GraphQL is a query language for APIs that enables customers to ask for exactly the data they need and receive that data exactly, nothing more. This way, a single query can get all the data needed to render the component.

(By contrast, a REST API has to trigger multiple round trips to fetch data from multiple resources at different endpoints, which can get very slow, especially on mobile devices.)

Although GraphQL (meaning “Graph Query Language”) uses a graph data model to represent data, a GraphQL server does not necessarily need to use a graph as a data structure to resolve queries, but can use any desired data structure. The diagram is just a mental model, not an actual implementation.

Implement a GraphQL server using components in PHP

The GraphQL project states this on its website graphql.org:

Graphs are powerful tools for modeling many real-world phenomena because they resemble our natural mental models and verbal descriptions of underlying processes. With GraphQL, you can model a business domain as a graph by defining a schema; in your schema, you define the different types of nodes and how they are connected/related to each other. On the client side, this creates a pattern similar to object-oriented programming: types that reference other types. On the server, since GraphQL only defines interfaces, you are free to use it with any backend (new or old!).

This is good news because processing graphs or trees (which are subsets of graphs) is not trivial and can result in exponential or logarithmic time complexity for solving queries (i.e. the time required to solve a query can increase by several orders) orders of magnitude for each new input to the query).

In this article, we will describe the architectural design of PoP’s GraphQL server in PHP GraphQL, which uses components as data structures instead of graphs. The server takes its name from PoP, the library for building components in PHP, on which it is based.

  1. What is a component
    The layout of every web page can be represented using components. A component is just a set of code (such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS) put together to create an autonomous entity that can wrap other components to create more complex structures, and can itself be wrapped by other components. Each component has a purpose, it can be something very basic like a link or button, or something very complex like a carousel or drag and drop image uploader.

Building a site from components is similar to Lego. For example, in the web page in the image below, simple components (links, buttons, avatars) are combined into more complex structures (widgets, sections, sidebars, menus) all the way to the top until we get the web page:

A page is a component of a wrapping component, as shown in the box

Components can be implemented in any language, both client-side (such as JS libraries Vue and React, or CSS component libraries Bootstrap and Material-UI) and server-side.

Implement a GraphQL server using components in PHP
  1. How PoP works
    PoP describes an architecture based on the server-side component model and implemented in PHP through the component model library.

In the following sections, the terms “component” and “module” are used interchangeably.

component hierarchy
The relationship of all modules wrapping each other, from the topmost module to the last layer, is called the component hierarchy. This relationship can be represented by a server-side associative array (key=>property), where each module declares its name as the key property and its internal modules as the property “modules”.

Data in PHP arrays can also be used directly on the client side, encoded as JSON objects.

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