Launch Graph Manager

2. Hook up your data sources

Connect REST and SQL data to your graph

Time to accomplish: 10 Minutes

Now that we've constructed our schema, we need to hook up our data sources to our GraphQL API. GraphQL APIs are extremely flexible because you can layer them on top of any service, including any business logic, REST APIs, databases, or gRPC services.

Apollo makes connecting these services to your graph simple with our data source API. An Apollo data source is a class that encapsulates all of the data fetching logic, as well as caching and deduplication, for a particular service. By using Apollo data sources to hook up your services to your graph API, you're also following best practices for organizing your code.

In the next sections, we'll build data sources for a REST API and a SQL database and connect them to Apollo Server. Don't worry if you're not familiar with either of those technologies, you won't need to understand them deeply in order to follow the examples. 😀

Connect a REST API

First, let's connect the Space-X v2 REST API to our graph. To get started, install the apollo-datasource-rest package:

npm install apollo-datasource-rest --save

This package exposes the RESTDataSource class that is responsible for fetching data from a REST API. To build a data source for a REST API, extend the RESTDataSource class and define this.baseURL.

In our example, the baseURL for our API is https://api.spacexdata.com/v2/. Let's create our LaunchAPI data source by adding the code below to src/datasources/launch.js:


const { RESTDataSource } = require('apollo-datasource-rest');

class LaunchAPI extends RESTDataSource {
  constructor() {
    this.baseURL = 'https://api.spacexdata.com/v2/';

module.exports = LaunchAPI;

The Apollo RESTDataSource also sets up an in-memory cache that caches responses from our REST resources with no additional setup. We call this partial query caching. What's great about this cache is that you can reuse existing caching logic that your REST API exposes. If you're curious to learn more about partial query caching with Apollo data sources, please check out our blog post.

Write data fetching methods

The next step is to add methods to the LaunchAPI data source that correspond to the queries our graph API needs to fetch. According to our schema, we'll need a method to get all of the launches. Let's add a getAllLaunches method to our LaunchAPI class now:


async getAllLaunches() {
  const response = await this.get('launches');
  return Array.isArray(response)
    ? response.map(launch => this.launchReducer(launch))
    : [];

The Apollo REST data sources have helper methods that correspond to HTTP verbs like GET and POST. In the code above, this.get('launches'), makes a GET request to https://api.spacexdata.com/v2/launches and stores the returned launches in the response variable. Then, the getAllLaunches method maps over the launches and transforms the response from our REST endpoint with this.launchReducer. If there are no launches, an empty array is returned.

Now, we need to write our launchReducer method in order to transform our launch data into the shape our schema expects. We recommend this approach in order to decouple your graph API from business logic specific to your REST API. First, let's recall what our Launch type looks like in our schema. You don't have to copy this code:


type Launch {
  id: ID!
  site: String
  mission: Mission
  rocket: Rocket
  isBooked: Boolean!

Next, let's write a launchReducer function to transform the data into that shape. Copy the following code into your LaunchAPI class:


launchReducer(launch) {
  return {
    id: launch.flight_number || 0,
    cursor: `${launch.launch_date_unix}`,
    site: launch.launch_site && launch.launch_site.site_name,
    mission: {
      name: launch.mission_name,
      missionPatchSmall: launch.links.mission_patch_small,
      missionPatchLarge: launch.links.mission_patch,
    rocket: {
      id: launch.rocket.rocket_id,
      name: launch.rocket.rocket_name,
      type: launch.rocket.rocket_type,

With the above changes, we can easily make changes to the launchReducer method while the getAllLaunches method stays lean and concise. The launchReducer method also makes testing the LaunchAPI data source class easier, which we'll cover later.

Next, let's take care of fetching a specific launch by its ID. Let's add two methods, getLaunchById, and getLaunchesByIds to the LaunchAPI class.


async getLaunchById({ launchId }) {
  const response = await this.get('launches', { flight_number: launchId });
  return this.launchReducer(response[0]);

getLaunchesByIds({ launchIds }) {
  return Promise.all(
    launchIds.map(launchId => this.getLaunchById({ launchId })),

The getLaunchById method takes in a flight number and returns the data for a particular launch, while getLaunchesByIds returns several launches based on their respective launchIds.

Now that we've connected our REST API successfully, let's connect our database!

Connect a database

Our REST API is read-only, so we need to connect our graph API to a database for saving and fetching user data. This tutorial uses SQLite for our SQL database, and Sequelize for our ORM. Our package.json already included these packages, thus they were installed in the first part of this tutorial with npm install. Also, since this section contains some SQL-specific code that isn't necessary to understanding Apollo data sources, we've already built a UserAPI data source for you in src/datasources/user.js. Please navigate to that file so we can explain the overall concepts.

Build a custom data source

Apollo doesn't have support for a SQL data source yet (although we'd love to help guide you if you're interested in contributing), so we will need to create a custom data source for our database by extending the generic Apollo data source class. You can create your own with the apollo-datasource package.

Here are some of the core concepts for creating your own data source:

  • The initialize method: You'll need to implement this method if you want to pass in any configuration options to your class. Here, we're using this method to access our graph API's context.
  • this.context: A graph API's context is an object that's shared among every resolver in a GraphQL request. We're going to explain this in more detail in the next section. Right now, all you need to know is that the context is useful for storing user information.
  • Caching: While the REST data source comes with its own built in cache, the generic data source does not. You can use our cache primitives to build your own, however!

Let's go over some of the methods we created in src/datasources/user.js to fetch and update data in our database. You will want to reference these in the next section:

  • findOrCreateUser({ email }): Finds or creates a user with a given email in the database
  • bookTrips({ launchIds }): Takes an object with an array of launchIds and books them for the logged in user
  • cancelTrip({ launchId }): Takes an object with a launchId and cancels that launch for the logged in user
  • getLaunchIdsByUser(): Returns all booked launches for the logged in user
  • isBookedOnLaunch({ launchId }): Determines whether the logged in user booked a certain launch

Add data sources to Apollo Server

Now that we've built our LaunchAPI data source to connect our REST API and our UserAPI data source to connect our SQL database, we need to add them to our graph API.

Adding our data sources is simple. Just create a dataSources property on your ApolloServer that corresponds to a function that returns an object with your instantiated data sources. Let's see what that looks like by navigating to src/index.js and adding the code below:


const { ApolloServer } = require('apollo-server');
const typeDefs = require('./schema');
const { createStore } = require('./utils');
const LaunchAPI = require('./datasources/launch');const UserAPI = require('./datasources/user');
const store = createStore();
const server = new ApolloServer({
  dataSources: () => ({    launchAPI: new LaunchAPI(),    userAPI: new UserAPI({ store })  })});

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

First, we import our createStore function to set up our database, as well as our data sources: LaunchAPI and UserAPI. Then, we create our database by calling createStore. Finally, we add the dataSources function to our ApolloServer to connect LaunchAPI and UserAPI to our graph. We also pass in our database we created to the UserAPI data source.

If you use this.context in your datasource, it's critical to create a new instance in the dataSources function and to not share a single instance. Otherwise, initialize may be called during the execution of asynchronous code for a specific user, and replace the this.context by the context of another user.

Now that we've hooked up our data sources to Apollo Server, it's time to move on to the next section and learn how to call our data sources from within our resolvers.

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