On this article, we’ll talk about the issue of learn how to fetch knowledge from a number of sources whereas nonetheless preserving our frontend snappy, and a possible resolution: utilizing a GraphQL Gateway.

As software program engineers, we’ve all confronted the problem of mixing knowledge from many techniques. Even a single web page requires knowledge from a number of companies to render.

Information is in all places, from CRMs to monetary techniques and SaaS platforms to databases. Each enterprise inevitably buys a plethora of SaaS platforms, then desires a unified enterprise view on prime of all of them. Now we have to embrace this head on and combine the whole lot.

A GraphQL gateway combines the advantages of a conventional API gateway with GraphQL.

We’ll begin by discussing the advantages of an API gateway, after which take a look at how GraphQL matches in. Stick round to the top of the article, the place we take a look at some frameworks for constructing our personal API gateway.

Desk of Contents

Advantages of an API Gateway

Securing our public-facing APIs in opposition to hackers is a full-time job. Over time, organizations have advanced to create many APIs, from SOA to microservices. As an alternative of placing these APIs instantly onto the Web, organizations want so as to add an additional layer of safety that sits in entrance of all these APIs and ensures that entry to knowledge at all times follows the identical authentication guidelines.

They do that with an API gateway.

Merchandise similar to Kong or Apigee expose inner APIs from a central location. They act as a reverse proxy with options like API key administration, charge limiting, and monitoring.

The API gateway permits us to manage who and what has entry to every service, monitoring the connections and logging entry.

Extra lately, apps have been required to mix knowledge from an API gateway and different exterior SaaS suppliers. Because of this the outdated centralized software — which ensured our guidelines had been adopted — is now bypassed frequently.

Think about we’re constructing an online app for our firm. Now we have a activity to create the consumer profile web page. Through the login course of, we have to mix knowledge from many techniques:

  • Salesforce CRM: holds the overall buyer knowledge similar to first and final title.
  • Orders: current orders are in an ordering system inside the group.
  • Notifications Service: the notification settings and up to date messages are in an app-specific database linked to a Node.js service.

The shopper would wish to make three separate requests to get the information, as represented within the picture beneath.

making three separate requests to get the data

Within the picture above, the net shopper sends three separate API requests after which has to mix the ends in frontend code. Sending a number of requests impacts the app’s efficiency, and mixing this knowledge will increase the complexity of the code. As well as, if there’s multiple app, now all apps have to concentrate on all backends, and a single API change in a single service can lead to updates to all of our purposes.

We will do higher. Ideally, we need to scale back the requests from three to a single fetch. We might create a brand new service to try this — a service that orchestrates requests to backend companies. This concept has a reputation: the BFF sample.

The Backend-for-frontend (BFF) architecture pattern permits a single request from the frontend.

However how does it work? Let’s take a look at this sample in additional element.

The Advantages of the BFF Sample

With the BFF sample, an software sends a single request to the API gateway. The BFF service then requests knowledge from every backend service and combines it. Lastly, the information is filtered, returning solely the information wanted for the entrance finish, lowering the information despatched over the wire.

Representation of the BFF pattern

As illustrated within the picture above, we’ve launched an additional layer into the stack to orchestrate the request.

The consumer profile endpoint returns the information wanted for that app on the profile web page. Decreasing our three requests to a single request has mounted our earlier efficiency situation.

However we aren’t completed but.

The enterprise has determined to launch a cellular app. The cellular app additionally has a profile web page, however this display screen shows a lot much less profile data.

At this level, the cellular crew has two choices. The crew might reuse the net crew’s endpoint, which might imply we over-fetch the information (fetching extra knowledge than is required for the cellular app). The choice is that the cellular crew creates their very own BFF.

Not surprisingly, the cellular crew resolve to create their very own BFF, as they need good efficiency for his or her app.

Diagram showing the interaction of the two BFFs

As illustrated within the picture above, issues are beginning to get sophisticated, and we now have two new points:

  • Every crew has to create a brand new BFF service for every software they create, slowing every crew down and making it laborious to standardize.
  • Every BFF must be pen-tested to make sure it’s safe.

How can we resolve these points?

We’d like an answer the place every app can choose the information it wants, and it ought to be a single API utilized by all purposes within the firm.

As BFFs have matured, many builders have began experimenting with GraphQL as a substitute of REST.

Let’s take a look at how this know-how might help.

The Advantages of GraphQL for a BFF

GraphQL has many strengths that make it a perfect know-how for a BFF:

  • Environment friendly Information Fetching. GraphQL allows purchasers to request precisely the information they want and nothing extra. This improves efficiency by lowering the information that’s transferred from the API.
  • Single Endpoint. As an alternative of exposing many endpoints by way of the gateway, GraphQL makes use of a single endpoint for all requests. This simplifies the upkeep and the necessity to model.
  • Versatile queries. Purchasers can assemble queries by combining fields and relationships right into a single request. This empowers frontend builders to optimize knowledge fetching, rising efficiency. As well as, if the necessities for the frontend change, it may be up to date to fetch completely different knowledge with out altering the backend in any method.

Frontends can now choose solely the information they want for every request.

We will now join each our apps to the identical GraphQL server, lowering the necessity for a second BFF service.

Diagram showing how a GraphQL BFF works

We will now share the BFF for any app within the group. We even have a single endpoint that must be pen-tested.

However once more, we’ve launched a brand new downside! We nonetheless must handle two techniques — the API gateway and the GraphQL BFF.

What if we mixed the 2 right into a GraphQL gateway?

Subsequent, let’s take a look at how a GraphQL gateway works.

What’s a GraphQL Gateway?

A GraphQL gateway combines an API gateway with a GraphQL API to get one of the best of each applied sciences.

Let’s recap the advantages:

  • Builders have a single API endpoint to request knowledge from. This reduces over- or under-fetching, as every software selects solely the information it wants.
  • The GraphQL gateway is shared by many apps inside the group. This implies now we have lowered our safety publicity to a single API endpoint.
  • We solely have a single service to handle, now that the BFF is mixed with the gateway.

The diagram beneath reveals how the consumer profile API request works with a GraphQL gateway.

how the user profile API request works with a GraphQL gateway

Within the picture above, the shopper sends a single request to the GraphQL gateway, requesting the information it wants. The gateway makes particular person requests to every service and combines the outcomes. We now solely have a single service to handle and deploy.

Hopefully, you’re prepared to do that for your self. Subsequent, let’s take a look at how we are able to construct a GraphQL gateway.

Constructing a GraphQL Gateway

When selecting a gateway framework, we need to search for some key options:

  • A number of Sources. The gateway should hook up with many knowledge sources — from databases to SaaS — and we must always be capable to create our connections.
  • Routing. The gateway ought to be capable to request knowledge from the underlying companies instantly.
  • Batching. A number of queries to the identical service are despatched in a batch, lowering the variety of requests.
  • Safety. Authentication and authorization ought to management who can entry the linked knowledge.
  • Cross Datasource Filtering. Highly effective filters ought to be out there to not over-fetch the information wanted by the shopper.
  • Extensible. Builders ought to be capable to lengthen the code with middleware or features to suit their wants.

There are lots of frameworks to select from, however listed below are the highest three that I like to recommend exploring additional.


Hasura has gained reputation over time, initially as a GraphQL-over-Postgres server. Nonetheless, it has added the power to hook up with exterior techniques.

We will join a “Distant Schema”, which mixes GraphQL from different servers.

There are some downsides to this method. The primary is that we have to create and handle our distant schema in a separate service, and this service should be a GraphQL endpoint. This results in the second situation: we are able to’t join the information supply instantly.

As well as, Hasura doesn’t enable us to filter knowledge in a single knowledge supply based mostly on the values in one other. This may sound tutorial, but it surely’s truly fairly frequent that we need to specific one thing like, “Give me orders the place the shopper title is ‘ABC’.”

This affords flexibility, however on the expense of working a number of companies. Let’s take a look at an possibility that may join instantly.


StepZen permits us to hook up with the information supply instantly from the GraphQL server. This reduces the necessity to run a number of companies to create a gateway.

To attach Stepzen to a knowledge supply, we create a GraphQL schema file like this:

sort Question {
  something(message: String): JSON
  @relaxation (
    endpoint: "https://httpbin.org/something"
    technique: POST
    headers: [
      {name: "User-Agent", value: "StepZen"}
      {name: "X-Api-Key", value: "12345"}
    postbody: """
        "consumer": {
          "id": "1000",
          "title": "The Consumer"

On this instance, we’re connecting the server to a database utilizing the customized schema.

There’s another choice that you could be want, and that may be a code-only method. Let’s take a look at that subsequent.


For the previous few years, I’ve been engaged on an open-source product referred to as Graphweaver, which can be utilized as a GraphQL gateway.

It connects on to our knowledge sources and creates an immediate GraphQL API. This API contains all of the CRUD operations we’d count on to create, learn, replace, and delete. It auto-generates filters, sorting, and pagination arguments, saving time. We will lengthen the built-in operations with our code for full flexibility.

Graphweaver has out-of-the-box knowledge connectors for databases similar to Postgres and Mysql and SaaS suppliers like Xero and Contentful.

Making adjustments or connecting knowledge sources includes writing Typescript code, giving us full customization.

Should you’re fascinated by creating your personal GraphQL API, I extremely advocate you take a look at the Graphweaver GitHub code.


On this article, we’ve checked out learn how to substitute our present API gateway and BFF sample with a single GraphQL gateway.

We’ve checked out the advantages of an API gateway and why organizations use them. Model management, charge limiting and entry administration are a number of the causes.

We additionally regarded on the BFF sample and the way it orchestrates API requests for frontend apps.

Lastly, we checked out GraphQL and the way this can be a useful know-how for BFFs.

In the end, this led us to making a GraphQL gateway, and we checked out three choices for creating our personal: Hasura, StepZen, and the product I’ve been engaged on, Graphweaver.

I hope this text has satisfied you to attempt a GraphQL gateway of your personal, and in that case, that you simply’ll contemplate giving Graphweaver a attempt.