makeExtendSchemaPlugin (graphile-utils)

NOTE: this documentation applies to PostGraphile v4.1.0+

The graphile-utils module contains some helpers for extending your PostGraphile (or Graphile Engine) GraphQL schema without having to understand the complex plugin system.

The main one you'll care about to start with is makeExtendSchemaPlugin.

Using makeExtendSchemaPlugin you can write a plugin that will merge additional GraphQL types and resolvers into your schema using a similar syntax to graphql-tools. You just need to provide the typeDefs and resolvers to use. Your plugin will likely take a shape like this:

const {
} = require('graphile-utils');

const MySchemaExtensionPlugin =
    build => ({
      typeDefs: gql`...`,      resolvers: ...    })
module.exports = MySchemaExtensionPlugin;

And would be added to your PostGraphile instance via

  • CLI: --append-plugins `pwd`/MySchemaExtensionPlugin.js
  • Library: appendPlugins: [require('./MySchemaExtensionPlugin')]

The build argument to the makeExtendSchemaPlugin callback contains lots of information and helpers defined by various plugins, most importantly it includes the introspection results (build.pgIntrospectionResultsByKind), inflection functions (build.inflection), and SQL helper (build.pgSql, which is just an instance of pg-sql2).

The callback should return an object with two keys:

  • typeDefs: a graphql AST generated with the gql helper from graphile-utils (note this is NOT from the graphql-tag library, ours works in a slightly different way).
  • resolvers: an object that's keyed by the GraphQL type names of types defined (or extended) in typeDefs, the values of which are objects keyed by the field names with values that are resolver functions.

For a larger example of how typeDefs and resolvers work, have a look at the graphql-tools docs - ours work in a similar way.

Note that the resolve functions defined in resolvers will be sent the standard 4 GraphQL resolve arguments (parent, args, context, resolveInfo); but the 4th argument (resolveInfo) will also contains graphile-specific helpers.

Reading database column values

When extending a schema, it's often because you want to expose data from Node.js that would be difficult too difficult (or impossible) to access from PostgreSQL. When defining a field on an existing table-backed type defined by PostGraphile, it's useful to access data from the underlying table in the resolver.

To do this you can use the @requires(columns: […]) field directive to declare the data dependencies of your resolver. This guarantees that when the resolver is executed, the data is immediately available.

Here's an example to illustrate.

In the database you have a product table (imagine an online store), that PostGraphile will include in the GraphQL schema by creating a type Product with fields id, name, price_in_us_cents.

create table product (
  id uuid primary key,
  name text not null,
  price_in_us_cents integer not null

This would result in the following GraphQL type:

type Product {
  id: UUID!
  name: String!
  priceInUsCents: Int!

However imagine you're selling internationally, and you want to expose the price in other currencies directly from the Product type itself. This kind of functionality is trivial to perform in Node.js (e.g. by making a REST call to a foreign exchange service over the internet) but might be a struggle from with PostgreSQL.

const { postgraphile } = require("postgraphile");
const { makeExtendSchemaPlugin, gql } = require("graphile-utils");const express = require("express");
const { convertUsdToAud } = require("ficticious-npm-library");
const MyForeignExchangePlugin = makeExtendSchemaPlugin(build => {  const { pgSql: sql } = build;  return {    typeDefs: gql`      extend type Product {        priceInAuCents: Int! @requires(columns: ["price_in_us_cents"])      }    `,    resolvers: {      Product: {        priceInAuCents: async (          product        ) => {          // Note that the columns are converted to fields, so the case changes          // from `price_in_us_cents` to `priceInUsCents`          const { priceInUsCents } = product;          return await convertUsdToAud(priceInUsCents);        },      },    },  };});
const app = express();
  postgraphile(process.env.DATABASE_URL, ["app_public"], {
    graphiql: true,
    appendPlugins: [MyForeignExchangePlugin],  })

The selectGraphQLResultFromTable helper

The resolveInfo.graphile.selectGraphQLResultFromTable function is vital if you want to return data from the database from your new GraphQL field. It is responsible for hooking into the query look-ahead features of graphile-build to inspect the incoming GraphQL query and pull down the relevant data from the database (including nested relations). You are then expected to return the result of this fetch via your resolver. You can use the sqlBuilder object to customise the generated query, changing the order, adding where clauses, limits, etc. Note that if you are not returning a record type directly (for example you're returning a mutation payload, or a connection interface), you should use the @pgField directive on the fields of your returned type so that the Look Ahead feature continues to work.

The sqlBuilder uses an SQL AST constructed via pg-sql2 methods to dynamically create powerful SQL queries without risking SQL injection attacks. The sqlBuilder has a number of methods which affect the query which will be generated. The main ones you're likely to want are:

  • where(sqlFragment); e.g. sqlBuilder.where(build.pgSql.fragment`is_admin is true`)
  • orderBy(() => sqlFragment, ascending); e.g. sqlBuilder.orderBy(() => build.pgSql.fragment`created_at`, false)
  • limit(number); e.g. sqlBuilder.limit(1)
  • offset(number); e.g. sqlBuilder.offset(1)
  • select(() => sqlFragment, alias); e.g. => build.pgSql.fragment`gen_random_uuid()`, '__my_random_uuid') - it's advised to start your alias with two underscores to prevent it clashing with any potential columns exposed as GraphQL fields.
const { postgraphile } = require("postgraphile");
const { makeExtendSchemaPlugin, gql } = require("graphile-utils");
const express = require("express");

const app = express();

const MyRandomUserPlugin = makeExtendSchemaPlugin(build => {  const { pgSql: sql } = build;  return {    typeDefs: gql`      extend type Query {        randomUser: User      }    `,    resolvers: {      Query: {        randomUser: async (          _query,          args,          context,          resolveInfo        ) => {          // Remember: resolveInfo.graphile.selectGraphQLResultFromTable is where the PostGraphile          // look-ahead magic happens!          const rows = await resolveInfo.graphile.selectGraphQLResultFromTable(            sql.fragment`app_public.users`,            (tableAlias, sqlBuilder) => {              sqlBuilder.orderBy(sql.fragment`random()`);              sqlBuilder.limit(1);            }          );          return rows[0];        },      },    },  };});

  postgraphile(process.env.DATABASE_URL, ["app_public"], {
    graphiql: true,
    appendPlugins: [MyRandomUserPlugin],

The above is a simple and fairly pointless example which would have been better served by a Custom Query SQL Procedure; however you can also use this system to define mutations or to call out to external services. For example, you might want to add a custom registerUser mutation which inserts the new user into the database and also sends them an email:

const MyRegisterUserMutationPlugin =
makeExtendSchemaPlugin(build => {
  const { pgSql: sql } = build;
  return {
    typeDefs: gql`
      input RegisterUserInput {
        name: String!
        email: String!
        bio: String

      type RegisterUserPayload {
        user: User @pgField
        query: Query

      extend type Mutation {        registerUser(input: RegisterUserInput!):
    resolvers: {
      Mutation: {        registerUser: async (          _query,          args,          context,          resolveInfo        ) => {          const { pgClient } = context;          // Start a sub-transaction          await pgClient.query("SAVEPOINT graphql_mutation");          try {            // Our custom logic to register the user:            const { rows: [user] } = await pgClient.query(              `INSERT INTO app_public.users(                name, email, bio              ) VALUES ($1, $2, $3)              RETURNING *`,              [      ,      ,      ,              ]            );            // Now we fetch the result that the GraphQL            // client requested, using the new user            // account as the source of the data. You            // should always use            // `resolveInfo.graphile.selectGraphQLResultFromTable` if you return database            // data from your custom field.            const [row] =              await resolveInfo.graphile.selectGraphQLResultFromTable(                sql.fragment`app_public.users`,                (tableAlias, sqlBuilder) => {                  sqlBuilder.where(                    sql.fragment`${tableAlias}.id = ${                      sql.value(                    }`                  );                }              );            // Finally we send the email. If this            // fails then we'll catch the error            // and roll back the transaction, and            // it will be as if the user never            // registered            await mockSendEmail(    ,              "Welcome to my site",              `You're user ${} - ` +                `thanks for being awesome`            );            // Success! Write the user to the database.            await pgClient.query("RELEASE SAVEPOINT graphql_mutation");            // If the return type is a database record type, like User, then            // you would return `row` directly. However if it's an indirect            // interface such as a connection or mutation payload then            // you return an object with a `data` property. You can add            // additional properties too, that can be used by other fields            // on the result type.            return {              data: row,              query: build.$$isQuery,            };          } catch (e) {            // Oh noes! If at first you don't succeed,            // destroy all evidence you ever tried.
            await pgClient.query("ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT graphql_mutation");
            throw e;

Note that the @pgField directive here is necessary for PostGraphile to "look ahead" and determine what to request from the database.

NOTE: Plugins access the database with the same privileges as everything else - they are subject to RLS/RBAC/etc. If your user does not have privileges to perform the action your plugin is attempting to achieve then you may need to create a companion database function that is marked as SECURITY DEFINER in order to perform the action with elevated privileges; alternatively you could just use this database function directly - see Custom Mutations for more details.