GraphQL - absinthe vs graphql-elixir

Hey there.

I want to try out GraphQL in Elixir for a small project,
and there seem to be two competing implementations for Elixir. and

Both recently active and with equal amounts of GH stars.

Does anyone have experience with either, and can comment on the differences?


I’ve used a bit of absinthe, but from what I’ve seen it seems GraphQL is more low level and last I saw it did not have the (graphql-spec-required) documentation paths. Absinthe does more for you and follows the spec better, but you do have to work ‘within’ it more. I ended up choosing Absinthe for a few reasons and of the little area I’ve used it, it was quite nice.

For note, GraphQL is a lot older than Absinthe, Absinthe is quite new and was made to follow the spec as well as it does. If they have the same stars now (they certainly did not when it was new just recently) then that says something about Absinthe as well.


Hey there!

Disclaimer: I’m one of the authors of Absinthe. You can find my slides from ElixirConf here, hopefully the talk itself up soon:

Absinthe was created about 9 months ago when we really wanted to use GraphQL in production here at At the time graphql-elixir was still rather young and we had production needs we wanted to move on very quickly.

Our goal was to make something correct, easy to use, idiomatic, and performant. In concrete terms this means we right now:

  • Validate your schema at compile time. This catches errors, sets defaults with zero overhead, and ensures maximum performance by baking computed data into functions
  • Return extensive error information when queries are executed, helping your clients better use your API.
  • Secondary libraries to assist with common client side patterns like Relay Connections
  • Easy use of anonymous functions in schemas.

It means in the future:

  • We’re reworking execution to be user extensible.
  • This new execution model will enable subscriptions and fancy directives like @defer, @live
  • Our new execution branch has tests we copied almost verbatim from the reference implementation
  • We’re aiming to enable pre-compiled documents for when you want to shave off those last microseconds from a query.

Do you have any specific questions?


Absinthe is the one you should go for at this time. They are also very active on slack and are nice people.

The only thing I found troublesome is that we use guardian for authentication and though we are able to see graphiql, it doesn’t work: means we can see the schema but we are still not able to run any query through graphiql!

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I use guardian and I have absinthe in a little area as a test in my big server, although I have the guardian token given to the client and they pass it back with each request, so it is done very manually, not 'plug’y.

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Thanks guys, I’ll start out with Absinthe then I guess.

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@collegeimprovements if you are using jwt, you can manually add the auth header including the token in graphiql and assuming it’s valid, you should be able to reach your secure endpoints as well.


We found a version of GraphIQL the other day that made setting headers easy, we hope to add that soon. With that capability it should be easy to set JWT headers or other header based authentication methods.


Maybe little off topic but there is interesting project GraphQL as service. Could be nice alternative to Firebase. They are using as database.

Is the talk up now?

I’ve just finished the elixir fountain Ep where you talked about this and interested to see it. I think I read in another thread it was recorded through a piece of cheese, so the audio caused it to be torn from us?

Yeah they took it down to do further process. Unfortunately it is still not up yet. Mine was not the only one affected. Definitely frustrating.

It’s back up!

Still sounds like crap though. Ah well :frowning:


I was in your audience for this one and I can confirm that you sounded just fine :slight_smile:

Thanks for letting me know. The audio isn’t THAT bad, and more than made up for the content.