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    Operation Hooks

    This is a PostGraphile server plugin which encompasses a collection of Graphile Engine plugins enabling you to register asynchronous callbacks before/during/after operations; uses include:

    • validation - check that the incoming arguments are valid
    • authorization - check that the user is permitted to take that action
    • error - aborting the action for some reason (e.g. insufficient funds)
    • notification - inform the user of hints, validation errors, warnings, success, and relevant meta-information (e.g. remaining balance)
    • mutation pre-flight - do the preliminary checks of mutation (and throw any errors they may raise) without actually doing the mutation

    The callbacks only affect root fields (e.g. fields on the Query, Mutation and Subscription types) and can:

    • exit early (with or without an error) - preventing the operation being executed
    • augment the result of the operation (typically in order to add additional information)
    • accumulate metadata from before/after the operation
    • accumulate metadata during the operation (mutations only; e.g. via trigger functions)
    • augment error objects with said metadata


    PostGraphile CLI:

    postgraphile \
      --plugins @graphile/operation-hooks \
      --operation-messages \

    (--operation-messages exposes generated messages on mutation payloads and GraphQL error objects; --operation-messages-preflight adds a preflight option to mutations which allows the pre-mutation checks to run (and messages to be generates) but does not actually perform the mutation.)

    PostGraphile library:

    const { postgraphile, makePluginHook } = require("postgraphile");
    // This is how we load server plugins into PostGraphile
    // See: https://www.graphile.org/postgraphile/plugins/
    const pluginHook = makePluginHook([
      // Any more PostGraphile server plugins here
    const postGraphileMiddleware = postgraphile(DATABASE_URL, SCHEMA_NAME, {
      operationMessages: true,
      operationMessagesPreflight: true,
      appendPlugins: [
        // Add your JS hooks here, e.g.
        // require('./path/to/my_hook.js')
    // This example uses `http` but you can use Express, Koa, etc.
    const app = express();

    If you want to just use the Graphile Engine plugins without the PostGraphile CLI/library integration that's possible too:

    const { createPostGraphileSchema } = require("postgraphile");
    const { OperationHooksPlugin } = require("@graphile/operation-hooks");
    const schema = createPostGraphileSchema(DATABASE_URL, SCHEMA_NAME, {
      appendPlugins: [OperationHooksPlugin],

    Messages (notifications)

    The messages plugin gives you the ability to associate messages with an operation. Each message has at least a level and message field (both are strings).

    Imagine you have the following GraphQL mutation:

    input SendEmailInput {
      email: String!
      subject: String
      body: String
    extend type Mutation {
      sendEmail(input: SendEmailInput!): SendEmailPayload

    There's a number of messages you might be interested in sending:

    • Validation errors (abort) or warnings (hint, but don't abort):
      • [B] level: 'error', message: 'Invalid email address - must contain at least one @ symbol', path: ['input', 'email']
      • [B] level: 'warning', message: 'Missing subject', path: ['input', 'subject']
      • [E] level: 'error', message: 'The domain for this email is unreachable', path: ['input', 'email']
    • Authorization issues:
      • [B] level: 'error', message: 'You must be on a paid plan to send emails'
      • [B] level: 'error', message: 'You are not permitted to email this address', path: ['input', 'email']
    • Business requirements:
      • [B] level: 'error', message: 'Insufficient credits to send email', remaining_credits: 2, required_credits: 7
      • [A] level: 'warn', message: 'Your credit is very low', remaining_credits: 9, required_credits: 7
    • Notices:
      • [E] level: 'error', message: 'Email sending is not available at this time, please try again later'
      • [B] level: 'notice', message: 'Emails are currently subject to a 3 minute delay due to abuse circumvention; normal service should resume shortly'
      • [A] level: 'notice', message: 'Email sent, remaining credits: 177', remaining_credits: 177
      • [A] level: 'notice', message: 'You have 2 unsent emails in your outbox, please review them'

    You'll notice that every message has a level string and message string, many also have a path string array. All messages can optionally define additional arbitrary keys. I've also tagged each one [B] for "before" (i.e. this message would be generated before the mutation takes place), [A] for "after" (i.e. this message would be generated during or after the mutation), and [E] for "error" (i.e. this message may be generated if an error occurred during the mutation itself). Note that the [A] (after) messages might also be triggered during the mutation, rather than afterwards; more on this below.

    The level key is treated specially; if any message generated before the mutation takes place produces a message with level='error' then the mutation will be aborted with an error. The value in doing this with these messages is that more than one error (along with associated warnings, notices, etc.) can be raised at the same time, allowing the user to fix multiple issues at once, resulting in greater user satisfaction.

    Messages are accumulated from all the operation hooks that have been added to the current mutation. One hook producing a message with level=error will not prevent further hooks from being called (however you can prevent other hooks from being called by literally throwing an error).

    Exposing messages

    Should you wish to surface notifications via GraphQL (rather than just using the before/after hooks to cause side effects, or possibly raise 'error' messages), you may use the CLI flag --operation-messages or library config operationMessages: true. Doing so will extend the mutation payloads in your GraphQL schema with a messages entry, a list of the messages raised, and will also expose relevant messages on any thrown GraphQL errors.

    We will define an OperationMessageInterface interface that all messages must conform to:

    interface OperationMessageInterface {
      level: String!
      message: String!
      path: [String!]

    And extend all mutation payloads to expose them:

    extend type *MutationPayload {
      messages: [OperationMessageInterface!]

    You can then define whatever concrete message subtypes you need to be returned. A message type must specify at least the 3 fields defined in the interface:

    • level (required, string)
      • e.g. error, warning, notification, info, debug, ...
      • helps client figure out how to use the message
      • error is special - it will abort the transaction on the server (all others are just passed to client)
    • message (required, string)
      • e.g. Invalid email
      • a human-readable error message; fallback for if the client does not understand the rest of the payload
    • path (optional, string array)
      • e.g. ['input', 'userPatch', 'firstName']
      • application developer may find other uses for this, so no further validation will be done
      • typically denotes the path to the field that caused the error

    ⚠️ Please note that messages added to errors do NOT conform to the GraphQL definitions, so be careful to not expose more information than you intend!


    This is the easiest way to add messages during a mutation; you just need to RAISE NOTICE in one of the functions related with your mutation. This could be your custom mutation function itself, or it could be a trigger function called by one of the rows you're manipulating.

    Importantly, the NOTICE must use the error code OPMSG. It may optionally define detail which is treated as a JSON value and is merged into the message object; if no level key is included as part of detail then the level will default to info.

    Minimal example:

    RAISE NOTICE 'Your credits are running low.' USING ERRCODE = 'OPMSG';

    Fuller example:

      '2 + 2 is %, minus 1 that''s %; quick maths.',
      (2 + 2),
      (2 + 2 - 1)
      ERRCODE = 'OPMSG',
      DETAIL = json_build_object(
        'level', 'info',
        'path', array_to_json(ARRAY['noticePath']),
        'anything_else', 'can_go_here'

    See the PostgreSQL RAISE documentation for more information.

    SQL hooks

    Adding this schema plugin to a PostGraphile server will give you the ability to define mutation operation hooks via PostgreSQL functions. These hooks only apply to the built in CRUD mutations, for custom mutations or schema extensions you should implement the logic within the mutation (or use the JS hooks interface).

    SQL function requirements

    To be detected as a mutation operation hook, these PostgreSQL functions must conform to the following requirements:

    • Must be defined in an exposed schema (may be lifted in future)
    • Must be named according to the SQL Operation Callback Naming Convention (see below)
    • Must accept the first 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the following arguments:
      • data (JSON/JSONB) - the data the user submitted to be stored to the record (INSERT: the create object, UPDATE: the patch object, DELETE: null)
      • tuple (table type) - the current row in the database (because we expose a lot of methods to mutate the same row)
        • before insert: null
        • after insert: the new row, using the primary key
        • before update: the old row, using the unique constraint
        • after update: the new row, using the primary key
        • before delete: the old row, using the unique constraint
        • after delete: null
      • op (string) - the operation (insert, update, or delete) - useful if you want to share the same function between multiple operations
    • Must return:
      • VOID, or
      • SETOF mutation_message, or
      • mutation_message[], or
      • TABLE(level text, message text, path text[], ...)
      • or can be defined using OUT parameters matching the TABLE entries above.
    • Must be either VOLATILE (default) or STABLE (note: should only be STABLE if it does not return VOID)

    Recommendation: add an @omit smart comment to the function to have it excluded from the GraphQL schema.


    SQL schema:

    create table users (
      id serial primary key,
      username text not null unique
    create type mutation_message as (
      level text,
      message text,
      path text[],
      code text
    create or replace function users_insert_before(input jsonb)
    returns mutation_message[]
    as $$
      if lower(input ->> 'username') <> (input ->> 'username') then
        return array[(
          'Your username must be in lowercase',
        return array[(
          'Nice to meet you, ' || (input ->> 'username'),
      end if;
    $$ language plpgsql stable;
    comment on function users_insert_before(jsonb) is E'@omit';

    GraphQL mutation:

    mutation {
      createUser(input: { user: { username: "alice" } }) {
        user {
        messages {


      "data": {
        "createUser": {
          "user": {
            "username": "alice"
          "messages": [
              "level": "info",
              "message": "Nice to meet you, alice"

    SQL operation callback naming convention

    By default we use the following naming convention:

    • start with the GraphQL table name and an underscore (e.g. users_)
    • followed by the SQL operation name, lowercase (insert, update or delete)
    • followed by _before or _after to indicate when it runs

    e.g. users_insert_before

    You can override this using the inflector pgOperationHookFunctionName:

    const { makeAddInflectorsPlugin } = require("graphile-utils");
    module.exports = makeAddInflectorsPlugin(
        pgOperationHookFunctionName: (table, sqlOp, when, _fieldContext) => {
          return `${table.name}_${sqlOp}_${when.toLowerCase()}`;

    Implementing operation hooks in JavaScript

    You can also implement hooks in JavaScript (the SQL hooks are actually implemented using the JavaScript interface). To do so, you use the addOperationHook API introduced by this plugin. This allows you to write a single function that handles all root-level queries, mutations and subscriptions; it's then your responsibility to filter this down to what you need. (We'll probably make a helper for this in future!)

    You can load your plugin with the standard --append-plugins (library: appendPlugins) option.

    What follows is an example plugin, you can see it in use in this example repository.

    // This plugin logs all attempts at `create` mutations before they're attempted.
    const logCreateMutationsHookFromBuild = (build) => (fieldContext) => {
      // This function is called for every top-level field registered with
      // Graphile Engine. `fieldContext` is a Context object describing
      // the field that's being hooked; it could be for a query (`isRootQuery`),
      // a mutation (`isRootMutation`), or a subscription
      // (`isRootSubscription`). Return `null` if we don't want to apply this
      // hook to this `fieldContext`.
      const {
        scope: { isRootMutation, isPgCreateMutationField, pgFieldIntrospection },
      } = fieldContext;
      // If your hook should only apply to mutations you can do this:
      if (!isRootMutation) return null;
      // You can further limit the functions this hook applies to using
      // `fieldContext`, e.g. `fieldContext.scope.fieldName` would allow you to
      // cherry-pick an individual field, or
      // `fieldContext.scope.isPgCreateMutationField` would tell you that this
      // is a built in CRUD create mutation field:
      // https://github.com/graphile/graphile-engine/blob/7d49f8eeb579d12683f1c0c6579d7b230a2a3008/packages/graphile-build-pg/src/plugins/PgMutationCreatePlugin.js#L253-L254
      if (
        !isPgCreateMutationField ||
        !pgFieldIntrospection ||
        pgFieldIntrospection.kind !== "class"
      ) {
        return null;
      // By this point, we're applying the hook to all create mutations
      // Defining the callback up front makes the code easier to read.
      const tableName = pgFieldIntrospection.name;
      const logAttempt = (input, args, context, resolveInfo) => {
          `A create was attempted on table ${tableName} by ${
            context.jwtClaims && context.jwtClaims.user_id
              ? `user with id ${context.jwtClaims.user_id}`
              : "an anonymous user"
        // Our function must return either the input, a derivative of it, or
        // `null`. If `null` is returned then the null will be returned (without
        // an error) to the user.
        // Since we wish to continue, we'll just return the input.
        return input;
      // Now we tell the hooks system to use it:
      return {
        // An optional list of callbacks to call before the operation
        before: [
          // You may register more than one callback if you wish, they will be mixed
          // in with the callbacks registered from other plugins and called in the
          // order specified by their priority value.
            // Priority is a number between 0 and 1000; if you're not sure where to
            // put it, then 500 is a great starting point.
            priority: 500,
            // This function (which can be asynchronous) will be called before the
            // operation; it will be passed a value that it must return verbatim;
            // the only other valid return is `null` in which case an error will be thrown.
            callback: logAttempt,
        // As `before`, except the callback is called after the operation and will
        // be passed the result of the operation; you may return a derivative of the
        // result.
        after: [],
        // As `before`; except the callback is called if an error occurs; it will be
        // passed the error and must return either the error or a derivative of it.
        error: [],
    // This exports a standard Graphile Engine plugin that adds the operation
    // hook.
    module.exports = function MyOperationHookPlugin(builder) {
      builder.hook("init", (_, build) => {
        // Register our operation hook (passing it the build object):
        // Graphile Engine hooks must always return their input or a derivative of
        // it.
        return _;


    Don't try and use this for things like field masking since there's a lot of different ways a user can access a field in GraphQL. Field masking should be solved via makeWrapResolversPlugin or similar approach instead.

    This is a young plugin, it will evolve over time.

    We don't currently have a neat way for adding other types to the OperationMessageInterface, so if you really need to expose additional fields, you can do it using a schema extension:

    const { gql, makeExtendSchemaPlugin } = require("graphile-utils");
    module.exports = makeExtendSchemaPlugin(() => ({
      typedefs: gql`
        extend type OperationMessage {
          anotherField: String
          yetAnotherField: Float
      resolvers: {},


    npm i @graphile/operation-hooks

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