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Apollo Server and GraphQL on Node.js Tutorial

Episode 114 written by Arjun Yelamanchili
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Health Check: This lesson was last reviewed on and tested with these packages:

  • graphql v0.13
  • apollo-server v2
  • node v8

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Source code for Apollo Server and GraphQL on Node.js Tutorial on Github

This lesson demonstrates a GraphQL API with a Firebase Firestore data source. It uses Apollo Engine/Server 2.0 and is deployed to Google App Engine on the Node.js standard runtime.

Initial setup

npm init --yes
npm install [email protected] firebase-admin graphql graphql-tag
npm install --save-dev typescript tslint

You’ll also want to set up some scripts and other settings, as of writing here is what the package.json looks like:

{
"name": "firebase-firestore-graphql",
"scripts": {
"build": "tsc",
"serve": "npm run build && node lib/index.js",
"start": "node lib/index.js",
"deploy": "npm run build && gcloud app deploy"
},
"main": "lib/index.js",
"dependencies": {
"apollo-server": "^2.0.0-beta.10",
"firebase-admin": "^5.12.1",
"graphql": "^0.13.2",
"graphql-tag": "^2.9.2"
},
"devDependencies": {
"tslint": "^5.10.0",
"typescript": "^2.9.1"
}
}

Firebase setup

Download Firebase service account as service-account.json and put in root of this directory.

Grab your service account from the Firebase settings page

In your firestore database setup two collections, one of tweets and one of users. The userId in tweets should point to a user Id that the tweet came from.

interface User {
id: string;
name: string;
screenName: string;
statusesCount: number;
}

interface Tweet {
id: string;
name: string;
screenName: string;
statusesCount: number;
userId: string;
}

At this point, you should seed your database with some dummy data, otherwise your API has nothing to fetch. Here’s what your Firestore database might looks like:

Default data for graphql in Firestore

Typescript

Copy the tslint from the main repo into your project to use the same linting rules. Your tsconfig should look this:

{
"compilerOptions": {
"lib": ["es6", "dom", "esnext.asynciterable"],
"module": "commonjs",
"noImplicitReturns": false,
"outDir": "lib",
"sourceMap": true,
"allowSyntheticDefaultImports": true,
"target": "es2017"
},
"compileOnSave": true,
"include": ["src"]
}

GraphQL

Make a src directory and a index.ts file inside. Setup the imports

import * as admin from 'firebase-admin';

const serviceAccount = require('../service-account.json');

admin.initializeApp({
credential: admin.credential.cert(serviceAccount)
});

import { ApolloServer, ApolloError, ValidationError, gql } from 'apollo-server';

interface User {
id: string;
name: string;
screenName: string;
statusesCount: number;
}

interface Tweet {
id: string;
name: string;
screenName: string;
statusesCount: number;
userId: string;
}

Schema

Now we setup our GraphQL schema

const typeDefs = gql`
# A Twitter User
type User {
id: ID!
name: String!
screenName: String!
statusesCount: Int!
tweets: [Tweets]!
}

# A Tweet Object
type Tweets {
id: ID!
text: String!
userId: String!
user: User!
likes: Int!
}

type Query {
tweets: [Tweets]
user(id: String!): User
}
`;

The ! signifies that this property is guaranteed to not be null. You’ll notice that a user has an array of Tweets and a tweet has a user object in it, despite them being separate collections in our database. This is the magic of GraphQL, we can combine things across collections.

For the purpose of this tutorial we have two queries, an array of all tweets and a specific user based on their ID.

Resolver

Next we setup our resolver, this turns GraphQL queries into data. First we setup our resolver for the base queries

const resolvers = {
Query: {
async tweets() {
const tweets = await admin
.firestore()
.collection('tweets')
.get();
return tweets.docs.map(tweet => tweet.data()) as Tweet[];
},
async user(_: null, args: { id: string }) {
try {
const userDoc = await admin
.firestore()
.doc(`users/${args.id}`)
.get();
const user = userDoc.data() as User | undefined;
return user || new ValidationError('User ID not found');
} catch (error) {
throw new ApolloError(error);
}
}
}
};

This will get an array of tweets or a user but how do we add the graph part of GraphQL and interconnect different collections such as all the Tweets a user has made or the details of a user that made a certain tweet?

const resolvers = {
Query: {
...
},
User: {
async tweets(user) {
try {
const userTweets = await admin
.firestore()
.collection('tweets')
.where('userId', '==', user.id)
.get();
return userTweets.docs.map(tweet => tweet.data()) as Tweet[];
} catch (error) {
throw new ApolloError(error);
}
}
},
Tweets: {
async user(tweet) {
try {
const tweetAuthor = await admin
.firestore()
.doc(`users/${tweet.userId}`)
.get();
return tweetAuthor.data() as User;
} catch (error) {
throw new ApolloError(error);
}
}
}
};

Take getting all the tweets a user has made as an example. You can see in our resolver we have a user object with a tweets property. Because tweets is a child of user, we can use the parent user to then query the tweets collection for all the tweets with that user ID.

Apollo Server

Finally we setup our Apollo server

const server = new ApolloServer({
typeDefs,
resolvers,
introspection: true
});

server.listen().then(({ url }) => {
console.log(`🚀 Server ready at ${url}`);
});

If you setup your npm scripts you should be able to run

npm run serve

If you navigate to the URL you should be able to see a GraphQL playground where you can query your API, congrats!

The graphql plaground on localhost

Apollo Engine

Apollo Engine gives use awesome features such as caching, tracing, and error logging. First get an Apollo Engine API key then change your Apollo server config to turn on engine

const server = new ApolloServer({
typeDefs,
resolvers,
engine: {
apiKey: "<APOLLO ENGINE API KEY HERE>"
},
introspection: true
});

Now when you npm serve and run some queries you should see some data populate the Apollo Engine dashboard with things like how fast your queries resolved. Cool!

App Engine

In June 2018, Node.js v8 was added to AppEngine Standard, which means we can deploy node apps on the free tier

Finally we can deploy to App engine so the world can access our GraphQL endpoint. In the root project folder create a file app.yaml. Inside is just one line

runtime: nodejs8

Also add the .gcloudignore file from this repo to your folder. Setup the gcloud SDK then point it to your Firebase project.

gcloud config set project <projectID>
npm run build
gcloud app deploy

You should get a deployed URL, you can then query that using an GraphQL tool. I personally use Insomnia’s GraphQL mode.

Congratulations, you’ve setup a GraphQL server!