# GraphQL Client

Caliban-client is a module independent from Caliban 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 Caliban, 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 query/mutation by combining helpers from the generated code
  3. Transform your query/mutation into an sttp request and run it with your preferred backend

# Dependencies

To use caliban-client, add the following line in your build.sbt file:

libraryDependencies += "com.github.ghostdogpr" %% "caliban-client" % "1.1.1"

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

libraryDependencies += "com.github.ghostdogpr" %%% "caliban-client" % "1.1.1"

# Code generation

The first step for building GraphQL queries with caliban-client is to generate boilerplate code from a GraphQL schema. For that, you need a file containing your schema (if your backend uses caliban, you can get it by calling GraphQL#render on your API).

To use this feature, add the caliban-codegen-sbt sbt plugin to your project/plugins.sbt file:

addSbtPlugin("com.github.ghostdogpr" % "caliban-codegen-sbt" % "1.1.1")

And enable it in your build.sbt file:


# From a schema file

At this point, the caliban command will cause any files in src/main/graphql to be translated into a Caliban-generated client library. This happens automatically any time you compile.

By default, all clients are generated with the same client name as the source file, in the caliban top-level package.

In order to supply more configuration options to the code generator, you can use the calibanSettings sbt setting, combined with the calibanSetting function to scope the settings to a particular file:

      // The `file("Service.graphql")` is a path suffix for some file in `src/main/graphql`
      Compile / caliban / calibanSettings += calibanSetting(file("Service.graphql"))(
        cs =>
              "LanguageCode" -> "com.example.models.LanguageCode",
              "Timestamp" -> "java.sql.Timestamp",
              "DayOfWeek" -> "java.time.DayOfWeek",
              "IntRange"  -> "com.github.tminglei.slickpg.Range[Int]"

# From a server URL

The calibanSetting function also permits generating clients for supplied url's:

      Compile / caliban / calibanSettings += calibanSetting(url("http://my-example-service/graphql"))(
        cs =>

# calibanSetting config parameters

The settings available on the cs (CalibanSettings) builder are:

  def scalafmtPath(path: String): CalibanSettings               // Path to a scalafmt config (default: .scalafmt.conf)
  def packageName(name: String): CalibanSettings                // Which package to put the generated clients in (default: caliban)
  def genView(value: Boolean): CalibanSettings                  // Provide a case class and helper method to select all fields on an object (default: false)
  def scalarMapping(mapping: (String,String)*): CalibanSettings // A mapping from GraphQL scalar types to JVM types, as unknown scalar types are represented as String by default.
  def imports(values: String*): CalibanSettings                 // A list of imports to be added to the top of a generated client
  def splitFiles(value: Boolean): CalibanSettings               // Split single client object into multiple files (default: false)
  def enableFmt(value: Boolean): CalibanSettings                // Enable code formatting with scalafmt (default: true)
  def extensibleEnums(value: Boolean): CalibanSettings          // Generate a fallback case class for unknown enum values (default: false)

  // Only defined for `url` settings, for use in supplying extra headers when fetching the schema itself
  def headers(pairs: (String,String)*): CalibanSettings

# calibanGenClient

If you prefer to generate the client explicitly rather than automatically, you can use calibanGenClient on the SBT CLI as follows:

calibanGenClient schemaPath outputPath [--scalafmtPath path] [--headers name:value,name2:value2] [--genView true|false] [--scalarMappings gqlType:f.q.d.n.Type,gqlType2:f.q.d.n.Type2] [--imports a.b.c._,c.d.E] [--splitFiles true|false] [--enableFmt true|false]

calibanGenClient project/schema.graphql src/main/client/Client.scala --genView true  

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. If you need to disable generating clients from src/main/graphql, please include Compile / caliban / calibanGenerator := Seq.empty in your project settings. Instead of a file, you can provide a URL and the schema will be obtained using introspection. The generated code will be formatted with Scalafmt using the configuration defined by --scalafmtPath option (default: .scalafmt.conf). If you provide a URL for schemaPath, you can provide request headers with --headers option. The package of the generated code is derived from the folder of outputPath. This can be overridden by providing an alternative package with the --packageName option. The generated object name is derived from outputPath file name but can be overridden with the --clientName option. Provide --genView true option if you want to generate a view for the GraphQL types. If you want to force a mapping between a GraphQL type and a Scala class (such as scalars), you can use the --scalarMappings option. Also you can add imports for example for your ArgEncoder implicits by providing --imports option. Use the --splitFiles true option if you want to generate multiple files within the same package instead of a single file. In this case the filename part of the outputPath will be ignored, but the value will still be used to determine the mandatory package name and the destination directory. This can be helpful with large GraphQL schemas and incremental compilation. Provide --enableFmt false option if you don't need to format generated files. Provide --extensibleEnums true option if you want to generate a fallback case class for unknown enum values.

# 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) {

# Automated generation of a view projection

ClientWriter can generate a view projection for a GraphQL type.

For example, given the following schema:

type Origin {
  description: String
  details: String  

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

Your generated code will have the following:

type Origin
object Origin {

  final case class OriginView(description: Option[String], details: Option[String])

  type ViewSelection = SelectionBuilder[Origin, OriginView]

  def view: ViewSelection = (description ~ details).map { case (description, details) =>
    OriginView(description, details)

  def description: SelectionBuilder[Origin, Option[String]] = Field("description", OptionOf(Scalar()))
  def details: SelectionBuilder[Origin, Option[String]]     = Field("details", OptionOf(Scalar()))

type Character
object Character {

  final case class CharacterView[OriginSelection](name: String, nicknames: List[String], origin: OriginSelection)

  type ViewSelection[OriginSelection] = SelectionBuilder[Character, CharacterView[OriginSelection]]

  def view[OriginSelection](originFilter: Option[String] = None)(
    originSelection: SelectionBuilder[Origin, OriginSelection]
  ): ViewSelection[OriginSelection] = (name ~ nicknames ~ origin(originFilter)(originSelection)).map {
    case ((name, nicknames), origin) => CharacterView(name, nicknames, origin)

  def name: SelectionBuilder[Character, String]            = Field("name", Scalar())
  def nicknames: SelectionBuilder[Character, List[String]] = Field("nicknames", ListOf(Scalar()))
  def origin[A](
    filter: Option[String] = None
  )(innerSelection: SelectionBuilder[Origin, A]): SelectionBuilder[Character, A] =
    Field("origin", Obj(innerSelection), arguments = List(Argument("filter", filter)))

Then you can build a query the way you want:

val characterWithOriginAllFields: SelectionBuilder[Character, Character.CharacterView[Origin.View]] =

val characterWithOriginOnlyDetails: SelectionBuilder[Character, Character.CharacterView[String]] =
  Character.view(Some("some filter"))(Origin.details)

# Supporting enums evolution

In GraphQL, adding new values to Enums is not considered a breaking change. If you want your generated client to accept enum values introduced after the code is generated, you can configure the ClientWriter to generate a fallback case class __Unknown(value: string).

# 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.client._
import sttp.client.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.

# Laminext Integration

If you are using the Scala.js framework Laminar (opens new window), there is a module that makes the integration even nicer, with support for subscriptions. It is depending on Laminext (opens new window), a library that provides nice little helpers for Laminar, in particular for using Fetch and WebSocket.

To use it, import the caliban-client-laminext module:

libraryDependencies += "com.github.ghostdogpr" %%% "caliban-client-laminext" % "1.1.1"

Add the following import to your code:

import caliban.client.laminext._

This import adds an extension method toEventStream(uri) to SelectionBuilder, which is similar to toRequest except it creates an EventStream instead of an sttp Request.

val characters: Var[List[String]] = Var(Nil)

val uri = "http://localhost:8088/api/graphql"

val getCharacters = Queries.characters(None)(Client.Character.name).toEventStream(uri)

val view: Div = 
    "Characters: ",
    getCharacters.collectRight --> characters.set _,
    child <-- characters.signal.map(c => div(c.mkString(", ")))

To use subscriptions, you first need to create a WebSocket with protocol graphql-ws. Use the extension method .graphql instead of .text or .json. Then use the extension method toSubscription on your SelectionBuilder and pass the WebSocket object.

val ws = WebSocket.url("ws://localhost:8088/ws/graphql", "graphql-ws").graphql.build()

val deletedCharacters = Subscriptions.characterDeleted.toSubscription(ws)

Finally, you can use ws.connect to connect the WebSocket, ws.init() to initialize the communication with the graphql server and .received to get an EventStream of the type returned by your subscription.

ws.connected --> (_ => ws.init()),
deletedCharacters.received.collectRight --> 
  (name => characters.update(_.filterNot(_ == name))),

There is a full example in the test folder of the caliban-client-laminext module. To use it:

  • run ExampleApp of the http4s server example (it supports CORS)
  • run clientLaminextJS/Test/fastLinkJS to compile the Scala.js code
  • run yarn install and yarn exec vite in the caliban-client-laminext folder
  • the example page will be running on http://localhost:3000 (opens new window)