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Opt-in features

At a glance


RFC: Opt-in features

Proposed by: Martin Bonnin

This document is a work in progress. A lot of the questions about introspection are closely related to #300 (Expose user-defined meta-information via introspection API in form of directives) and will therefore need to be revisited based on the progress there.

📜 Problem Statement

GraphQL has a built-in mechanism for deprecation allowing to gracefully remove features from the schema. The lifecycle of a feature can typically be represented as stable -> deprecated -> removed.

In a lot of cases though, a feature lifecycle includes an experimental phase where it has just been added and can be changed without warning. In this state, the feature is usable and feedback is encouraged but isn't considered stable enough to be put in production. The feature lifecycle becomes experimental -> stable -> deprecated -> removed .


The goal of this proposal is to support the experimental state and, moving forward, any state that requires the client developer to make an explicit decision before using a given feature. In that sense, it's about "opting in" to using the feature, which includes supporting experimental states.

To give a few examples:

  • a field is experimental and might be changed or removed without prior notice (the above example).

  • a field is expensive to compute and should be used with caution.

  • a field has specific security requirements and requires a specific header or other form of authentication.


This proposal is not about security and/or hiding parts of a schema. Its goal is to make it easier to communicate opt-in features to client developer and therefore needs to expose that information.

👀 Prior work

🧑‍💻 Proposed solution

The @requiresOptIn directive

It is proposed to add an @requiresOptIn directive to the specification:

Indicates that the given field, argument, input field or enum value requires
giving explicit consent before being used.
directive @requiresOptIn(feature: String!) repeatable

The optIn directive can then be used in the schema. For an example, to signal an experimental field:

type Session {
id: ID!
title: String!
# [...]
startInstant: Instant @requiresOptIn(feature: "experimentalInstantApi")
endInstant: Instant @requiresOptIn(feature: "experimentalInstantApi")


This section is a proposal based on the current introspection mechanism. A more global mechanism ( see #300) would make it obsolete

@requiresOptIn features should be hidden from introspection by default and include if includeRequiresOptIn contains the given feature:

type __Type {
kind: __TypeKind!
name: String

# [...] other fields omitted for clarity

# includeRequiresOptIn is a list of features to include
fields(includeDeprecated: Boolean = false, includeRequiresOptIn: [String!]): [__Field!]

Tools can get a list of @requiresOptIn features required to use a field (or input field, argument, enum value) using requiresOptIn:

type __Field {
name: String!
isDeprecated: Boolean!

# [...] other fields omitted for clarity

# list of @requiresOptIn features required to use this field
requiresOptIn: [String!]
args(includeDeprecated: Boolean = false, includeRequiresOptIn: [String!]): [__InputValue!]!

A given field is included in introspection results if all the conditions are satisfied. In pseudo code, if the following condition is true:

includeRequiresOptIn.containsAll(field.requiresOptIn) && (includeDeprecated || !field.isDeprecated)


Similarly to deprecation, the @requiresOptIn directive must not appear on required (non-null without a default) arguments or input object field definitions.

In other words, @requiresOptIn arguments or input fields, must be either nullable or have a default value.

🗳️ Alternate solutions

@experimental directive

# Indicates that the given field or enum value is still experimental and might be changed 
# in a backward incompatible manner
directive @experimental(
reason: String! = "Experimental"


  • simple
  • symmetrical with @deprecated


  • doesn't account for opt-in requirements that are not experimental
  • makes it harder to group by features. reason could be used for this but it is less explicit than feature

marker directives

The spec defines a directive named @requiresOptIn (and in doing so introduces the need to be able to apply directives to directive definitions)

directive @requiresOptIn on DIRECTIVE_DEFINITION

Services create a directive for each distinct opt-in feature they want in their schema:

# optIn usage defines @experimentalDeploymentApi as an opt-in marker
directive @experimentalDeploymentApi on FIELD_DEFINITION @requiresOptIn

type Query {
deployment: Deployment @experimentalDeploymentApi

enum WorkspaceKind {
directive @workspaces(kind: WorkspaceKind) on FIELD_DEFINITION @requiresOptIn

type Deployment {
workspaces: [Workspace] @workspaces(kind: CROSS_COMPANY)


  • gives more control to the user about the directive used
  • has more type information


  • more complex
  • requires a grammar change

🪵 Decision Log

This proposal started out with a very simple premise and implementation, and has gotten more complex as the community has explored edge cases and facets about how GraphQL is actually used in practice.

This decision log was written with newcomers in mind to avoid rediscussing issues that have already been hashed out, and to make it easier to understand why certain decisions have been made. At the time of writing, the decisions here aren't set in stone, so any future discussions can use this log as a starting point.

directive name

Initially, the directive name was @experimental then @optIn to account for other use cases than just experimental status before settling on @requiresOptIn because it is both more explicit and leaves room for clients to use an @optIn directive.