Extending GraphQL Connections with additional Fields and Arguments

Nik Graf
InstructorNik Graf
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Published 5 years ago
Updated 4 years ago

A Connection can be extended in multiple ways:

  • Fields representing meta information on a entity relationship can be added
  • PageInfo itself can be enhanced
  • Arguments for filtering or ordering can be applied

In this lesson we walk through all of them to demonstrate the flexibility of the Connection Specification.

Instructor: [0:00] While in the connections spec, arguments, how they should be implemented, as well as the field structure, is well-defined. It doesn't prevent us from extending it with fields useful to our use cases. In fact, we already did exactly that, by adding the field bot together percentage.

[0:19] While probably obvious to you by now, we also can extend page info. So far, we only can retrieve the information if there is a next or previous page. This works well for endless [inaudible] . In case we want to have pagination, this wouldn't be sufficient, though, since such a UI would allow the user to directly visit multiple pages ahead of the current one.

[0:43] At this point, we only can retrieve the start cursor for the next page. In order to retrieve the necessary information in one query, we can add a new field, hasFreeNextPages, and ask for the cursor. Why so? Let me demonstrate this by adding it to our examples response.

[1:04] HasFreeNextPages would return an array of free items. Each of them would return a cursor ID, so we can use it for our after argument when requesting more entries of the connection. Be aware that, in case there are only two pages, the returned result will only return two entries, and our user interface can reflect that.

[1:27] Sometimes, a bit more flexibility is required, though, especially when serving multiple clients. In this case, we could pass in an argument amount, instead of hard-coding the expected amount of next pages. Then, if you want to ask for five more pages, you could do so by changing the amount. For previous pages, we can do exactly the same.

[1:51] Let's briefly go through how this would look like in our type definitions. We add a type paginationEntry containing a cursor. Then we extend page info with hasNextPages. It accepts the argument amount and returns a list of pagination entries. For previous pages, we can do exactly the same.

[2:20] While you don't have to, I would still recommend to provide and implement the page info fields specified in the connection spec. Clients like Relay will expect them to be there, and in case you provide them, it allows you to be flexible with your choice of clients in the future.

[2:38] One note about the type name. In case the only one to use hasNextPages for recommended products, it's best to have a separate type, recommendProductsPageInfo, including all fields. In addition to that, you can have page info for other connections. Let's verify if this works as expected.

[3:12] Looks good. We receive a list of cursors for both fields. So far, so good. There is one more addition I want to point out, but now, we only extended the connection spec with fields, but nothing's preventing us from adding arguments to the connection itself.

[3:31] Common examples are filters or old arguments. For example, we could add the field orderBy, allowing us to order the result by createdAt or name.

[3:45] While obvious in hindsight, for quite a while, I thought of the connection specification as something very static and inflexible. I thought extending it was not intended and would be harmful, but the contrary is the case.

[3:59] In fact, if you take a closer look, it even says so in the specification multiple times, "May contain other fields."

~ 4 years ago

Hi Nic, thanks for the course, I really enjoyed.

One question, how to display the page number in the pagination bar, like 3,4,5,6,7,8? I found there is no way we can get the information from.

Thanks, Ron

Nik Graf
Nik Grafinstructor
~ 4 years ago

Hey Ron, you are correct! On top of my mind I probably would extend the PageInfo with another field: currentPageNumber.

Then you either can:

  1. Calculate the other page numbers
  2. Extend PaginationEntry with the field pageNumber

I hope that helps

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