Power Up your GraphQL Apps with CDNs

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If you have some GraphQL data that you think would benefit from CDN caching at the edge, it’s actually really simple to get everything working well. This talk will walk you through the interplay between several tools: * Automatic Persisted Queries with Apollo Link lets queries use GET while mutations still use POST * Apollo Cache Control lets you specify cache control information in a fine-grained, schema oriented way * Apollo Engine generates small query IDs you can use in those GET requests to limit the cache key size, and sets the Cache-Control header for the CDN Then, when we put it all together, you can see those results getting cached in your favorite CDN service, tada!!

Naz Delam
Naz Delam
13 min
05 Dec, 2022

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Video Summary and Transcription

This Talk discusses how to grow GraphQL apps with CDNs by exploring concepts like caching, freshness, and validation. It explains how CDNs cache content closer to end users, improving delivery speed. The use of persistent queries and cache control headers in GraphQL is explored as a solution to caching challenges. The talk also highlights the interplay between automatic persistent queries, Apollo cache control, and Apollo Engine for efficient CDN caching.

Available in Español

1. Introduction

Short description:

How to grow your GraphQL apps with CDNs. Enable and caching, two words that don't really go well together. Let's give you a little bit of intro about me. My name is Naz. I am currently an engineering manager working at LinkedIn.

How to grow your GraphQL apps with CDNs. Faster GraphQL queries with caching and CDNs. This is what we're going to talk about today. Enable and caching, two words that don't really go well together. It's been a lot of talks in the community, how are we going to enable caching and GraphQL queries together? Well, before we jump into that, let's give you a little bit of intro about me. My name is Naz. I am currently an engineering manager working at LinkedIn. Before LinkedIn, I worked as an engineering manager and individual contributor at Netflix. I'm currently running JavaScript Weekly with a group of amazing individuals on Twitter spaces and also hosting career QAs on LinkedIn events. I'm also a career coach and a mentor on Mentor Cruise, mentoring and coaching a lot of engineers across the globe. If you want to learn more about me, visit my website, naz.dev.

2. Caching and CDNs

Short description:

So, let's talk about caching. HTTP caching has two main concepts: freshness and validation. Freshness determines how long a resource can be kept in the cache, while validation checks if the resource needs to be refetched. Last modified and ETAC headers are used for validation. CDNs are content delivery networks that cache content closer to end users, delivering it more quickly.

So, let's talk about caching. Before we learn about GraphQL and caching, let's talk about HTTP caching. What is HTTP caching and how it's done. HTTP caching has two main concepts. One is freshness and two is validation.

Freshness means, as a browser, how long can I keep this resource in my cache. Freshness is a way for server to give a resource to client and then instruct the client on how long it can keep a resource. In practice, this is done through the HTTP header cache control. Cache control max age equals 60 means the browser can keep the resource for 60 seconds and then start for re-requesting the resource to the server again.

But we come to validation. Validation means when that 60 seconds is done, if the client decides to re-request the resource again from the server, it will ask the server, hey server, do I really need to refetch this again? So there is a way for the server to actually know if the client really needs the resource again or does it have the latest and updated and valid resource. So if nothing has changed on that resource, there is not really a need for the server to re-send the resource back to the client. And this is actually done through last modified in ETAC headers on server side. Last modified is a date and a time and ETAC is a token that indicates the state of the resource. For example, if not matched, the ETAC.

These are very important headers, but can GraphQL really actually use any of these mechanisms? Why are we saying they don't go together? They are super and we can just attach it to HTTP headers. Well, we'll see. Before we dig into that, let's talk about CDNs a little bit. If you're not familiar with what a CDN is, a CDN is a content delivery network, which caches content like images, videos, webpages, anything that is in proxy servers that are located closest to the end users than the original servers.

A proxy server is a server that receives requests from clients and passes them along to the servers. Because the servers are closer to the clients who are making the request, a CDN is able to deliver the content more quickly and seamlessly to the clients. Let's explain this easier. We can think of CDN as being a chain of grocery stores. Instead of just having one grocery store, one walmart, which is the main branch of walmart that all the houses in the area or all the people go to that walmart branch because that's the only branch to shop. We can have small branches of walmart at every neighborhood. So instead of people need to go to the main branch to pick up their stuff. They can actually look for stuff in the smaller branch first. And if that thing that they want to shop exists in that smaller branch. Awesome. They can pick it from there.

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