Usage - Schema Only

The PostGraphile middleware gives you a lot of excellent features for running your own GraphQL server. However, if you want to execute a PostGraphile query in Node.js without having to go through HTTP you can use some other exported functions that PostGraphile provides.

The first function you will need is createPostGraphileSchema (or watchPostGraphileSchema if you want to get a new schema each time the database is updated) which creates your PostGraphile GraphQL schema by introspecting your database.

The function takes very similar arguments to the postgraphile middleware.

  process.env.DATABASE_URL || 'postgres:///'
  .then(schema => { ... })
  .catch(error => { ... })

Now that you have your schema, in order to execute a GraphQL query you must supply an (authenticated) pgClient on the context object. The preferred way to do this is via the asynchronous withPostGraphileContext function. The context object will contain a PostgreSQL client which has its own transaction with the correct permission levels for the associated user.

const { Pool } = require('pg');
const { graphql } = require('graphql');
const { withPostGraphileContext } = require('postgraphile');

const myPgPool = new Pool({ ... });

export async function performQuery(
) {
  return await withPostGraphileContext(
      pgPool: myPgPool,
      jwtToken: jwtToken,
      jwtSecret: "...",
      pgDefaultRole: "..."
    async context => {
      // Execute your GraphQL query in this function with the provided
      // `context` object, which should NOT be used outside of this
      // function.
      return await graphql(
        schema, // The schema from `createPostGraphileSchema`
        { ...context }, // You can add more to context if you like

(The await keywords after the return statements aren't required, they're just there to clarify the results are promises.)

API: createPostGraphileSchema(pgConfig, schemaName, options)

This function takes three arguments (all are optional) and returns a promise to a GraphQLSchema object.

The returned GraphQLSchema will not be updated when your database changes - if you require "watch" functionality, please use watchPostGraphileSchema instead (see below). The below options are valid for [email protected]4.4.0-rc.1.

  • pgConfig: An object or string that will be passed to the [pg][] library and used to connect to a PostgreSQL backend. If you already have a client or pool instance, when using this function you may also pass a pg client or a pg-pool instance directly instead of a config.
  • schemaName: A string which specifies the PostgreSQL schema that PostGraphile will use to create a GraphQL schema. The default schema is the public schema. May be an array for multiple schemas. For users who want to run the Postgres introspection query ahead of time, you may also pass in a PgCatalog instance directly.
  • options: An object containing other miscellaneous options. Most options are shared with the postgraphile middleware function. Options could be:

    • ownerConnectionString: Connection string to use to connect to the database as a privileged user (e.g. for setting up watch fixtures, logical decoding, etc).
    • subscriptions: Enable GraphQL websocket transport support for subscriptions (you still need a subscriptions plugin currently)
    • live: [EXPERIMENTAL] Enables live-query support via GraphQL subscriptions (sends updated payload any time nested collections/records change)
    • pgDefaultRole: The default Postgres role to use. If no role was provided in a provided JWT token, this role will be used.
    • dynamicJson: By default, JSON and JSONB fields are presented as strings (JSON encoded) from the GraphQL schema. Setting this to true (recommended) enables raw JSON input and output, saving the need to parse / stringify JSON manually.
    • setofFunctionsContainNulls: If none of your RETURNS SETOF compound_type functions mix NULLs with the results then you may set this false to reduce the nullables in the GraphQL schema.
    • classicIds: Enables classic ids for Relay support. Instead of using the field name nodeId for globally unique ids, PostGraphile will instead use the field name id for its globally unique ids. This means that table id columns will also get renamed to rowId.
    • disableDefaultMutations: Setting this to true will prevent the creation of the default mutation types & fields. Database mutation will only be possible through Postgres functions.
    • ignoreRBAC: Set false (recommended) to exclude fields, queries and mutations that are not available to any possible user (determined from the user in connection string and any role they can become); set this option true to skip these checks and create GraphQL fields and types for everything. The default is true, in v5 the default will change to false.
    • ignoreIndexes: Set false (recommended) to exclude filters, orderBy, and relations that would be expensive to access due to missing indexes. Changing this from true to false is a breaking change, but false to true is not, so we recommend you start with it set to false. The default is true, in v5 the default may change to false.
    • includeExtensionResources: By default, tables and functions that come from extensions are excluded from the generated GraphQL schema as general applications don't need them to be exposed to the end user. You can use this flag to include them in the generated schema (not recommended).
    • showErrorStack: Enables adding a stack field to the error response. Can be either the boolean true (which results in a single stack string) or the string json (which causes the stack to become an array with elements for each line of the stack). Recommended in development, not recommended in production.
    • extendedErrors: Extends the error response with additional details from the Postgres error. Can be any combination of ['hint', 'detail', 'errcode']. Default is [].
    • appendPlugins: An array of Graphile Engine schema plugins to load after the default plugins.
    • prependPlugins: An array of Graphile Engine schema plugins to load before the default plugins (you probably don't want this).
    • replaceAllPlugins: The full array of Graphile Engine schema plugins to use for schema generation (you almost definitely don't want this!).
    • skipPlugins: An array of Graphile Engine schema plugins to skip.
    • readCache: A file path string. Reads cached values from local cache file to improve startup time (you may want to do this in production).
    • writeCache: A file path string. Writes computed values to local cache file so startup can be faster (do this during the build phase).
    • jwtSecret: The secret for your JSON web tokens. This will be used to verify tokens in the Authorization header, and signing JWT tokens you return in procedures.
    • jwtPgTypeIdentifier: The Postgres type identifier for the compound type which will be signed as a JWT token if ever found as the return type of a procedure. Can be of the form: my_schema.my_type. You may use quotes as needed: "my-special-schema".my_type.
    • legacyRelations: Some one-to-one relations were previously detected as one-to-many - should we export 'only' the old relation shapes, both new and old but mark the old ones as 'deprecated' (default), or 'omit' (recommended) the old relation shapes entirely.
    • legacyJsonUuid: ONLY use this option if you require the v3 typenames 'Json' and 'Uuid' over 'JSON' and 'UUID'.
    • simpleCollections: Should we use relay pagination, or simple collections? "omit" (default) - relay connections only, "only" (not recommended) - simple collections only (no Relay connections), "both" - both.

API: watchPostGraphileSchema(pgConfig, schemaName, options, onNewSchema)

This function is takes the same options as createPostGraphileSchema; but with one addition: a function onNewSchema that is called every time a new schema is generated, passing the new schema as the first argument. onNewSchema is guaranteed to be called before the watchPostGraphileSchema promise resolves. It resolves to an asynchronus function that can be called to stop listening for schema changes.

async function main() {
  let graphqlSchema;
  const releaseWatcher = await watchPostGraphileSchema(
    newSchema => {
      console.log("Generated new GraphQL schema");
      graphqlSchema = newSchema;
  // graphqlSchema is **guaranteed** to be set here.

  // ... do stuff with graphqlSchema

  await releaseWatcher();

API: withPostGraphileContext(options, callback)

This function sets up a PostGraphile context, calls (and resolves) the callback function within this context, and then tears the context back down again finally resolving to the result of your function (which should be a GraphQLExecutionResult from executing a graphql() query).

  • options: An object of options that are used to create the context object that gets passed into callback.

    • pgPool: A required instance of a Postgres pool from pg-pool. A Postgres client will be connected from this pool.
    • jwtToken: An optional JWT token string. This JWT token represents the viewer of your PostGraphile schema. You might get this from the Authorization header.
    • jwtSecret: see 'jwtSecret' above
    • jwtAudiences: see 'jwtAudiences' above
    • jwtRole: see 'jwtRole' in the library documentation
    • jwtVerifyOptions: see 'jwtVerifyOptions' in the library documentation
    • pgDefaultRole: see 'pgDefaultRole' in the library documentation
    • pgSettings: A plain object specifying custom config values to set in the PostgreSQL transaction (accessed via current_setting('my.custom.setting')) - do NOT provide a function unlike with the library options
  • callback: The function which is called with the context object which was created. Whatever the return value of this function is will be the return value of withPostGraphileContext.

Even lower level access

If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of what's going on, then take a look at the postgraphile-core and graphile-build-pg modules.