Introducing Pathfinder: The Missing GraphQL IDE

Introducing Pathfinder: The Missing GraphQL IDE

As the GraphQL ecosystem matures and expands, the tools developers use should evolve, too. Developers need better tooling and a better experience, like you see with REST API tooling, to build GraphQL-powered applications with ease.

This is why we’re launching Pathfinder, our GraphQL IDE. With a focus on usability, efficiency, and familiarity, Pathfinder is a desktop IDE solution for GraphQL developers. Using Pathfinder, developers can build GraphQL endpoints as easily as they build any other code, in an intuitive environment.

If you are already familiar with Grafbase, then you've likely used the browser-based Pathfinder on the platform or launched it via the CLI.

Now, we’re releasing a desktop version. Built with Tauri, Pathfinder is compatible across platforms, so it works on any OS your team uses. Using Tauri provides:

  • Faster Performance. Pathfinder, when built with Tauri, achieves faster runtime performance. No lag, no lengthy load times—just a responsive IDE.
  • Lower Bundle Size. Tauri offers smaller bundle sizes compared to Electron, meaning Pathfinder will install quicker and take up less space on your machine.
  • Better Memory Usage. Tauri's efficient memory management lets Pathfinder use less RAM, ensuring your other processes run undisturbed.

Pathfinder prioritizes efficient operation without sacrificing functionality. By building Pathfinder on Tauri, we offer developers a technically sound GraphQL IDE tailored for modern development environments.

Pathfinder's features are crafted around building a great developer experience for GraphQL developers, bridging functionality with user-friendliness.

When developers open Pathfinder, they find a familiar environment. Pathfinder is built on the Monaco Editor, the same code editor that powers VS Code. This editing experience ensures a seamless transition for developers accustomed to VS Code, enhancing productivity with a toolset they already know and trust. Pathfinder also features a tab system akin to VS Code. This facilitates organized multitasking, allowing developers to switch between endpoints and tasks effortlessly.

Where in VS code a developer would find their files, in the Pathfinder left pane sits the Visual Operation Builder. Instead of manually scripting every operation, developers can browse operations presented in an intuitive tree-like view. You can construct complex GraphQL queries simply by selecting queries and mutations from the schema, streamlining the development process and eliminating potential errors from manual entry.

Pathfinder also comes with a built-in Schema Browser, so developers can explore and understand their GraphQL schema with ease. This reference view provides a clear breakdown of types, queries, and mutations, making it an invaluable tool for GraphQL developers.

Pathfinder's history view lets developers track past operations and changes for effective debugging and version control, ensuring that they always have a clear and structured overview of their work history.

We've integrated Pathfinder into the Grafbase CLI and the Grafbase platform. With the desktop application, more developers can use Pathfinder beyond the Grafbase platform.

But we are also open-sourcing Pathfinder. We built Pathfinder using open source software: React, zustand, monaco-editor, monaco-graphql, and vanilla-extract. Thus, open sourcing Pathfinder makes perfect sense.

If you are building GraphQL tooling, you can embed Pathfinder in your own application; if you are building an entirely new platform, you can use Pathfinder at the core. The goal is to share our take on how a GraphQL IDE should look like in 2023, and get others to build on it.

The GitHub repo for Pathfinder is available here.

As the GraphQL landscape grows, the need for a dedicated, user-friendly IDE becomes more pronounced.

We designed Pathfinder with GraphQL developers in mind. It is our take on the future of GraphQL development: marrying the functionality developers need when working with GraphQL APIs with the developer experience they have become accustomed to when working on other code and APIs.

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