Jira Kanban Board with Typesafe GraphQL (Part 2)

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In part 2 of this series, we see how to add relationships in TypeORM, as well as load related data in an optimal manner, as well as add a simple express app on top of our well tested business logic.

You can find part 1 here, and the source code here.

Let’s see how TypeORM handles relationships by adding categories to the view model. Update the definition for RestProject:

interface RestProject {
  id: number
  name: string
  categories: Array<{
    id: number
    name: string

Then, update the test:

import { createCategory } from '../../../test/factories/categories'

// ...

test('projectsViewModel', async () => {
  const project = await createProject({ name: 'Test Project' })
  await createCategory({ name: 'Category' }, project)
  const expected: RestProject[] = [
      id: project.id,
      name: 'Test Project',
      categories: [
          id: 1,
          name: 'Category'

  const actual = await projectViewModel()


And add tests/factories/categories.ts:

import { DeepPartial, getRepository } from 'typeorm'

import { Category } from '../../src/entity/Category'
import { Project } from '../../src/entity/Project'

export const createCategory = (
  category: DeepPartial<Category>,
  project: Project
) => {
  return getRepository(Category).save({
    name: category.name,
    project_id: project.id

We pass in the project as the second argument - project_id is a non-nullable column in the categories table, so we need to provide one. The test still won’t pass yet - read on.

TypeORM Relationships

TypeORM has a really nice API for relationships. We want to express the one project -> many categories relationship, as well as the one category -> one project relationship. In other words, a 1..n (one to many) and a 1..1 (one to one) relationship.

Update src/entities/Project.ts:

import { Entity, PrimaryGeneratedColumn, Column, OneToMany } from 'typeorm'
import { Category } from './Category'

@Entity({ name: 'projects' })
export class Project {

  // ...

  @OneToMany(type => Category, category => category.project)
  categories: Category

All we need to do is add the property with the relevant decorators, and we will be able to access the categories with project.categories. Create src/entities/Category.ts and add the inverse:

import { Entity, PrimaryGeneratedColumn, Column, ManyToOne } from 'typeorm'

import { Project } from './Project'

@Entity({ name: 'categories' })
export class Category {
  id: number

  name: string

  @ManyToOne(type => Project, project => project.categories)
  @JoinColumn({ name: 'project_id' })
  project: Project

  project_id: number

Since we are not using the TypeORM default for the relationship (they use projectId), we need to specify the join column using the JoinColumn decorator.

Finally, we can update the project view model and the test will pass:

export const projectViewModel = async (): Promise<Project[]> => {
  const query = await getRepository(Project)
    .innerJoinAndSelect('project.categories', 'categories')

  return query.map(x => ({
    id: x.id,
    name: x.name,
    categories: x.categories.map(y => ({ id: y.id, name: y.name }))

Adding the Controller and HTTP Server

All the hard work is done, and we have 100% test coverage. Now we just need a way to expose it to the outside world. Add express, and in src/rest create projects.ts and index.ts. projects.ts will house the endpoint:

import { Request, Response } from 'express'

import { projectViewModel } from '../viewModels/projects'

export const projects = async (req: Request, res: Response) => {
  const vm = await projectViewModel()

Simple stuff, not much to explain. Finally in src/rest/index.ts add a little express app (and note this is where we create the database connection):

import * as express from 'express'
import { createConnection } from 'typeorm'

import { projects } from './projects'

(async () => {
  await createConnection()
  const app = express()
  app.use('/projects', projects)
  app.listen(5000, () => console.log('Listening on port 5000'))

Run this however you like - I just like to use ts-node and run yarn ts-node src/rest/index.ts. You can curl it and see the following:

$ curl http://localhost:5000/projects | json_pp

      "categories" : [
            "id" : 1,
            "name" : "Ready to develop"
      "id" : 1,
      "name" : "Test"

If you go to ormconfig.json and set “logging: true”, you can see the SQL that is executed:

$ yarn ts-node src/rest/index.ts
yarn run v1.22.4
$ /Users/lachlan/code/dump/rest-graphql-kanban/node_modules/.bin/ts-node src/rest/index.ts
Listening on port 5000

query: SELECT "project"."id" AS "project_id", "project"."name" AS "project_name", "categories"."id" AS "categories_id", "categories"."name" AS "categories_name", "categories"."projectId" AS "categories_projectId" FROM "projects" "project" INNER JOIN "categories" "categories" ON "categories"."projectId"="project"."id"

You can see we get the projects and categories in a single query - this is important to remember, since we want to avoid the N+1 problem when we implement the GraphQL server!

Implementing the tasks and categories view models and endpoints is no different to projects, so I will leave that as an exercise. You can find the full implementation in the source code.


This post covered:

  • TypeORM relationships
  • implementing a REST API
  • separating core logic via a view model layer to make it testable
  • creating factories to support tests
  • two techniques to eagerly load related data

The next posts will look at a GraphQL server, and the Vue front-end.

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