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Code Academy - How to visualize your GraphQL schema?

Tomek Poniatowicz


Code Academy - How to visualize your GraphQL schema?

WWelcome in another episode of our Code Academy series in which we present the most interesting code related things like tools, libraries, approaches etc. This week we will cover a GraphQL schema visualization topic.

As your probably already know GraphQL was defined by npm as one of the technologies that will dominate 2019. GraphQL is a technology you must learn this year to keep up the pace of the frontend and the backend evolution. As for now, RESTful APIs are the most popular choice but this will change soon. The sooner you make a decision to start the transition from REST to GraphQL the less painful its going to be. There are many tools and libraries to make it easier to convert from REST to GraphQL and there is a huge reward waiting for you at the end of the road.

Know your schema

What’s a GraphQL schema and why it's so important to know it well?

The GraphQL schema is a centerpiece of your GraphQL project. GraphQL schema is nested in your GraphQL server and defines every functionality available to the clients. The main element of each schema is type which allows establishing relations between different types, define allowed GraphQL operations (Queries and Mutations) to be performed on the server and more.

To make it easier to understand the operation that a server can perform GraphQL defined a universal schema syntax know as SDL (Schema Definition Language). The SDL defines the elements of your project i.e. type:

type Movie {
  title: String
  Director: Director

type Director {
  name: String
  movies: [Movie]

or query (asking the server for the data) and mutation (manipulating the data):

type Query {
  getMovies: [Movie]
  getDirectors: [Director]
type Mutation {
  addMovie(title: String, director: String): Movie

So as you see the schema is indeed a centerpiece of any GraphQL project and it's important to be aware of what is what and where to find it. Big complicated schemas are really hard to comprehend. Let's take GitHib schema as an example, it has 9182 lines of code! It's really hard to follow... Fortunately, graphs are coming with help!

Visualization is the key

A graph is an abstract data type. It's structure consists of a finite set of vertices, nodes or points linked together. Graphs are a great tool for shaping logic behind your app as they fit-in well for any IT project and at this point, we can agree that graphs are more accessible than code in terms of apprehending the schema.

Turning schema code into graphs

So how can we turn our schema code into a visual graph? It's simpler than you can imagine. We are going to use GraphQL Editor.

All you need to do is go to app.graphqldditor.comand load your schema as below and ...

Load your schema URL

... and that's it!

If you have provided editor a valid schema it will automatically turn its code into a visual graph. Cool, right?

Your schema turned into a graph

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