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Notify subscription pattern

Try it yourself

You can find code example for this chapter here.

In the previous chapters we've seen how subscriptions work, where the fields available for them are defined, and how to implement event filtering. Now you probably have the impression that it's relatively easy to implement real-time notifications that push data to clients whenever they need and keep them up-to-date with all changes. This is also the point where the AWS documentation and most tutorials stop.

Unfortunately, subscriptions implemented like this are hardly usable for any realistic scenario as they miss a lot of practical requirements.

First, subscriptions don't handle the scenario when a change needs to send multiple notifications. In a ticketing system, moving a ticket between projects needs to send 2 events: one for the deletion from the original project and a second one for a creation in the new project, otherwise there will be some information disclosure. Or when a user is deleted, its tickets should become unassigned, and that can generate several events.

Second, the subscription event contains only the fields defined by the mutation, which is usually client-controlled. This can easily break real-time functionality for a seemingly unrelated change.

To solve these problems, we need to think about subscriptions a bit differently and break the mutation -> subscription tie. In this chapter, we'll discuss a pattern that makes subscriptions practically useful.


First, add a dedicated mutation and event for the subscription:

type TodoEvent {
  userId: ID!
  groupId: ID!
  todoId: ID!
  severity: Severity!
  todo: Todo

type Mutation {
  notifyTodo(userId: ID!, groupId: ID!, severity: Severity!, id: ID!): TodoEvent!

type Subscription {
  todo(userId: ID, groupId: ID, severity: Severity): TodoEvent
  @aws_subscribe(mutations: ["notifyTodo"])
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