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Strapi's GraphQL Plugin: Setting Up And Querying Data With GraphQL

February 21, 2024 by Daria Andrieieva
  • User Experience
Strapi GraphQL

Are you a developer looking to supercharge your Strapi project with the incredible capabilities of GraphQL? Look no further! This comprehensive guide will take you through Strapi's GraphQL plugin, showing you how to set it up and query data quickly. 
 

Join Kapsys in this article as we explore valuable insights and practical tips on Strapi GraphQL.

What is GraphQL?

Before diving into Strapi's GraphQL plugin, let's briefly understand what GraphQL is and why it's gaining so much popularity in web development.
 

GraphQL is a query language for your API, designed to provide a more efficient, powerful, and flexible alternative to traditional REST APIs. Unlike REST, where you often receive a fixed set of data in each endpoint, GraphQL allows you to request only the data you need, reducing over-fetching and under-fetching of data. 

 

This level of precision in data retrieval makes GraphQL an ideal choice for modern web applications.
 

What is GraphQL Used For?

At this point, you might be wondering about the practical applications of GraphQL and why it's worth integrating into your Strapi project.
 

1. Building Efficient APIs:  Strapi GraphQL allows you to create highly efficient APIs tailored to your front end's needs. By fetching only the data required for a particular view, you reduce unnecessary data transfer and improve your application's performance.
 

2. Flexible Queries: With GraphQL, frontend developers can request precisely the data they need, eliminating over-fetching and under-fetching issues commonly encountered in RESTful APIs. This flexibility streamlines development and enhances user experiences.
 

3. Real-time Data: Strapi GraphQL supports real-time updates using subscriptions. This feature is invaluable for applications that require live data, such as messaging apps, collaborative tools, or live sports scores.
 

4. Aggregating Data: GraphQL can aggregate data from various sources, making it an excellent choice for projects that require data from multiple APIs or databases.
 

5. Future-Proofing: GraphQL is designed to evolve with your project. As your frontend requirements change, you can update your queries without modifying the server, reducing API versioning complexities.

Do You Have What's Needed? 

Before diving into Strapi's GraphQL plugin, there are a few prerequisites you should have in place to ensure a smooth setup and development process. Here are the essential requirements:

  • Node.js and npm (Node Package Manager): Ensure you have Node.js and npm installed on your development machine.

To check if Node.js and npm are installed, open your terminal or command prompt and run the following commands:
 

node -v
npm -v


These commands should display the installed Node.js and npm versions.

  • Strapi Installed: You should have Strapi installed and set up in your project directory. If you haven't already, follow the official Strapi installation guide to get started
     

  • A Strapi Project: Create a Strapi project or use an existing one. Ensure that you have defined content types and populated them with data. Strapi's GraphQL plugin will expose these content types as GraphQL types.
     

  • Basic Understanding of GraphQL: While this guide provides an overview of GraphQL, having a basic understanding of GraphQL concepts, such as queries, mutations, types, and schemas, will be beneficial. You can explore GraphQL through the official documentation.

With these prerequisites, you'll be well-prepared to effectively set up and utilize Strapi's GraphQL plugin in your project.
 

Read: How to Build a Forum App with Next.Js and Strapi CMS

graphql api

Setting up Strapi's GraphQL Plugin

Setting up and querying data with GraphQL in Strapi involves several steps. Below is a step-by-step process to guide you through the setup and querying process:

Step 1: Install Node.js and npm

Ensure you have Node.js and npm (Node Package Manager) installed on your development machine.
 

Read: Getting Started With Next.js To Set Up A New Project

Step 2: Install Strapi

You need to install Strapi globally on your machine if you haven't already. Open your terminal or command prompt and run the following command:
 

npm install -g create-strapi


Read: What Is Strapi, And Why Is It A Leading Headless CMS?

Step 3: Create a new Strapi project

Create a new Strapi project by running the following command, replacing my-strapi-project with your desired project name:
 

npx create-strapi@latest my-strapi-project


Follow the prompts to set up your Strapi project. You'll be asked to choose your database settings, authentication method, and content types. Create at least one content type to be used in the GraphQL setup.

Step 4: Start the Strapi development server

Navigate to your project folder:
 

cd my-strapi-project


Start the Strapi development server:
 

npm run develop

 

Your Strapi project is now running, and you can access the Strapi admin panel at http://localhost:1337/admin. Use this admin panel to create and manage content.

Step 5: Install Strapi GraphQL plugin

To use GraphQL in your Strapi project, you need to install the Strapi GraphQL plugin. Open another terminal window and run the following command in your project directory:
 

strapi install graphql


This command will install the GraphQL plugin for your Strapi project.

Step 6: Generate GraphQL schema

After installing the GraphQL plugin, you must generate the GraphQL schema based on your content types. Run the following command:
 

strapi generate:graphql


This command generates the necessary GraphQL schema files for your content types.

Step 7: Restart the Strapi server

To apply the changes made by installing and generating the GraphQL schema, restart your Strapi server:
 

strapi develop


Congratulations! You now have GraphQL support in your Strapi project. Now, let's move your configuration even further. 

Understanding GraphQL Types and Schema

Before you start querying data, it's essential to understand GraphQL types and schemas.

  • GraphQL Types: In GraphQL, types define the structure of your data. Each type represents an object you can query. Strapi's GraphQL plugin automatically generates types for your content types, making it easy to work with your data.
     

  • GraphQL Schema: The schema defines the types of data that can be queried and how they relate to each other. Strapi's GraphQL plugin generates a schema based on your content types, creating a clear and organized structure for your API.

Querying Data with GraphQL

Now that you have Strapi's GraphQL plugin set up and understand the basics of GraphQL types and schemas, it's time to start querying data. GraphQL provides a powerful and intuitive way to retrieve information from your Strapi API.
 

Here's a simple example of a GraphQL query:
 

query {
  restaurants {
    id
    name
    location
  }
}


In this query, we're asking for a list of restaurants and specifying that we want their id, name, and location fields. With Strapi GraphQL, you get the data you need and nothing more.
 

You can also use filters, sorting, and pagination to tailor your queries to your specific requirements. This flexibility is one of the reasons why GraphQL is so popular among developers.
 

With these steps, you have successfully set up and started querying data with GraphQL in your Strapi project. You can now build sophisticated applications by leveraging the power and flexibility of GraphQL to retrieve and manipulate data efficiently.

graphql schema

Best Practises

Setting up and querying data with GraphQL in Strapi or any other framework involves various best practices to ensure efficient and maintainable development. Here are some best practices to consider:

Setting up GraphQL in Strapi:

  • Secure Your API: Implement authentication and authorization mechanisms to secure your GraphQL API. Strapi allows you to define roles and permissions, so configure them according to your application's requirements.
     

  • Enable CORS: If your frontend is hosted on a different domain, configure Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) settings to allow requests from your frontend application.

  •  
  • Version Your API: Consider versioning your GraphQL API from the beginning to ensure backward compatibility as your application evolves.

Querying data with GraphQL:

Here, we'll need to break down practices into subunits: 

Efficient query design

  • Use Strapi GraphQL's power to request only the data you need. Avoid over-fetching by specifying the exact fields required for your application.
     

  • Use fragments to reuse standard query fields across multiple queries to maintain consistency and reduce redundancy.

Pagination and limits

  • Implement pagination for significant result sets to improve performance and prevent excessive data loading.
     

  • Define query arguments for limiting the number of results per page and specifying the page number.

Filtering and sorting

  • Implement filtering and sorting options: Allow clients to filter data based on specific criteria and specify sorting orders.
     

  • Use Aliases: Aliases in Strapi GraphQL queries allow you to rename fields in the response. This is helpful when you have multiple fields with the same name from different query parts.
     

  • Batching Queries: Consider batching multiple queries into a single request using tools like DataLoader. This can reduce the number of HTTP requests and improve efficiency.

Schema and type best practices

  • Keep Schemas Simple: Keep your Strapi GraphQL schema as simple as possible. Avoid unnecessary nesting and complexity in your types, as this can make your schema harder to understand and maintain.
     

  • Versioning Types: If your schema evolves, consider versioning your types to maintain backward compatibility for existing clients.
     

  • Documentation: Provide comprehensive documentation for your GraphQL schema. Strapi generates automatic documentation, but you can enhance it with descriptions for types, fields, and queries. Well-documented schemas help other developers understand how to interact with your API.
     

  • Use Custom Resolvers: While Strapi's GraphQL plugin generates resolvers automatically, you may need to create custom resolvers for more complex data fetching or processing logic. Use custom resolvers to encapsulate business logic.

Error handling

Consistent Error Responses: Define and adhere to a constant format in GraphQL responses. This helps clients handle errors gracefully and provides clear error messages.
 

Status Codes: Use appropriate HTTP status codes for responses (e.g., 200 for success, 400 for client errors, 500 for server errors).

Testing and debugging

  • Test Queries and Mutations: Before deploying changes to production, thoroughly test your queries and mutations using tools like GraphiQL or Postman. Verify that they return the expected results.
     

  • Logging: Implement comprehensive logging for GraphQL queries and mutations. This is invaluable for debugging and monitoring the performance of your API.
     

  • Error Logging: Log errors and exceptions to facilitate troubleshooting and identify issues quickly.

Performance optimization

  • Batching and Caching: Implement query batching and caching mechanisms to reduce the load on your server and improve response times.
     

  • Rate Limiting: Consider implementing rate limiting for your Strapi GraphQL API to prevent abuse and ensure fair usage.
     

  • Optimize Database Queries: Ensure that your database queries are optimized for the queries clients are likely to make. Indexes and efficient database design can significantly improve query performance.
     

By following these best practices, you can set up and query data with GraphQL in Strapi or any other framework more effectively, resulting in a robust, efficient, and maintainable API for your application.

graphql types

Conclusion

In this guide, we've covered Strapi's GraphQL plugin, from setup to efficient data querying. You now grasp GraphQL's significance in modern web development.
 

Integrating Strapi's GraphQL plugin empowers frontend developers to create efficient, flexible, user-friendly apps. Dive into GraphQL and elevate your Strapi project!


Strapi's GraphQL plugin offers efficient, flexible APIs for small websites or complex apps. Don't miss out—try it to unlock your project's potential.
 

Keep up with Kapsys to learn more about the software!