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GraphQL TypeScript API Starter

This is a starter repo for GraphQL TypeScript backends. If you want to learn how this starter was built from scratch, take a look at the accompanying detailed blog post.

This starter uses the following stack:

  • Express
  • Apollo Server
  • Prisma
  • Docker
  • TypeScript
  • Postgres
  • Heroku

Initial set up

You can either press the Green Button Use this template in the top right in Github, or you can use git clone:


Then push your code to your own Github repository:

git remote rename origin upstream
git remote add origin <URL_TO_GITHUB_REPO>
git branch -M main
git push -u origin main

Once you have your own repository set up, install the local package dependencies:

npm install

You can now run your server locally and open up the playground:

npm run dev

See the full list of scripts in the package.json file.

Local database set up

Copy the env.example file to create your own env file:

cp env.example .env

You can (optionally) tweak the user and password in the env file for the local database, but make sure you make the same edits in the docker-compose.yml file.

Run this command to launch your Docker local Postgres server:

docker-compose up -d

If you're using the Docker extension in VSCode, you can use this instead of running the previous command in the terminal.

Using Prisma

To enable querying and mutations to the database with Prisma, you'll first need to add models in the prisma.schema file. For example:

datasource db {
  provider = "postgresql"
  url      = env("DATABASE_URL")

generator client {
  provider = "prisma-client-js"

model Board {
  id          Int       @id @default(autoincrement())
  createdAt   DateTime  @default(now())
  updatedAt   DateTime  @updatedAt
  title       String
  description String?
  path        String    @unique

Anytime you make changes to the prisma.schema file, you'll need to run migrations so the changes are applied to your local database.

There is a script you can use for this:

npm run migrate

This will prompt you to give a name for the migration.


When running npm run migrate, if you see the error

Error: P1000: Authentication failed against database server at `localhost`, the provided database credentials for `test-user` are not valid.

check if you are already running a Postgres server instance on your machine with the default port also given in this tutorial (5432). If so, you will need to stop the machine instance of Postgres for the credentials to successfully work.

To access the data in the database, you'll need to make use of Prisma Client.

You just need to uncomment this line in the index.ts file:

// import { prisma } from "./prisma/client";

And then use Prisma in your resolvers to access the database. For example:


const resolvers = {
  Query: {
    boards: () => {
      return prisma.board.findMany()
    board: (parent, args: any) => {
      return prisma.board.findUnique({
        where: {
          id: Number(


Deplyment to Heroku

Login to Heroku and create a new project. and connect your Github repository to the Heroku project, enabling automatic deploys.

Go to the Resources tab, search for "Heroku Postgres" and enable the "Hobby Dev" plan.

Then go to the Settings tab and add an ENV variable in the Config Vars section called NPM_CONFIG_PRODUCTION=false.

Finally, go back to the Deploy tab and press the Deploy Branch button.

More detailed step-by-step help is detailed in the blog post.


A starter repo with some solid foundations for a Express GraphQL API written in TypeScript, deploying to Heroku






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