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Version: 7.x.x

Optional Undefined Arguments

In the GraphQL world, input types can be optional which means that the client can either:

  • Not specify a value at all
  • Send null explicitly
  • Send a non-null value

This is in contrast with the JVM world where objects can either have some specific value or don't have any value (i.e. are null). As a result, when using default serialization logic it is not possible to distinguish between missing/unspecified value and explicit null value.

Using OptionalInput wrapper

OptionalInput is a convenient sealed class wrapper that provides distinction between undefined, null, and non-null values. If the argument is not specified in the request it will be represented as a OptionalInput.Undefined object, otherwise the value will be wrapped in OptionalInput.Defined class. As a best practice, we highly recommend to set appropriate default values to all optional arguments.

fun optionalInput(input: OptionalInput<String> = OptionalInput.Undefined): String = when (input) {
is OptionalInput.Undefined -> "input was not specified"
is OptionalInput.Defined<String> -> "input value: ${input.value}"
query OptionalInputQuery {
undefined: optionalInput # input was not specified
null: optionalInput(value: null) # input value: null
foo: optionalInput(value: "foo") # input value: foo

Regardless whether the generic type of OptionalInput is specified as nullable or not it will always result in a nullable value in Defined class, i.e. OptionalInput<String> will appear as nullable String in the GraphQL schema and in the wrapped value.

Using DataFetchingEnvironment

Optional input types can be represented as nullable parameters in Kotlin

fun optionalInput(value: String? = null): String? = value
query OptionalInputQuery {
undefined: optionalInput # null
null: optionalInput(value: null) # null
foo: optionalInput(value: "foo") # foo

By default, if an optional input value is not specified, then the execution engine will fallback to the argument default value (in our example above null). This means that you can not tell, by just the value alone, whether the request did not contain any argument or the client explicitly passed in the default value.

Instead, you can inspect all passed in arguments using the DataFetchingEnvironment.

fun optionalInput(value: String? = null, dataFetchingEnvironment: DataFetchingEnvironment): String =
if (dataFetchingEnvironment.containsArgument("value")) {
"The value was $value"
} else {
"The value was undefined"

Kotlin Default Values

If you don't need logic for when the client specified a value, you can still use Kotlin default values