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Apollo Federation

Apollo Federation is an architecture that allows you to compose multiple GraphQL APIs into one data graph. This way you can use a microservice architecture and split the functionality of your application into multiple independent services. The GraphQL APIs are combined via a gateway that sits in front of the individual services. The services have to implement an advanced introspection system according to the specification. This provides the information about the service to the gateway to merge the APIs into the data graph.

To learn more about federation and how to add it to your other GraphQL APIs, check out the official documentation.

Slicknode comes with builtin support for Apollo Federation that can be added to your API by installing the module.


To install Apollo Federation in your Slicknode project, you just have to install the module:

slicknode module add apollo-federation

Afterwards deploy the changes to the cloud:

slicknode deploy

That's it! Now your Slicknode project is ready to be used with Apollo Federation.


To get an overall understanding of Apollo Federation, how to setup the gateway and how to merge multiple GraphQL APIs, we recommend reading the official documentation first.

The apollo-federation module adds the required introspection system along with all the data loading capabilities. For all types in your Slicknode API that implement the Node interface, the keys are automatically added to enable the extension of your types via external services.

For example, the User type in your Slicknode API looks something like this (simplified version):

type User implements Node @key(fields: "id") @key(fields: "email") @key(fields: "username") {
  id: ID!
  firstName: String
  lastName: String
  email: String @unique
  username: String @unique
  # ...

You can see that a key is added for every unique field as well as the id field. This is done by the apollo-federation module automatically and the keys do not have to be added to the schema files of your own modules. The keys allow you then to extend the user object in external services.

Let's assume you have an account service outside of Slicknode that manages your customers and you want to connect the Customer object of that service with the Slicknode User type. You could store only the username in the account service as a reference and extend the user type inside of your account service to add the customer information.

The service definition of your external service could look something like this:

extend type User @key(fields: "username") {
  username: String @external
  customer: Customer

type Customer {
  name: String
  accountBalance: Int!

When you merge the two services in the gateway, you have one API that allows you to fetch the User and the Customer data in a single request:

query LoadCurrentCustomer {
  # Viewer object is available from the Slicknode API
  viewer {
    user {
      # The customer is loaded from the account service
      customer {

Besides installing the module, there are no additional changes required in the Slicknode API. This works out of the box and allows you to extend your Slicknode project with other GraphQL APIs without creating any hard dependencies.

The implementation of apollo federation in your other APIs depends on the GraphQL server you are using. Check the documentation of your GraphQL server to learn how to add support for apollo federation. If you are using NodeJS, we recommend the use of Apollo Server.