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GraphQLConf 2023 Recap

This article was published on Monday, September 25, 2023 by Laurin Quast @ The Guild Blog

Wow, what a ride!\
We've just came back from GraphQL Conf and we have a lot to share!

The community gathered together in San Francisco for
the first-ever GraphQL Conference, almost 10 years after GraphQL was
invented.

It was an extraordinary warm, welcoming, community-centric event that brought together developers,
enthusiasts, and experts from all over the world. Over the course of three action-packed days,
filled with amazing workshops, exciting talks, and interesting sponsor booths (Hasura, The Guild,
Postman, The Graph, solo.io, Inigo, Stellate, StepZen(IBM), Neo4J, WunderGraph, HyGraph and
Graphabase), we had the incredible opportunity to immerse ourselves in the world of GraphQL. The
overwhelming volume of high-quality presentations by speakers from companies such as Netflix,
Intuit, Meta, AWS, Coinbase Salesforce, Atlassian, Apollo GraphQL, Meetup, IBM, Booking.com,
Wix.com, Okta, Miro and others clearly highlighted the immense need for a community-driven
conference.

Several participants mentioned it was one of their favorite confs ever (it certainly was for us!)

The Linux Foundation events team, lead by Emily Ruf and the GraphQL Foundation Conference committee,
lead by Keith Babo, had made a remarkable job with the first ever GraphQL open conference!

The Guild at GraphQLConf 2023 - photo by graphql.org/conf

One of the highlights of the conference was the chance to meet and shake hands with
Lee Byron, the visionary behind GraphQL. We expressed our heartfelt
gratitude for his groundbreaking invention and the positive impact it has had on the developer
community. From its inception to the present day, Lee has been tirelessly championing GraphQL - from
working groups, board meetings, to the first official GraphQL Conf! Our community is truly fortunate
to have such a dedicated leader. It was truly inspiring to see the faces of the people we had only
known through outdated avatars on GitHub or Twitter, who are the driving force behind the vibrant
GraphQL community.

Lee Byron at GraphQLConf 2023 - photo by Taz Singh

Thanks to Taz Singh for the image, check out his
full GraphQL Conf 2023 album

Its hard to summarize everything that happened, but the main messages we got from the conference
were:

  1. GraphQL is being used by the largest companies in the world, with clear and solid best practices. Adoption is growing and no company in going back
  2. Loads of innovation is happening in the open source GraphQL Ecosystem, at any part of the stack
  3. Innovation has paved the way for numerous superior open-source solutions across every layer of the stack. This empowers developers with choices, allowing for clear separation of concerns between the gateway, subgraph, and schema registry. With this flexibility, there's no need for vendor lock-in; developers can select the best tool for each specific layer
  4. That innovation leads to new ways people use GraphQL, beyond the classic Client-Server gateway solutions
  5. With GraphQL Conf, the first open GraphQL Conference, the community can find all the available tools and innovations in one place

There are too many great talks to cover, lucky you can find the recordings of all the workshops
and talks on the website's schedule (click on each talk)

The first day of the conference was workshops day, with many great practical workshops across
everything GraphQL. You can find all the workshop recordings in the schedule
here

The second day started with welcoming remarks by Lee, followed with great keynotes by Marc-Andre,
Keith Babo, Theo Browne (would couldn't believe he was invited to give a keynote ;) ) , Bryan
Robinson, and our very own Uri Goldshtein.

Uri's keynote on the state of GraphQL
focused on highlighting the biggest open source innovations from the last year, including those
unveiled at the conference and how we all can use them to improve our GraphQL developer experience.
This talk also served as a roadmap to other talks at the conference. He covered important releases
for GraphQL Clients and GraphQL Gateways. One of the key takeaways was the emergence of GraphQL
gateways as a common pattern.

For a long time, developers had limited options when it came to choosing a GraphQL gateway. However,
now we are witnessing a flourishing and diverse range of gateways being built in various
languages
like Apollo Router, Hot Chocolate, Cosmos, and our own GraphQL Mesh. The future promises
friendly competition between the teams and companies behind these projects. Uri highlighted the
available choices and alternatives out there and also talked about how you should go about choosing
the right gateway solution for you.

He then announced the most important release of the conference - the new GraphQL Fusion spec by
ChilliCream and The Guild, Hasura, IBM, AWS AppSync, WunderGraph and many more. An open spec, under
the Foundation, for remote execution and federation of services that challenges the existing
patterns of specification-less Federation protocols with a fresh approach.

He ended with the message - We are just getting started!

The conference was a testament to the growing popularity and importance of GraphQL. Whether
attendees were just starting to explore GraphQL, had already adopted it, or were active contributors
in the GraphQL ecosystem, everyone plays a vital role in the success and future of GraphQL. The
energy and enthusiasm in the conference halls were palpable, and it was evident that we are just
scratching the surface of what GraphQL can achieve.

Discussion Panel at GraphQLConf 2023 - photo by graphql.org/conf

It also showed that in an open conference you can find deep and nuanced perspectives on
architectural choices. For example, on the GraphQL Gateways subject, even with talks and
announcements on great toolings for that type of architecture, it's important to note that schema
composition, GraphQL gateways, and other tools should be adopted based on their practical benefits
in specific workflows. The conference emphasized that these solutions should be embraced only if
they genuinely enhance the efficiency and productivity of your company's engineering team. GraphQL
Fusion
(Conf Talk),
for example, offers adaptability to any GraphQL setup, making it easier to migrate to a more
distributed setup in the future and even support for federating APIs that are not GraphQL (OpenAPI,
SOAP, gRPC, etc.). On the other hand, other Federation protocols requires a specific subgraph
structure. Additionally, it was interesting to learn that even Facebook, with its vast resources,
finds value in a monolithic approach for their GraphQL implementation.

The Guild cap

Another significant aspect highlighted during the conference was the need for continuous education
and knowledge sharing within the GraphQL community
. While there are numerous tutorials and guides
available for specific libraries and frameworks, there is a growing demand for more generic best
practices that can be applied across different GraphQL solutions. Topics like security through
persisted queries or HTTP and response caching sparked engaging discussions among developers,
showcasing the collective effort needed to improve GraphQL implementation within companies.

Uri at GraphQLConf 2023 - photo by graphql.org/conf

Lastly, the conference showcased several innovative projects that challenge the way we currently use
GraphQL.
Grafast,
for instance, introduces a more efficient approach to implementing GraphQL schemas, while
Houdini
and
Isograph
are exciting new GraphQL clients inspired by Relay, taking the GraphQL experience to new heights.
These projects sparked lively discussions and left us with a sense of anticipation and plenty of new
ideas to explore and improve the GraphQL community as a whole. And if we look ahead to the future,
Aleksandra's talk about AI, GraphQL, and the Rise of Malleable Applications
gave us a glimpse at what's possible!

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended GraphQL Conf 2023. For those who
couldn't make it, don't worry! Its impossible to cover the span of amazing talks that happened
there, but the recordings of all the workshops and talks are already
available on the website's schedule (click on each talk),
ensuring that the knowledge and insights shared during the conference can reach a wider audience. We
also invite you to join the discussions on the official GraphQL discord,
where the vibrant community continues to thrive. Also, new community Meetup groups have been
announced at the conference, so make sure to
signup here to attend, speak or organize your
local Meetup.

The Guild's booth

The overwhelming participation and turnout at the conference have made clear that GraphQL Conf
will return in 2024.
So, if you missed out this year, rest assured there will be more
opportunities to meet and connect with the GraphQL community. Let us know how can we make GraphQL
Conf 2024 even better!

See you next year!

The Guild at GraphQL Conf

The Guild is a group of open source developers who strive to create a vibrant and open ecosystem in
GraphQL and APIs in general. We chose to be the largest sponsor of the conference (diamond sponsor +
workshop day sponsor) and do whatever we can to make the official event a success. We are proud at
the success of the event and humbled by the community and everyone involved.

At the conference we demonstrated our solutions for GraphQL Gateway, Server and Schema Registry.
Our individual tools are fully open source, work separately and integrate with any other tool in
the ecosystem
, including our competitors - the opposite of a vendor lock-in, so you can choose
the best tool that works for you.

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