Using Global Node IDs

You can access most objects in GitHub (users, issues, pull requests, etc.) using either the REST API v3 or the GraphQL API v4. With a recent update, you can find the global node ID of many objects from within the REST API and use these IDs in your GraphQL operations.

Note: In REST, the global node ID field is named node_id. In GraphQL, it's an id field on the node interface. For a refresher on what "node" means in GraphQL, see "Introduction to GraphQL."

Putting global node IDs to use

You can follow three steps to use global node IDs effectively:

  1. Call a REST endpoint that returns an object's node_id.
  2. Find the object's type in GraphQL.
  3. Use the ID and type to do a direct node lookup in GraphQL.

Let's walk through an example.

1. Call a REST endpoint that returns an object's node ID

If you request the authenticated user:

curl -i -u username:token https://api.github.com/user

you'll get a response that includes the node_id of the authenticated user:

Status: 200 OK
{
  "login": "octocat",
  "id": 1,
  "avatar_url": "https://github.com/images/error/octocat_happy.gif",
  "gravatar_id": "",
  "url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat",
  "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat",
  "followers_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/followers",
  "following_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/following{/other_user}",
  "gists_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/gists{/gist_id}",
  "starred_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/starred{/owner}{/repo}",
  "subscriptions_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/subscriptions",
  "organizations_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs",
  "repos_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/repos",
  "events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/events{/privacy}",
  "received_events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/received_events",
  "type": "User",
  "site_admin": false,
  "name": "monalisa octocat",
  "company": "GitHub",
  "blog": "https://github.com/blog",
  "location": "San Francisco",
  "email": "octocat@github.com",
  "hireable": false,
  "bio": "There once was...",
  "public_repos": 2,
  "public_gists": 1,
  "followers": 20,
  "following": 0,
  "created_at": "2008-01-14T04:33:35Z",
  "updated_at": "2008-01-14T04:33:35Z",
  "total_private_repos": 100,
  "owned_private_repos": 100,
  "private_gists": 81,
  "disk_usage": 10000,
  "collaborators": 8,
  "two_factor_authentication": true,
  "plan": {
    "name": "Medium",
    "space": 400,
    "private_repos": 20,
    "collaborators": 0
  },
  "node_id": "MDQ6VXNlcjU4MzIzMQ=="
}

2. Find the object type in GraphQL

In this example, the node_id value is MDQ6VXNlcjU4MzIzMQ==. You can use this value to query the same object in GraphQL.

You'll need to know the object's type first, though. You can check the type with a simple GraphQL query:

query {
  node(id:"MDQ6VXNlcjU4MzIzMQ==") {
     __typename
  }
}

This type of query—that is, finding the node by ID—is known as a "direct node lookup."

When you run this query, you'll see that the __typename is User.

3. Do a direct node lookup in GraphQL

Once you've confirmed the type, you can use an inline fragment to access the object by its ID and return additional data. In this example, we define the fields on User that we'd like to query:

query {
  node(id:"MDQ6VXNlcjU4MzIzMQ==") {
   ... on User {
      name
      login
    }
  }
}

This type of query is the standard approach for looking up an object by its global node ID.

Using global node IDs in migrations

When building integrations that use either the REST API v3 or the GraphQL API v4, it's best practice to persist the global node ID so you can easily reference objects across API versions. For more information on handling the transition between REST and GraphQL, see "Migrating from REST to GraphQL."