Announcing Apollo Client 2.5


Local state management with Apollo Client

One year ago, we had a vision for the future of state management. We wanted to provide developers with one source of truth for all of their app’s data and one unified interface to access it. Our dream is finally a reality with the release of Apollo Client 2.5, now with local state management!

Managing local data with Apollo Client follows the same programming model as managing remote data from a GraphQL server. Build a schema to model local data, write resolvers to obtain the data, and then query both local and remote data using GraphQL. Thanks to GraphQL’s static typing, you can also enjoy autocomplete inside your editor and automatic TypeScript definitions for your local data! 🚀

While local state management is new to the Apollo Client core library, it has already been tested in production by teams at Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and Hilton through our extension apollo-link-state. Before merging apollo-link-state into core, we also decreased our bundle size to offset the new features.

Now, let’s dive into an example from our official tutorial to learn what local state management with Apollo is all about:

Suppose we’re building an app that lets customers book a seat on a rocket launch. It needs a shopping cart that holds the launches customers are interested in.

Our Launch type from our GraphQL server looks like this:

type Launch {
id: ID!
site: String
rocket: Rocket
}

We’re managing the shopping cart on the client, which means our GraphQL API has no knowledge of what’s in a cart. Wouldn’t it be great if we could query for a specific Launch from the server and find out if that launch is already in a customer’s cart all at the same time?

Through schema composition, Apollo Client 2.5 allows us to define a client schema that extends our server schema. To build this particular feature, we need to extend our Launch type to have a property called isInCart. Once we’ve written this schema fragment, we pass it to the ApolloClient constructor via the typeDefs option:

Defining a client schema by extending server types

Making Apollo Client aware of this client schema extension opens up new possibilities. Developer tooling now has access to type information for both client and server schemas, which streamlines GraphQL development across all parts of your app. You can also build against a planned future schema before it's implemented on the server by extending your schema on the client and mocking local resolvers.

Now that we’ve let Apollo Client know we want the isInCart field to be part of our Launch type, how can we make sure this information gets included when querying the server for Launch details? Local resolvers to the rescue!

Local resolvers have the same API as resolvers you write for Apollo Server, only they’re run by Apollo Client. Local resolvers can calculate a result for any part of a GraphQL query, and Apollo Client will merge those results with any data received from your remote API.

Let’s tell Apollo Client about our isInCart local resolver:

Writing a local resolver to fetch local data

Here we’re passing a resolvers map to Apollo Client that defines the isInCart function for the Launch type. It checks the Apollo cache to see if a specific launch is already in our cart. When run, the boolean returned from isInCart is seamlessly merged with the rest of the GET_LAUNCH_DETAILS query result.

All we have to do to query our local data alongside our remote data is add a @client directive to the isInCart field:

Adding a @client directive to query local data

Now that we’ve learned how to query local data, let’s learn how you can enhance your experience even further with GraphQL-aware tooling.

Autocomplete for local data in VS Code

Apollo Client 2.5 helps developers maximize the benefits of GraphQL across their entire development experience. Apollo VS Code leverages knowledge of your client and server schemas to drive features like autocomplete when building your queries, jump to schema definitions, and more.

We’re huge fans of TypeScript at Apollo, which is why we’re so excited that you can now automatically generate TypeScript definitions for local data with the Apollo CLI!

The Apollo Client DevTools Chrome extension has also been fully integrated with Apollo Client 2.5 to let you inspect your client schema details, run @client based queries and mutations, inspect the client side Apollo Cache, and watch fired queries, all inside your browser.

In addition to updated docs, we’d also like to call out some new features enabled by merging local state management into core:

Depending on the complexity and size of your local resolvers, you might not always want to define them upfront. If you have local resolvers that are only needed in a specific part of your app, you can leverage Apollo Client’s addResolvers and setResolvers methods to dynamically add resolvers. This can be really useful when leveraging route or component based code splitting.

In addition to query and mutation resolvers, you can also enable realtime local data with subscription resolvers.

You can now use @client @export(as: "someVariable") to load a value from local state, and use that value as a variable for a remote query, all within the same query definition.

Local resolvers adhere to the Apollo Client query fetch policy, which means they might not be run on every request depending on your configuration. You can use @client(always: true) to override this behavior and have specific resolvers fire every time a query is run.

Apollo Client 2.5 kickstarts a big focus we’re putting on bundle size reduction. This work has allowed us to bake in all of the new local state features without increasing Apollo Client’s bundle size.

Not only do Apollo Client 2.5’s local state features introduce new ways to interact with GraphQL across your entire application, they are also stepping stones towards larger changes coming in Apollo Client 3.0.

Apollo Client 3.0 is focused on delivering a new way to manage the storage of local state by improving the current Apollo Cache implementation. Cache invalidation and garbage collection are by far the most requested Apollo Client features, and we’re excited to be focusing on them next. If you’re interested in helping out, please join in the discussion. We’ll be posting more updates in that issue soon.

Apollo Client 2.5 is ready for production (apollo-client@latest and react-apollo@latest), and you can find the full updated documentation here. We’ve also included a migration guide for current apollo-link-state users. We’re super excited about the possibilities enabled by Apollo Client’s new local state management features, and we can’t wait to see the amazing things the Apollo community builds with them.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped with this release, through alpha/beta testing, PRs, code reviews and discussions. Your contributions have been both incredible and massively appreciated!

If you have any questions or comments about Apollo Client 2.5, please reach out via Spectrum.