Backend-as-a-Service vs. Hosted Headless CMS

One year after GraphQL was open sourced, the community and ecosystem around this technology is growing rapidly. The GraphQL project left the stage of...

Michael Lukaszczyk
Daniel Winter
Michael & Daniel
Backend as a Service Vs. Headless CMS

One year after GraphQL was open sourced, the community and ecosystem around this technology is growing rapidly. The GraphQL project left the stage of technical preview and the GraphQL website was relaunched with a shiny new design. In mid-September, GitHub announced their new GraphQL-API, which is huge news for the growing GraphQL community.

The GitHub platform team says:

GraphQL represents a massive leap forward for API development. Type safety, introspection, generated documentation, and predictable responses benefit both the maintainers and consumers of our platform. We’re looking forward to our new era of a GraphQL-backed platform, and we hope that you do, too!

On the open source side, there is also a lot going on. If you are new to GraphQL you should definitely check out the Apollo project! They are developing great tools for GraphQL development and are also offering a powerful GraphQL debugging suite.

But what is happening on the commercial site? A lot, actually! New businesses are entering the world of GraphQL week after week. Especially in the field of Backend-as-a-Service solutions. Services that help to develop hosted GraphQL applications easier and faster.

This post should give you an overview on the popular and trending projects that we identified as key players in the field of GraphQL based Backend-as-a-Service solutions.

Reindex is a company based in Finland. They appear to be the pioneers in this field, since they started their platform in summer 2015 and launched their product in January 2016. Setting up a project with requires some tech- and GraphQL know-how, since there is no graphical user interface for defining the schema or editing content.


Graphcool is a Berlin based startup. They are offering a "Hosted GraphQL Backend for your React/Relay Apps". They seem to put a lot of effort in good documentation, which is absolutely vital for a good product in the field of software development. Their user interface reminds of popular database tools like sequel or postico (but with a nice flat design), which of course is very developer friendly. Right now they are in beta, but we expect their launch coming soon.

Scaphold is small startup from the US. They participate in Y Combinator's Fellowship Program, which is certainly a good starting point for a young tech startup. Right now they seem to focus on implementing a wide range of integrations for services like Algolia or Slack. They have a graphical schema designer and a data explorer that is read only.

Each of these products seem to have a slightly different focus on their client segment and functionality. Give them a try and see for yourself if their offers are meeting your needs.


But where do we see GraphCMS in this equation? Actually, a GraphQL based, hosted, headless CMS is a Backend-as-a-Service solution itself. At the core it is basically the same. Users define the data structures for their projects with a graphical user interface and in return they will get a fully functional GraphQL endpoint for their applications.
The difference is actually on the surface. The goal of GraphCMS is to not only support developers, but content editors as well.

With GraphCMS, content editors can use intuitive content-editor-tools to fill their project with life. No tech know-how required! This is especially great for content-centric applications.

This also means that developers do not need to spend countless hours implementing CRUD user interfaces for their GraphQL powered applications. The interface will be completely generated based on the schema, validation rules and permissions of the data model.

So in a nutshell: GraphCMS is a GraphQL based Backend-as-a-Service solution with powerful content management features on top.

Want to give it a try? Sign up for a forever free developer account where you can see the power of GraphCMS as a backend-as-a-service.

Since this blog post was posted over four years ago, GraphCMS has grown and developed further as a powerful candidate for backend as a service. New features, such as union types, and approaches, such as content federation, have further realized this vision. Be sure to check out some of our current resources on GraphCMS as a backend-as-a-service.

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