GraphQL vs. REST: Comparing Functionality, Benefits & Use Cases

Download Now: Introduction to JavaScript Guide
Danielle Richardson Ellis
Danielle Richardson Ellis



When choosing between GraphQL and REST, think of it like a board game. Both APIs offer various features that help developers build better applications but with different rules of the game in place.

Person on computer comparing GraphQL vs. REST

Download Now: An Introduction to JavaScript  [Free Guide]

When selecting an API for your project, you'll want to consider which service is best suited based on its functionality, benefits, and potential use cases. In this blog post, we'll first explore the similarities between GraphQL and REST before comparing their benefits so that you can make an informed decision when faced with these options.

GraphQL & REST Overview

To summarize, GraphQL and REST are both web application programming interfaces that allow developers to access data. They both allow developers to create, read, update, and delete data from a server in a consistent manner. This is done through a set of “queries” or “endpoints” functions.

GraphQL is an open-source query language that allows developers to request data from multiple sources with one API call. It is popular for its flexibility in moving around data. GraphQL also has a faster response time than REST, which requires more calls.

On the other hand, REST (representational state transfer) represents an architectural style for network communication between systems and is more often used for web-based applications. REST is known for its scalability and has a simpler syntax than GraphQL.

When should you use GraphQL?

There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether or not GraphQL is the right choice for your project. Below are a few key questions to keep in mind:

  • Is your data graph-like (many-to-many relationships)? If so, GraphQL may be the right choice.
  • Do you need to move around a lot of data? GraphQL's flexibility in this area is advantageous.
  • Are you looking for performance? GraphQL's faster response time could be an asset.

Now let's look at some key advantages of GraphQL.

Leveraging various data sources

GraphQL is great for developers who need to access multiple data sources from a single request. GraphQL's ability to offer more precise and responsive queries can benefit projects with lots of data or frequent requests.

Faster response time

GraphQL allows developers to receive data faster than REST, which can complete a request with just one API call. GraphQL returns data based on the exact query and allows developers to make multiple requests at once.

Reduce bandwidth concerns

Bandwidth limitations can be a frustrating problem for small devices like mobile phones and smartwatches. Fortunately, GraphQL is an excellent tool to minimize the issue of limited bandwidth. With this technology, clients can specify exactly what data they require from the server; extra or unnecessary information doesn't clog up the app's performance when bandwidth constraints exist.

When should you use REST?

REST is a great choice for applications where scalability is key. Below are some points to consider when deciding if REST is the right option:

  • Do you need a predictable workflow? REST is often used for web-based applications and can be more consistent when dealing with data.
  • Are you looking for scalability? REST is a great option because it scales quickly and easily.
  • Do you need to manage a small amount of data? REST's simpler syntax may be the right choice for your project.

Now let's look at some key advantages of REST.

Simpler syntax

REST is much easier to understand than GraphQL, as it is based on existing HTTP protocols. REST also has a lot of existing documentation, making it easier for new developers to get up and running. Compared to GraphQL, the syntax for REST is simpler and easier to understand.


REST is known for its scalability and flexibility when dealing with multiple requests from various devices. Web-based applications often use it because of its ability to handle multiple clients and requests.


REST APIs are designed to be stateless, meaning that requests made to the server contain all of the necessary data for the server to complete a given task. This makes it easy to create, read, update, and delete data without keeping track of any additional data.

Comparing Functionality and Use Cases

When deciding which option is right for your project, it's important to consider the functionality of GraphQL and REST and what use cases they are designed for.

GraphQL is great for graph-like data and applications that must make multiple requests simultaneously. It is also a great choice when performance is important, as it can return data quickly. Furthermore, its ability to leverage various data sources makes it ideal for projects with lots of data or frequent requests.

REST, on the other hand, is best for scalable applications that need a predictable workflow. It is also great when managing small amounts of data or when scalability and flexibility are key. REST's simple syntax makes it easier to understand than GraphQL, and its existing documentation makes it easier for new developers to get up and running quickly.

Regardless of your choice, GraphQL and REST offer great solutions for developers. It's important to consider the functionality of each option and what use case it best fits when deciding which is right for your project. Ultimately, GraphQL and REST come down to understanding your requirements and choosing the right tool for the job.

New Call-to-action

Related Articles

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Learn more about one of the world's most popular programming languages.

CMS Hub is flexible for marketers, powerful for developers, and gives customers a personalized, secure experience