Apollo Client Link: a kick of the tires

I use Relay at work and was interested in trying out Apollo. I find the idea of a single library to manage state and network requests very compelling. The idea is to build a simple chat interface… but like for one user.

If you’re currently implementing a client-link and are more interested in reference, then I would recommend the docs and accompanying official demo Github repo. You might be more interested in my example afterwards. I am not going to cover installation, because to be honest I can’t really remember. I’m sure if you spam enough installs things will work out for you 🙏. You can see the demo here. There is also a Github.


Step 1: set up the client

In this file we provide the client with our resolvers, type definitions and data management. Resolvers manage state , the cache and defaults manage the data and typeDefs give a declarative method of typing — without having to adopt Typescript or Flow.

We declare a simple Message type. You may be curious about the Node interface. I am following guidance as per Designing a GraphQL API and by doing so we can use an inMemoryCache to it’s fullest.


Step 2: resolve requests

As you can see the cache is quite flexible and feels pretty intuitive in my opinion. By including the @client directive we tell Apollo to use a client link. It is possible to compose links which opens up interesting opportunities. I’d like to explore how the Node interface interacts with the cache but that’s outside the scope of our demo. We would expect that this code will only run once per Message regardless of how many times the a Query is made for that Message.


Step 3: Implement the UI

As you can see Apollo provides Query and Mutation Components that wrap the underlying requests. The IncomingMessages Component runs a Query to return *all* of the messages — if we extend the app this will be a good target for refactor. renderOutgoing is a simple form that will run a Mutation to “post” a message and then reset the state of the input. The IncomingMessages Component will re-render because of the Mutation which is convenient because it allows us to avoid setState or Context in a parent Component.


Personally, I enjoyed using the apollo-link-state library and think it offers a strong development story. You can quickly prototype a UI while building the state logic… logic that can fluidly transition into network requests.

edit: thanks to /u/stolinski for mentioning that it can be useful to write directly to the cache.