This comparison highlights the main differences when using Yoga instead of Apollo Server.
GraphQL Yoga has significantly less latency and much higher requests rate than Apollo Server in all popular benchmarks (opens in a new tab), including when using Apollo Federation - see benchmarks here (opens in a new tab).
|GraphQL Yoga with Response Cache (opens in a new tab)
|GraphQL Yoga with JIT (opens in a new tab)
|GraphQL Yoga (opens in a new tab)
|Apollo Server (opens in a new tab)
One of the goals of
graphql-yoga is to have as few
graphql-yoga packages as possible. That's why
Yoga's overall architecture was designed around the W3C Request/Response specification (often just
referred to as "Fetch API" (opens in a new tab)), which is
already adopted by Deno, cloudflare workers, and browsers.
For Node.js environments and frameworks (which unfortunately do not have full W3C Request/Response support), graphql-yoga comes with a small compatibility layer for making it work.
Read more about the underlying technology here (opens in a new tab).
You only need to search for
apollo-server- on NPM (opens in a new tab) to
see how many variants and packages there are for apollo and how hard it is to maintain.
Note: Since Apollo Server v4, Apollo does no longer maintain the
apollo-server- packages and
instead relies on community contributors to step up and take over ownership and maintenance of
HTTP frameworks specific adapter packages.
As mentioned in the above paragraph
graphql-yoga is built around W3C Request/Response which is
Apollo Server plans to drop active support for cloudflare workers and pushes it onto the community (opens in a new tab).
GraphQL Yoga will continuously support all platforms and runtimes without any changes in your code and Furthermore, Yoga has a full end-to-end testing suite that actually deploys to all those runtimes in order to ensure integrity and prevent unexpected issues.
Current list of supported and tested platform:
- Node.js (Express (opens in a new tab), Fastify (opens in a new tab), Koa (opens in a new tab), NestJS (opens in a new tab), SvelteKit (opens in a new tab))
- AWS Lambda (opens in a new tab)
- Cloudflare Workers (opens in a new tab)
- Deno (opens in a new tab)
- NextJS API Routes (opens in a new tab)
- Bun (opens in a new tab)
- and more (opens in a new tab)
Unfortunately Apollo Server is not fully compatible with it, there is still no further follow-up from the apollo maintainers over on the Apollo Server and envelop discussion (opens in a new tab).
GraphQL Yoga builds upon envelop, which means it can use the whole plugin ecosystem of Envelop, including rate limiting, caching, Auth, tracing and monitoring and basically any feature GraphQL servers in production needs.
Furthermore, Yoga a default plugin preset enabled for ensuring best practices for a performant (parse and validation caching) and secure GraphQL (e.g. though error masking) server by default. If you want to opt-out of some or all of these plugins that is also possible.
Yoga is fully customizable for your needs!
You can find a list of all available Envelop plugins over on the envelop plugin hub (opens in a new tab).
GraphQL Yoga is fully compatible with the GraphQL over HTTP specification (including the incremental delivery over HTTP specification).
GraphQL Yoga, compared to Apollo Server, has built-in support for simple subscriptions over Server-Sent Events (SSE) without the need of any additional libraries.
Of course, in addition to that, GraphQL Yoga has integrations supporting the
GraphQL over WebSocket Protocol (opens in a new tab)
graphql-ws) and the
GraphQL over Server-Sent Events Protocol (opens in a new tab)
Besides GraphQL Subscriptions, Yoga users can also use GraphQL Live Queries.
For serverless/edge (service worker) environments, the size of the server code can be crucial for cold-start time and performance.
GraphQL Yoga and Apollo server have relatively similar bundle sizes, where Apollo Server is slightly smaller, at the cost of being less feature rich.
Here you can see a comparison of bundle sizes on Bundlephobia>
GraphQL Yoga only has a fraction of the dependencies of Apollo Server, and in general is much smaller.
- Dependency visualizer
graphql-yoga(opens in a new tab)
- Dependency visualizer
@apollo/server(opens in a new tab)
GraphQL Yoga's APIs are designed for code-splitting and thus have no side effects, where Apollo server specifies that is has side effects and thus, cannot be code splitted.
While Apollo Server is shipping with their proprietary and less updated hosted IDE and removed the default open source GraphiQL, GraphQL Yoga ships with the latest and open source GraphiQL 2 IDE (opens in a new tab).
GraphQL Yoga not only officially supports the Federation spec as a subgraph, but also can act as the Apollo Gateway server. With GraphQL Yoga you can use Apollo Federation together with all the plugins of Envelop, so you can benefit from both ecosystems: https://graphql-yoga.com/docs/features/apollo-federation (opens in a new tab)
We believe GraphQL Yoga is the best Apollo Federation Server out there.
The migration from Apollo Server to Yoga Server is easy, and you can find instructions here (opens in a new tab).
express-graphql project has been unmaintained for many years now.
Also, the project started as a small example of how to use GraphQL with a server and was never aimed to be used in production.
It simply grew by itself without ever maturing in terms of code and ownership.
If you check out the comparison above to Apollo Server,
everything also applies also to the comparison with
express-graphql. Same as with the Apollo
Server Comparison, there isn't a single thing that express-graphql and Apollo Server are doing
better than Yoga, including the express integration:
- No Framework-specific Packages
- Run anywhere
- Powerful Plugin System
- Full Support of the GraphQL over HTTP specification
- File Uploads, Real time and GraphQL Subscriptions over Server-Sent-Events (SSE)
- Bundle Size and lean Dependencies
- Better runtime performance
- Compatibility with Apollo Federation
We are maintainers of both libraries today.
The Guild initially adopted, improved, and recommended
While working on it, we realized that it to some extent allowed building more extensible GraphQL server set-ups, but on the other hand, required boilerplate code and isn't easily adoptable by new GraphQL developers. We also tried adding support for other environments such as cloudflare workers, but adding it as an after-thought wasn't that straightforward. Eventually, after a lot of trying we figured that the approach of adding it as an after-thought is the actual limitation, and instead of the other way around (W3C Request/Response first, Node.js HTTP Response/Request as a light-weight layer on top) might be a better solution.
This put us in a difficult position. The Guild does not own
graphql-helix and we did not want to
do drastic changes to it, without verifying that it actually works. At the same time we were already
graphql-yoga based on helix. So we decided to actually do this experiment within
graphql-yoga and remove helix as a dependency from yoga.
Today we can happily say that it worked out fine!
Today we recommend
graphql-helix, if you want a batteries-included solution
for GraphQL server development.
GraphQL Yoga is easier to get started, has nicer defaults, and requires less boilerplate while
giving you the same extensibility as