Gatsby and GraphQL Code Generator - A Perfect Match

Nov 20, 2020/3 min read
Learn how to take your Gatsby project to the next level with TypeScript and GraphQL Code Generator

Find the full source code in this github repository

TypeScript is an integral part of the the JavaScript ecosystem, it provides us with type safety, auto completion and many useful features.
Gatsby is a static site generator built on top of React. Gatsby data layer is based on GraphQL.

When building with Gatsby, you access data (including this post!) through GraphQL, many of the plugins you use add types and nodes to the GraphQL schema.

This can lead to a potential DRY violation, the types exists both in our GraphQL schema and in our TypeScript types.

This is exactly where we need GraphQL Code Generator!

What is GraphQL Code Generator

From GraphQL Code Generator docs:

GraphQL Code Generator is a CLI tool that can generate TypeScript typings out of a GraphQL schema. When we develop a GraphQL backend, there would be many instances where we would find ourselves writing the same things which are already described by the GraphQL schema, only in a different format.

Put it simply, GraphQL Code Generator is a CLI to generate types, it's input is a .yml configuration file and it's output is a TypeScript file with all generated types.


Let's start with an example, create a Gatsby project using a gatsby-starter-blog

npx gatsby new gatsby-codegen-example

Add GraphQL Code Generator

npm i -D @graphql-codegen/cli @graphql-codegen/typescript @graphql-codegen/typescript-operations

Next, we need to configure GraphQL Code Generator, we do this by adding codegen.yml file in the root folder. Also add a minimal configuration

schema: http://localhost:8000/___graphql
  - ./src/**/*.{ts,tsx}
      - typescript
      - typescript-operations
        enumValues: 'keep'
    - prettier --write

Let's go over this step by step

  • schema - the endpoint of our graphql server.
  • documents - an array of globs which points to our graphql documents - for example exported queries.
  • plugins - specific plugins we use to generate the typings under ./src/graphqlTypes.ts, in our case typescript and typescript-operations.
  • hooks - graphql-codegen lets us hook into some steps of the code generation, here we are telling it to prettify the output.

Finally, add the following scripts to our package.json file

  "codegen": "graphql-codegen",
  "codegen:watch": "graphql-codegen --watch"

We add two scripts:

  • codegen - the script which generates our types.
  • codegen:watch - the same script, but in watch mode so it can re-generate types as we code.

Optionally, you can generate types every time you start the dev server by adding

  "poststart": "npm run codegen"

Fire up the dev server by running npm start and after the server is up and running we can start generating our types with npm run codegen, you should see the following output

$ npm run codegen

> gatsby-starter-default@0.1.0 codegen C:\devl\workspace\my-gatsby-project
> graphql-codegen --config codegen.yml

  √ Parse configuration
  √ Generate outputs

> gatsby-starter-default@0.1.0 postcodegen C:\devl\workspace\my-gatsby-project
> prettier --write ./src/graphqlTypes.ts

src\graphqlTypes.ts 838ms

Open src/graphqlTypes.ts and inspect the generated types!

You can fine tune the GraphQL Code Generator options, for example types immutability, override scalar types and more. Read about the available options here