Learnings from GraphQL Europe

This weekend, I had the pleasure to attend GraphQL-Europe, the first GraphQL conference in Europe.

Here is a recap of most notable things I learned there:

How GraphQL got from zero to wide adoption in one year

GraphQL spec was released less than an year ago. But it feels a lot more mature. This is because it was in production at Facebook for about 5 years before open-sourcing it.

The conference started with "GraphQL: Evolution or Revolution?" a great history lesson by Jonas Helfer.

In Five Years of Client GraphQL Infrastructure, Dan Schafer told us a couple of stories about how features like mutations were invented. There wasn’t much upfront design, they were just solving issue after issue. First in the frontend, then moving to the backend.

This connected very well with the Closing Keynote by Lee Byron. Where he talked about the future of GraphQL.

Those three talks convinced me that, GraphQL is not an accident.


I haven't paid much attention of GraphQL Subscriptions in the past. they are now officially merged into the GraphQL spec.

In Realtime GraphQL from the Trenches, Taz Singh gave an interesting look into them.

I don't have many reasons to use them, mostly because Product Hunt doesn't need them at this time.

Persisted queries

Another feature I haven’t paid much attention to are persisted queries. Which is a miss on my part.

I had a couple conversations about persisted queries in between talks. Except for their obvious benefits - small requests, analytics and caching. I haven't realized they are also good from a security standpoint. Since if your GraphQL accepts only persisted queries in production, this makes impossible for somebody to open Chrome console and start firing expensive custom queries.

Handling errors

The Panel Discussion was very interesting. One of my major learnings from there - is that there isn't a standard way in GraphQL to handle form errors.

The format, I personally prefer looks something like this:

updateProfile(input: UpdateProfileInput) {  
  node: Profile
  errors: [Error]!

(I plan to write a blog post about form errors, someday)

I didn't know in GraphQL, you can return both a response and an error. It turns out that is a good strategy to handle failures in resolvers, which don't break the whole request. You can just return null for a given node and return errors explaining the failure.

  "errors": [
      "message": "Service for fetching widget 1 failed",
      "locations": [ { "line": 4, "column": 5 } ],
      "path": [ "widget1" ]
  "data": {
    "widget1": null,
    "widget2": {
      key: "value",

GraphQL in Ruby world

Ruby GraphQL gem, used by github and Shopify, is quite powerful and battle tested.

Netto Farah show a great solution for battling N+1 queries in Ruby project - GraphQL::QueryResolver. Also in the same talk, he gave great tips about better tracking of GraphQL. If you are using GraphQL with Ruby definitely check his slides.

Launching GitHub's Public GraphQL API gave great tips about:

  • handling authorization
  • using GraphQL for backfilling legacy REST endpoints
  • tips about schema design


Overall GraphQL-Europe was great. Kudos to Honeypot and Graphcool for organizing such great event.

p.s. I almost forgot! I finally found out what OData is :P.