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Adding Custom Directives

GraphQL directives provide a way to decorate parts of a GraphQL schema with additional metadata or behavior. Custom directives enable the powerful extension of GraphQL's base functionalities through your own reusable logic.

Use Cases

Custom directives may be useful for a variety of tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Validation
  • Authorization
  • Data Transformation or Augmentation
  • Caching or Optimizations
  • Monitoring or Logging
  • Adding Field Metadata

Implementing a Custom Directive

Consider a scenario where you want to modify the formatting of a returned String field so that the value is transformed to uppercase. You have a couple options: either you can write a utility class within your application code and manually invoke it wherever necessary, or you can create a custom @uppercase GraphQL directive and apply the transformation in a declarative way across your schema where needed:

directive @uppercase on FIELD_DEFINITION

type Query {
  greeting: String @uppercase

Here is the backing code needed to support this @uppercase directive:

package com.example.demo.directives;

import graphql.schema.DataFetcher;
import graphql.schema.DataFetcherFactories;
import graphql.schema.GraphQLFieldDefinition;
import graphql.schema.GraphQLFieldsContainer;
import graphql.schema.idl.SchemaDirectiveWiring;
import graphql.schema.idl.SchemaDirectiveWiringEnvironment;

@DgsDirective(name = "uppercase")
public class UppercaseDirective implements SchemaDirectiveWiring {

    public GraphQLFieldDefinition onField(SchemaDirectiveWiringEnvironment<GraphQLFieldDefinition> env) {
        GraphQLFieldsContainer fieldsContainer = env.getFieldsContainer();
        GraphQLFieldDefinition fieldDefinition = env.getFieldDefinition();

        DataFetcher<?> originalDataFetcher = env.getCodeRegistry().getDataFetcher(fieldsContainer, fieldDefinition);
        DataFetcher<?> dataFetcher = DataFetcherFactories.wrapDataFetcher(
                (dataFetchingEnvironment, value) -> {
                    if (value instanceof String) {
                        return ((String) value).toUpperCase();
                    return value;

        env.getCodeRegistry().dataFetcher(fieldsContainer, fieldDefinition, dataFetcher);

        return fieldDefinition;

In this example, the UppercaseDirective class implements SchemaDirectiveWiring and overrides its onField method, where the logic for transforming the value to uppercase lives. The original DataFetcher for the field is wrapped in a new one, which applies the uppercase logic before returning the value. The @DgsDirective annotation ensures that the custom directive is registered with the Spring framework.

Custom directives can be implemented for various components of your GraphQL schema, not just field definitions. To learn more, explore the graphql-java SDL directives documentation.