DEV Community

Felipe Armoni
Felipe Armoni

Posted on • Updated on

Creating an App using React and Apollo Graphql

This is a three part tutorial series in which we will build a simple shopping cart app using React and Apollo Graphql. The idea is to build a table in which the user can choose which Rick and Morty action figures he wants to buy.

In this first part we will build a table that will show the available action figures, using data from the Rick and Morty API.

Note: this tutorial assumes that you have a working knowledge of React and Typescript.

You can find the complete code in this repository and the website here: https://komyg.github.io/rm-shop-v1/.

Getting Started

To get started, create a new React App using the CRA - Create React App tool:

yarn create react-app rm-shop-v1 --template typescript
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Material UI

To make our App prettier we will use the Material UI:

yarn add @material-ui/core
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Apollo Graphql

Add the necessary packages from Apollo:

yarn add graphql apollo-client apollo-cache-inmemory apollo-link-http apollo-link-error apollo-link graphql-tag  apollo-cache apollo-utilities @apollo/react-hoc @apollo/react-components @apollo/react-hooks
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Note: I chose not to use the Apollo Boost for this tutorial.

Creating the Apollo Client

Now that we've added all the necessary Apollo packages we have to create and initialize the Apollo Client. For this tutorial we are going to connect it to the Rick and Morty API. Click on this link to see the playground with the graphql schema and the available data.

Create a folder called config to place the configuration files for our Apollo Client.

Note: I've chosen to separate each configuration in its own file, because I believe it makes them more readable and clean, however you could use a single file as the Apollo documentation suggests.

Configuring Apollo HTTP Link

The Apollo HTTP link handles the connection between the client app and the Graphql server. Let's create a new config file called: apollo-http-link.ts and add the contents below:

import { HttpLink } from 'apollo-link-http';

export const httpLink = new HttpLink({
  uri: 'https://rickandmortyapi.com/graphql',
});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The uri param is the endpoint that contains the graphql API that we are using.

Configuring the Apollo Error Link

The Apollo Error Link receives and logs any errors that may occur in the Graphql calls. Create a new config file named: apollo-error-link.ts and paste the contents below:

import { onError } from 'apollo-link-error';

export const errorLink = onError(({ graphQLErrors, networkError, response, operation }) => {
  if (graphQLErrors) {
    for (const error of graphQLErrors) {
      console.error(
        `[GraphQL error]: Message: ${error.message}, Location: ${error.locations}, Path: ${error.path}`,
        operation,
        response
      );
    }
  }
  if (networkError) {
    console.error(`[Network error]: ${networkError}`, operation, response);
  }
});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Notice that the errors here are split into two kinds: Grapqhl Errors and Network Error. The first kind concerns errors that occur in queries and mutations, such as constraint errors while saving data, incorrect data formats, etc. The second kind concerns errors that occur in the network and on the POST requests made by the Apollo, such as timeouts or any error code >= 400.

If you have an error reporting tool like Sentry, this is a good place to add them.

Configuring the Local Cache

The InMemoryCache is a module that stores the results of the queries and mutations locally so that you don't have to go to the server twice to get the same results. It can also be used for the application state management as we will see in the next parts of this tutorial. For now, create a new file named apollo-local-cache.ts and paste these contents:

import { InMemoryCache } from 'apollo-cache-inmemory';

export const localCache = new InMemoryCache({
  freezeResults: true,
});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The current version of Apollo doesn't require that the cached data be immutable, but we can get a performance boost if we design our cache this way. The freezeResults parameter helps us make sure our data is immutable, by throwing an error if we try to change an existing object while running our app in development mode.

Configuring the Apollo Client

Now we will configure the Apollo Client itself and import the configurations we made above. To do this, first create a new file called: apollo-client.ts and then paste the contents below:

import { ApolloClient } from 'apollo-client';
import { ApolloLink } from 'apollo-link';
import { httpLink } from './apollo-http-link';
import { errorLink } from './apollo-error-link';
import { localCache } from './apollo-local-cache';

export const apolloClient = new ApolloClient({
  link: ApolloLink.from([errorLink, httpLink]),
  connectToDevTools: process.env.NODE_ENV !== 'production',
  cache: localCache,
  assumeImmutableResults: true,
});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

There is a lot going on this file:

  • First we created the ApolloClient using its constructor and passed a configuration object to it.
  • The first parameter of the configuration is the ApolloLink. It works as a chain of Apollo Link Objects that will either:

    • Receive the request, transform it and pass it forward.
    • Receive the request and pass it forward as it is.
    • Receive the request, execute it and return the result to the previous object in the chain.

In our case, we have just two links: the errorLink and the httpLink. Notice that the order here is important, because we want the errorLink to capture any errors that are returned by the httpLink, so the errorLink must come before it.

You can have as many links as you want, for example: link: ApolloLink.from([authLink, errorLink, timeoutLink, restLink, httpLink]). In this example, the authLink must come first, because it adds an Authorization header that is used to authenticate all requests. Then comes the errorLink to capture and log all the errors thrown further down the chain. Then we have the timeoutLink that will return an error if the requests made down the chain take longer than a specified period of time. Then we have the restLink that is used to make rest calls and finally we have the httpLink that handles the Graphql requests.

  • The second parameter in the configuration is the connectToDevTools. It is active only on non production environments and it allows the Apollo Dev Tools to work.
  • The third parameter is the InMemoryCache.
  • The last parameter is assumeImmutableResults: true, it tells the Apollo Client that we intend to make our cached data immutable for a performance gain. Please note that we have to enforce the immutability by ourselves, but the parameter freezeResults that we configured on the InMemoryCache will help us do this, by throwing an error if we try to change an immutable object while on development.

The Apollo Provider

Now that we have successfully configured the Apollo Client, we have to add the ApolloProvider so that all of our components can access it. To do this, we will change our index.tsx file to:

import { ApolloProvider } from '@apollo/react-hooks';
import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import App from './App';
import { apolloClient } from './config/apollo-client';
import * as serviceWorker from './serviceWorker';

ReactDOM.render(
  <ApolloProvider client={apolloClient}>
    <App />
  </ApolloProvider>,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

serviceWorker.unregister();
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Graphql Codegen

The Graphql Codegen is a tool that automatically generates typescript types and classes based on your Grapqhql Schema. It is very useful to ensure type safety.

Configuring the Grapqhl Codegen

The Grapqhl Codegen comes with a CLI tool that helps you create a configuration file. To use it follow these steps:

Install the CLI:

yarn add -D @graphql-codegen/cli

Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Execute the wizard:

yarn graphql-codegen init
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Choose the following options:

  1. Application built with React.
  2. For this tutorial we will use the Rick and Morty Graphql API. Its endpoint is this one: https://rickandmortyapi.com/graphql.
  3. Use the default value (src/**/*.graphql) for the fragment and operations.
  4. Then pick the following plugins:
    • TypeScript
    • TypeScript Operations
    • TypeScript React Apollo
    • Introspection Fragment Matcher
  5. Use the default value for the output (src/generated/graphql.tsx).
  6. Answer no when it asks if you want to generate an introspection file.
  7. Use the default value for the name of the config file (codegen.yml).
  8. Type in gen-graphql when it asks the name of the script in the package.json that will be used to generate the graphql files.

After the wizard finishes, run yarn install to install all the necessary plugins added by the Grapqhl Code Gen.

Now, open your codegen.yml file and add the config param to tell the codegen that we want to use hooks. The final file looks like the one below:

overwrite: true
schema: "https://rickandmortyapi.com/graphql"
documents: "src/**/*.graphql"
generates:
  src/generated/graphql.tsx:
    plugins:
      - "typescript"
      - "typescript-operations"
      - "typescript-react-apollo"
      - "fragment-matcher"

    # Add this to use hooks:
    config:
      withHooks: true
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Creating Our First Query

Now that we have added all necessary packages, let's create our first graphql query to retrieve all characters from the Rick and Morty API. To do this, create a folder called graphql inside our src folder. Next, create a new file called: get-characters.query.graphql and paste the contents below:

query GetCharacters {
  characters {
    __typename
    results {
      id
      __typename
      name
      image
      species
      origin {
        id
        __typename
        name
      }
      location {
        id
        __typename
        name
      }
    }
  }
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Note: I have added the id and __typename parameters to our query, even though they are not necessary at this point in our tutorial. I did this, because we will use the id field later and because the Apollo Dev Tools needs to have both parameters to show what is in our cache.

Now run the Graphql Codegen to generate the typescript types:

yarn gen-graphql
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

If the command ran successfully, you should see that a graphql.tsx file was created inside our generated folder and that it contains our query.

Displaying the query data

Now that we have our first query, we would like to display its data as a table. To do this, create a new folder called src/components.

Creating the character table

Create a new folder: src/components/character-table and create the file: character-table.tsx inside it. This component will execute our query and display its data inside a table.

Copy and paste the code below into the character-table.tsx file:

import {
  CircularProgress,
  Paper,
  Table,
  TableBody,
  TableCell,
  TableContainer,
  TableHead,
  TableRow,
  Typography,
} from '@material-ui/core';
import React, { ReactElement } from 'react';
import { useGetCharactersQuery } from '../../generated/graphql';
import CharacterData from '../character-data/character-data';

interface Props {}

export default function CharacterTable(props: Props): ReactElement {
  // Use hook to retrieve data from the backend
  const { data, loading, error } = useGetCharactersQuery();

  // Query state management
  if (loading) {
    return <CircularProgress />;
  } else if (error) {
    return (
      <Typography variant='h5'>
        Error retrieving data, please reload the page to try again.
      </Typography>
    );
  } else if (!data || !data.characters || !data.characters.results) {
    return (
      <Typography variant='h5'>No data available, please reload the page to try again.</Typography>
    );
  }

  // Display the data
  return (
    <TableContainer component={Paper}>
      <Table>
        <TableHead>
          <TableRow>
            <TableCell>
              <strong>Name</strong>
            </TableCell>
            <TableCell>
              <strong>Species</strong>
            </TableCell>
            <TableCell>
              <strong>Origin</strong>
            </TableCell>
            <TableCell>
              <strong>Location</strong>
            </TableCell>
          </TableRow>
        </TableHead>
        <TableBody>
          {data.characters.results.map(character => (
            <CharacterData character={character} key={character?.id!} />
          ))}
        </TableBody>
      </Table>
    </TableContainer>
  );
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

As you can see there are a lot of things happening in this file:

  • First we use the useGetCharactersQuery hook. It executes our query as soon as the component finishes mounting. We have also destructured its output using: { data, loading, error }.
  • Then we have a state management code in which we display different outputs depending on the query state. For example, we show a progress spinner when the query is retrieving data from the server or we show an error message if something goes wrong or if no data is available.
  • Finally, if the query successfully retrieves the character data from the server, then we display it inside the <Table> element. Notice that we are mapping the array of characters that is returned by the query into a <CharacterData /> component that we will create shortly.
  • Also notice that we are passing a key attribute to the <CharacterData /> component. This is a good practice to improve React's rendering speed.

Creating the character data

Create a new folder: src/components/character-data and create the file: character-data.tsx inside it. This component will display our data as a table row.

Copy and paste the code below into the character-data.tsx file:

import React, { ReactElement } from 'react';
import { Character, Maybe } from '../../generated/graphql';
import {
  TableRow,
  TableCell,
  Box,
  createStyles,
  Theme,
  makeStyles,
  Typography,
} from '@material-ui/core';

interface Props {
  character: Maybe<Character | null>;
}

const useStyles = makeStyles((theme: Theme) =>
  createStyles({
    nameTableCell: {
      display: 'flex',
      alignItems: 'center',
    },
    characterImg: {
      maxHeight: '3rem',
      width: 'auto',
      borderRadius: '50%',
    },
    characterName: {
      paddingLeft: theme.spacing(2),
    },
  })
);

export default function CharacterData(props: Props): ReactElement {
  const classes = useStyles();

  return (
    <TableRow>
      <TableCell className={classes.nameTableCell}>
        <Box>
          <img src={props.character?.image!} alt='' className={classes.characterImg} />
        </Box>
        <Typography variant='body2' className={classes.characterName}>
          {props.character?.name}
        </Typography>
      </TableCell>
      <TableCell>{props.character?.species}</TableCell>
      <TableCell>{props.character?.origin?.name}</TableCell>
      <TableCell>{props.character?.location?.name}</TableCell>
    </TableRow>
  );
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

This component is pretty straight forward. But it is worth noticing that the data type that we are using on the character prop was generated by the Graphql Codegen. It indicates that the character might be null.

We are using the new Optional Chaining Operator (?.) to simplify our code. What it does is return undefined if the character property is also undefined or null instead of throwing an error.

And we are also using the Material UI styling tools that rely on jss.

Create a new app component

Finally let's create a new App component to display our data. To start, please delete the App.tsx, App.test.tsx and App.css files. Then create a new folder: components/app and create a new app.tsx file inside it.

Copy and paste the following code:

import React, { ReactElement } from 'react';
import { Container, Box, Theme, makeStyles, createStyles } from '@material-ui/core';
import CharacterTable from '../character-table/character-table';

const useStyles = makeStyles((theme: Theme) =>
  createStyles({
    root: {
      paddingTop: theme.spacing(2),
      paddingBottom: theme.spacing(2),
    },
  })
);

export default function App(): ReactElement {
  const classes = useStyles();

  return (
    <Container className={classes.root}>
      <Box display='flex' justifyContent='center' alignContent='center'>
        <CharacterTable />
      </Box>
    </Container>
  );
}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Notice that we are using the createStyles hook to avoid using css. (see: https://material-ui.com/customization/components/#overriding-styles-with-classes).

Update the index.tsx file

Now, update the index.tsx file to use our new App component:

import { ApolloProvider } from '@apollo/react-hooks';
import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import App from './components/app/app';
import { apolloClient } from './config/apollo-client';
import * as serviceWorker from './serviceWorker';

ReactDOM.render(
  <ApolloProvider client={apolloClient}>
    <App />
  </ApolloProvider>,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

serviceWorker.unregister();
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Running our App

Now we have everything we need to run our App. Open a console and type yarn start to run the development server and open a browser in this address: http://localhost:3000.

If all goes well, you should see our table with the characters from Rick and Morty.

Discussion (2)

Collapse
miketwo profile image
Michael

Could be a n00b thing, but I had to add rm-shop-v1/ in front of both the documents: and generates: portion of codegen.yml to get it to generate properly.

Also, it seems like the more recent create react scripts have the service worker as optional? You may want the --template cra-template-pwa-typescript option.

Collapse
komyg profile image
Felipe Armoni Author

That's odd. Are you sure you were running the codegen inside the app root folder (the one that has the codegen.yml file)?

Also, thanks for the tip on the service worker.