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RESTful API Server Boilerplate

Featuring Docker, Node, Express, MongoDB, Mongoose, & NGINX

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License & Purpose

MIT License. This is something I've used in production before with success that I found useful for quickly bootstrapping RESTful APIs. You can fork and clone and take this apart without giving me any credit for anything. If you like it, you can star the repo ⭐️ or follow me on GitHub.

Feel free to make an issue or PR if you want to suggest ideas / fixes.


This configuration is a backend RESTful API boilerplate with the following pieces:

  • Docker as the container service to isolate the environment.
  • Node.js (Long-Term-Support Version) as the run-time environment to run JavaScript.
  • Express.js as the server framework / controller layer
  • MongoDB as the database layer
  • Mongoose as the "ODM" / model layer
  • NGINX as a proxy / content-caching layer

How to Install & Run

You will need to first download and install Docker Desktop or Linux equivalent.

  1. Fork/Clone the repo
  2. Run docker-compose up to start three containers:
    • the MongoDB database container
    • the Node.js app container
    • the NGINX proxy container
  3. Server is accessible at http://localhost:8080 if you have Docker for Windows or Mac. Use http://localhost without specifying the port to hit the NGINX proxy. On Linux, you may need to hit the IP Address of the docker-machine rather than localhost (port rules are the same.)

How to Run Tests

Currently, tests are run outside of the Docker container (unfortunately for now). The tests use an in-memory version of MongoDB. You should be able to run npm install followed by npm test to run everything (assuming you have the LTS version of Node installed on your machine).

App Structure

  • the boilerplate entity is called "Thing" and all the routes are based on the thing resource. When you want to start building a real API, you can probably just do a global find and replace for thing, but mind the case-sensitivity.
  • most folders have an index.js which simply exports the contents of all the files in those folders. This is to make importing things around the app slightly easier, since you can just require the folder name and destructure the functions you are looking for. Check out this part of the Node.js docs for more info.


  • this folder contains unit and integration tests both run using npm test which in turn uses Jest


  • handlers are Express.js route handlers that have request, response, and next parameters.
  • helpers are raw JS "classes" and utility functions for use across the app
  • models are Mongoose schema definitions and associated models
  • routers are RESTful route declarations using express.Router module that utilize the functions in handlers
  • schemas are JSONSchema validation schemas for creating or updating a Thing. Pro-tip: use to generate schemas based on examples for you.
  • app.js is what builds and configures the express app
  • config.js is the app-specific config that you will want to customize for your app
  • index.js is the entrypoint that actually starts the Express server


  • config contains NGINX proxy configuration, the production pm2 configuration (the process-runner of choice), and the Jest configuration to run MongoDB in memory


Boilerplate for quickly bootstrapping production-ready RESTful APIs / microservices








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