makeAddPgTableOrderByPlugin (graphile-utils v4.4.5+)

WARNING: this plugin generator doesn't currently have any tests, so it's status is experimental. If you can spare the time to write some tests (or sponsor me to do so) then we can promote it to stable.

PostGraphile adds orderBy arguments to various of the table collection fields it builds so that you can control the order in which you receive the results. By default we add the table's columns (or, if --no-ignore-indexes is enabled, only the columns that are indexed) in both ascending and descending order. For example, you could request the list of all forums ordered from newest to oldest:

query ForumsNewestToOldest {
  allForums(orderBy: [CREATED_AT_DESC]) {
    nodes {

Sometimes, however, you want to order by something a little more complex than the fields on that table; maybe you want to order by a field on a related table, or by a computation, or something else.

This plugin generator helps you build new orderBy enum values so that you can sort more flexibly (though you should keep in mind that they are enum values so they cannot accept arguments). Let's make this clearer with an example:


To sort a list of forums (stored in the table app_public.forums) by the date of their latest post (posts are stored in app_public.posts) you might create a plugin like this:

/* TODO: test this plugin works! */
module.exports = makeAddPgTableOrderByPlugin(
  ({ pgSql: sql }) => {
    const sqlIdentifier = sql.identifier(Symbol("lastPostInForum"));
    return orderByAscDesc(
      ({ queryBuilder }) => sql.fragment`(
        select ${sqlIdentifier}.created_at
        from app_public.posts as ${sqlIdentifier}
        where ${sqlIdentifier}.forum_id = ${queryBuilder.getTableAlias()}.id
        order by ${sqlIdentifier}.created_at desc
        limit 1

(Note: we used the orderByAscDesc helper to easily create the _ASC and _DESC variants without needing redundant code.)

The above plugin adds the LAST_POST_CREATED_AT_ASC and LAST_POST_CREATED_AT_DESC enum values to the ForumOrderBy enum, so you can now order forums by these values from another table, e.g.:

query ForumsOrderedByMostRecentPost {
  allForums(orderBy: [LAST_POST_CREATED_AT_DESC]) {
    nodes {

Function signature


The signature of the makeAddPgTableOrderByPlugin function is:

function makeAddPgTableOrderByPlugin(
  schemaName: string,
  tableName: string,
  ordersGenerator: (build: Build) => MakeAddPgTableOrderByPluginOrders,
  hint = `Adding orders with makeAddPgTableOrderByPlugin to "${schemaName}"."${tableName}"`
): Plugin;

interface MakeAddPgTableOrderByPluginOrders {
  [orderByEnumValue: string]: {
    value: {
      alias?: string;
      specs: Array<OrderSpec>;
      unique: boolean;

type OrderSpec = [string | SQL, boolean] | [string | SQL, boolean, boolean];

The OrderSpec here is a 2- or 3-tuple, with the following entries:

  1. the first entry (string | SQL) is the value to order by; if a string then it's assumed to be a column from the table, otherwise it must be an SQL fragment from pg-sql2.
  2. whether the order should be ascending (true) or descending (false).
  3. whether nulls appear before or after non-null values in the sort ordering. Pass true for nulls first, false for nulls last, and nothing/null for default behaviour.

The unique key specifies whether the order is unique (true) or not (false) ─ if in doubt, pass false and PostGraphile will make it unique by adding the primary key as the last sort field invisibly.

MakeAddPgTableOrderByPluginOrders is a hash (POJO ─ plain old JavaScript object) which maps from the name of the enum value to a GraphQLEnumValueConfig spec. We have a defined format for the value of an orderBy enum as shown above. In addition to the value entry detailed above, you could also provide a description or deprecationReason (both strings).


We also expose the orderByAscDesc helper which makes it easier to build the _ASC and _DESC orders which are typically identical except for name and reversed sort:

export function orderByAscDesc(
  baseName: string,
  columnOrSqlFragment: string | SQL,
  unique = false
): MakeAddPgTableOrderByPluginOrders;

The baseName will have _ASC and _DESC appended for the two enum values this function creates.

columnOrSqlFragment is where the order value is specified, it becomes the first entry in the OrderSpec tuple defined above.

Only set unique to true if you can guarantee that the sort order is unique.