# Getting Started

Caliban Client is a module independent from Caliban Server that makes it possible to write GraphQL queries using Scala code in a type-safe and functional fashion. It is built on top of sttp (opens new window), which means you can run requests using the backend of your choice.

Just like the server module, Caliban Client offers a purely functional interface and keeps the boilerplate minimal. It works as follows:

  1. Use the caliban-codegen-sbt tool to generate boilerplate code from a given GraphQL schema
  2. Write your GraphQL queries/mutations by combining helpers from the generated code
  3. Transform your queries/mutations into an sttp request and run them with your preferred backend

# Dependencies

To use caliban-client, add the following dependency to your build.sbt file:

"com.github.ghostdogpr" %% "caliban-client" % "2.3.1"

Caliban-client is available for ScalaJS. To use it in a ScalaJS project, instead add this dependency to your build.sbt file:

"com.github.ghostdogpr" %%% "caliban-client" % "2.3.1"

# Code generation

Caliban provides several ways to generate the boilerplate code. To get started, we are going to generate it by running a simple sbt command, but you can look at the Code generation page for more options.

You'll first need to add following dependency to your project/plugins.sbt file:

addSbtPlugin("com.github.ghostdogpr" % "caliban-codegen-sbt" % "2.3.1")

And to enable the plugin in your build.sbt file:


Then, you can run the following command in your sbt.

calibanGenClient schemaPath outputPath

# example
calibanGenClient project/schema.graphql src/main/client/Client.scala

schemaPath is the path to a GraphQL schema file (if your backend uses caliban, you can get it by calling GraphQL#render on your API). Instead of a file, you can provide a URL and the schema will be obtained using introspection.

outputPath is the path where the generated code will be written. The folder needs to exist.

This command will generate a Scala file in outputPath containing helper functions for all the types defined in the provided GraphQL schema defined at schemaPath.

# Query building

Once the boilerplate code is generated, you can start building queries. For each type in your schema, a corresponding Scala object has been created. For each field in your schema, a corresponding Scala function has been created.

For example, given the following schema:

type Character {
  name: String!
  nicknames: [String!]!
  origin: Origin!

Your generated code will have the following:

object Character {
  def name: SelectionBuilder[Character, String]            = ???
  def nicknames: SelectionBuilder[Character, List[String]] = ???
  def origin: SelectionBuilder[Character, Origin]          = ???

A SelectionBuilder[Origin, A] is a selection from a parent type Origin that returns a result of type A. In this example, name is a selection from a Character that returns a String.

You can combine multiple selections using the ~ operator. The new result type will be a tuple from the 2 combined result types. Note that you can only combine selections that have the same origin.

val selection: SelectionBuilder[Character, (String, List[String])] =
  Character.name ~ Character.nicknames

If you combine multiple fields, it is more convenient to have a case class to represent your data (to avoid seeing nested tuples). You can use mapN to map a nested tuple to a case class.

case class CharacterView(name: String, nickname: List[String], origin: Origin)

val character: SelectionBuilder[Character, CharacterView] =
  (Character.name ~ Character.nicknames ~ Character.origin)

Fields that return an object type will require an inner selection, which is another SelectionBuilder. Let's consider the following Query type.

type Query {
  characters: [Character!]!

When calling characters, we need to provide a SelectionBuilder[Character, ?] to indicate which fields to select on the returned Character.

val query: SelectionBuilder[RootQuery, List[CharacterView]] =
  Query.characters {
    (Character.name ~ Character.nicknames ~ Character.origin)

Or if we reuse the character selection we just created:

val query: SelectionBuilder[RootQuery, List[CharacterView]] =
  Query.characters {

Because this is Scala code, you can easily reuse a selection in multiple places without having to worry about GraphQL fragments. The Scala compiler will also make sure that you only combine fields that make sense.

When a field requires an argument, the helper method for the field will require one as well. Let's enrich our query:

type Query {
  characters(origin: Origin!): [Character!]!

You now need to provide an Origin when calling characters:

val query: SelectionBuilder[RootQuery, List[CharacterView]] =
  Query.characters(Origin.MARS) {

# Request execution

Once your query or mutation is created, it is time to execute it. To do that, you can transform your SelectionBuilder into an sttp request by calling .toRequest.

This function takes the URL of your GraphQL server and some options:

  • a boolean useVariables that determines if arguments should be using variables or not (default: false)
  • an optional string queryName if you want to name your query (default: no name)
  • a boolean dropNullInputValues that determines if null fields from input objects should be dropped (default: false)

You can then simply run the sttp request with the backend of your choice. See the sttp docs (opens new window) if you are not familiar with it.

Here is an example using the AsyncHttpClient backend for ZIO:

import sttp.client3._
import sttp.client3.asynchttpclient.zio.AsyncHttpClientZioBackend

AsyncHttpClientZioBackend().flatMap { implicit backend =>
  val serverUrl = uri"http://localhost:8088/api/graphql"
  val result: Task[List[CharacterView]] =

As a result, we get a ZIO Task whose return type is the same as our SelectionBuilder. The sttp request does not only contain the request to send, but also takes care of parsing the response into the expected type.

The examples (opens new window) project contains a runnable sample code that queries the example GraphQL backend.


Only Queries and Mutations are supported as sttp requests. Subscriptions are supported in the laminext module, and this code can easily be adapted to other frameworks (the relevant code is only a few lines long).

Type extensions are not supported by the codegen tool.