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GraphQL Code Generator with TypeScript and Prisma models

This article was published on Sunday, December 19, 2021 by Gilad Tidhar @ The Guild Blog


GraphQL has some amazing tools that can make your life easier. One of those tools is
GraphQL Code-Generator which helps you create types (and more)
based on your GraphQL schema.

If you're creating a GraphQL server you'd probably want to have a database behind it with something
like Prisma.

So, how can you use Prisma for your database and still use the GraphQL-Codegen?
this article covers the process of using Prisma with
GraphQL Code-Generator, and the configuration flags that will
boost your developer experience.


What Is Prisma?

Prisma is an open source fully-typed next-generation ORM. It consists of the
following parts:

Prisma Client: Auto-generated and type-safe query builder for Node.js & TypeScript Prisma
: Migration system Prisma Studio: GUI to view and edit data in your database

Each Prisma project has a schema, which it used to define its models.

Every project that uses a tool from the Prisma toolkit starts with a Prisma schema file.

The Prisma schema allows developers to define their application models in an intuitive data modeling

Why Prisma?

Prisma's main goal is to make application developers more productive when working with databases.

Here are a few examples of how Prisma achieves this:

  • Thinking in objects instead of mapping relational data
  • Queries not classes to avoid complex model objects
  • Single source of truth for database and application models
  • Healthy constraints that prevent common pitfalls and antipatterns
  • An abstraction that makes the right thing easy ("pit of success")
  • Type-safe database queries that can be validated at compile time
  • Less boilerplate so developers can focus on the important parts of their app
  • Auto-completion in code editors instead of needing to look up documentation

    A tutorial about how to get started with Prisma

GraphQL Code Generator

The GraphQL Code-Generator is an easy way to create type
safety with your GraphQL project.

It automatically generates TypeScript types based on your GraphQL schema. This is very useful
because it reduces the chances to write mistakes, and you can locate bugs at build-time.

For example, here is an example for JavaScript/TypeScript resolver without the codegen, as you can
see, we need to give everything a type.

const resolver = {
  Query: {
    feed: async (
         parent: unknown,
         args: {
         filter?: string;
         skip?: number;
         take?: number;
         context: GraphQLContext
       ) => {...}
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But, with the codegen, the manual types are no longer needed, because it generates the types, so
typescript will now know which TypeScript types to use and validate:

import { Resolvers } from './generated/graphql'

const resolvers: Resolvers = {
  Query: {
    feed: async (parent, args, context) => {
      // ...
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As you can see, now that the resolvers are typed, we don't need to define types for each resolver.

If you are new to GraphQL-Codegen, you can follow
a tutorial about how to get started with GraphQL codegen

You can also
find here a blog post about how to use GraphQL Code-Generator with the typescript-resolvers plugin.

Benefits of Writing Fully-Typed Code

  • Better code completion and syntax highlighting.
  • You can get hints and documentation inside your IDE while you code. This reduces the likelihood of making incorrect assumptions about the behavior of specific functions/methods.
  • It’s easier to find things. For any variable or function, you can easily jump to its class definition without leaving the IDE and without having to know anything about the directory structure of the project. Conversely, for any class or function definition, you can easily and unambiguously see where that class or function is used in your code and jump to it without leaving the IDE. (Statically typed languages make it easier for IDEs to do this).
  • Static typing makes it easier to work with relational databases and other systems which also rely on static types — It helps you catch type mismatches sooner at compile-time.
  • It can help reduce the likelihood of some kinds of errors. For example, in dynamically typed languages, if you’re not careful with sanitising user input, you can end up doing weird stuff like (for example) trying to add a number 10 with the string “8” and you would get the string “108” as a result instead of the number 18 that you were expecting.

Using GraphQL Codegen and Prisma Together

After learning the benefits of Prisma and GraphQL codegen, you might want to use both together! But
there's a few problems:

Name Conflicts

The Prisma models and the GraphQL models might conflict with each other.

This is because the GraphQL codegen automatically uses the types from the GraphQL schema, and Prisma
automatically generates types from your Prisma models.

If your GraphQL schema is using type User { ... } and your Prisma model is using model User { },
you might have a naming conflict.

Database Types !== GraphQL Types

The types for your database and not the same as your GraphQL types. In your GraphQL layer, you might
take different limitations/constraints than you have in your database.

For example, some prisma operations get arguments which are for filtering and paginating, now, if
you have this type of filter in your GraphQL schema, it might look something like this:

type Query {
  feed(filter: String, skip: Int, take: Int): Feed!
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As you can see, the arguments filter, skip and take are nullable which means that GraphQL will
send them as null if left without value.

What's the problem with this?

Well, for filtering and paginating prisma takes arguments which either have a value or are
undefined, but not null.

This is a problem for us because the type the codegen uses for maybe values by default (values that
are nullable), could be null (null | undefined | T).

How Do We Fix This?

Well, for the first problem, the code generator has an option called mappers.

Using a mapper gives you the option to map one type to another.

This option helps us with our problem because we can just tell the codegen to use the Prisma models
instead of the default types generated from the GraphQL schema!

The second fix is a configuration flag called inputMaybeValue.

Nullable types are represented by Maybe in the GraphQL codegen. The inputMaybeValue, lets you
change the types that arguments can be!

Using the two configuration flags mentioned above, we can tell GraphQL codegen what TypeScript types
to generate and how to map the GraphQL types to Prisma models

Using mappers

Mappers are actually really easy to use, all you need to do is add them to your codegen.yml!

For example, lets say I have a Prisma model which is called User, and my GraphQL schema also uses
a type User.

For my project to work with its database, it needs to use the Prisma model instead of the GraphQL
one, so I should map my User model from prisma to my User type in GraphQL.

Here's an example:

schema: http://localhost:3000/graphql
documents: ./src/graphql/*.graphql
      - typescript-operations
      - typescript-resolvers
      User: .prisma/client#User as UserModel
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Under the mappers, you can see we take the GraphQL User type, and set it to be using the
exported type automatically created by Prisma.

We set it to be named UserModel, so it won't conflict with the GraphQL definition of the GraphQL
User type.

Using inputMaybeValue

inputMaybeValue is fairly simple to use, just add it under codegen.yml config file:

```yaml filename="codegen.yml"
schema: http://localhost:3000/graphql
documents: ./src/graphql/*.graphql
- typescript-operations
- typescript-resolvers
User: .prisma/client#User as UserModel
inputMaybeValue: undefined | T

Now, the default value to `inputMaybe` (The type of nullable arguments) will be either `undefined`
or `T`, leading to an easy type-compatibility between your GraphQL `input` arguments and the Prisma
SDK requirements.

## What Now?

Now, run GraphQL-Codegen and the Prisma Codegen and you should get a fully-typed resolver. Here's an

import { Resolvers } from './generated/graphql'

const resolvers: Resolvers = {
  Query: {
    user: async (parent, args, context) => {
      // Codegen will generate Resolvers type, and
      // will expect you to return here an object of
      // Prisma's User model.

      return context.prisma.user.findOne({ id: })
  User: {
    name: user => {
      return `${user.first_name} ${user.last_name}`
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