Almost everything in Graphile Engine is accomplished through plugins. You can add plugins, remove plugins, even replace the entire stack if you so desire.

Loading Plugins

Plugins are loaded when you call buildSchema(plugins, options) or getBuilder(plugins, options). They may be asynchronous thus these functions return a promise; Graphile Engine will wait for each plugin to finish loading before attempting to load the next plugin - so the order in which you specify the plugins may be important.

Here's how you might load the default plugins:

const { buildSchema, defaultPlugins } = require("graphile-build");
const { printSchema } = require("graphql/utilities");

const plugins = [
  // Add more plugins here!

buildSchema(plugins).then(schema => {

Writing Plugins

Graphile Engine plugins are simple functions that interact with the SchemaBuilder, most commonly by registering hooks. When you perform buildSchema(plugins) we create a new SchemaBuilder instance and then load each of the plugins against it.

If a plugin returns a Promise (e.g. an asynchronous plugin) then we will wait for that promise to resolve before continuing to load the next plugin, otherwise we will assume the plugin is synchronous. This asynchronous period should be used for performing tasks such as introspecting a data store or fetching a file from the internet; the hooks themselves run synchronously and thus must not perform any asynchronous work.

An example of a plugin that does nothing is this no-op plugin:

function NoopPlugin(builder) {
  console.log("I don't do anything");

which you can load into your schema like so:

const { buildSchema, defaultPlugins } = require("graphile-build");
const { printSchema } = require("graphql/utilities");

buildSchema([...defaultPlugins, NoopPlugin]).then(schema => {
View output
I don't do anything
# An object with a globally unique `ID`.
interface Node {
  # A globally unique identifier. Can be used in various places throughout the system to identify this single value.
  id: ID!

# The root query type which gives access points into the data universe.
type Query implements Node {
  # Exposes the root query type nested one level down. This is helpful for Relay 1
  # which can only query top level fields if they are in a particular form.
  query: Query!

  # The root query type must be a `Node` to work well with Relay 1 mutations. This just resolves to `query`.
  id: ID!

  # Fetches an object given its globally unique `ID`.
    # The globally unique `ID`.
    id: ID!
  ): Node

Plugin actions

Whilst a plugin is being executed it can perform actions on the builder object, its first argument.

The most common actions for a plugin are:

  • Register a Hook callback to perform transformations at a specific step in the build, using builder.hook(hookName, hookFunction). Through the use of hooks, a plugin might provide functionality for other plugins, overwrite functionality that was exposed by other plugins, or add things to specific parts of the schema.
  • Add watch-mode event listeners, using builder.registerWatcher(watcher, unwatcher)

An example plugin

This plugin will add a field random(sides: Int) to every GraphQLObjectType that is generated with hooks:

// No imports required!

module.exports = function MyRandomFieldPlugin(
  { myDefaultMin = 1, myDefaultMax = 100 }
) {
      fields, // input object
      { extend, graphql: { GraphQLInt } }, // Build
      context // Context
    ) => {
      return extend(fields, {
        random: {
          type: GraphQLInt,
          args: {
            sides: {
              type: GraphQLInt,
          resolve(_, { sides = myDefaultMax }) {
            return (
              Math.floor(Math.random() * (sides - myDefaultMin + 1)) +

First it registers a hook on GraphQLObjectType:fields which will be called for the fields property of every GraphQLObjectType that is constructed.

The callback to this hook is passed the three standard options:

Finally we're returning a derivative of the fields that were input by adding an additonal property field which is a standard GraphQL field config GraphQLFieldConfig - see the GraphQL-js documentation.

Plugin arguments

Plugins are called with just two arguments:

  • builder - the instance of SchemaBuilder the plugin is being loaded against
  • options - the options that were passed to buildSchema(plugins, options) (or getBuilder(plugins, options))