Managing and delivering content efficiently is vital for enterprises. To achieve this, many organizations rely on enterprise content systems, which often require seamless integration with various applications and services. This is where GraphQL, a powerful query language and runtime for APIs, comes into play. In this blog post, we will explore how GraphQL can revolutionize enterprise content systems, offering flexibility, efficiency, and improved developer productivity compared to the commonly used REST API’s. 

When comparing performance, payload size, developer time, and built-in documentation, GraphQL is the future of APIs. GraphQL lets you ask for what you want in a single query, saving bandwidth and reducing multiple cascading REST API requests. 

1) To begin, it’s helpful to understand the challenges of traditional REST API development when it comes to content systems: 

a. Over-fetching and under-fetching of data

Over-fetching leads to wasted network bandwidth and processing resources, while under-fetching necessitates additional requests for the required data, resulting in decreased performance. 

b. Multiple API requests for related data

When dealing with content systems, retrieving related data often involves making multiple API requests. This increases latency, impacts response times, and hampers the efficiency of content retrieval operations. 

c. Lack of flexibility in data retrieval and manipulation

Traditional APIs usually expose predefined endpoints and fixed data structures, limiting the flexibility for retrieving and manipulating content. This lack of flexibility poses challenges when specific data needs or transformations arise. 

d. API versioning complexities

API versioning is a common practice to maintain backward compatibility and introduce changes over time. However, managing and maintaining different API versions can become complex, especially in content systems where data structures and requirements evolve rapidly. 

e. Architecture limitations 

In legacy content systems, traditional APIs are often built on monolithic architectures, where all functionalities and data access are tightly coupled. This restricts the ability to scale and evolve individual components independently, hindering agility and hindering innovation. 

2) GraphQL – what is it?  

GraphQL is an open-source query language and runtime for APIs that was developed by Facebook. It provides a powerful and flexible way to retrieve and manipulate data in content systems. By utilizing GraphQL query language, developers can precisely request the required data, traverse relationships efficiently, and optimize the content retrieval process in content systems. 

Let’s dive into some key aspects of GraphQL: 

Efficient and precise queries

Clients can send queries to the server specifying the exact data they need. This eliminates the problem of over-fetching or under-fetching data. Clients can retrieve multiple resources and their associated fields in a single request. 

Typing system

GraphQL has a type system that defines the capabilities of the API and allows clients to validate the correctness of their queries. The type system ensures that clients receive the expected data shape and helps prevent runtime errors. 

Single endpoint 

Unlike RESTful APIs that may have multiple endpoints for different resources, GraphQL typically exposes a single endpoint. This simplifies the client-side implementation and reduces the number of network requests needed to retrieve data. 

Declarative approach 

GraphQL follows a declarative approach where clients specify the desired data structure in the query rather than defining how to retrieve it. The server takes care of resolving the query and returning the requested data. 

Relationship handling

GraphQL enables clients to retrieve related data efficiently using its resolver functions. Clients can traverse the graph of related objects and fetch nested data without making multiple requests. 

Real-time capabilities 

GraphQL supports real-time updates through a feature called subscriptions. Subscriptions allow clients to subscribe to specific events or data changes and receive real-time updates from the server. 

Ecosystem and tooling

GraphQL has a growing ecosystem with various tools and libraries available for different programming languages and frameworks. These tools provide developers with helpful features such as code generation, schema stitching, caching, and debugging. 

3) GraphQL and Content Services (ECM) 

By leveraging the efficiency, flexibility, and enhanced developer experience provided by GraphQL, enterprise content management applications can improve data retrieval, optimize performance, and facilitate seamless integration with other systems. It offers enterprises a transformative approach to developing and integrating content systems. 

Currently, GraphQL is the recommended development API for IBM FileNet applications, which is fully supported by Reveille for FileNet. By embracing GraphQL’s flexibility, efficiency, and improved developer experience, organizations can overcome the limitations of traditional APIs. With optimized content delivery, seamless integrations, and enhanced developer productivity, GraphQL empowers enterprises to unlock the full potential of their content systems, providing a competitive edge in today’s digital era.  Watch for more news in this area as Reveille expands its GraphQL support.