# Subscriptions: Getting Started

Subscriptions allow GraphQL clients to observe specific events and receive updates from the server when those events occur.


Much of the credit should be given to the Ruby implementation (opens new window) as they provided a great overview of how the backend should work.

# Setup

Add the service provider to your config/app.php:

'providers' => [

If you want to use the Pusher driver, you need to install the Pusher PHP Library (opens new window) for interacting with the Pusher HTTP API.

composer require pusher/pusher-php-server

If you want to use the Laravel Echo driver, you need to set the env LIGHTHOUSE_BROADCASTER=echo.

# Empty Response Optimization

Lighthouse returns the subscription channel as part of the response under extensions. If subscriptions.exclude_empty in lighthouse.php is set to true, API responses without a subscription channel will not contain lighthouse_subscriptions in extensions. This optimizes performance by sending less data, but clients must anticipate this appropriately.

# Expiring Subscriptions

Subscriptions do not expire by themselves. Unless you delete a subscription, it will continue to broadcast events after the client has disconnected.

The easiest way to expire subscriptions automatically is to use the env LIGHTHOUSE_SUBSCRIPTION_STORAGE_TTL to set an expiration time in seconds (e.g. LIGHTHOUSE_SUBSCRIPTION_STORAGE_TTL=3600 to expire in one hour).

# Pusher Expiration Webhook

If you are using the Pusher driver, you can use a channel existence (opens new window) webhook to mitigate this problem. When a Pusher channel is vacated (i.e. there are no subscribers), it will trigger the webhook, which will instruct Lighthouse to delete the subscription.

The webhook URL will typically be:


You can add the webhook in the Pusher Dashboard. Select the type channel existence.