In this article I’ll describe you how to use GraphQL with Spring with this library. Full example is available here.

Why annotations?

From my point of view schema should not be written manually, just because it is easy to make a mistake. Schema should be generated from code instead. And your IDE can help you here, checking types and typos in names.

Nearly always GraphQL schema has the same structure as back-end data models. This is because back-end is closer to data. So it would much be easily to annotate your data models and keep the existing schema rather than to write schema manually (maybe on front-end side) and then create bridges between this schema and existing data models.

Add library and create core beans

First thing to do is to add library to your spring boot project. I assume you’ve already added web, so just add graphql to your build.gradle:


Graphql object is a start execution for GraphQL queries. To build it we need to provide a schema and strategy to it.
Let’s create a schema bean in your Configuration class:

public GraphQLSchema schema() {
    GraphQLAnnotations.register(new ZonedDateTimeTypeFunction());
    return newSchema()

Here we register custom ZoneDateTime type function to convert ZonedDateTime from java to string with format yyyy-MM-dd’T’HH:mm:ss.SSSZ and back.

Then we use a builder to create new schema with query, mutation and subscription. This tutorial covers query only.

Building a schema is not so cheap, so it should be done only once. GrahpQlAnnotations will scan your source tree starting from QueryDto and going through it’s properties and methods building a schema for you.

After schema is ready you can create a GraphQL bean:

public GraphQL graphQL(GraphQLSchema schema) {
    return GraphQL.newGraphQL(schema)
            .queryExecutionStrategy(new EnhancedExecutionStrategy())

According to the documentation building GraphQL object is cheap and can be done per request, if required. It is not needed for me, but you can add prototype scope on it.

I’ve used EnhancedExecutionStrategy to have ClientMutationId be inserted automatically to support Relay mutations.

Create controller with CORS support

You will receive your graphql request as ordinary POST request on /graphql:

@RequestMapping(path = "/graphql", method = RequestMethod.POST)
public CompletableFuture<ResponseEntity<?>> getTransaction(@RequestBody String query) {
    CompletableFuture<?> respond = graphqlService.executeQuery(query);
    return respond.thenApply(r -> new ResponseEntity<>(r, HttpStatus.OK));

It should always return ExecutionResult and Http.OK, even if there is an error!
Also it is very important to support OPTIONS request. Some front-end GraphQL frameworks send it before sending POST with data.
In Spring all you need is just add @CrossOrigin annotation.

Execute graphql with spring application context

You can get your query in two formats: json with variables:

{"query":"query SomeQuery($pagination: InputPagination) { viewer { someMethod(pagination: $pagination) { data { inner data } } } }","variables":{"pagination":{"pageSize":50,"currentPage":1}}}

or plain GraphQL query:

query SomeQuery {
 viewer {
   someMethod(pagination: {pageSize:50, currentPage:1}) {
     data { inner data }

The best way to convert both formats to one is to use this inner class:

private class InputQuery {
    String query;
    Map<String, Object> variables = new HashMap<>();
    InputQuery(String query) {
        ObjectMapper mapper = new ObjectMapper();
        try {
            Map<String, Object> jsonBody = mapper.readValue(query, new TypeReference<Map<String, Object>>() {
            this.query = (String) jsonBody.get("query");
            this.variables = (Map<String, Object>) jsonBody.get("variables");
        } catch (IOException ignored) {
            this.query = query;

Here we parse JSON first. If parsed – we provide query with variables. If not – we just assume input string to be a plain query.
To execute your query you should construct GraphQL execution input and pass it to the execute method of your GraphQL object.

public CompletableFuture<ExecutionResult> executeQuery(String query) {
    InputQuery queryObject = new InputQuery(query);
    ExecutionInput executionInput = ExecutionInput.newExecutionInput()
    return CompletableFuture.completedFuture(graphQL.execute(executionInput));


private ApplicationContext appContext;
private GraphQL graphQL;
private MutationDto mutationDto;

appContext is spring application context. It is used as execution input context in order to access spring beans in GraphQL objects.
GraphQL is your bean, created earlier.
MutationDto is your mutation. I’ll cover it in another tutorial.

The query

Query is a start point for your GraphQL request.

public class QueryDto

I used Dto suffix for all GraphQL objects to separate them from data objects. However this suffix is redundant for schema, so @GraphQLName annotation is used.

public static TableDto getFreeTable(DataFetchingEnvironment environment) {
    ApplicationContext context = environment.getContext();
    DeskRepositoryService repositoryService = context.getBean(DeskRepositoryService.class);
    return repositoryService.getRandomFreeDesk().map(TableDto::new).orElse(null);

Every public static method in QueryDto annotated with @GrahpQLField will be available for query:

query {
 getFreeTable {
   tableId name

GraphQL Objects

Your query returns TableDto which is your GraphQL object.

The difference between QueryDto and normal TableDto is that first one is always static, while objects are created. In listing above is is created from Desk.

To make fields and methods of created object visible for the query you should make them public and annotate with @GraphQLField.

In case of properties you can leave them private. GraphQL library will access them anyway:

private Long tableId;
private String name;

public String getWaiterName(DataFetchingEnvironment environment) {
     //TODO use context to retrieve waiter.
    return "default";

DataFetchingEnvironment will be automatically filled in by GrahpQl Annotations library if added to function’s arguments. You can skip it if not needed:

public String getWaiterName() {
    return "default";

You can also use any other arguments including objects:

public String getWaiterName(DataFetchingEnvironment environment, String string, MealDto meal) {
     //TODO use context to retreive waiter.
    return "default";

You can use @GraphQLNonNull to make any argument required.

Relay compatibility

Every object should implement Node interface, which has non null id:

public interface Node {
    String id();

ClassTypeResolver allows GraphQL to include interface to your schema.
I usually use Class name + class Id for Node Id. Here is AbstractId every object extends.

Then in TableDto constructor I will use: super(TableDto.class, desk.getDeskId().toString());

For the ability to get Table by it’s Node id let’s use this:

public static TableDto getById(DataFetchingEnvironment environment, String id) {
    ApplicationContext context = environment.getContext();
    DeskRepositoryService repositoryService = context.getBean(DeskRepositoryService.class);
    return repositoryService.findById(Long.valueOf(id)).map(TableDto::new).orElse(null);

It is be called from QueryDto:

public static Node node(DataFetchingEnvironment environment, @GraphQLNonNull String id) {
    String[] decoded = decodeId(id);
    if (decoded[0].equals(TableDto.class.getName()))
        return TableDto.getById(environment, decoded[1]);
    if (decoded[0].equals(ReservationDto.class.getName()))
        return ReservationDto.getById(environment, decoded[1]);
    log.error("Don't know how to get {}", decoded[0]);
    throw new RuntimeException("Don't know how to get " + decoded[0]);

by this query: query {node(id: "unique_graphql_id") {... on Table { reservations {edges {node {guest from to}} }}}}

The pagination

To support pagination your method should return PaginatedData<YourClass> and have additional annotation @GraphQLConnection:

public static PaginatedData<TableDto> getAllTables(DataFetchingEnvironment environment) {
    ApplicationContext context = environment.getContext();
    DeskRepositoryService repositoryService = context.getBean(DeskRepositoryService.class);
    Page page = new Page(environment);
    List<Desk> allDesks;
    if(page.applyPagination()) {
        allDesks = repositoryService.findAll(); // TODO apply pagination!
    } else {
        allDesks = repositoryService.findAll();
    List<TableDto> tables =;
    return new AbstractPaginatedData<TableDto>(false, false, tables) {
        public String getCursor(TableDto entity) {

Here I create Page using default GraphQL pagination variables. But you can use any other input for pagination you like.

To implement pagination you have two options:

  • in memory pagination. You retrieve all objects from your repository and then paginate, filter and sort them. For this solution it is much better to create your implementation of PaginatedData and pass environment, as well as pagination/sorting/filtering input there.
  • Actions in repository. It is much better, as you won’t load lot’s objects to memory, but it requires you to generate complex queries in the repository.

All GraphQL objects can have methods with pagination. In TableDto you can retrieve a paginated list of all reservations for current table with:

public PaginatedData<ReservationDto> reservations(DataFetchingEnvironment environment) {

Next steps

In the next article I will cover mutations and subscriptions.

By Val

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