the possibilities are endless. This section contains some “must-have” QoS for GraphQL based APIs to build a fully functional, easily manageable API management ecosystem.
If we get started from the inception phase of an API, the API management solution should provide facilities to create and manage APIs with user-friendly interfaces. An API is a digital contract; it should be well-defined. The same principle applies to GraphQL APIs as well. If that can be achieved easily, then both the benefits of the API management and GraphQL can be enjoyed.
Once the APIs are developed, then, users should be able to discover those services (i.e., APIs) in an easier manner. This is where a portal becomes a lifesaver. By listing all the GraphQL APIs inside a fully functional portal, users can browse, locate, evaluate, subscribe, and consume those APIs with ease. Based on the need, there will be community features such as a rating system to further enhance the user experience.
Information security is one of the top priorities in any application. Hence, it is a must to enforce strong and reliable security measures to protect the system from attacks. Otherwise, users cannot rely on the system, and this will negatively affect the growth of the business in the long run.
To prevent these drawbacks and to make the system secure, it is key to enforce various authentication and authorization mechanisms. This can vary from using basic authentication to AI-based advanced security algorithms. Security features such as mutual authentication play a major role in protecting the system from attackers. This will enhance the security of GraphQL-based APIs (with the help of the API management system).
In the API management space, it is very important to include well-structured service level agreements (SLAs). It should provide a mechanism to associate SLAs for APIs. These SLAs will make sure that users cannot abuse the system even if they are authenticated. A major benefit of using SLA-based throttling includes making an API, application, or resource available to a consumer at different levels of service. At the same time, it helps to protect APIs from common types of security attacks and regulates traffic according to infrastructure availability.
Rate limiting and managing incoming traffic is important in real-world deployments. This is somewhat aligned with scalability. This will make sure that the system is not impacted by sudden request spikes while serving incoming traffic in the most optimal manner. Having a well-defined, robust rate-limiting mechanism will be beneficial for both service providers and consumers.
In any API-based system, monitoring API usage and other related facts is an important task. It will help organizations to offer a better customer experience while exposing their services in the most optimal manner. This is common for GraphQL-based APIs as well. With the help of an API management solution, it will be a significant value addition to the GraphQL API.
All the above QoS aspects are supported by WSO2’s API management solution. It provides a set of tools and documentation for API developers and application developers. Hence, it can be used to unlock and reap the full benefits of GraphQL APIs while offering a full set of QoS.
In order to survive and thrive in today’s technology space, it is vital to keep up with the latest innovations and technologies. These innovations will help an enterprise to serve modern consumer requirements while leveraging the effective problem-solving capabilities of those new technologies.
When it comes to the API management space, GraphQL is one such innovation. GraphQL has its own set of advantages. Because of these advantages, many innovative companies have adapted to this trend. To reap the maximum benefits, we can combine strong API management solutions with GraphQL. API management solutions will further enhance the experience and QoS for both developers and users.
Since WSO2 API Manager is a complete, enterprise-ready solution for managing APIs across the complete API lifecycle, organizations can use it to manage GraphQL APIs in any kind of complex production environment, while also adhering to API management best practices.