Launch Apollo Studio

Setting up managed federation

This article describes how to set up Apollo Studio for a data graph that uses Apollo Federation.

As with all changes, you should first set up managed federation in a non-production environment, such as staging. To support this, you can use variants, which are distinct versions of the same data graph for different environments.

1. Get started

If you haven't yet, complete the first two steps from the Apollo Studio getting started guide:

  1. Create your account
  2. Create your first graph

In the Register your schema step, make sure you follow the instructions for a GraphQL server that uses Apollo Federation.

2. Register all subgraph schemas

In a federated architecture, each of your graph's subgraphs uses the Rover CLI to register its schema with Apollo:

rover subgraph publish
rover subgraph publish
rover subgraph publish
Products subgraph
Reviews subgraph
Inventory subgraph
Apollo Schema Registry

If you haven't yet:

Then, do the following for each of your subgraphs:

  1. Obtain the following values, which are required for the rover subgraph publish command:

    • The name that uniquely identifies the subgraph within your graph (e.g., products).
    • The URL that your gateway will use to communicate with the subgraph (e.g., http://products-graphql.svc.cluster.local:4001/).
  2. Run the rover subgraph publish command, providing it your subgraph's schema in one of the ways shown:

    # Provide a local .graphql file path
    rover subgraph publish my-graph@my-variant --name products --routing-url http://products-graphql.svc.cluster.local:4001/ --schema ./schema.graphql 
    # Provide an introspection result via stdin
    rover subgraph introspect http://localhost:4000 | rover subgraph publish my-graph@my-variant --name products --routing-url http://products-graphql.svc.cluster.local:4001/ --schema -

As you register your subgraph schemas, the schema registry attempts to compose their latest versions into a single supergraph schema. Whenever composition succeeds, your gateway can fetch the latest supergraph schema from the registry.

You can also manually fetch your latest supergraph schema with the rover supergraph fetch command, or retrieve it from your graph's Schema > SDL tab in Apollo Studio.

3. Modify the gateway (if necessary)

This section assumes you are using Apollo Server with the @apollo/gateway library as your gateway.

If you've already set up Apollo Federation without Apollo Studio, the constructor of your ApolloGateway instance probably includes a serviceList option, like this:

const gateway = new ApolloGateway({
  serviceList: [
    { name: 'Products', url: 'http://products-graphql.svc.cluster.local:4001/' },
    // Additional services defined here

This option specifies the name and URL for each of your graph's subgraphs. With managed federation, this information is no longer hardcoded in the gateway's constructor! Instead, the gateway regularly polls Apollo for this information. This enables you to add and remove subgraphs without needing to restart your gateway.

Remove the serviceList argument from your ApolloGateway constructor entirely:

const gateway = new ApolloGateway();

4. Connect the gateway to Studio

Like your subgraphs, your gateway uses an API key to identify itself to Studio.

After obtaining your graph API key, you set two environment variables in your gateway's environment. If you're using a .env file with a library like dotenv, those environment variables look like this:


You can also set this value directly in the command you use to start your gateway.

The third environment variable, APOLLO_GRAPH_REF, tells the gateway which graph to use and with which variant. You would supply your graph id and the variant you want to use (for example, current). You can always find a a graph's ref at the top of its Schema Reference page in Studio.

When running your gateway in an environment where outbound traffic to the internet is restricted, consult the directions for configuring a proxy within Apollo Server.

5. Deploy the modified gateway

You can now deploy your modified gateway to begin fetching your federated schema from Studio instead of directly from your subgraphs.

On startup, your gateway will use its API key to fetch its federation config from Apollo. It can then begin executing operations across your subgraphs.

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