GraphQL to SPARQL Rewriter

Features

  • Fast and streaming (for top-level fields)
  • Vendor-independent: The generated SPARQL queries can run on any SPARQL 1.1 * endpoint.
  • Self-contained queries: Use the @rdf and @sparql directives to unambiguously map the GraphQL fields to data in your SPARQL endpoint.
    • No need for expensive schema generation or data summarization
    • No need to manage additional mapping files
  • Auto-mapping of fields to classes and properties via VoID and SHACL is available. However, be aware that this can take a while on large data.

* The generated SPARQL query makes use of the LATERAL feature, however this can be polyfilled at the cost of multiple requests with jenax SPARQL polyfills in jenax-dataaccess

Building SPARQL queries with GraphQL

The core machinery is based on the @rdf and @sparql directives.

Prefixes and Namespaces

The essential aspect for bridging GraphQL and SPARQL is to annotate fields with IRIs. The explicit way to accomplish this is using the @rdf(iri: ) directive.

{
  label @rdf(iri: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#label")
}

In the following we show all the supported approaches for easing this task and making it less repetetive. Note, that ultimately these approaches are just implicit variants of the explicit @rdf(iri: ) annotation.

A set of prefixes can be declared with @rdf(prefixes:). The prefixes are available for use on the field itself and any descending fields. @rdf(iri:) is evaluated only after a field’s effective set of prefixes has been computed. In the example below the field label is thus effectively annotated with `@rdf(iri: “http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#”)

{
  label @rdf(iri: "rdfs:label")
    @rdf(prefixes: {
      rdfs: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#"
    })
}

Often a field name matches the last part of an IRI. In the example above, we have repeatedly written label. We can eliminate the repetition using @rdf(ns: ). It is like @rdf(iri:) with the addition that it appends the field name.

{
  label @rdf(ns: "rdfs")
    @rdf(prefixes: {
      rdfs: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#"
    })
}

Setting a base IRI on a field implicitely sets @rdf(iri:) for the annotated field and all descendants that are not otherwise annotated.

{
  label
    @rdf(prefixes: {
      rdfs: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#"
    }),
    base: "rdfs")
}

Pitfalls

The values for iri, ns and base are always resolved against a field’s effective prefixes. You should avoid defining prefixes that are also used as IRI schemas, such as http, https or urn. In the example below, the IRI for label is expanded to http://www.example.org///www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#label.

{
  label @rdf(iri: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#label")
    @rdf(prefixes: {
      http: "http://www.example.org/"
    })
}

Selecting the Initial Set of Items

The core machinery is based on the @rdf and @sparql directives.

In general, we differ between top-level fields, which specify sets of items and inner fields which correspond to properties of these items. Inner fields are thus inherently backed by the set of items in the RDF graph that are reached by traversing paths of RDF properties based on a field’s annotation. For top-level fields, the initial set of items needs to be specified.

The initial set of items is conceptually specified using a SPARQL SELECT query that projects only a single variable. An explicit SPARQL query that projects a single variable can be specified using the @sparql(fragment:) directive:

{
  People @sparql(fragment: "SELECT ?s WHERE { ?s a <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/Person> })" {
    ...
  }
}

The annotation @sparql(fragment:) is generally used to state that the values of a field should be intersected with those of the supplied fragment. If the set of items is not otherwise specified, then the sparql fragment becomes its specification. It is possible to specify multiple query fragments. Variables in different fragments are considered as different ones.

{
  HumanLeaders
    @sparql(fragment="SELECT ?x WHERE { ?x a <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/Person> })")
    # ?x in the fragment below is different from that above.
    @sparql(fragment="SELECT ?leader WHERE { ?leader <https://dbpedia.org/ontology/leaderName> ?x })" {
    ...
  }
}

A common use case is to select instances of given class. The @class directive is a shorthand which uses the field’s IRI to produce the SPARQL fragment SELECT ?x WHERE { ?x a $FIELD_IRI$ }.

{
  People @class @rdf(iri="http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/Person")
}

All @rdf directives are always processed first. Afterwards, @sparql and its shorthands are evaluated in the specified order.

The following example specifies the initial set of items to be the intersection of items that are foaf:Person and those that have a dbo:leaderName. If @class was omitted, then the @sparql(fragment:) alone would be used as the specification of initial items.

{
  HumanLeaders @class
    @rdf(iri: "foaf:Person")
    @rdf(prefixes: {
      dbo: "http://dbpedia.org/ontology/"
      foaf: "http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/"
    })
    @sparql(fragment="SELECT ?leader WHERE { ?leader dbo:leaderName ?x })" {
  }
}

If the set of initial items is otherwise unspecified, it defaults to the set of subjects in the graphs.

Pagination (Limit and Offset)

Limit and offset can be provided as arguments to any field.

{
  People(limit: 10, offset: 5) @class @rdf(iri: "foaf:Person")
    @rdf(prefixes: {
      foaf: "http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/"
    })
}

Ordering

Use the orderBy argument. It accepts and object where the keys are field references and value can be ASC or DESC. Nested fields can be be annotated with @as(name="alias") which allows them to be referenced with a “flat” name.

{
  field(orderBy: { a: ASC, b: DESC })
    a
    b
}

References to nested fields

{
  label `@as(name="alias")`
}

GraphQL aliases vs @as

GraphQL allows declaration of aliases for a field. However, result values for that field will use the renamed field.

@as(name="alias") is used to specify a name by which a nested field can be referenced. The @as directive is used when resolving variables in filter conditions. It does not cause any change in the resulting document structure.

@rdf(ns:) is always applied to the field name and never to the alias as the following example shows:

{
  foo @rdf(base="http://www.example.org/") {
    bar     # -> http://www.example.org/bar
    baz:bar # -> http://www.example.org/bar
  }
}

Find all people who have friends with the same firstName.

{
  Person @class @rdf(base: "http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/Person") {
    knows { firstName }
    b: knows { firstName }
  }
}
?s foaf:knows ?a
?s foaf:knows ?b

Inverse Relation

The @inverse directive is used to traverse a field’s underlying RDF property in reverse direction.

{
  Pokemon {
    label,
    speciesOf @inverse {
      label
    } 
  }
}

Pagination

Each field can carry limit and offset arguments which controls how many underlying RDF nodes to match:

{
  Pokemon(limit: 10, offset: 5) {
    label
  }
}
{
  Pokemon(limit: 10, offset: 5) {
    label,
    colour,
    speciesOf(limit: 1) @inverse {
      label
    }
  }
}

Namespace Prefixes

The @rdf directive is used to supply different aspects of RDF namespace information for fields. The directive immediately takes effect on the field it appears on.

  • Aspects that affect the annotated field and all descendents:
    • prefixes: An object value with a mapping of prefix names to namespace IRIs.
    • base: A string that will be prepended to all fields not annotated with @rdf in order to form IRIs. The value of base will be expanded against the provided namespaces before prepeding the field name.
  • Aspects that only affect the annotated field:
    • ns: A string that will be prepended to the field name
    • iri: An explicit IRI for the field.

If multiple @rdf directives are present on a field then all their namespaces are combined (latter override earlier). For all other aspects the last setting per aspect takes effect.

{
  Pokemon
    @rdf (
      prefixes: {
        rdfs: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#",
        pokedex: "http://pokedex.dataincubator.org/pkm/"
      },
      base: pokedex
    )
  {
    label @rdf(ns: rdfs),
    colour,
    sameAsLinks @rdf(iri: "http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#sameAs")
  }
}

The effective document becomes:

{
  Pokemon @rdf(iri: "http://pokedex.dataincubator.org/pkm/Pokemon")
  {
    label @rdf(iri: "http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#label"),
    colour @rdf(iri: "http://pokedex.dataincubator.org/pkm/colour"),
    sameAsLinks @rdf(iri: "http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#sameAs")
  }
}