Step 3: Configuring resolvers - AWS AppSync

Step 3: Configuring resolvers

In the previous sections, you learned how to create your GraphQL schema and data source, then linked them together in the AWS AppSync service. In your schema, you may have established one or more fields (operations) in your query and mutation. While the schema described the kinds of data the operations would request from the data source, it never implemented how those operations would behave around the data.

An operation's behavior is always implemented in the resolver, which will be linked to the field performing the operation. For more information about how resolvers work in general, see the Resolvers page.

In AWS AppSync, your resolver is tied to a runtime, which is the environment in which your resolver executes. Runtimes dictate the language that your resolver will be written in. There are currently two supported runtimes: APPSYNC_JS (JavaScript) and Apache Velocity Template Language (VTL).

When implementing resolvers, there is a general structure they follow:

  • Before step: When a request is made by the client, the resolvers for the schema fields being used (typically your queries, mutations, subscriptions) are passed the request data. The resolver will begin processing the request data with a before step handler, which allows some preprocessing operations to be performed before the data moves through the resolver.

  • Function(s): After the before step runs, the request is passed to the functions list. The first function in the list will execute against the data source. A function is a subset of your resolver's code containing its own request and response handler. A request handler will take the request data and perform operations against the data source. The response handler will process the data source's response before passing it back to the list. If there is more than one function, the request data will be sent to the next function in the list to be executed. Functions in the list will be executed serially in the order defined by the developer. Once all functions have been executed, the final result is passed to the after step.res

  • After step: The after step is a handler function that allows you to perform some final operations on the final function's response before passing it to the GraphQL response.

This flow is an example of a pipeline resolver. Pipeline resolvers are supported in both runtimes. However, this is a simplified explanation of what pipeline resolvers can do. Also, we're describing only one possible resolver configuration. For more information about supported resolver configurations, see the JavaScript resolvers overview for APPSYNC_JS or the Resolver mapping template overview for VTL.

As you can see, resolvers are modular. In order for the components of the resolver to work properly, they must be able to peer into the state of the execution from other components. From the Resolvers section, you know that each component in the resolver can be passed vital information about the state of the execution as a set of arguments (args, context, etc.). In AWS AppSync, this is handled strictly by the context. It's a container for the information about the field being resolved. This can include everything from arguments being passed, results, authorization data, header data, etc. For more information about the context, see the Resolver context object reference for APPSYNC_JS or the Resolver mapping template context reference for VTL.

The context isn't the only tool you can use to implement your resolver. AWS AppSync supports a wide range of utilities for value generation, error handling, parsing, conversion, etc. You can see a list of utilities here for APPSYNC_JS or here for VTL.

In the following sections, you will learn how to configure resolvers in your GraphQL API.