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GraphQL use grows as organizations build out a graph layer

Apollo GraphQL is updating its graph federation capabilities as its users outline how they are using the technology to enable data and service delivery to users.

Using GraphQL to enable a data services layer is an emerging best practice at a number of large organizations.

Users from Major League Baseball, Netflix, Expedia, Zillow and PayPal detailed their applications for the technology at the GraphQL Summit that ran Nov. 10-11.

GraphQL is an open source query language technology, originally created by Facebook, that helps organizations build a graph layer for connecting data and application services.

Among the leading commercial vendors in the graph market is Apollo GraphQL, which raised $130 million in August to help grow its business. Apollo GraphQL is also the host of the GraphQL Summit event, where it unveiled a series of new technologies in preview, including a 2.0 version of its GraphQL Federation technology and an associated router technology for directing queries.

Enabling a GraphQL graph layer at MLB

MLB supports its online customers by connecting many different sources of data and pulling it all together with GraphQL.

In a user panel on Nov. 10, Steve Koller, vice president of software engineering at MLB, explained that a graph layer enables his organization to deliver video and editorial content to both web and mobile users with the same GraphQL APIs.

creenshot of GraphQL user panelists
Panelists at GraphQL user conference

"There are terabytes of data over the course of the season, with video clips for every pitch in a baseball game and multiple articles written from editorial staff," Koller said. "Trying to get the right content out to the fans from multiple different sources is really the goal."

There are terabytes of data over the course of the season, with video clips for every pitch in a baseball game and multiple articles written from editorial staff. Trying to get the right content out to the fans from multiple different sources is really the goal.
Steve KollerVice president of engineering, Major League Baseball

Connecting travel with a GraphQL graph layer at Expedia

Travel and hotel booking service Expedia Group is using GraphQL to enable data for its web and mobile services across multiple brands.

During the user panel, Rick Fast, senior vice president of experience engineering at Expedia Group, explained that his organization has built out a graph layer to help deliver data and services across its network of travel sites, which include Expedia.com, Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotels.com. The end-to-end experience at Expedia is a variety of different user interfaces and data that are stitched together.

"We need the data available everywhere, and our app and our websites are now using the same APIs," Fast said.

Expedia Group is also using GraphQL and the graph layer to build the visual interface for its various brand sites. Fast explained that Expedia Group treats its brand assets, including logo and corporate style guides, as data. By storing the brand images in the graph layer, Expedia has developed an optimized approach to serving its mobile and web clients, he said.

Apollo GraphQL looks to boost federation and query routing

During his opening keynote on Nov. 10, Matt DeBergalis, co-founder and CTO of Apollo GraphQL, previewed a new version of the graph layer vendor's GraphQL Federation technology.

Currently only an alpha release, Federation 2.0 is set to offer better performance than the current version, for organizations looking to connect multiple graph layers and enable different teams to collaborate on data and services. Alongside Federation 2.0, DeBergalis unveiled a preview of the Apollo GraphQL Router.

DeBergalis explained that Apollo router is the vendor's next-generation Federation application runtime, which is being written in the open source Rust programming language. He noted that Apollo GraphQL is calling the technology a router because it will act like a network router that routes or directs requests from one location to another.

"Federation has become really important to us here at Apollo," DeBergalis said. "It has unlocked adoption of GraphQL at companies of all sizes, because it solves the key challenge of how multiple teams can collaborate on a unified graph."

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