Incorporating REST Data with a GraphQL API

October 09, 2020


One popular misconception about GraphQL is that you have to tear down all of your REST APIs in order to build a GraphQL server. The flexibility of GraphQL allows you to use all of your favorite REST data sources while enjoying the organizational benefits of a GraphQL schema. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how we can incorporate the data from a REST API into an existing GraphQL server.

The server in question is the Snowtooth API, a real GraphQL API for a fake ski resort. With this API, we host data about two types: Lifts and Trails, and the app provides lift status and trail status for the ski resort. We want to update this API to include data from the Strava API. Strava is an app that allows you to track your activities like bike rides, hikes, and, of course, ski days. Strava exposes a REST API that we're going to consume with our app.

Create a Type in the Schema

To start, we'll look at the data from the Strava API and create a type that models the data. Strava's data type that we want to model is the Activity type, so we'll choose the fields we want using GraphQL's schema definition language:

type Activity {
id: ID!
name: String
distance: Float
type: String
time: Int
}

While the Strava API gives us more fields than that, we'll only create GraphQL fields for the fields we want.

Add a Field to the Query Type

In our app, we want to be able to send queries for the data from Strava. To do so, we'll create a query called myActivities that returns a list of activities:

type Query {
...
myActivities: [Activity!]!
}

We'll make Activity non-nullable in this case, meaning that myActivities can't return null and all values within the returned array must be non-null. If myActivities returns an empty array, this will be valid because an empty array is not a null value.

Create a Resolver for myActivities

Next, we'll create the query resolver for the Query.myActivities field. Resolvers are functions that return data for specific fields. Resolvers can be asynchronous and can fetch directly from REST APIs. We'll include node-fetch to help us with this task, but you can use isomorphic-fetch, axios, or whatever your favorite fetching tool is from npm:

npm install node-fetch

Then we'll use this in the resolver, and to handle the asynchronous nature of the request, we'll use async/await syntax:

const resolvers = {
Query: {
myActivities: async () => {
let results = await fetch(
'https://www.strava.com/api/v3/activities?per_page=100'
).then(r => r.json());
return results;
}
}
};

We're looking to return an array of activities, so we can just convert the response to JSON and return it.

Pass Authorization Headers

The final step is that we need to get an auth token from Strava and pass that via the request's headers. To obtain a token, you'll visit the Strava API docs and follow the instructions.

Then you can pass that token directly via the second argument sent to the fetch function:

const resolvers = {
Query: {
myActivities: async () => {
let results = await fetch(
'https://www.strava.com/api/v3/activities?per_page=100',
{
headers: {
Authorization: 'Bearer <Your_Strava_Token_here>'
}
}
).then(r => r.json());
return results;
}
}
};

Replace the <Your_Strava_Token_here> bit with your own token.

Fetching data from a REST API is a pretty common task when we're building GraphQL services, and usually the fastest way to get started is to incorporate fetch!

If you'd like to review the project, you can check out the repo.

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