Relay, scrolling connections


Relay doesn't solve for you how you should render your components. Relay is "universal" and doesn't even assume it will be running in a browser context. It focuses only on providing an abstraction to work with GraphQL – the same way React focuses only on rendering. Each library solves one single problem at a time (and hell, both are complex enough problem to solve already).

Because these libraries are very generic, it's now up to the community to solve the "more specific" parts. Just search on NPM and you can find tons of React libraries already, some might help you to solve part of the problem you want to solve.

This article demonstrates one use-case: implementing a component handling the scroll of a list to pull more data of a GraphQL connection with Relay.


In React you should think in term of components that subdivide individual task to solve. To solve scrolling a connection you should just need this:

<InfiniteScrollable relay={relay}>

Here is a real use-case we have at projectseptember.

import React, {
} from "react";
import Relay from "react-relay";
import List from "material-ui/List";
import Content from "./Content";

class ContentStream extends Component {
  static propTypes = {
    relay: PropTypes.object.isRequired,
    user: PropTypes.object,
  render () {
    const { user, relay } = this.props;
    return (
      <InfiniteScrollable relay={relay}>
          { =>
            <Content content={e.node} key={e.cursor} />

export default Relay.createContainer(ContentStream, {
  initialVariables: {
    first: 50,
  fragments: {
    user: () => Relay.QL`
fragment on User {
  stream (first:$first) {
    edges {
      node {

We don't have to express how to "pull for more data" in that code. In fact, this is delegated to InfiniteScrollable and we never have to think again about it.

InfiniteScrollable implementation

Relay enforces to implement a subset of GraphQL spec, like the Connection API. It's a good thing because we can also rely on this fact, and what we only need is the relay object to implement a generic pull-on-scroll.

import {
} from "react";
import {findDOMNode} from "react-dom";

const regex = /(auto|scroll)/;

const style = (node, prop) =>
  getComputedStyle(node, null).getPropertyValue(prop);

const scroll = (node) =>
    style(node, "overflow") +
    style(node, "overflow-y") +
    style(node, "overflow-x"));

const scrollparent = (node) =>
  !node || node===document.body
  ? document.body
  : scroll(node)
    ? node
    : scrollparent(node.parentNode);

const resizeEventOn = n => n===document.body ? window : n;

export default class InfiniteScrollable extends Component {
  static propTypes = {
    children: PropTypes.any.isRequired,
    relay: PropTypes.object,
    style: PropTypes.object,
    loadPixelsInAdvance: PropTypes.number,
    relayVariable: PropTypes.string,
    chunkSize: PropTypes.number,
    // loadMore could even be generalize, this component works if you provide loadMore instead of relay
    loadMore: PropTypes.func, // (can) returns a promise
  static defaultProps = {
    loadPixelsInAdvance: 1000,
    relayVariable: "first",
    chunkSize: 50,

  state = { loading: false };

  resizeBoundOnDom = null;

  componentDidMount () {

  componentWillUnmount () {

  componentDidUpdate () {

  unbindResizeEvent () {
    if (this.resizeBoundOnDom) {
      this.resizeBoundOnDom.removeEventListener("scroll", this.checkScroll);
      this.resizeBoundOnDom = null;

  getScrollParent () {
    return scrollparent(findDOMNode(this));

  syncScrollBodyListener = () => {
    const resizeBoundOnDom = resizeEventOn(this.getScrollParent());
    if (resizeBoundOnDom !== this.resizeBoundOnDom) {
      resizeBoundOnDom.addEventListener("scroll", this.checkScroll);

  loadMoreUsingRelay = () => {
    const { relay, relayVariable, chunkSize } = this.props;
    return new Promise((resolve, reject) =>
       [relayVariable]: relay.variables[relayVariable] + chunkSize
     }, readyState => {
       if (readyState.error) reject(readyState.error);
       if (readyState.done) resolve();

  checkScroll = () => {
    if (this.state.loading) return;
    const container = this.getScrollParent();
    if (!container) return;
    const { height } = container.getBoundingClientRect();
    const { scrollHeight, scrollTop } = container;
    const bottom = scrollTop + height;
    const { loadPixelsInAdvance } = this.props;
    const advance = bottom - scrollHeight + loadPixelsInAdvance;
    if (advance > 0) {
      this.setState({ loading: true }, () =>
        Promise.resolve({ advance, bottom, scrollHeight, height, scrollTop, loadPixelsInAdvance })
        .then(this.props.loadMore || this.loadMoreUsingRelay)
          () => this.setState({ loading: false }), // technically could recall checkScroll here. in second callback of setState. fork it, try it, adapt it !
          e => (console.warn(e), this.setState({ loading: false }))

  render () {
    // you might want to render a spinner?
    // children might be a function?
    // etc..
    // these are some variations we could have from this starting point
    return this.props.children;

This is a possible implementation of this problem. You might want to add more things based on your needs. For instance you could automatically render a loading spinner... or a million other things! Please try it, fork it, give feedback :)

It is also possible to implement it as a High Order Component (HOC):

As a generative plotter artist, I use code to create art (creative coding), draw with fountain pens on robots (plotting), and explore the boundaries of abstract art using algorithms in pursuit of increasingly realistic imagery. I do not produce prints; instead, I create unique 'plots' - physical works of art that are truly one-of-a-kind.