Building Full Stack Serverless Application With Amplify, Flutter, GraphQL, AWS CDK, and Typescript

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notes.jpg In this tutorial series, you will learn how to build a Full Stack serverless Mobile application using GraphQL, Typescript, AWS CDK(Cloud Development Kit), and Flutter.

Solutions Architecture

notes_draw.png We'll start by building a GraphQL API using Typescript and AWS CDK(Cloud Development Kit) as Infrastructure as Code. The API would allow for both public and private access.
Then, we will build a mobile frontend using Amazon Amplify and Flutter, which would consume the GraphQL API.

In a previous article Build a GraphQL API on AWS with CDK, Python, AppSync, and DynamoDB we looked at creating a GraphQL API with python and AWS CDK. We used Apache VTL templates as our resolvers.
In this series, we will be using lambda functions as resolvers. I personally prefer using direct lambda functions as resolvers and I'll tell you why in a moment.

If you are new to GraphQL and AppSync in general, you might start asking yourself questions like?

  • What is GraphQL?
  • What are resolvers?
  • What are VTL templates?
  • Why did you prefer using direct lambda functions to VTL templates as resolvers? Confused


Lots of Why's......

It's quite a long series, So let's get started.

Basic Overview of Some Concepts

What is GraphQL ?

GraphQL is aggressively becoming the new kid on the block when it comes to querying data from a data source. Partly due to its ability to let clients query only the data they need at that moment and in the format that they need it.

GraphQL is a query language that gives a client(app) the flexibility to request specific data in a declarative manner and in the exact format they need it, from a server.

The QL in Graph stands for Query Language.

GraphQL has three top-level operations:

  • Query - read-only fetch

  • Mutation - write, followed by a fetch

  • Subscription - long-lived connection for receiving data.

These operations are exposed via a schema that defines the capabilities of an API.
A schema is composed of 2 types

  • root type (Query, Mutation, Subscriptions)
  • user-defined type. (Note) The first step in creating a GraphQL API is creating a schema.
    Here’s an example schema that has both root types and a user-defined type.
type Note {
id:ID!
title:String!
description:String!

}
type Query {

getNoteById(id:ID!):Note

listAllNotes:[Note]
.......
......
}
type Mutation {
createNote(id:ID!,title:String!,description:String!):Note
.....
....

}
type Subscription {
onCreateNote:Note @aws-subscribe(mutations:["createNote"])

.......
.........
}

Note is a user-defined type with 3 fields.(id,title,description).
The ID, String at the end of each field is known as a scalar type. There are other scalar types such as Int, Float, Bool, and a lot more.
The ! At the end of a scalar type marks it as non-nullable. It must always have a value.
Query is a root type and it defines the endpoints that our application would use to query(retrieve) data from datasources. From the code above, we have getNoteById and listAllNotes

getNoteById(id:ID!):Note

The above endpoint, retrieves a single Note object by passing the Note item's id. :Note specifies the object which should be returned.

listAllNotes:[Note]

Retrieve a list of all Notes from the data source. :[Note] signifies a return type of Note in a list format.
Mutations contain endpoints responsible for write operations,that are followed by a fetch.
For example,

createNote(id:ID!,title:String!,description:String!):Note

The Above endpoint creates a new Note by passing in the id, title, and description, and then returns a Note object on success.
The Mutation type can also contain updateNote,deleteNote, etc as we'll see later.

Subscriptions in AWS AppSync are invoked as a response to a mutation and are used to create long-lived connections for receiving data.
In the above subscription, we create a connection to receive new Notes whenever they are created.

onCreateNote:Note @aws-subscribe(mutations:["createNote"])

@aws-subscribe is a directive that is used to decorate the subscription endpoint, giving it subscription capabilities.

What are resolvers ?

We just defined the types above. User types and root types. Resolvers simply connect the fields of those types to a data source. There are multiple data sources you can connect to. A NoSQL database like DynamoDB, A relational database like Amazon Aurora, a lambda function an elastic search engine, etc.
I urge you to learn more about GraphQL - graphql.org - GraphQl Overview

What are VTL Templates

Also known as Apache Velocity Template Language, is a logical template language that gives you the power to manipulate both the request and the response in the standard request/response flow of a web application, using techniques such as - Default values for new items - Input validation and formatting - Transforming and shaping data - Iterating over lists, maps, and arrays to pluck out or alter values - Filter/change responses based on user identity - Complex authorization checks AWS AppSync uses VTL to translate GraphQL requests from clients into a request to your data source. Then it reverses the process to translate the data source response back into a GraphQL response.

Why did you prefer using direct lambda functions to VTL templates as resolvers?

  • Easier to write and maintain
  • More powerful for marshaling and validating requests and responses
  • Common functionality can be more DRY than possible with VTLs (macros are not supported)
  • More flexible debugging and logging
  • Easier to test
  • Better tooling and linting are available

That was a brief overview of some of the concepts we would be using in this series.

Let's get started developing the API in the next article coming up soon

Happy Coding ✌🏿

PEACE

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