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Learn GraphQL with online courses and programs

GraphQL is a query language that makes it easier for developers to pull data for complex applications. Learn GraphQL with online courses delivered through edX.

What is GraphQL?

GraphQL is a query language, which means it can pull data from multiple sources when used in software applications. A GraphQL query consists of fields and arguments: the fields are units of data, and the arguments are key-value pairs attached to the field.Footnote 1 For example, the field might be “programmer,” and the argument could be “name: ‘Josh’.” 

GraphQL was originally developed at Facebook by a team of three software engineers. They sought to address problems that had arisen with Facebook’s new mobile app, specifically the need for an application programming interface (API) that could support the newsfeed feature.Footnote 2 APIs request information and receive responses from servers, enabling interaction between different applications.Footnote 3

After GraphQL was released to the public in 2018, the GraphQL Github API became extremely popular. Unlike alternatives such as REST, GraphQL made it possible to pull multiple units of data with a single request. GraphQL’s ease of use for both front-end and back-end developers quickly turned it into an industry standard for API-based data access.Footnote 4

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What is covered in a GraphQL tutorial ?

Learning GraphQL may appear to be intimidating for those without a strong programming background. Fortunately, you can build a firm foundation before you leap in. With the variety of learning options available through edX, learners can find  the one that’s most compatible with their background and career path. 

In a GraphQL tutorial, you can learn how GraphQL can be useful for software and web development in querying data from numerous sources, like different URLs and databases. Your GraphQL tutorial may begin by introducing GraphQL and when to use GraphQL in software development, before demonstrating key concepts like: 

  • GraphQL resolvers

  • GraphQL query arguments

  • GraphQL schema

  • GraphQL mutation

Typically, the end goal of a tutorial course is to show you how to build GraphQL features into applications. You will also be introduced to various implementations of GraphQL, such as Apollo GraphQL, which offers an easy framework for companies to use GraphQL for APIs.

Jobs that use GraphQL

You may encounter coursework in GraphQL through a bachelor’s degree program, a master’s degree program or a boot camp in software development or coding. This language can help open the door to a wide variety of career options. These can include roles as a software engineer, technical architect, and back-end or full-stack developer, among many others. In any one of these roles, familiarity with GraphQL is helpful for proper querying. With GraphQL, developers can get exactly as much data as they need, avoiding broad requests that use excessive bandwidth or overly specific requests that result in multiple queries.

How to use GraphQL 

A strong understanding of software engineering essentials and APIs can be beneficial when learning GraphQL. A familiarity with JavaScript, and in particular Node.js, is foundational for learning and using GraphQL.Footnote 5 You can work on building this knowledge base by pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer or data science. You may also develop a stronger foundation for using  GraphQL by working on extended software engineering projects. 

With this foundation, you can explore various GraphQL tools, such as Apollo GraphQL and GraphiQL, and figure out which will allow you to integrate GraphQL into your applications. The ability to create applications that use GraphQL demonstrates a high level of aptitude for software design and development, which may impress employers in the tech industry and beyond.

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