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Using schema directives

Using schema directives to transform schema types, fields, and arguments

A directive is an identifier preceded by a @ character, optionally followed by a list of named arguments, which can appear after almost any form of syntax in the GraphQL query or schema languages. Here's an example from the GraphQL draft specification that illustrates several of these possibilities:

directive @deprecated(
  reason: String = "No longer supported"

type ExampleType {
  newField: String
  oldField: String @deprecated(reason: "Use `newField`.")

As you can see, the usage of @deprecated(reason: ...) follows the field that it pertains to (oldField), though the syntax might remind you of "decorators" in other languages, which usually appear on the line above. Directives are typically declared once, using the directive @deprecated ... on ... syntax, and then used zero or more times throughout the schema document, using the @deprecated(reason: ...) syntax.

Default Directives

GraphQL provides several default directives: @deprecated, @skip, and @include.

  • @deprecated(reason: String) - marks field as deprecated with message
  • @skip(if: Boolean!) - GraphQL execution skips the field if true by not calling the resolver
  • @include(if: Boolean!) - Calls resolver for annotated field if true

Using custom schema directives

To use a custom schema directive, pass the implemented class to Apollo Server via the schemaDirectives argument, which is an object that maps directive names to directive implementations:

const { ApolloServer, gql, SchemaDirectiveVisitor } = require('apollo-server');
const { defaultFieldResolver } = require('graphql');

// Create (or import) a custom schema directive
class UpperCaseDirective extends SchemaDirectiveVisitor {
  visitFieldDefinition(field) {
    const { resolve = defaultFieldResolver } = field;
    field.resolve = async function (...args) {
      const result = await resolve.apply(this, args);
      if (typeof result === 'string') {
        return result.toUpperCase();
      return result;

// Construct a schema, using GraphQL schema language
const typeDefs = gql`
  directive @upper on FIELD_DEFINITION

  type Query {
    hello: String @upper

// Provide resolver functions for your schema fields
const resolvers = {
  Query: {
    hello: (parent, args, context) => {
      return 'Hello world!';

// Add directive to the ApolloServer constructor
const server = new ApolloServer({
  schemaDirectives: {
    upper: UpperCaseDirective,

server.listen().then(({ url }) => {
  console.log(`🚀 Server ready at ${url}`)

The implementation of UpperCaseDirective takes care of changing the resolver and modifying the schema if necessary.

Building your own

To learn how to implement your own schema directives, read this guide.

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