warning Warning This chapter applies only to the code first approach.

Query complexity allows you to define how complex certain fields are, and to restrict queries with a maximum complexity. The idea is to define how complex each field is by using a simple number. A common default is to give each field a complexity of 1. In addition, the complexity calculation of a GraphQL query can be customized with so-called complexity estimators. A complexity estimator is a simple function that calculates the complexity for a field. You can add any number of complexity estimators to the rule, which are then executed one after another. The first estimator that returns a numeric complexity value determines the complexity for that field.

The @nestjs/graphql package integrates very well with tools like graphql-query-complexity that provides a cost analysis-based solution. With this library, you can reject queries to your GraphQL server that are deemed too costly to execute.


To begin using it, we first install the required dependency.

$ npm install --save graphql-query-complexity

Getting started

Once the installation process is complete, we can define the ComplexityPlugin class:

import { GraphQLSchemaHost, Plugin } from '@nestjs/graphql';
import {
} from 'apollo-server-plugin-base';
import { GraphQLError } from 'graphql';
import {
} from 'graphql-query-complexity';
export class ComplexityPlugin implements ApolloServerPlugin {
constructor(private gqlSchemaHost: GraphQLSchemaHost) {}
requestDidStart(): GraphQLRequestListener {
const { schema } = this.gqlSchemaHost;
return {
didResolveOperation({ request, document }) {
const complexity = getComplexity({
operationName: request.operationName,
query: document,
variables: request.variables,
estimators: [
simpleEstimator({ defaultComplexity: 1 }),
if (complexity >= 20) {
throw new GraphQLError(
`Query is too complex: ${complexity}. Maximum allowed complexity: 20`,
console.log('Query Complexity:', complexity);

For demonstration purposes, we specified the maximum allowed complexity as 20. In the example above, we used 2 estimators, the simpleEstimator and the fieldExtensionsEstimator.

  • simpleEstimator: the simple estimator returns a fixed complexity for each field
  • fieldExtensionsEstimator: the field extensions estimator extracts the complexity value for each field of your schema

info Hint Remember to add this class to the providers array in any module.

Field-level complexity

With this plugin in place, we can now define the complexity for any field by specifying the complexity property in the options object passed into the @Field() decorator, as follows:

@Field({ complexity: 3 })
title: string;

Alternatively, you can define the estimator function:

@Field({ complexity: (options: ComplexityEstimatorArgs) => ... })
title: string;

Query/Mutation-level complexity

In addition, @Query() and @Mutation() decorators may have a complexity property specified like so:

@Query({ complexity: (options: ComplexityEstimatorArgs) => options.args.count * options.childComplexity })
items(@Args('count') count: number) {
return this.itemsService.getItems({ count });