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Apollo Launches GraphQL Platform and VS Code Extension

| by Thomas Betts Follow 53 Followers on Nov 09, 2018. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Apollo, the company behind GraphQL, just launched their flagship product, the Apollo GraphQL Platform, described as "a complete solution for companies aiming to do GraphQL the right way." As GraphQL has emerged as a useful component of modern app development, large corporations have relied on experts to carry out the implementation. Apollo believes the new platform will allow any app development team to easily stand up a GraphQL system. Coinciding with the release of the platform is a new VS Code extension that provides tooling for developing apps with Apollo.

Proponents of GraphQL tout it as a modern alternative to legacy API technologies, such as REST and SOAP, which date back 20 years. The "point-to-point" nature of these technologies can lead to tight coupling between API providers and API users, as changes must be coordinated. As APIs and systems grow over time, they can become difficult to understand and expensive to maintain.

GraphQL was developed internally by Facebook in 2012 before being publicly released in 2015. GraphQL supports reading, writing (mutating) and subscribing to changes to data (realtime updates). Instead of a custom API for each screen in an app, developers describe the data and services they need using the Graph Query Language, GraphQL, and submit the query to a GraphQL server. The server resolves the query, and identifies which backend services can fulfill the request. Introducing this extra layer allows the frontend and backend development work to be decoupled and more efficient.

Up to now, standing up the GraphQL server, and programming all the query resolution rules required custom systems development. Apollo believes their new GraphQL Platform reduces the costs and risks of custom development, and provides the technology that companies need to "do GraphQL right." A spokesperson for Apollo highlighted GraphQL implementations at companies including Audi and Airbnb that allowed them to more quickly add new features in response to new business initiatives.

The open-core Apollo GraphQL platform consists of Apollo Server, Client, and Engine. Apollo Server translates existing APIs and backends into GraphQL. Apollo Client helps web and mobile platforms to bind data to the UI. Apollo Engine is Apollo's new GraphQL query execution gateway. The platform also includes a suite of essential governance and management tools for developing and operating large-scale data graphs. The Apollo GraphQL Platform can be layered over existing APIs and services, allowing for progressive adoption. The platform is available in a free, community edition, as well as paid team and enterprise editions.

In addition to the offerings from Apollo, there are other open-source frameworks and services in the GraphQL ecosystem. Relay, writen by Facebook, is a JavaScript GraphQL client, focused on React. Solo.io has released Sqoop (formerly QLoo), a GraphQL Server built on top of Gloo and the Envoy Proxy.

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