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Built-in directives

The directive is a way for a client to give GraphQL server additional context and hints on how to execute the query. The directive can be attached to a field or fragment and can affect the execution of the query in any way the server desires.

GraphQL specification includes two built-in directives:

  • @include(if: Boolean) Only include this field or fragment in the result if the argument is true
  • @skip(if: Boolean) Skip this field or fragment if the argument is true

For example:

query Hero($episode: Episode, $withFriends: Boolean!) {
  hero(episode: $episode) {
    friends @include(if: $withFriends) {

Here if $withFriends variable is set to false - friends section will be ignored and excluded from the response. Important implementation detail: those fields will never be executed (not just removed from response after execution).

Custom directives

graphql-php supports custom directives even though their presence does not affect the execution of fields. You can use GraphQL\Type\Definition\ResolveInfo in field resolvers to modify the output depending on those directives or perform statistics collection.

Other use case is your own query validation rules relying on custom directives.

In graphql-php custom directive is an instance of GraphQL\Type\Definition\Directive (or one of its subclasses) which accepts an array of following options:

use GraphQL\Language\DirectiveLocation;
use GraphQL\Type\Definition\Type;
use GraphQL\Type\Definition\Directive;

$trackDirective = new Directive([
    'name' => 'track',
    'description' => 'Instruction to record usage of the field by client',
    'locations' => [
    'args' => [
        'details' => [
            'type' => Type::string(),
            'description' => 'String with additional details of field usage scenario',
            'defaultValue' => ''

See possible directive locations in GraphQL\Language\DirectiveLocation.