• v3 (latest)
  • Comparison

Comparison with other JavaScript GraphQL Server Libraries

GraphQL Yoga and Apollo Server

This comparison highlights the main differences when using Yoga instead of Apollo Server.

No Framework-specific Packages

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"), 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.

You only need to search for apollo-server- on NPM to see how many variants and packages there are for apollo and how hard it is to maintain.

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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.

Run anywhere

As mentioned in the above paragraph graphql-yoga is built around W3C Request/Response which is supported in all major serverless/worker/"serverful" JavaScript environments.

Apollo Server plans to drop active support for cloudflare workers and pushes it onto the community.

GraphQL Yoga will continuously support all platforms and runtimes wihtout 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 (Express, Fastify, Koa, NestJS, SvelteKit), AWS Lambda, Cloudflare Workers, Deno, NextJS API Routes, Bun and more..

Powerful Plugin System

GraphQL Yoga is built on top of Envelop - the powerful GraphQL plugin system.

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.

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.

Futhrermore, 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.

Full Support of the GraphQL over HTTP specification

GraphQL Yoga is fully compatible with the GraphQL over HTTP specification (including the incremental delivery over HTTP specification).

You can find a full GraphQL over HTTP compliance audit result on the graphql-http repository.

In comparison Apollo Server is not fully compliant with the GraphQL over HTTP specification.

File Uploads

GraphQL Yoga supports file uploads out of the box and fully supports the GraphQL-Multipart-Request.

Real time and GraphQL Subscriptions over Server-Sent-Events (SSE)

Apollo Server does not provide built-in solution for GraphQL Subscriptions. You can wire up graphql-ws or graphql-sse for adding either GraphQL over WebSocket or GraphQL over Server Sent Events support.

GraphQL Yoga has built-in support for GraphQL Subscriptions over Server-Sent-Events (SSE) without the need of any additional libraries.

In addition GraphQL Yoga also support GraphQL Subscriptions over WS (via graphql-ws).

In addition to GraphQL Subscriptions, Yoga users can also use GraphQL Live Queries.

Bundle Size and Dependencies

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.

GraphQL Yogas 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.

Better runtime performance

GraphQL Yoga has significantly less latency and much higher requests rate than Apollo Server in all popular benchmarks.

GraphiQL

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.

Compatibility with Apollo Federation

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://www.graphql-yoga.com/docs/features/apollo-federation

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.

GraphQL Yoga and express-graphql

Maintainability

The 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.

Better in everything else

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:

GraphQL Yoga and GraphQL Helix

We are maintainers of both libraries today.

The Guild initially adopted, improved, and recommended graphql-helix.

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 building 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-yoga over 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 graphql-helix!

Last updated on November 15, 2022