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Defining your Navigation Graphs

In Compose Destinations, we have an interface that defines a navigation graph in its most simple form. Here is what it looks like:

interface NavGraphSpec: Direction, Route {

override val route: String

val startRoute: Route

val destinationsByRoute: Map<String, DestinationSpec<*>>

val nestedNavGraphs: List<NavGraphSpec> get() = emptyList()

When running in "single-module" mode, KSP will also generate a NavGraph data class that implements the above interface but exposes the generated sealed version of DestinationSpec instead.

By default, all your destinations will belong to a NavGraph we call "root". This NavGraph instance will be generated in an object called NavGraphs. So, you can access it via NavGraphs.root and you should pass it into DestinationsNavHost call. In some situations, however, you might want to:

  1. Group some of your destinations in nested navigation graphs.
  2. Have multiple top-level (or "root") navigation graphs, so you can use each one in different DestinationsNavHost Composables.

Generating navigation graphs

Through @NavGraph annotations

To define a navigation graph, you need to create an annotation class annotated with @NavGraph. For example:

annotation class SettingsNavGraph(
val start: Boolean = false

Note the start parameter. It is mandatory and it is enforced at compile time. The NavGraph annotation has two parameters:

  • default : if true, then all @Destination Composable functions that don't specify a navigation graph, will belong to it. There is a @RootNavGraph in the core library that by default takes this role if no other sets default = true. There can only be one default navigation graph per module. This is enforced at compile time.
  • route : the route of the navigation graph. By default, the name of the annotation class will be used (without 'NavGraph') suffix and in snake case.

To make destinations part of this navigation graph, you need to annotate them with it!

@SettingsNavGraph(start = true)
fun SettingsMainScreen()

Remember the start parameter? You can use it on the destination you wish to use as the start destination of that navigation graph.

To make this navigation graph nested in some other navigation graph, annotate it with the parent's annotation!

annotation class SettingsNavGraph(
val start: Boolean = false

This makes settings a nested navigation graph of root. It's that simple. If you don't set any parent of a navigation graph, then it will be a "top-level" one, ideal to pass to a DestinationsNavHost call.

You can also make nested navigation graphs the start of a parent navigation graph. Just as you do with destinations, you only need to use start = true:

@RootNavGraph(start = true)
annotation class YourNavGraph(
val start: Boolean = false

This makes your nav graph be nested in root and be its starting route.


With this mechanism of making navigation graphs and use their annotations to annotate either nested navigation graphs or the destinations that should belong to it, you can make an entire graph in any way you may want.

The most common use case, is to create nested navigation graphs inside root (like in the above SettingsNavGraph example) and pass NavGraphs.root to DestinationsNavHost. This way, all destinations and navgraphs belong to the root one, and they get registered in the DestinationsNavHost call.

(DEPRECATED) Through @Destination annotation

By default, Compose Destinations reads info from your @Destination annotations to build the NavGraphs object. If you want some screens to be part of a nested navigation graph, you can use the navGraph argument of @Destination annotation:

navGraph = "settings",
start = true
fun SettingsScreen() { /*...*/ }

All annotated Composables with the same "navGraph" argument will then belong to this navigation graph. You can access its properties with NavGraphs.[yourNavGraphName]. You can navigate to the graph itself with destinationsNavigator.navigate(NavGraphs.[yourNavGraphName]).

Each navigation graph needs one and only one start destination. A compile check is in place to enforce this. You can define that with the "start" argument (as seen in the above example).

Manually defining navigation graphs

You can also manually define navigation graphs by instantiating NavGraphSpecs which, as shown above, is just a normal interface. If your app is multi module, you'll likely have to do it, so that you can gather all destinations / nav graphs from other modules into a single "top-level" navigation graph to pass to DestinationsNavHost call. If you do this, we recommend having a globally accessible object containing the nav graphs since they don't contain any state and you can easily pass them to the DestinationNavHost calls, check if certain Destination belongs to some graph, get the Destination corresponding to a NavBackStackEntry, etc.

That said, you are free to organize them as you prefer. In a big app, it may be better to have multiple of these NavGraphs aggregator objects, for example. You can even instantiate this class just as you pass it to DestinationsNavHost.

Also, it won't make sense for the library to be generating the NavGraphs object anymore. You should disable it adding this into your module's build.gradle:

ksp {
arg("compose-destinations.generateNavGraphs", "false")

If you disable this task, Compose Destinations will print some warnings if you are using @NavGraph annotations in any @Destination annotation (since these will be ignored).

"Vanilla NavHosts"

Finally, you can opt to not use DestinationsNavHost. This approach is described in more details here. By doing that, you will be defining the Navigation graphs of the NavHost while dealing with arguments, and calling the Composables.

In the end, the fact that we included this approach in both sections speaks to why we believe it's not the best approach: you are dealing with multiple concerns (defining the navigation graphs, getting the nav arguments, calling each composable) and the a way to check (both at runtime and by looking at the code) how the Navigation graphs of your app are defined, is less immediate compared to when you have an object that just contains the information about the graphs.