Subscriptions

The subscription type in GraphQL is used to add real-time capabilities to our applications. Clients can subscribe to events and receive the event data in real-time, as soon as the server publishes it.

SDL
type Subscription {
bookAdded: Book!
bookPublished(author: String!): Book!
}

Subscribing to an event is like writing a standard query. The only difference is the operation keyword and that we are only allowed to have one root field.

GraphQL
subscription {
bookAdded {
title
}
}

Hot Chocolate implements subscriptions via WebSockets and uses the pub/sub approach of Apollo for triggering subscriptions.

Usage

A subscription type can be defined like the following.

C#
public class Subscription
{
[Subscribe]
public Book BookAdded([EventMessage] Book book) => book;
}
public class Startup
{
public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
{
services
.AddGraphQLServer()
.AddSubscriptionType<Subscription>();
}
// Omitted code for brevity
}

Transport

After defining the subscription type, we need to add the WebSockets middleware to our request pipeline.

C#
public class Startup
{
public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IWebHostEnvironment env)
{
app.UseRouting();
app.UseWebSockets();
app.UseEndpoints(endpoints =>
{
endpoints.MapGraphQL();
});
}
// Omitted code for brevity
}

To make pub/sub work, we also have to register a subscription provider. A subscription provider represents a pub/sub implementation used to handle events. Out of the box we support two subscription providers.

In-Memory Provider

The In-Memory subscription provider does not need any configuration and is easily setup.

C#
services.AddInMemorySubscriptions();

Redis Provider

The Redis subscription provider enables us to run multiple instances of our Hot Chocolate GraphQL server and handle subscription events reliably.

In order to use the Redis provider we have to add the HotChocolate.Subscriptions.Redis package.

Bash
dotnet add package HotChocolate.Subscriptions.Redis

After we have added the package we can setup the Redis subscription provider.

C#
services.AddRedisSubscriptions((sp) =>
ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect("host:port"));

Our Redis subscription provider uses the StackExchange.Redis Redis client underneath.

Publishing Events

To publish events and trigger subscriptions, we can use the ITopicEventSender. The ITopicEventSender is an abstraction for the registered event publishing provider. Using this abstraction allows us to seamlessly switch between subscription providers, when necessary.

Most of the time we will be publishing events for successful mutations. Therefor we can simply inject the ITopicEventSender into our mutations like we would with every other Service. Of course we can not only publish events from mutations, but everywhere we have access to the ITopicEventSender through the DI Container.

C#
public class Mutation
{
public async Book AddBook(Book book, [Service] ITopicEventSender sender)
{
await sender.SendAsync("BookAdded", book);
// Omitted code for brevity
}
}

In the example the "BookAdded" is the topic we want to publish to, and book is our payload. Even though we have used a string as the topic, we do not have to. Any other type works just fine.

But where is the connection between "BookAdded" as a topic and the subscription type? By default, Hot Chocolate will try to map the topic to a field of the subscription type. If we want to make this binding less error-prone, we could do the following.

C#
await sender.SendAsync(nameof(Subscription.BookAdded), book);

If we do not want to use the method name, we could use the Topic attribute.

C#
public class Subscription
{
[Subscribe]
[Topic("ExampleTopic")]
public Book BookAdded([EventMessage] Book book) => book;
}
public async Book AddBook(Book book, [Service] ITopicEventSender sender)
{
await sender.SendAsync("ExampleTopic", book);
// Omitted code for brevity
}

Dynamic Topics

We can even use the Topic attribute on dynamic arguments of the subscription field.

C#
public class Subscription
{
[Subscribe]
public Book BookPublished([Topic] string author, [EventMessage] Book book)
=> book;
}
public async Book PublishBook(Book book, [Service] ITopicEventSender sender)
{
await sender.SendAsync(book.Author, book);
// Omitted code for brevity
}

ITopicEventReceiver

If more complex topics are required, we can use the ITopicEventReceiver.

C#
public class Subscription
{
[SubscribeAndResolve]
public ValueTask<ISourceStream<Book>> BookPublished(string author,
[Service] ITopicEventReceiver receiver)
{
string topic = $"{author}_PublishedBook";
ISourceStream<Book> stream =
receiver.SubscribeAsync<string, Book>(topic);
return stream;
}
}
public async Book PublishBook(Book book, [Service] ITopicEventSender sender)
{
await sender.SendAsync($"{book.Author}_PublishedBook", book);
// Omitted code for brevity
}

If we do not want to mix the subscription logic with our resolver, we can also use the With argument on the Subscribe attribute to specify a seperate method that handles the event subscription.

C#
public class Subscription
{
public ValueTask<ISourceStream<Book>> SubscribeToBooks(
[Service] ITopicEventReceiver receiver)
=> receiver.SubscribeAsync<string, Book>("ExampleTopic");
[Subscribe(With = nameof(SubscribeToBooks))]
public ValueTask<ISourceStream<Book>> BookAdded([EventMessage] Book book)
=> book;
}