The Road to GraphQL
The Road to GraphQL (The Bare Essentials)
The Road to GraphQL

Last updated on 2020-05-21

About the Book

The Road to GraphQL is your personal journey to master pragmatic GraphQL in JavaScript. The book is full with applications you are going to build along the way with React.js and Node.js. Afterward, you will be able to implement full-stack JavaScript applications.

I wrote the The Road to GraphQL over the last year, while building several GraphQL applications for my clients and for myself. During this time, I came to understand the practical genius of GraphQL, and how it dramatically improves communication in client-server architectures. Not only does it improve the interface between the client and the server, it also enhances client-side state management by eliminating remote data management. Sophisticated GraphQL libraries like Apollo Client provide powerful features like caching, optimistic UI, and data prefetching for free. This book covers the fundamentals of GraphQL itself, as well as its ecosystem.

What's in the book?

I applied the same principles as my other books:

  • Stay pragmatic
  • Keep it simple
  • Answer the why, not just the how
  • Experience a problem, solve a problem

This book is not intended to be an end-all reference for GraphQL APIs, nor an in-depth guide about the internals of the GraphQL specification. Instead, its purpose is to journey through learning GraphQL with JavaScript the pragmatic way, building client and server applications yourself. The book covers lots of facets about GraphQL in JavaScript that are important for building modern applications, without just throwing the libraries like Apollo at problems before experiencing them. It starts with the basic HTTP requests to perform GraphQL queries first, then moves on to using dedicated GraphQL libraries for it. You will even get the chance to implement your own GraphQL client library, so you understand how these libraries work under the hood. There are no hidden abstractions in this book, just plenty of fundamentals for JavaScript, React.js, Node.js, and GraphQL.

Client-side GraphQL with React

The first part teaches how to build a GraphQL client application in React. Understanding React is a requirement before this book, so I recommend you take a look at my other free book called "The Road to learn React" if you need a good course. At some point, you will see the tedium in performing every GraphQL operation with basic HTTP requests. That's when we'll swap basic HTTP implementation for Apollo Client. While building your application with Apollo Client, you will learn more advanced features like caching, optimistic UI, and pagination with Apollo in React. In the end, you will have created a functional GraphQL client application.

Server-side GraphQL with Node

The second larger block of the book continues with implementing your own GraphQL server application with Express.js and Apollo Server in Node.js. There you will not only learn about all the GraphQL server-side topics, but also how they can be applied in context in a real world server application which offers pagination, authentication, role- and permission-based authorization, batching, caching, subscriptions, and a SQL database. The GraphQL server topics are not only about GraphQL, but also about using GraphQL in context of other JavaScript technologies to build powerful real world applications with it. In the end, you will have a running GraphQL server project which has all the mentioned features and can be used to realize your own ideas on top of it.


To get the most out of this book, you should be familiar with the basics of web development, which includes some knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You will also need to be familiar with the term API, because they are discussed frequently. I encourage you to join the official Slack Group for the book, help or get help from others.


On the client-side, this book uses React to teach about GraphQL in JavaScript. My other book called The Road to learn React teaches you all the fundamentals about React. It also teaches you to make the transition from JavaScript ES5 to JavaScript ES6. The book is available for free and after having read the Road to learn React, you should possess all the knowledge to implement the GraphQL client-side application with this book.


On the server-side, this book uses Node with Express as library to teach about GraphQL in JavaScript. You don't need to know much about those technologies before using them for your first GraphQL powered applications. The book will guide you through the process of setting up a Node application with Express and shows you how to weave GraphQL into the mix. Afterward, you should be able to consume the GraphQL API provided by your server-side application in your client-side application.

About the Author

Robin Wieruch
Robin Wieruch

Robin Wieruch is a german software engineer and freelancer located in Berlin. In the recent years he has gained experiences in single page applications which use Ember, Angular and React. He is a full-time JavaScript developer, is doing his best to teach students on his blog and strives to learn something new every day himself.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • About the Author
    • Requirements
    • FAQ
    • How to read this book
    • Challenge
  • GraphQL
    • What is GraphQL?
    • GraphQL Advantages
    • GraphQL Disadvantages
    • Why not REST?
    • GraphQL Alternatives
  • Apollo
    • Apollo Advantages
    • Apollo Disadvantages
    • Apollo Alternatives for JavaScript, React and Node.js
  • GraphQL Setup, Tools and APIs
    • Feeding the API with Data on GitHub
    • Read/Write Data with GitHub’s Personal Access Token
    • Interacting with GitHub’s GraphQL API
  • GraphQL Fundamentals
    • GraphQL Operation: Query
    • GraphQL Operation: Mutation
    • GraphQL Pagination
  • React with GraphQL
    • Writing your first React GraphQL Client
    • GraphQL Query in React
    • GraphQL Pagination in React
    • GraphQL Mutation in React
    • Shortcomings of GraphQL in React without Apollo
  • Apollo Client
    • Starting with Apollo Boost on the Command Line
    • Apollo Client and a GraphQL Query
    • Apollo Client with Pagination, Variables, Nested Objects and List Fields
    • Apollo Client and a GraphQL Mutation
  • React with GraphQL and Apollo Client
    • Writing your first React application with GraphQL and Apollo Client
    • Configure Apollo Client for React and GitHub’s GraphQL API
    • Connect Data-Layer to View-Layer: Introducing React Apollo
    • GraphQL Query with Apollo Client in React
    • Apollo Client Error Handling in React
    • GraphQL Mutation with Apollo Client in React
    • GraphQL Query/Mutation with Higher-Order Components in React
    • Local State Management with Apollo Client in React
    • Apollo Client Optimistic UI in React
    • GraphQL Pagination with Apollo Client in React
    • GraphQL Caching of Queries with Apollo Client in React
    • Implementing the Issues Feature: Setup
    • Implementing the Issues Feature: Client-Side Filter
    • Implementing the Issues Feature: Server-Side Filter
    • Apollo Client Prefetching in React
    • Exercise: Commenting Feature
    • Appendix: CSS Files and Styles
  • Node.js with GraphQL and Apollo Server
    • Apollo Server Setup with Express
    • Apollo Server: Type Definitions
    • Apollo Server: Resolvers
    • Apollo Server: Type Relationships
    • Apollo Server: Queries and Mutations
    • GraphQL Schema Stitching with Apollo Server
    • PostgreSQL with Sequelize for a GraphQL Server
    • Connecting Resolvers and Database
    • Apollo Server: Validation and Errors
    • Apollo Server: Authentication
    • Authorization with GraphQL and Apollo Server
    • GraphQL Custom Scalars in Apollo Server
    • Pagination in GraphQL with Apollo Server
    • GraphQL Subscriptions
    • Testing a GraphQL Server
    • Batching and Caching in GraphQL with Data Loader
    • GraphQL Server + PostgreSQL Deployment to Heroku
  • Final Thoughts
    • Further Learning Paths
    • Never stop Learning
    • Thank You

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