GRANDstack is a full-stack framework for building applications with GraphQL, React, Apollo and the Neo4j Database.
In this talk, Michael Porter, Founder of Muddy Boots Code, will talk about how the GRANDstack makes handling complex data easy.
He will explain how data can be modeled easily, like a whiteboard model as a representation of the real world, and elaborate on how CRUD mutations can be automatically created as well as, in case the automated CRUD doesn’t do what you want it to, how to query custom actions via APOC and Cypher easily.
Full Presentation: How the GRANDstack Makes Handling Complex Data Easy
My name is Michael Porter. I’m a coder. I work for a company called Muddy Boots Code, which I founded. We deal with oil and gas mineral ownership and exploration, which is a very relationship-based, very graphy type of business. So we’ve stumbled upon Neo4j and the GRANDstack, and we have been using them ever since.
When you deal with oil and gas, there are a lot of ownerships, and they split along families and people, lease ownership and buy ownership. You have to keep track of those relationships as well as what percentages of those relationships relate to how much oil is coming out of the ground and things of that nature.
The GRANDstack has helped so much in making our applications for a number of reasons:
- Neo4j and GraphQL make modeling real world data and relationships really really easy. If you can whiteboard it, then you can make it work. You can sit there and draw these relationships out, and then you can express them programmatically so well with Neo4j and GraphQL; that then speeds that process up.
- Something that makes it really easy to work with is that it does all of your auto-creation of your CRUD type mutations. So if you have a well or a piece of land or a user, you’re not wasting a lot of your time writing resolvers in GraphQL, which is one of the worst boilerplate parts of that picture. And then it makes some assumptions about how you want that done based on the GraphQL schema. And if you want to, you’re able to override those.
- The next big part of it is that, because it’s Neo4j- and GraphQL-based, you can then use Cypher, whereas you may not be able to do that in other ways. So you can use custom Cypher directives to add properties to your GraphQL types and make the most of Neo4j
- When you get to the end, if you’re trying to work on your resolvers or maybe if some custom resolvers and stuff are not working for you very well, you can go ahead and write custom mutations or queries fully in APOC and Cypher to create what you want.
Modeling Real-World Data with Ease
In this particular instance, this is oil and gas ownership. And this is a simplified meta graph for how that works:
As you can see, there are a ton of different relationships, different types of ownership and different directions of relationships involved. In order to track all of these things and have a really good picture of how that works:
- You need a really good GraphQL schema to understand it and take advantage of it.
- The Neo4j-GraphQL integration allows you to make full use of Neo4j. So that for something that looks like this (image above) where there’s 16 different types of relationships and many nodes and stuff, you can go ahead and scale it out pretty well.
This is more than a thousand nodes representing oil and gas ownership. The lands, the wells drilled on it, the production that occurs, etc. are all shown on this Neo4j graph.
You can see there in the center, there are three owners, and they all have ownership in the tracts, which are the little orange dots, and then it goes out from there, where you have tracts, wells, operators… then the production that comes from those wells.
Because of the way they’re connected, we’re easily able to traverse the graph. So I can start from an owner, work myself all the way across to production, and then take those fractions and eventually get an actual picture of, say, what these people own or what they’re owed based on their production.
This is kind of a smaller picture of just the ownership in the graph:
And we can see here, there are three principal owners. There are multiple types of ownership in these tracts of land, such as surface ownership, mineral ownership, non-participating royalty ownership.
Because of the way Neo4j works, we’re able to place those different relationships between the owners and their tracts, and then place on the relationships, the properties that actually represent the amount of ownerships and things of that nature.
At that point, we can go ahead and very easily do aggregations and averages, because you can go from one owner out to all of these tracts and then work your way backwards from it and across. The tract is essentially the center of the graph. It’s the centrality and everything else comes towards it. So it’s very easy to model.
Cypher Directives to Create Node Properties
With GRANDstack, you can add Cypher directives onto your nodes. These Cypher directives allow you to write the Neo4j Cypher query language just like you would if you were working on the Neo4j Desktop or anything else. You can write a Cypher directive that affects a particular node in a database.
So here we’re looking at an owner who’s got a couple properties:
There’s an array of mineral ownership, which is actually a type of relationship, and so it’s got its own properties in there. Same thing with surface and NPRI ownerships.
So then I can place a property on a node, like what total surface and total minerals a track has. That, again, is a Cypher statement that returns just kind of like an enum type, a float or a string.
And so the data is already in my graph now in that type, and when I query the dataset I don’t have to do any extra special magic on the front-end or do anything else. It goes directly to the type.
For those of you familiar with the graphical playground, on the left is a simple query; we’ve got owners, the names of the owners, total surface, total minerals, average mineral tract size, max mineral tract size and so on.
On the right, we have our query returned. So that makes it really easy for me on the front-end to build something, where I can give these people a snapshot of their data and tell them what’s going on. So it’s built right in. It’s a single API request. It’s a single pull and a single operation from the database, and it works really nicely.
On this next slide, you’ll see a similar thing, where we traverse the graph:
Say I own this huge tract with this ID. I can use GraphQL to go ahead and find out the minerals owned on it – net mineral acres in this particular case. I can see the wells that are drilled on it. I can know who operates them, how many wells that operator operates in total, and then the average monthly oil.