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Introduction to Building API's with NestJS and Nrwl Nx

beeman profile image beeman ๐Ÿ Updated on ใƒป5 min read

Introduction

In this tutorial, you learn how to build API's with NestJS and Nx Workspace. The goal is to give you a nice starting point that's easy to extend. Additionally, it will serve as a reference for later posts and series that I intend to write.

This post serves as an introduction to the technology stack and goes over the tutorials in the series.

NestJS

NestJS logo

NestJS is a framework for building API's using Node.js and TypeScript. NestJS provides an opinionated API on top of Express (or optionally Fastify) and makes heavy use of TypeScript classes and decorators, enabling a declarative way to quickly add new functionality without writing a lot of code.

NestJS has great documentation and is actively maintained. There are a lot of useful libraries provided by the project itself, and there is a growing community that provides even more functionality. Besides that, NestJS is easy to extend if the functionality you need does not exist.

NestJS concepts

Here are a few NestJS concepts you should be aware of when going through this series.

Modules

The architecture from NestJS is inspired by Angular. It uses modules to encapsulate functionality in standalone, reusable blocks that can be imported by other modules. Modules tie the other components together, and make sure dependency injection works.

Controllers

The Controllers are used to build a RESTful API. They allow building any HTTP api that you can dream of, and does so in a clean and declarative matter by adding methods to TypeScript classes, and decorate them. These Controllers define the external REST API, most of the heavy lifting is done through Providers.

Providers

The Providers are injected into the Controllers, Resolvers or other Providers, and handle their requests. Things like accessing a database or calling into third-party API's or libraries are all done in Providers. This keeps the Controllers clean and focussed, and makes it easy to share the functionality with other parts of the application.

Resolvers

The Resolvers are used to build a GraphQL API. They allow building a GraphQL API using a code-first approach. That means that you don't need use GraphQL's Schema Definition Language (SDL) to define the API, but rather TypeScript code. Like the controllers, the Resolvers define the external API, and use Providers to do the heavy lifting.

Nx

Nx Logo

Nx combines a mono-repository structure with CLI tools to develop and manage one or more applications and libraries, all within the same repository. Nx encourages code collaboration, unified testing, and optimizes builds and testing performances.

Nx is an amazing tool for building medium or large sized applications. Using a mono-repo allows you to easily share code between various parts of the project, without having to worry about the these parts being out of sync. Nx is smart in the sense that it knows which parts of the app relate to each other. Read more about the Dependency Graph below.

Nx concepts

Here are a few Nx concepts you should be aware of when going through this series.

Workspace

The workspace is defined on the root of the repository, and consists of one or more projects, which can be either an application or a library. The workspace uses either the Nx CLI or Angular CLI to serve, test, build and lint the projects. The workspace is defined in the files nx.json and workspace.json (or angular.json if using the Angular CLI).

Applications

In Nx, the applications (or apps), are the projects that contain a runnable application. Applications should be light-weight, and expose the functionality defined in the libraries.

Libraries

The libraries (or libs), are the projects that implement the functionality for the apps. The libraries define an external API that can be consumed by the apps and other libs.

Plugins

The actual functionality of the Nx workspace is defined by the plugins that are installed. Nx comes with quite a few official plugins that add support for, for example, Angular, Node, Next, React and Web Components. Additionally, there is a growing list of community plugins.

Dependency Graph

The Dependency Graph, or dep graph, is an automatically generated schema that shows how different parts of the monorepo depend on each other. Nx uses this information to intelligently execute commands on parts of the workspace. For example, it will only re-build projects that are actually changed, or when one of the dependencies are change.

The project structure

In this series though, we use a simple structure. We build an app called api that consumes the libraries core and course, like this:

apps/api
libs/core
libs/course
libs/<library> (any other functionality goes here).

Tutorial in this series

This series consists of four tutorials that, when finished, result in a project that is solid basis that's easy to extend.

Set up and configure a new Nx Workspace

To start the project, we create an empty Nx Workspace and take a look around to see what it consists of. We install and configure some tools to automatically format the code on each commit. Having this in place makes sure all future code has a similar style.

Add a NestJS API to a Nx Workspace

After creating the project, we use the official NestJS plugin for Nx to create an application called api with a library called core. The core library is responsible for exporting the runtime configuration, and is consumed by the api.

Add GraphQL to a NestJS API in a Nx Workspace

When these parts are in place, we move on to adding actual functionality to the api. After installing the needed dependencies and configure the GraphQL Module for NestJS, we implement a GraphQL resolver and add a simple query that returns the servers' uptime.

Deploy a NestJS API to Heroku from a Nx Workspace

Once this is all done, the API is ready to ship! After building the project locally and making sure it all works as expected, we add the configuration to deploy it to Heroku.

Thanks!

First of all, thanks to the reviewers of this series ๐Ÿ™:

The cover photo for this series is an edited version of this photo by Todd Kent on unsplash.

Thank YOU for reading my article, I hope it was useful. Feel free to reach out and follow me on Twitter or leave a comment on DEV! ๐Ÿ

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beeman ๐Ÿ

@beeman

Bram Borggreve - Developer, Author, Mentor and Teacher. Founder Code Your Future Colombia ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด - I โค๏ธ my girl, Open Source Software and education! En Modo Difรญcil! ๐Ÿ’ช

Discussion

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Your article is very complete, thanks :)

 

I'm glad you like it Andres! There will soon my a follow up teaching how to create GraphQL CRUD endpoints, backed by a database!

 

I'll keep an eye on your work. Thank you for the initiative