Avoiding the N+1 Problem With Dataloaders

A common issue with graphql servers is how the resolvers query their datasource. This issue results in a large number of unneccessary database queries or http requests. Say you were wanting to list a bunch of cults people were in

query {
  persons {
    cult {

What would be executed by a SQL database would be:

SELECT id, name, cult_id FROM persons;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 1;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 1;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 1;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 1;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 2;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 2;
SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = 2;
# ...

Once the list of users has been returned, a separate query is run to find the cult of each user. You can see how this could quickly become a problem.

A common solution to this is to introduce a dataloader. This can be done with Juniper using the crate cksac/dataloader-rs, which has two types of dataloaders; cached and non-cached.

Cached Loader

DataLoader provides a memoization cache, after .load() is called once with a given key, the resulting value is cached to eliminate redundant loads.

DataLoader caching does not replace Redis, Memcache, or any other shared application-level cache. DataLoader is first and foremost a data loading mechanism, and its cache only serves the purpose of not repeatedly loading the same data in the context of a single request to your Application. (read more)

What does it look like?

!FILENAME Cargo.toml

actix-identity = "0.4.0-beta.2"
actix-rt = "1.0"
actix-web = {version = "2.0", features = []}
juniper = { git = "https://github.com/graphql-rust/juniper" }
futures = "0.3"
postgres = "0.15.2"
dataloader = "0.12.0"
async-trait = "0.1.30"
// use dataloader::cached::Loader;
use dataloader::non_cached::Loader;
use dataloader::BatchFn;
use std::collections::HashMap;
use postgres::{Connection, TlsMode};
use std::env;

pub fn get_db_conn() -> Connection {
    let pg_connection_string = env::var("DATABASE_URI").expect("need a db uri");
    println!("Connecting to {}", pg_connection_string);
    let conn = Connection::connect(&pg_connection_string[..], TlsMode::None).unwrap();
    println!("Connection is fine");

#[derive(Debug, Clone)]
pub struct Cult {
  pub id: i32,
  pub name: String,

pub fn get_cult_by_ids(hashmap: &mut HashMap<i32, Cult>, ids: Vec<i32>) {
  let conn = get_db_conn();
  for row in &conn
    .query("SELECT id, name FROM cults WHERE id = ANY($1)", &[&ids])
    let cult = Cult {
      id: row.get(0),
      name: row.get(1),
    hashmap.insert(cult.id, cult);

pub struct CultBatcher;

impl BatchFn<i32, Cult> for CultBatcher {

    // A hashmap is used, as we need to return an array which maps each original key to a Cult.
    async fn load(&self, keys: &[i32]) -> HashMap<i32, Cult> {
        println!("load cult batch {:?}", keys);
        let mut cult_hashmap = HashMap::new();
        get_cult_by_ids(&mut cult_hashmap, keys.to_vec());

pub type CultLoader = Loader<i32, Cult, CultBatcher>;

// To create a new loader
pub fn get_loader() -> CultLoader {
      // Usually a DataLoader will coalesce all individual loads which occur 
      // within a single frame of execution before calling your batch function with all requested keys.
      // However sometimes this behavior is not desirable or optimal. 
      // Perhaps you expect requests to be spread out over a few subsequent ticks
      // See: https://github.com/cksac/dataloader-rs/issues/12 
      // More info: https://github.com/graphql/dataloader#batch-scheduling 
      // A larger yield count will allow more requests to append to batch but will wait longer before actual load.

#[juniper::graphql_object(Context = Context)]
impl Cult {
  //  your resolvers

  // To call the dataloader 
  pub async fn cult_by_id(ctx: &Context, id: i32) -> Cult {

How do I call them?

Once created, a dataloader has the async functions .load() and .load_many(). In the above example cult_loader.load(id: i32).await returns Cult. If we had used cult_loader.load_many(Vec<i32>).await it would have returned Vec<Cult>.

Where do I create my dataloaders?

Dataloaders should be created per-request to avoid risk of bugs where one user is able to load cached/batched data from another user/ outside of its authenticated scope. Creating dataloaders within individual resolvers will prevent batching from occurring and will nullify the benefits of the dataloader.

For example:

When you declare your context

use juniper;

pub struct Context {
    pub cult_loader: CultLoader,

impl juniper::Context for Context {}

impl Context {
    pub fn new(cult_loader: CultLoader) -> Self {
        Self {

Your handler for GraphQL (Note: instantiating context here keeps it per-request)

pub async fn graphql(
    st: web::Data<Arc<Schema>>,
    data: web::Json<GraphQLRequest>,
) -> Result<HttpResponse, Error> {

    // Context setup
    let cult_loader = get_loader();
    let ctx = Context::new(cult_loader);

    // Execute
    let res = data.execute(&st, &ctx).await; 
    let json = serde_json::to_string(&res).map_err(error::ErrorInternalServerError)?;


Further Example:

For a full example using Dataloaders and Context check out jayy-lmao/rust-graphql-docker.