makePgSmartTagsPlugin (graphile-utils v4.5.0+)

Smart Tags enable you to customize how (or if) your PostgreSQL resources are represented in your PostGraphile GraphQL schema. Before reading this page, you should familiarize yourself with Smart Tags so that you know when and why you would use them.

makePgSmartTagsPlugin and makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin are plugin generators that allows you to easily apply smart tags to various PostgreSQL entities.

  • makePgSmartTagsFromFilePlugin is the highest level function, and loads smart tags from a JSON5 file.
  • makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin is like makePgSmartTagsFromFilePlugin, except it allows you to specify the configuration object in code rather than via a JSON5 file.
  • makePgSmartTagsPlugin is the lowest level plugin, it allows you to apply smart tags to PostgreSQL entities that match your specified rules.

We recommend the postgraphile.tags.json5 file to most users; but the below plugin generators can be helpful if you have more advanced needs.


Unlike most other plugin generators, this plugin comes from postgraphile/plugins. The reason it's not in graphile-utils is because it needs to access the file-system.

const { makePgSmartTagsFromFilePlugin } = require("postgraphile/plugins");

Usage example:

const SmartTagsPlugin = makePgSmartTagsFromFilePlugin(
  // JSON and JSONC are also JSON5 compatible, so you can use these extensions if you prefer:

// ...

  postgraphile(process.env.DATABASE_URL, "app_public", {
    appendPlugins: [SmartTagsPlugin],

This plugin powers the automatic postgraphile.tags.json5 file support in PostGraphile CLI, and can be used as above for library users. You can even use it multiple times to merge smart tags from multiple files should you wish.


const { makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin } = require("graphile-utils");
function makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin(
  json: JSONPgSmartTags | null,
  subscribeToJSONUpdatesCallback?: SubscribeToJSONPgSmartTagsUpdatesCallback | null
): Plugin;

type JSONPgSmartTags = {
  version: 1;
  config: {
    [kind in PgSmartTagSupportedKinds]?: {
      [identifier: string]: {
        tags?: PgSmartTagTags;
        description?: string;
        attribute?: {
          [attributeName: string]: {
            tags?: PgSmartTagTags;
            description?: string;
        constraint?: {
          [constraintName: string]: {
            tags?: PgSmartTagTags;
            description?: string;

type SubscribeToJSONPgSmartTagsUpdatesCallback = (
  cb: UpdateJSONPgSmartTagsCallback | null
) => void | Promise<void>;

This plugin generator takes a JSONPgSmartTags object, and adds the relevant tags to the relevant entities referenced. It is what powers makePgSmartTagsFromFilePlugin above, but you can also use it in your own PostGraphile schema plugins.

An example of an empty JSONPgSmartTags object would be:

  version: 1,
  config: {
    class: {},
    attribute: {},
    constraint: {},
    procedure: {},

A more in-depth example of this configuration file, with comments, is available in the postgraphile.tags.json5 file documentation.

Within the config object, we can add entries for each supported "kind" of PostgreSQL entity. The supported entities include:

The value for each of these kinds would be another object, keyed by the identifier of the PostgreSQL entity, then containing the configuration for that entity type. Identifiers for each entity type differ:

  • class - schema_name.table_name
  • attribute - schema_name.table_name.column_name
  • constraint - schema_name.table_name.constraint_name
  • procedure - schema_name.function_name (NOTE: since PostGraphile doesn't support function overloading, function parameters are not factored into the identifier.)

For each identifier, you may present the fully qualified form as shown above, or you may drop the left most segments, e.g. a column id in table users in schema app_public could be specified as or or just id.

Where the form used is not fully qualified, the configuration will be applied to all entities that match. For example if you wanted to omit create/update on all created_at/updated_at columns across all your tables, the configuration might look like:

  version: 1,
  config: {
    attribute: {
      created_at: { tags: { omit: "create,update" } },
      updated_at: { tags: { omit: "create,update" } },

The configuration object for each matched entity accepts the following parameters (all optional):

  • tags - a map of all the tags you wish to apply; these will be merged with the tags applied through other means (overwriting tags of the same name). See the Smart Tags documentation for more information about what tags are available, and what values they can have.
  • description - a description to apply to this resource, equivalent to using COMMENT ON on the underlying PostgreSQL entity (except that Smart Comment parsing does not take place).

For the class entity type, the following convenience attributes are also available to enable you to keep tables, columns and constraints configured in the same location. When used, the column/constraint identifiers must not be fully qualified, since the table identifier will be automatically prepended for you.

  • attribute - for columns
  • constraint - for constraints

To have this plugin work in watch mode, a subscribeToJSONUpdatesCallback method can be passed as a second argument. If/when Graphile Engine enters watch mode (e.g. via postgraphile --watch), this callback will be called, and it will be passed a callback function that in turn must be called when a change takes place. When watch mode is exited, the function will be called again without a callback, and whatever was in place for watching must be released. An example implementation of this can be found in makePgSmartTagsFromFilePlugin in PostGraphile itself, which monitors a JSON5 file for changes and triggers the schema to refresh when this file changes. See:


const { makePgSmartTagsPlugin } = require("graphile-utils");
function makePgSmartTagsPlugin(
  ruleOrRules: PgSmartTagRule | PgSmartTagRule[] | null,
  subscribeToUpdatesCallback?: SubscribeToPgSmartTagUpdatesCallback | null
): Plugin;

interface PgSmartTagRule<T extends PgEntity = PgEntity> {
  kind: PgEntityKind;
  match: string | PgSmartTagFilterFunction<T>;
  tags?: PgSmartTagTags;
  description?: string;

type PgSmartTagFilterFunction<T> = (input: T, build: Build) => boolean;

This is a more versatile, but higher effort plugin generator that powers makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin. Rather than passing a configuration object, a list of rules (or a single rule) is passed.

Rules must specify a kind (class, attribute, constraint or procedure) and a match which could be the identifier (following the same rules as for makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin) or a matcher function. The matcher function makes this plugin generator incredibly powerful, for example it could be used to apply tags to all PostgreSQL entities that match a particular criteria that does not need to relate to the entity's name. The matcher function is passed the Graphile Engine representation of the entity type (see PgIntrospectionPlugin for these definitions) and the Build object, and must return a boolean to say whether this entity should be matched or not.

Like with makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin, the rule may also optionally supply the tags Smart Tags object to be merged, and a description to overwrite the previous description.

The plugin also supports a subscribeToUpdatesCallback to enable watch mode, which works in the same way as subscribeToJSONUpdatesCallback from makeJSONPgSmartTagsPlugin.

Source code

Please refer to, and