Best Practices in Testing GraphQL APIs

Muly Gottlieb
Muly Gottlieb
Jul 4, 2023
Best Practices in Testing GraphQL APIsBest Practices in Testing GraphQL APIs

In web development, efficient communication between the client and server is paramount. Standard RESTful APIs have long been the standard for fetching and manipulating data. However, as the complexity of applications grows, we need a more flexible and efficient approach to data retrieval and manipulation.

That's where GraphQL comes in. GraphQL is an open-source data query and manipulation language that revolutionizes how applications interact with APIs. With GraphQL, users can request specific data they need and receive only that data in response. This article provides an overview of GraphQL and highlights five best practices for testing GraphQL APIs.

What is GraphQL

GraphQL is an open-source query language and runtime for APIs. It provides a powerful and flexible alternative to traditional RESTful APIs for fetching and manipulating data. With GraphQL, clients can specify the exact data they need from an API, and the server responds precisely with that data in a single request. This approach eliminates issues commonly associated with RESTful APIs, like over-fetching and under-fetching.

The core concept of GraphQL revolves around a strongly-typed schema that defines the capabilities of the API. The schema describes the available types of data and the relationships between them. Clients can query the schema to retrieve data and modify data using mutations. Overall, GraphQL offers a more efficient and flexible approach to building APIs. It allows developers to request the data they need precisely, reduces network overhead, and simplifies client-server communication.

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Why Testing Graphql APIs Is Important

Testing GraphQL APIs is vital to validate schema changes and ensure functional correctness, performance, security, and reliability. It helps identify issues early in development and deliver a high-quality API that meets consumer needs.

  • Validation of schema changes: GraphQL APIs are based on a strongly typed schema that defines the structure of the API. When making changes to the schema, it is crucial to ensure that they do not break existing functionality or introduce errors.
  • Functional testing: Testing the API ensures that the queries, mutations, and subscriptions defined in the API return the expected results and perform the desired operations.
  • Performance testing: GraphQL APIs handle complex queries and potentially large amounts of data. Assessing their performance and ensuring they can handle the expected load is essential.
  • Security testing: All APIs, including GraphQL APIs, can be vulnerable to security threats such as injection attacks, unauthorized access, and data exposure. Hence, you must perform security tests to find and fix those vulnerabilities.
  • Error handling and resilience testing: GraphQL APIs should handle errors gracefully and provide informative error messages to clients. Testing the API helps verify that error scenarios are correctly handled and appropriate error responses are returned.

Furthermore, the most popular testing frameworks and libraries support GraphQL API testing. For example, you can write test cases for GraphQL with Jest, Mocha, Chai, Apollo Server Testing, and Supertest. These tools provide utilities, assertion methods, and testing environments to facilitate GraphQL APIs' testing.

Best Practices to Test GraphQL APIs

Testing GraphQL APIs is essential for ensuring the quality and reliability of your API. Here are five best practices for effective GraphQL API testing.

1. Test Query and Mutation Validations

Testing query and mutation validations in GraphQL APIs are crucial for maintaining data integrity and ensuring the reliability of the API. It involves validating valid and invalid requests to verify that the API adheres to the defined schema rules.

This includes testing scenarios such as:

  • Missing required fields.
  • Incorrect argument types.
  • Violating custom validations.
  • Field-level validations.
  • Input object validations.
  • Enum validations.
  • Union and interface validations.

By covering these test scenarios, you can ensure that the query and mutation validations in your GraphQL API are working correctly and adhering to the defined schema rules.

2. Test Edge Cases and Error Handling

Thoroughly testing edge cases and error handling in GraphQL APIs is crucial to ensure that the API can handle unexpected scenarios gracefully. You can uncover vulnerabilities and unexpected behaviors by testing edge cases at the boundaries of expected inputs and conditions. For example, here are some common scenarios you need to consider when testing edge cases and error handling:

  • Empty arrays.
  • Maximum/minimum values.
  • Invalid query handling.
  • Authentication failures.
  • Authorization denials.

By focusing on these aspects, you can ensure that your GraphQL APIs provide appropriate error messages and respond correctly in various unexpected situations. At the same time, you enhance the reliability and resilience of the system.

3. Test Performance and Load

Performance and load testing are essential parts of GraphQL API testing. It ensures APIs can handle expected traffic volumes and respond within acceptable timeframes. You can use tools like Apache JMeter or Gatling to generate realistic loads and evaluate the API's performance under different scenarios. Techniques like batched queries and caching can help mitigate this issue.

Make sure to include the following scenarios when you design performance and load test scenarios for GraphQL APIs:

  • Concurrent request handling.
  • Response time evaluation.
  • Batched query performance.
  • Caching effectiveness.

Additionally, you can use DataLoader or similar tools to optimize data fetching and avoid over-fetching or under-fetching data. Ultimately, performance and load tests ensure that your GraphQL API delivers optimal performance, meets response time expectations, and provides a smooth experience for users, even under heavy loads.

4. Test Authorization and Authentication

Testing authorization and authentication ensures that sensitive data is protected and access controls are appropriately enforced based on user roles, permissions, or other criteria.

It would help if you considered the below scenarios for testing authorization and authentication to ensure maximum protection:

  • Authenticated and unauthenticated requests.
  • Valid and invalid tokens.
  • Different user roles and permissions.
  • Accessing restricted resources.
  • Modifying data with varying levels of permissions.
  • Verifying that sensitive data is not exposed in responses.
  • Potential vulnerabilities, such as token tampering or session hijacking.

By thoroughly testing authorization and authentication, you can validate the robustness of your GraphQL API's security measures and ensure that only authorized users can access protected resources.

5. Test Subscriptions and Real-time Updates

Testing subscriptions and real-time updates in GraphQL APIs ensure the correct functioning of real-time data streams and the ability to receive timely updates.

Here are some of the test cases you need to consider when testing subscriptions and real-time updates in GraphQL:

  • Verify the subscription connection.
  • Simulate events that trigger a real-time update.
  • Change the data source and verify that the subscribed clients receive the updated data in real-time.
  • Unsubscribe clients from a subscription and ensure they no longer receive updates.
  • Subscribe multiple clients to the same event.
  • Scenarios where the subscription relies on complex data relationships or involves data mutations.

By thoroughly testing subscriptions and real-time updates, you can ensure that your GraphQL API provides reliable and efficient real-time data delivery, enhancing your application's responsiveness and user experience.

How Does Amplication Fit In?

Testing is essential to an application since it helps ensure that software functions correctly and meets quality standards. But, we should only partially depend on testing to increase the quality standard of our code. There are established tools that help you to generate high-quality, robust applications in no time.

For example, take a look at Amplication. Amplication is the best tool for developers to build scalable, secure, and reliable backend services based on TypeScript and Node.js to speed up your development process.

Amplication builds GraphQL and REST APIs with technologies like NestJS, Prisma, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, Passport, Jest, and Docker with all the configurations, optimizations, and build scripts ready for you from the getgo. You can automatically create database connections, authentication and authorization features, unit tests, and ORMs for your Node.js service.

You can find the getting started guide here.


GraphQL is a powerful query language and runtime for APIs and offers a flexible and efficient approach to data retrieval and manipulation. Testing GraphQL APIs ensures your API's quality, reliability, performance, and security. Following the best practices outlined in this article, you can effectively test your GraphQL APIs and deliver a high-quality user experience.