Use delta query to track changes in Microsoft Graph data

Delta query enables applications to discover newly created, updated, or deleted entities without performing a full read of the target resource with every request. Microsoft Graph applications can use delta query to efficiently synchronize changes with a local data store.

Use delta query to track changes in a resource collection

The typical call pattern is as follows:

  1. The application begins by calling a GET request with the delta function on the desired resource.
  2. Microsoft Graph sends a response containing the requested resource and a state token.

    a. If a nextLink URL is returned, there may be additional pages of data to be retrieved in the session. The application continues making requests using the nextLink URL to retrieve all pages of data until a deltaLink URL is returned in the response.

    b. If a deltaLink URL is returned, there is no more data about the existing state of the resource to be returned. For future requests, the application uses the deltaLink URL to learn about changes to the resource.

  3. When the application needs to learn about changes to the resource, it makes a new request using the deltaLink URL received in step 2. This request may be made immediately after completing step 2 or when the application checks for changes.

  4. Microsoft Graph returns a response describing changes to the resource since the previous request, and either a nextLink URL or a deltaLink URL.

State tokens

A delta query GET response always includes a URL specified in a nextLink or deltaLink response header. The nextLink URL includes a skipToken, and a deltaLink URL includes a deltaToken.

These tokens are opaque to the client. The following details are what you need to know about them:

  • Each token reflects the state and represents a snapshot of the resource in that round of change tracking.
  • The state tokens also encode and include other query parameters (such as $select) specified in the initial delta query request. Therefore, it's not required to repeat them in subsequent delta query requests.
  • When carrying out delta query, you can copy and apply the nextLink or deltaLink URL to the next delta function call without having to inspect the contents of the URL, including its state token.

Optional query parameters

If a client uses a query parameter, it must be specified in the initial request. Microsoft Graph automatically encodes the specified parameter into the nextLink or deltaLink provided in the response. The calling application only needs to specify their desired query parameters once upfront. Microsoft Graph adds the specified parameters automatically for all subsequent requests.

For users and groups, there are restrictions on using some query parameters:

  • If a $select query parameter is used, the parameter indicates that the client prefers to only track changes on the properties or relationships specified in the $select statement. If a change occurs to a property that is not selected, the resource for which that property changed does not appear in the delta response after a subsequent request.
  • $expand is not supported.

For users and groups beta (preview) APIs, scoping filters allow you to track changes to one or more specific users or groups by objectId. For example, the following request: https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/groups/delta/?$filter= id eq '477e9fc6-5de7-4406-bb2a-7e5c83c9ae5f' or id eq '004d6a07-fe70-4b92-add5-e6e37b8acd8e' returns changes for the groups matching the ids specified in the query filter.

Resource representation in the delta query response

  • Newly created instances of a supported resource are represented in the delta query response using their standard representation.

  • Updated instances are represented by their id with at least the properties that have been updated, but additional properties may be included.

  • Relationships on users and groups are represented as annotations on the standard resource representation. These annotations use the format propertyName@delta. The annotations are included in the response of the initial delta query request.

Removed instances are represented by their id and an @removed object. The @removed object may include additional information about why the instance was removed. For example, "@removed": {"reason": “changed”}.

Possible @removed reasons can be changed or deleted. - Changed indicates the item was deleted and can be restored from deletedItems. - Deleted indicates the item is deleted and cannot be restored.

@removed object can be returned in the initial delta query response and in tracked (deltaLink) responses. Clients using delta query requests should be designed to handle these object in the responses.

Supported resources

Delta query is currently supported for the following resources:

Resource collection API
Events in a calendar view (date range) of the primary calendar delta function of the event resource
Groups delta function of the group resource
Mail folders delta function of the mailFolder resource
Messages in a folder delta function of the message resource
Personal contact folders delta function of the contactFolder resource
Personal contacts in a folder delta function of the contact resource
Users delta function of the user resource
Drive items* delta function of the driveItem resource

* The usage pattern for OneDrive resources is similar to the other supported resources with some minor syntax differences. Delta query for drives will be updated in the future to be consistent with other resource types. For more detail about the current syntax, please see: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/docs/api-reference/v1.0/api/item_delta

Prerequisites

The same permissions that are required to read a specific resource are also required to perform delta query on that resource.

Delta query request examples