Direct Cache Access

Read and write functions for fine-grained cache access.

Apollo Client normalizes all of your data so that if any data you previously fetched from your GraphQL server is updated in a later data fetch from your server then your data will be updated with the latest truth from your server.

This normalization process is constantly happening behind the scenes when you call watchQuery or use a view integration library like react-apollo, but this process is often not enough to describe the updates to your data model as the result of a mutation. For example, if you wanted to add an item to the end of an array fetched by one of your queries. You also might want to read data from the normalized Apollo Client store at a specific id without making another GraphQL server fetch.

To interact directly with your data in the Apollo Client store you may use the methods readQuery, readFragment, writeQuery, and writeFragment that are accessible from the ApolloClient class. This article will teach you how to use these methods to control your data.

If you would like a better understanding of the data normalization process then we recommend reading the “How it works” documentation article. Knowledge around how Apollo Client works is not a prerequisite for using the methods described here, but it may be helpful.

All of the methods we will discuss can be called from the ApolloClient class. Any code demonstration in this article will assume that we have already initialized an instance of ApolloClient and assigned it to the client, and that we have imported the gql tag from graphql-tag. Like so:

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import { ApolloClient } from 'apollo-client';
import gql from 'graphql-tag';
const client = new ApolloClient({ ... });

readQuery

The readQuery method is very similar to the query method on ApolloClient except that readQuery will never make a request to your GraphQL server. The query method, on the other hand, may send a request to your server if the appropriate data is not in your cache whereas readQuery will throw an error if the data is not in your cache. readQuery will always read from the cache. You can use readQuery by giving it a GraphQL query like so:

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const { todo } = client.readQuery({
query: gql`
query ReadTodo {
todo(id: 5) {
id
text
completed
}
}
`,
});

If all of the data needed to fulfill this read is in Apollo Client’s normalized data cache then a data object will be returned in the shape of the query you wanted to read. If not all of the data needed to fulfill this read is in Apollo Client’s cache then an error will be thrown instead, so make sure to only read data that you know you have!

You can also pass variables into readQuery.

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const { todo } = client.readQuery({
query: gql`
query ReadTodo($id: Int!) {
todo(id: $id) {
id
text
completed
}
}
`,
variables: {
id: 5,
},
});

Resources:

readFragment

This method allows you great flexibility around the data in your cache. Whereas readQuery only allowed you to read data from your root query type, readFragment allows you to read data from any node you have queried. This is incredibly powerful. You use this method as follows:

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const todo = client.readFragment({
id: ..., // `id` is any id that could be returned by `dataIdFromObject`.
fragment: gql`
fragment myTodo on Todo {
id
text
completed
}
`,
});

The first argument is the id of the data you want to read from the cache. That id must be a value that was returned by the dataIdFromObject function you defined when initializing ApolloClient. So for example if you initialized ApolloClient like so:

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const client = new ApolloClient({
...,
dataIdFromObject: object => object.id,
});

…and you requested a todo before with an id of 5, then you can read that todo out of your cache with the following:

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const todo = client.readFragment({
id: '5',
fragment: gql`
fragment myTodo on Todo {
id
text
completed
}
`,
});

Note: Most people add a __typename to the id in dataIdFromObject. If you do this then don’t forget to add the __typename when you are reading a fragment as well. So for example your id may be Todo_5 and not just 5.

If a todo with that id does not exist in the cache you will get null back. If a todo of that id does exist in the cache, but that todo does not have the text field then an error will be thrown.

The beauty of readFragment is that the todo could have come from anywhere! The todo could have been selected as a singleton ({ todo(id: 5) { ... } }), the todo could have come from a list of todos ({ todos { ... } }), or the todo could have come from a mutation (mutation { createTodo { ... } }). As long as at some point your GraphQL server gave you a todo with the provided id and fields id, text, and completed you can read it from the cache at any part of your code.

Resources:

writeQuery and writeFragment

Not only can you read arbitrary data from the Apollo Client cache, but you can also write any data that you would like to the cache. The methods you use to do this are writeQuery and writeFragment. They will allow you to change data in your local cache, but it is important to remember that they will not change any data on your server. If you reload your environment then changes made with writeQuery and writeFragment will disappear.

These methods have the same signature as their readQuery and readFragment counterparts except they also require an additional data variable. So for example, if you wanted to update the completed flag locally for your todo with id '5' you could execute the following:

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client.writeFragment({
id: '5',
fragment: gql`
fragment myTodo on Todo {
completed
}
`,
data: {
completed: true,
},
});

Any subscriber to the Apollo Client store will instantly see this update and render new UI accordingly.

Note: Again, remember that using writeQuery or writeFragment only changes data locally. If you reload your environment then changes made with these methods will no longer exist.

Or if you wanted to add a new todo to a list fetched from the server, you could use readQuery and writeQuery together.

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const query = gql`
query MyTodoAppQuery {
todos {
id
text
completed
}
}
`;
const data = client.readQuery({ query });
const myNewTodo = {
id: '6',
text: 'Start using Apollo Client.',
completed: false,
};
client.writeQuery({
query,
data: {
todos: [...data.todos, myNewTodo],
},
});

Resources:

Updating the cache after a mutation

Being able to read and write to the Apollo cache from anywhere in your application gives you a lot of power over your data. However, there is one place where we most often want to update our cached data: after a mutation. As such, Apollo Client has optimized the experience for updating your cache with the read and write methods after a mutation with the update function. Let us say that we have the following GraphQL mutation:

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mutation TodoCreateMutation($text: String!) {
createTodo(text: $text) {
id
text
completed
}
}

We may also have the following GraphQL query:

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query TodoAppQuery {
todos {
id
text
completed
}
}

At the end of our mutation we want our query to include the new todo like we had sent our TodoAppQuery a second time after the mutation finished without actually sending the query. To do this we can use the update function provided as an option of the client.mutate method. To update your cache with the mutation just write code that looks like:

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// We assume that the GraphQL operations `TodoCreateMutation` and
// `TodoAppQuery` have already been defined using the `gql` tag.
const text = 'Hello, world!';
client.mutate({
mutation: TodoCreateMutation,
variables: {
text,
},
update: (proxy, { data: { createTodo } }) => {
// Read the data from our cache for this query.
const data = proxy.readQuery({ query: TodoAppQuery });
// Add our todo from the mutation to the end.
data.todos.push(createTodo);
// Write our data back to the cache.
proxy.writeQuery({ query: TodoAppQuery, data });
},
});

The first proxy argument is an instance of [DataProxy][] has the same for methods that we just learned exist on the Apollo Client: readQuery, readFragment, writeQuery, and writeFragment. The reason we call them on a proxy object here instead of on our client instance is that we can easily apply optimistic updates (which we will demonstrate in a bit). The proxy object also provides an isolated transaction which shields you from any other mutations going on at the same time, and the proxy object also batches writes together until the very end.

DataProxy

If you provide an optimisticResponse option to the mutation then the update function will be run twice. Once immediately after you call client.mutate with the data from optimisticResponse. After the mutation successfully executes against the server the changes made in the first call to update will be rolled back and update will be called with the actual data returned by the mutation and not just the optimistic response.

Putting it all together:

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const text = 'Hello, world!';
client.mutate({
mutation: TodoCreateMutation,
variables: {
text,
},
optimisticResponse: {
id: -1, // -1 is a temporary id for the optimistic response.
text,
completed: false,
},
update: (proxy, { data: { createTodo } }) => {
const data = proxy.readQuery({ query: TodoAppQuery });
data.todos.push(createTodo);
proxy.writeQuery({ query: TodoAppQuery, data });
},
});

As you can see the update function on client.mutate provides extra change management functionality specific to the use case of a mutation while still providing you the powerful data control APIs that are available on client.

The update function is not a good place for side-effects as it may be called multiple times. Also, you may not call any of the methods on proxy asynchronously.

Resources:

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