HowTo: Integrate a MySQL Database into your Java Spring Boot GraphQL Service

sambenskin profile image Sam Benskin Updated on ・5 min read

NOTE: Please be aware this article is now out of date as the tech has moved on since I wrote it in 2019.

In my previous article, HowTo: Build GraphQL Services in Java with Spring Boot, we learnt how to get started with Java Spring Boot and the GraphQL-Tools library. We built a simple endpoint that returned a hard-coded single element array. A great start with only a few files, but it doesn't do very much, so let's add a database.

If you haven't read the first article, I would suggest you do as it sets the basis for this tutorial. I'd suggest going through this tutorial and writing the code yourself as it's a more effective way for most people to learn by doing.

We're going to the Spring Data JPA starter which uses the Java Persistence API to save and retrieve your entity models to/from your chosen database. This API gives you an easy to use abstraction layer so you can use any of a large number of different databases. We're going to use MySQL as it's the most popular database out there.


For this guide, you'll need to have MySQL server and client installed. You'll need a privileged user that can create a schema and users. If you don't have this, you need to contact your database administrator to do the first three steps.


Please don't use root in your app, it's a horrendous security issue. We're going to create a non-priviledged user to use with your app.

Don't try to commit these credentials to git because again this is a security risk. I've purposefully added the file to the .gitignore so you don't accidentally do this.

When you want to deploy to another server, you need to manually put the file there. Better still, invest time in understanding and creating an automated build pipeline.

You should never use your production database instance for development. Always have another instance locally on your machine.

Finally, use different credentials for your local and your production environment.

MySQL Setup

First of all, as root or preferably an admin user, login to mysql on the command line:


It will then ask for your password. Once you're in to the MySQL command line, create the schema:


And then create a user with access to that schema:

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `graphql_tutorial`.* TO `graphql_tutorial_user`@`localhost` IDENTIFIED BY 'CHANGE_ME_TO_SOMETHING_SECURE';

Finally, create the table we need:


Let's create a few entries in the table so we've got something to retrieve:

INSERT INTO `pets` (`name`,`age`,`type`) VALUES ('Steve', 5, 'BADGER'), ('Jeff', 88, 'MAMMOTH'), ('Oscar', 2, 'CAT');

Now let's check everything is in there:


This should show the following result:

| id | name  | age  | type    |
|  1 | Steve |    5 | BADGER  |
|  2 | Jeff  |   88 | MAMMOTH |
|  3 | Oscar |    2 | CAT     |
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Great, that's all the MySQL setup done! Type "exit" and press enter to get out of MySQL and back to the command line.

Spring Data JPA

Now we need to add the Spring Data JPA project to our app. Add these lines in your pom.xml in the <dependencies> section:


Then run the install:

mvn install

Now we need to tell our app how to connect to our database. If you've checked-out the github repo, copy the application.properties.example file to application.properties and add in your own URL and credentials. If you haven't, create this file:


And put in this contents


This sets up our connection URL, the username and the password for Spring Data to connect to your database instance.

Now create this folder to store our repository:


The repository acts as our interface between the pet model instance and the database table. I'm following the convention of pluralising the database table name that relates to the entity model. So "pets" table for the "Pet" entity model. We'll need to define that in the Entity as the default is just the table name "pet".

Create this file


Then add this contents:

package uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.repositories;

import org.springframework.data.repository.CrudRepository;
import uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.entities.Pet;

public interface PetRepository extends CrudRepository<Pet, Long> {}

If you've never seen the Spring Data JPA classes before, you'll probably be thinking "Is that it?" and yes, that's all you need to create, read, update and delete your entities in a database. Gone is all that boilerplate code you've had to write in the past, brilliant eh?!

Now go back to our Pet entity model and add the @Entity, @Table, @id , @GeneratedValue and @Enumerated annotations as below, as well as their imports. You're file should look like the below:

package uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.entities;

import javax.persistence.Entity;
import javax.persistence.EnumType;
import javax.persistence.Enumerated;
import javax.persistence.GeneratedValue;
import javax.persistence.GenerationType;
import javax.persistence.Id;
import javax.persistence.Table;

import lombok.Data;
import uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.enums.Animal;

public class Pet {
    private long id;

    private String name;

    private Animal type;

    private int age;

Great! Those annotations tell Spring Data JPA that it can persist this entity to the database. We need to tell spring data that our enum is a string otherwise it will default to thinking it's an integer.

Finally we need to update our GraphQL Query resolver in Query.java from a hard-coded array to fetching all pets from the repository. Replace the contents of the file with the following:

package uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.resolvers;

import com.coxautodev.graphql.tools.GraphQLQueryResolver;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Component;

import lombok.RequiredArgsConstructor;
import uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.entities.Pet;
import uk.co.benskin.graphql_spring_boot_tutorial.repositories.PetRepository;

public class Query implements GraphQLQueryResolver {

    private final PetRepository PetRepository;

    public Iterable<Pet> pets() {
        return PetRepository.findAll();

That's it! Now start up your app again:

mvn spring-boot:start

Navigate to http://localhost:8080/graphiql and you should again see the GraphIQL UI.

Run this query:

    pets {

You should see this result:

  "data": {
    "pets": [
        "name": "Steve",
        "age": 5,
        "type": "BADGER"
        "name": "Jeff",
        "age": 88,
        "type": "MAMMOTH"
        "name": "Oscar",
        "age": 2,
        "type": "CAT"

Congratulations, you're now reading all your data from the database!

Thank you very much for reading this article! If you enjoyed it, please comment to let me know or if you have any suggestions for improvements. Please click the heart/unicorn/bookmark buttons below, I always really appreciate it :)


Editor guide
chandragie profile image

Hi! Thanks for this good tutorial. I'm creating an API app with Spring Boot and set the context root to /someapp, so the way I access it through localhost:8080/someapp/

However, when I added the graphQL functions, I couldn't access the GraphiQL UI.
I tried localhost:8080/graphiql (this results 404 not found) and localhost:8080/someapp/graphiql. this loads but stuck on loading, when I opened the browser console, it is said error when trying to access localhost:8080/subscriptions and I don't know what URL it is.

Can you please advice?

krishnareddyml profile image

Great Job..I can easily understand and replicated your example at my end

sambenskin profile image
Sam Benskin Author

Great to hear! Glad I've been able to help 😀

objectivepinta profile image

Great intro! Thanks! Would have like to see a query by id or name of the Pet :)