Running PostGraphile in Docker

The following guide describes how to run a network of Docker containers on a local machine, including one container for a PostgreSQL database and one container for PostGraphile. A the end of this guide, you will have a GraphQL API exposing data from a PostgreSQL database, both running locally on your machine in separate Docker containers. It has been developed and tested on:

  • Linux
  • Windows Pro
  • Windows Home

Table of Contents

Requirements

This requires to have Docker and Docker Compose installed on your workstation. If you are new to Docker and need to install it, you can refer to their official documentation or follow the steps below. Note if you use Docker Desktop for Windows, it comes automatically with Docker Compose.

Install Docker and Docker Compose on Linux

Docker

Add the Docker repository to your Linux repository. Execute the following commands in a terminal window.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common
$ curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo apt-key add -
$ sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -cs) stable"

Install Docker Community Edition.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install docker-ce

Add your user to the docker group to setup its permissions. Make sure to restart your machine after executing this command.

$ sudo usermod -a -G docker <username>

Test your Docker installation. Executing the following command will automatically download the hello-world Docker image if it does not exist and run it.

$ docker run hello-world

Remove the hello-world image once you're done.

$ docker image ls
$ docker rmi -f hello-world

Docker Compose

Docker Compose helps you to run a network of several containers at once thanks to configuration files instead of providing all arguments in the command line interface. It makes it easier to manage your containers as command lines can become very long and unreadable due to the high number of arguments.

Execute the following command in a terminal window.

$ sudo apt install docker-compose

Install Docker on Windows Pro

Docker Desktop for Windows

Install Docker Community Edition for Windows from the following the URL: Docker Desktop for Windows. Just follow the default installation settings. It comes automatically with Docker Compose.

Install Docker on Windows Home

Docker Toolbox for Windows

Install Docker Toolbox for Windows from the following the URL: Docker Toolbox for Windows. Just follow the default installation settings. It comes automatically with Docker Compose.

Create PostgreSQL Container

Setup Environment Variables

Create a new file .env at the root of the repository with the content below. This file will be used by Docker to load configuration parameters into environment variables. In particular:

  • POSTGRES_DB: name of the database to be created in the PostgreSQL container.
  • POSTGRES_USER: default admin user created upon database initialization.
  • POSTGRES_PASSWORD: password of the default admin user.
# DB
# Parameters used by db container
POSTGRES_DB=forum_example
POSTGRES_USER=postgres
POSTGRES_PASSWORD=change_me

Note a better way to manager the database password would be to use Docker Secrets

Create Database Initialization Files

Create a new folder db at the root of the repository. It will be used to store the files necessary to create the PostgreSQL container. In the db folder, create a new subfolder init which will contain the SQL files used to initialize the PostgreSQL database. Files located in the init folder will be executed in sequence order when PostgreSQL initialize the database.

In this guide we will use a simple forum example. The database will contain two tables: user and post. There is a relationship between user and post as one user can have one or several posts. It is a "one-to-many" relationship (one parent, many children). The author_id column in the post will be used as a foreign key of the user table.

Create a first file 00-database.sql containing the database schema definition as below.

\connect forum_example;

/*Create user table in public schema*/
CREATE TABLE public.user (
    id SERIAL PRIMARY KEY,
    username TEXT,
    created_date TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
);

COMMENT ON TABLE public.user IS
'Forum users.';

/*Create post table in public schema*/
CREATE TABLE public.post (
    id SERIAL PRIMARY KEY,
    title TEXT,
    body TEXT,
    created_date TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP,
    author_id INTEGER NOT NULL REFERENCES public.user(id)
);

COMMENT ON TABLE public.post IS
'Forum posts written by a user.';

For the sake of the example, we will also create a second file 01-data.sql to populate the database with some dummy data.

\connect forum_example;

/*Create some dummy users*/
INSERT INTO public.user (username) VALUES
('Benjie'),
('Singingwolfboy'),
('Lexius');

/*Create some dummy posts*/
INSERT INTO public.post (title, body, author_id) VALUES
('First post example', 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet', 1),
('Second post example', 'Consectetur adipiscing elit', 2),
('Third post example', 'Aenean blandit felis sodales', 3);

Create PostgreSQL Dockerfile

The Dockerfile is used by Docker as a blueprint to build Docker images. Docker containers are later on created based on these Docker images. More information is available on the official Postgres Docker Images but the standard Dockerfile for PostgreSQL is extremely simple. In the folder db (not in the folder init), create a new file named Dockerfile with the following content.

FROM postgres:alpine
COPY ./init/ /docker-entrypoint-initdb.d/

The first line FROM postgres:alpine indicates to build the Docker image based on the official PostgreSQL Docker image running in an Alpine Linux container. The second line COPY ./init/ /docker-entrypoint-initdb.d/ will copy the database initialization files (SQL) into the folder docker-entrypoint-initdb.d located in the Docker container. This folder is read by PostgreSQL upon database initialization and all its content is executed.

Create Docker Compose File

Docker command lines can be verbose with a lot of parameters so we will use Docker Compose to orchestrate the execution of our containers. Create a new file docker-compose.yml at the root of the repository with the following content.

version: "3.3"
services:
  db:
    container_name: forum-example-db
    restart: always
    image: forum-example-db
    build:
      context: ./db
    volumes:
      - db:/var/lib/postgresql/data
    env_file:
      - ./.env
    networks:
      - network
    ports:
      - 5432:5432

networks:
  network:

volumes:
  db:

Parameters description

ParameterDescription
db Names of the services run by Docker Compose.
container_name Guess what? It's the container name!
image Name of the image to use to run the container.
build When a build context is provided, Docker Compose will build a custom image using the Dockerfile located in the context folder.
context Indicates the folder where to find the Dockerfile to build the image.
volumes Mapping between the Docker volume and the PostgreSQL folder in your container, in format docker_volume:container_folder.

All the files generated in the container_folder will be copied in the docker_volume so that you can preserve and retrieve your data when stopping/restarting the container.

The Docker volume is automatically created when running the db container for the first time.
env_file Path to the configuration file containing environment variables for the container. See Create Configuration File above.
networks Networks are used to group and connect containers as part of a same network.
ports Port, mapping between the port of your host machine and the port of your container, in format host_port:container_port.
command Command to be executed after the container starts. Each argument must be provided in a separate list item.
At this stage, the repository should look like this.
/
├─ db/
|  ├─ init/
|  |  ├─ 00-database.sql
|  |  └─ 01-data.sql
|  └─ Dockerfile
├─ .env
└─ docker-compose.yml

Create PostGraphile Container

Update Environment Variables

Update the file .env to add the DATABASE_URL which will be used by PostGraphile to connect to the PostgreSQL database. Note the DATABASE_URL follows the syntax postgres://<user>:<password>@db:5432/<db_name>.

[...]
# GRAPHQL
# Parameters used by graphql container
DATABASE_URL=postgres://postgres:[email protected]:5432/forum_example

Create PostGraphile Dockerfile

Create a new folder graphql at the root of the repository. It will be used to store the files necessary to create the PostGraphile container. Create a new file Dockerfile in the graphql folder with the following content. You will notice we include the excellent plugin Connection Filter.

FROM node:alpine
LABEL description="Instant high-performance GraphQL API for your PostgreSQL database https://github.com/graphile/postgraphile"

# Install PostGraphile and PostGraphile connection filter plugin
RUN npm install -g postgraphile
RUN npm install -g postgraphile-plugin-connection-filter

EXPOSE 5000
ENTRYPOINT ["postgraphile", "-n", "0.0.0.0"]

Update Docker Compose File

Update the file docker-compose.yml under the services section to include the GraphQL service.

version: "3.3"
services:
    db: [...]

    graphql:
        container_name: forum-example-graphql
        restart: always
        image: forum-example-graphql
        build:
            context: ./graphql
        env_file:
            - ./.env
        depends_on:
            - db
        networks:
            - network
        ports:
            - 5433:5433
        command: ["--connection", "${DATABASE_URL}", "--port", "5433", "--schema", "public", "--append-plugins", "postgraphile-plugin-connection-filter"]
[...]

At this stage, the repository should look like this.

/
├─ db/
|  ├─ init/
|  |  ├─ 00-database.sql
|  |  └─ 01-data.sql
|  └─ Dockerfile
├─ graphql/
|  └─ Dockerfile
├─ .env
└─ docker-compose.yml

Build Images And Run Containers

Build Images

You can build the Docker images by executing the following command from the root of the repository.

# Build all images in docker compose
$ docker-compose build

# Build database image only
$ docker-compose build db

# Build graphql image only
$ docker-compose build graphql

Run Containers

You can run the Docker containers by executing the following command from the root of the repository. Note when running the database container for the first time, Docker will automatically create a Docker Volume to persist the data from the database. The Docker Volume is automatically named as <your_repository_name>_db.

# Run all containers
$ docker-compose up

# Run all containers as daemon (in background)
$ docker-compose up -d

# Run database container as daemon
$ docker-compose up -d db

# Run graphql container as daemon
$ docker-compose up -d graphql

Each container can be accessed at the following addresses. Note if you run Docker Toolbox on Windows Home, you can get your Docker machine IP address with the command $ docker-machine ip default.

Container Docker on Linux / Windows Pro Docker on Windows Home
GraphQL API Documentation https://localhost:5433/graphiql https://your_docker_machine_ip:5433/graphiql
GraphQL API https://localhost:5433/graphql https://your_docker_machine_ip:5433/graphql
PostgreSQL Database host: localhost, port: 5432 host: your_docker_machine_ip, port: 5432

Re-initialize The Database

In case you do changes to the database schema by modifying the files in /db/init, you will need to re-initialize the database to see these changes. This means you need to delete the Docker Volume, the database Docker Image and rebuild it.

# Stop running containers
$ docker-compose down

# List Docker volumes
$ docker volume ls

# Delete volume
$ docker volume rm <your_repository_name>_db

# Delete database image to force rebuild
$ docker rmi db

# Run containers (will automatically rebuild the image)
$ docker-compose up

Add Custom Plugin

makeWrapResolversPlugin

This section is optional but describes how to wrap a resolver generated by PostGraphile in order to customize it. In the folder graphql, create a new subfolder named custom-plugin. In this folder create a new file package.json with the following content (you can update it to your convenience).

{
  "name": "custom-plugin",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "description": "Custom plugin example for PostGraphile.",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  },
  "author": "Alexis ROLLAND",
  "license": "Apache-2.0",
  "dependencies": {
    "graphile-utils": "^4.5.6",
    "postgraphile": "^4.5.5"
  }
}

In the same folder custom-plugin, create a new file index.js with the following content.

const { makeWrapResolversPlugin } = require("graphile-utils");

// Create custom wrapper for resolver createUser
const createUserResolverWrapper = () => {
  return async (resolve, source, args, context, resolveInfo) => {
    // You can do something before the resolver executes
    console.info("Hello world!");
    console.info(args);

    // Let resolver execute against database
    const result = await resolve();

    // You can do something after the resolver executes
    console.info("Hello again!");
    console.info(result);

    return result;
  };
};

// Register custom resolvers
module.exports = makeWrapResolversPlugin({
  Mutation: {
    createUser: createUserResolverWrapper(),
  },
});

In the graphql folder, update the Dockerfile so that it looks like the one below.

FROM node:alpine
LABEL description="Instant high-performance GraphQL API for your PostgreSQL database https://github.com/graphile/postgraphile"

# Install PostGraphile and PostGraphile connection filter plugin
RUN npm install -g postgraphile
RUN npm install -g postgraphile-plugin-connection-filter

# Install custom plugin
COPY ./custom-plugin /tmp/custom-plugin
RUN cd /tmp/custom-plugin && npm pack
RUN npm install -g /tmp/custom-plugin/custom-plugin-0.0.1.tgz
RUN rm -rf /tmp/custom-plugin

EXPOSE 5000
ENTRYPOINT ["postgraphile", "-n", "0.0.0.0"]

In the file docker-compose.yml, add the custom plugin in the graphql service command parameter.

version: "3.3"
services:
    db:
        [...]

    graphql:
        [...]
        command:
            [
                "--connection",
                "${DATABASE_URL}",
                "--port",
                "5433",
                "--schema",
                "public",
                "--append-plugins",
                "postgraphile-plugin-connection-filter,custom-plugin",
            ]
[...]

At this stage, the repository should look like this.

/
├─ db/
|  ├─ init/
|  |  ├─ 00-database.sql
|  |  └─ 01-data.sql
|  └─ Dockerfile
├─ graphql/
|  ├─ custom-plugin/
|  |  ├─ index.js
|  |  └─ package.json
|  └─ Dockerfile
├─ .env
└─ docker-compose.yml

Finally rebuild and rerun the GraphQL container.

# Shut down containers
$ docker-compose down

# Rebuilder GraphQL container
$ docker-compose build graphql

# Rerun containers
$ docker-compose up

If you execute a createUser mutation like in the example provided below, you will notice the log messages from the custom plugin printing in your terminal.

Queries And Mutations Examples

Queries

Example of query to get all posts and their author.

query {
  allPosts {
    nodes {
      id
      title
      body
      userByAuthorId {
        username
      }
    }
  }
}

Mutations

Example of mutation to create a new user.

mutation {
  createUser(input: {user: {username: "Bob"}}) {
    user {
      id
      username
      createdDate
    }
  }
}