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Dgraph Client for Java

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A minimal implementation for a Dgraph client for Java 1.8 and above, using grpc.

This client follows the Dgraph Go client closely.

Before using this client, we highly recommend that you go through, and understand how to run and work with Dgraph.

Table of Contents


grab via Maven:


or Gradle:

compile 'io.dgraph:dgraph4j:1.7.1'


Build and run the DgraphJavaSample project in the samples folder, which contains an end-to-end example of using the Dgraph Java client. Follow the instructions in the README of that project.


This library supports two styles of clients, the synchronous client DgraphClient and the async client DgraphAsyncClient. A DgraphClient or DgraphAsyncClient can be initialised by passing it a list of DgraphBlockingStub clients. The anyClient() API can randomly pick a stub, which can then be used for GRPC operations. In the next section, we will explain how to create a synchronous client and use it to mutate or query dgraph. For the async client, more details can be found in the Using the Asynchronous Client section.

Using the Synchronous Client

Create the client

The following code snippet shows how to create a synchronous client using just one connection.

ManagedChannel channel =
ManagedChannelBuilder.forAddress("localhost", 9080).usePlaintext(true).build();
DgraphStub stub = DgraphGrpc.newStub(channel);
DgraphClient dgraphClient = new DgraphClient(Collections.singletonList(stub));

Alternatively, you can specify a deadline (in seconds) after which the client will time out when making requests to the server.

DgraphClient dgraphClient = new DgraphClient(stub);

Alter the database

To set the schema, create an Operation object, set the schema and pass it to DgraphClient#alter method.

String schema = "name: string @index(exact) .";
Operation op = Operation.newBuilder().setSchema(schema).build();

Operation contains other fields as well, including drop predicate and drop all. Drop all is useful if you wish to discard all the data, and start from a clean slate, without bringing the instance down.

// Drop all data including schema from the dgraph instance. This is useful
// for small examples such as this, since it puts dgraph into a clean
// state.

Create a transaction

There are two types of transactions in dgraph, i.e. the read-only transactions that only include queries and the transactions that change data in dgraph with mutate operations. Both the synchronous client DgraphClient and the async client DgraphAsyncClient support the two types of transactions by providing the newTransaction and the newReadOnlyTransaction APIs. Creating a transaction is a local operation and incurs no network overhead.

In most of the cases, the normal read-write transactions should be used, which can have any number of query, or mutate operations. However, if a transaction only has queries, you might benefit from a read-only transaction, which can share the same read timestamp across multiple such read-only transactions, thus, potentially providing better latency.

For normal read-write transactions, it is a good practise to call Transaction#discard() in a finally block after running the transaction. Calling Transaction#discard() after Transaction#commit() is a no-op and you can call discard() multiple times with no additional side-effects.

Transaction txn = dgraphClient.newTransaction();
  try {
    // Do something here
    // ...
  } finally {

For read-only transactions, there is no need to call Transaction.discard, which is equivalent to a no-op.

Run a mutation

Transaction#mutate runs a mutation. It takes in a Mutation object, which provides two main ways to set data: JSON and RDF N-Quad. You can choose whichever way is convenient.

We're going to use JSON. First we define a Person class to represent a person. This data will be seralized into JSON.

class Person {
        String name
        Person() {}

Next, we initialise a Person object, serialize it and use it in Mutation object.

// Create data
Person p = new Person(); = "Alice";

// Serialize it
Gson gson = new Gson();
String json = gson.toJson(p);
// Run mutation
Mutation mu =


Sometimes, you only want to commit mutation, without querying anything further. In such cases, you can use a CommitNow field in Mutation object to indicate that the mutation must be immediately committed.

The IgnoreIndexConflict flag can be set to true on the Mutation object to not run conflict detection over the index, which would decrease the number of transaction conflicts and aborts. However, this would come at the cost of potentially inconsistent upsert operations.

Commit a transaction

A transaction can be committed using the Transaction#commit() method. If your transaction consisted solely of calls to Transaction#query(), and no calls to Transaction#mutate(), then calling Transaction#commit() is not necessary.

An error will be returned if other transactions running concurrently modify the same data that was modified in this transaction. It is up to the user to retry transactions when they fail.

Transaction txn = dgraphClient.newTransaction();

try {
  // Perform any number of queries and mutations
  // and finally…
} catch (TxnConflictException ex) {
   // Retry or handle exception.
} finally {
   // Clean up. Calling this after txn.commit() is a no-op
   // and hence safe.

Run a query

You can run a query by calling Transaction#query(). You will need to pass in a GraphQL+- query string, and a map (optional, could be empty) of any variables that you might want to set in the query.

The response would contain a JSON field, which has the JSON encoded result. You will need to decode it before you can do anything useful with it.

Let’s run the following query:

query all($a: string) {
  all(func: eq(name, $a)) {

First we must create a People class that will help us deserialize the JSON result:

class People {
  List<Person> all;
  People() {}

Then we run the query, deserialize the result and print it out:

// Query
String query =
"query all($a: string){\n" +
"  all(func: eq(name, $a)) {\n" +
"    name\n" +
"  }\n" +

Map<String, String> vars = Collections.singletonMap("$a", "Alice");
Response res = dgraphClient.newReadOnlyTransaction().queryWithVars(query, vars);

// Deserialize
People ppl = gson.fromJson(res.getJson().toStringUtf8(), People.class);

// Print results
System.out.printf("people found: %d\n", ppl.all.size());
ppl.all.forEach(person -> System.out.println(;

This should print:

people found: 1

Setting deadlines

It is recommended that you always set a deadline for each client call, after which the client terminaltes. This is in line with the recommendation for any gRPC client. Read this forum post for more details.

channel = ManagedChannelBuilder.forAddress("localhost", 9080).usePlaintext(true).build();
DgraphGrpc.DgraphStub stub = DgraphGrpc.newStub(channel);
ClientInterceptor timeoutInterceptor = new ClientInterceptor(){
  public <ReqT, RespT> ClientCall<ReqT, RespT> interceptCall(
      MethodDescriptor<ReqT, RespT> method, CallOptions callOptions, Channel next) {
    return next.newCall(method, callOptions.withDeadlineAfter(500, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS));
DgraphClient dgraphClient = new DgraphClient(stub);

Setting Metadata Headers

Certain headers such as authentication tokens need to be set globally for all subsequent calls. Below is an example of setting a header with the name "auth-token":

// create the stub first
ManagedChannel channel =
ManagedChannelBuilder.forAddress(TEST_HOSTNAME, TEST_PORT).usePlaintext(true).build();
DgraphStub stub = DgraphGrpc.newStub(channel);

// use MetadataUtils to augment the stub with headers
Metadata metadata = new Metadata();
  Metadata.Key.of("auth-token", Metadata.ASCII_STRING_MARSHALLER), "the-auth-token-value");
stub = MetadataUtils.attachHeaders(stub, metadata);

// create the DgraphClient wrapper around the stub
DgraphClient dgraphClient = new DgraphClient(stub);

// trigger a RPC call using the DgraphClient

Helper Methods

Delete multiple edges

The example below uses the helper method Helpers#deleteEdges to delete multiple edges corresponding to predicates on a node with the given uid. The helper method takes an existing mutation, and returns a new mutation with the deletions applied.

 Mutation mu = Mutation.newBuilder().build()
 mu = Helpers.deleteEdges(mu, uid, "friends", "loc");

Using the Asynchronous Client

Dgraph Client for Java also bundles an asynchronous API, which can be used by instantiating the DgraphAsyncClient class. The usage is almost exactly the same as the DgraphClient (show in previous section) class. The main differences is that the DgraphAsyncClient#newTransacation() returns an AsyncTransaction class. The API for AsyncTransaction is exactly Transcation. The only difference is that instead of returning the results directly, it returns immediately with a corresponding CompletableFuture<T> object. This object represents the computation which runs asynchronously to yield the result in the future. Read more about CompletableFuture<T> in the Java 8 documentation.

Here is the asynchronous version of the code above, which runs a query.

// Query
String query =
"query all($a: string){\n" +
"  all(func: eq(name, $a)) {\n" +
"    name\n" +
  }\n" +

Map<String, String> vars = Collections.singletonMap("$a", "Alice");

AsyncTransaction txn = dgraphAsyncClient.newTransaction();
txn.query(query).thenAccept(response -> {
    // Deserialize
    People ppl = gson.fromJson(res.getJson().toStringUtf8(), People.class);

    // Print results
    System.out.printf("people found: %d\n", ppl.all.size());
    ppl.all.forEach(person -> System.out.println(;


Building the source

Warning: The gradle build runs integration tests on a locally running Dgraph server. The tests will remove all data from your Dgraph instance. So make sure that you don't have any important data on your Dgraph instance.

./gradlew build

If you have made changes to the task.proto file, this step will also regenerate the source files generated by Protocol Buffer tools.

Code Style

We use google-java-format to format the source code. If you run ./gradlew build, you will be warned if there is code that is not conformant. You can run ./gradlew goJF to format the source code, before committing it.

Running unit tests

Warning: This command will runs integration tests on a locally running Dgraph server. The tests will remove all data from your Dgraph instance. So make sure that you don't have any important data on your Dgraph instance.

Make sure you have a Dgraph server running on localhost before you run this task.

./gradlew test