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Akhila Ariyachandra

Create a serverless API with TypeScript, GraphQL and MongoDB

Serverless, TypeScript, API, GraphQL, MongoDB4 min read

In this post we'll create a GraphQL API to create, view and delete notes that we can deploy to Zeit using Apollo Server, TypeScript and MongoDB.

Initial Setup

First the Now CLI will need be downloaded, installed and logged into.

The nice thing about using the Now CLI for development is that we don't have to worry about manually configuring TypeScript.

Then create a folder, initialize a project in it and install typescript as a dev dependency.

Setup the Database

To start setting up the database first go to MongoDB Atlas, create a database and get the connection URI.

If you want a more detailed explanation check out my previous guide here. Note that you can't follow it exactly here because you can no longer create new accounts in MLab (use MongoDB Atlas instead) and that guide is for an always running server, not a serverless one.

Then install the mongoose dependency. Since we'll be working with TypeScript we'll need the types for mongoose as well.

After let's create the model for the notes. Create a folder called src. After that create a folder called database in src. Then in that create another folder called models and in that create the file note.ts.

Start by importing mongoose.

Next create an interface for the model which extends from mongoose.Document. We'll need to export this interface for use later as well.

After that we'll create the schema definition.

Then define the name of the collection and the schema using schema definition.

Since we're building a serverless API, we can't depend on a persistent connection to database. When creating a Model we need to create it using the database connection.

To compensate for using serverless we'll generate the Model at runtime using a function. After declaring the functions, make it the default export.

After creating the Note Model, let's look into the database connection.

Since we're using serverless, we can't have a persistent connection to database for every invocation of the serverless function as this would create issues with scaling.

First create the .env file to store the MongoDB URI as DB_PATH.

Never commit the .env file. Make sure to add it to .gitignore.

Next create the the index.js file in src/database and import mongoose.

Then get the MongoDB URI that we included in the .env file. It can be accessed as a key in process.env.

After that declare a variable that will be used to cache the database connection between function invocations to prevent overloading the database.

Finally we need to create a function that will return a database connection. The function will first check if there is a cached connection. If there is one it will return it or else it will create a new connection and cache and return it. Be sure to export the function.

Setup the GraphQL API

First let's install the dependencies.

Next create the folder api and in it create the file graphql.ts. Now will expose the serverless function in the file as the endpoint /api/graphql. The GraphQL function will be created using Apollo Server. Since we're doing a serverless version we'll be using apollo-server-micro.

Then import ApolloServer from apollo-server-micro and the function to create the database connection.

After that import the GraphQL Schemas and Resolvers. We'll create these later.

Then initialize the apollo server and export it.

When creating a new ApolloServer, we can define the context option. The context option is an object which can be accessed by any of the resolvers.

This will be a good place to initialize the database connection and automatically pass it down to the resolvers.

To finish the function code we'll set the introspection and playground options.

Setup the GraphQL Schema

In the src folder create the graphql folder and in that create the schema folder.

GraphQL doesn't have a type for date and time so we'll need a schema for those types.

Next we'll setup the schema for Note.

First create the Note schema file.

Then add the Note type.

After that add two Queries, one to get all Notes and one to get a specific Note.

Next add two Mutations to create new Notes and delete existing ones.

Note that we add the keyword extend to the Query and Mutation type in the two schemas. This is because we'll be joining all the schemas into one later.

Finally we'll need a schema a join all the others schemas together. First declare and export the Link Schema in an array.

Then import the other Schemas and add them to the array.

Setup the resolvers

Since we added a custom type for dates and times in our schema, the first resolver we'll add is for those types.

Next we'll start working on the resolver for Notes.

Start by importing the required dependencies and exporting an empty object which is going to be our resolver.

Then define an object for the Queries.

When defining the function for each of the queries (or mutations or fields) there are three important parameters.

  • parent - If you a resolving a field of an object this parameter will contain it. We won't be needing it in this post.
  • args - The arguments passed to the query or mutation.
  • context - The context object created when setting up the API. In our case it'll contain the database connection.

First let's write the resolver for getAllNotes. Start by declaring the function.

Let's destructure the context object.

In the function we should create the Note model using the database connection from the context and retrieve all the Notes using it.

After that let's add the resolver for getNote.

We can retrieve the id argument from the second parameter.

Let's finish of the Note resolvers by adding the resolvers for the mutations.

Now we have to connect all the resolvers together.

Running the API locally

Just run now locally.

If you visit http://localhost:3000/api/graphql you can see the GraphQL Playground.

Deploying to Now

First we need to upload the database path as a secret. We upload it as serverless-graphql-api-example-dp-path.

Then create the now configuration file.

In the configuration file, we specifying to expose the secret serverless-graphql-api-example-dp-path as environment variable DB_PATH.

All that's let to do is deploying to now.

The GraphQL Playground should be visible in the /api/graphql route of the URL returned.

Wrapping Up

I made a sample deployment which you can check out here. The source code is available on GitHub.

If you want a more detailed explanation into GraphQL and making a server for it, you can check out the excellent guide that I learned from here.