Build a SQL connector

Build a connector for relational databases

This tutorial walks you through the MySQL connector implementation to teach you how to develop a connector for relational databases.

Understand a connector's responsibilities

In LoopBack, models encapsulate business data and logic as JavaScript properties and methods. One of the powerful features of LoopBack is that application developers don't have to implement all behaviors for their models as a lot of them are already provided by the framework out of box with data sources and connectors. For example, a model automatically receives the create, retrieve, update, and delete (CRUD) functions if it is attached to a data source for a database. LoopBack abstracts the persistence layer and other backend services, such as REST APIs, SOAP web services, and storage services, and so on, as data sources, which are configurations of backend connectivity and integration. Each data source is backed a connector which implements the interactions between Node.js and its underlying backend system. Connectors are responsible for mapping model method invocations to backend functions, such as database operations or call to REST or SOAP APIs. The following diagram illustrates how connectors fit into the big picture of LoopBack API framework.

connector-architecture

Please note that you don't always have to develop a connector to allow your application to interact with other systems. Ad-hoc integration can be done with custom methods on the model. The custom methods can be implemented using other Node modules, such as drivers or clients to your backend.

You should consider to develop a connector for common and reusable backend integrations, for example:

  • Integrate with a backend such as databases
  • Reusable logic to interact with another system

There are a few typical types of connectors based on what backends they connect to and interact with.

  • Databases that support full CRUD operations
    • Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, Postgresql, MongoDB, In-memory DB
  • Other forms of existing APIs
    • REST APIs exposed by your backend
    • SOAP/HTTP web services
  • Services
    • E-mail
    • Push notification
    • Storage

The connectors are mostly transparent to models. Their functions are mixed into model classes through data source attachments.

Most of the connectors need to implement the following logic:

  • Lifecycle handlers

    • initialize: receive configuration from the data source settings and initialize the connector instance
    • connect: create connections to the backend system
    • disconnect: close connections to the backend system
    • ping (optional): check if the connectivity
  • Model method delegations

    • Delegating model method invocations to backend calls, for example CRUD
  • Connector metadata (optional)

    • Model definition for the configuration, such as host/url/user/password
    • What data access interfaces are implemented by the connector (the capability of the connector)
    • Connector-specific model/property mappings

To mixin methods onto model classes, a connector must choose what functions to offer. Different types of connectors implement different interfaces that group a set of common methods, for example:

  • Database connectors

    • CRUD methods, such as create, find, findById, deleteAll, updateAll, count
  • E-mail connector

    • send()
  • Storage connector

    • Container/File operations, such as createContainer, getContainers, getFiles, upload, download, deleteFile, deleteContainer
  • Push Notification connector

    • notify()
  • REST connector

    • Map operations from existing REST APIs
  • SOAP connector

    • Map WSDL operations

In this tutorial, we'll focus on building a connector for databases that provide the full CRUD capabilities.

Understand a database connector with CRUD operations

crud-connector

LoopBack unifies all CRUD based database connectors so that a model can choose to attach to any of the supported database. There are a few classes involved here:

  1. PersistedModelClass defines all the methods mixed into a model for persistence.

  2. The DAO facade maps the PersistedModel methods to connector implementations.

  3. CRUD methods need to be implemented by connectors

In the next sections, we will use MySQL connector as an example to walk through how to implement a SQL based connector.

Define a module and export the initialize function

A LoopBack connector is packaged as a Node.js module that can be installed using npm install. LoopBack runtime loads the module via require on behalf of data source configuration, for example, require('loopback-connector-mysql');. The connector module should export an initialize function as follows:

// Require the DB driver
var mysql = require('mysql'); 
// Require the base SqlConnector class
var SqlConnector = require('loopback-connector').SqlConnector;
// Require the debug module with a pattern of loopback:connector:connectorName
var debug = require('debug')('loopback:connector:mysql');

/**
 * Initialize the MySQL connector against the given data source
 *
 * @param {DataSource} dataSource The loopback-datasource-juggler dataSource
 * @param {Function} [callback] The callback function
 */
exports.initialize = function initializeDataSource(dataSource, callback) {
  ...
};

After the initialization, the dataSource object will have the following properties added:

  • connector: The connector instance
  • driver: The module for the underlying database driver (mysql for MySQL)

The initialize function should calls the callback function once the connector has been initialized.

Create a subclass of SqlConnector

Connectors for relational databases have a lot of things in common. They are responsible for mapping CRUD operations to SQL statements. LoopBack provides a base class called SqlConnector that encapsulates the common logic for inheritance. The following code snippet is used to create a subclass of SqlConnector.

/**
 * @constructor
 * Constructor for MySQL connector
 * @param {Object} settings The data source settings
 */
function MySQL(settings) {
  // Call the super constructor with name and settings
  SqlConnector.call(this, 'mysql', settings);
  ...
}
// Set up the prototype inheritence
require('util').inherits(MySQL, SqlConnector);

Implement methods to interact with the database

A connector implements the following methods to communicate with the underlying database.

Connect to the database

The connect method establishes connections to the database. In most cases, a connection pool will be created based on the data source settings, including host, port, database, and other configuration properties.

MySQL.prototype.connect = function (cb) {
  // ...
};

Disconnect from the database

The disconnect method close connections to the database. Most database drivers provide APIs.

/**
 * Disconnect from MySQL
 */
MySQL.prototype.disconnect = function (cb) {
  // ...
};

Ping the database

The ping method tests if the connection to the database is healthy. Most connectors choose to implement it by executing a simple SQL statement.

MySQL.prototype.ping = function(cb) {
  // ...
};

Implement CRUD methods

The connector is responsible for implementing the following CRUD methods. The good news is that the base SqlConnector now have most of the methods implemented with the extension point to override certain behaviors that are specific to the underlying database.

To extend from SqlConnector, the minimum set of methods below must be implemented:

Execute a SQL statement with parameters

The executeSQL method is the core function that a connector has to implement. Most of other CRUD methods are delegated to the query function. It executes a SQL statement with an array of parameters. SELECT statements will produce an array of records representing matching rows from the database while other statements such as INSERT, DELETE, or UPDATE will report the number of rows changed during the operation.

/**
 * Execute the parameterized sql statement
 *
 * @param {String} sql The SQL statement, possibly with placeholders for parameters
 * @param {*[]} [params] An array of parameter values
 * @param {Objet} [options] Options passed to the CRUD method
 * @param {Function} [callback] The callback after the SQL statement is executed
 */
MySQL.prototype.executeSQL = function (sql, params, options, callback) {
  // ...
};

Map values between a model property and a database column

/**
 * Converts a model property value into the form required by the
 * database column. The result should be one of following forms:
 *
 * - {sql: "point(?,?)", params:[10,20]}
 * - {sql: "'John'", params: []}
 * - "John"
 *
 * @param {Object} propertyDef Model property definition
 * @param {*} value Model property value
 * @returns {ParameterizedSQL|*} Database column value.
 *
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.toColumnValue = function(propertyDef, value) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('toColumnValue() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Convert the data from database column to model property
 * @param {object} propertyDef Model property definition
 * @param {*) value Column value
 * @returns {*} Model property value
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.fromColumnValue = function(propertyDef, value) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('fromColumnValue() must be implemented by the connector');
};

Helpers to generate SQL statements and parse responses from DB drivers

/**
 * Build a new SQL statement with pagination support by wrapping the given sql
 * @param {String} model The model name
 * @param {ParameterizedSQL} stmt The sql statement
 * @param {Number} limit The maximum number of records to be fetched
 * @param {Number} offset The offset to start fetching records
 * @param {String[]} order The sorting criteria
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.applyPagination = function(model, stmt, filter) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('applyPagination() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Parse the result for SQL UPDATE/DELETE/INSERT for the number of rows
 * affected
 * @param {String} model Model name
 * @param {Object} info Status object
 * @returns {Number} Number of rows affected
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.getCountForAffectedRows = function(model, info) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('getCountForAffectedRows() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Parse the result for SQL INSERT for newly inserted id
 * @param {String} model Model name
 * @param {Object} info The status object from driver
 * @returns {*} The inserted id value
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.getInsertedId = function(model, info) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('getInsertedId() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Escape the name for the underlying database
 * @param {String} name The name
 * @returns {String} An escaped name for SQL
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.escapeName = function(name) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('escapeName() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Escape the name for the underlying database
 * @param {String} value The value to be escaped
 * @returns {*} An escaped value for SQL
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.escapeValue = function(value) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('escapeValue() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Get the place holder in SQL for identifiers, such as ??
 * @param {String} key Optional key, such as 1 or id
 * @returns {String} The place holder
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.getPlaceholderForIdentifier = function(key) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('getPlaceholderForIdentifier() must be implemented by the connector');
};

/**
 * Get the place holder in SQL for values, such as :1 or ?
 * @param {String} key Optional key, such as 1 or id
 * @returns {String} The place holder
 */
SqlConnector.prototype.getPlaceholderForValue = function(key) {
  /*jshint unused:false */
  throw new Error('getPlaceholderForValue() must be implemented by the connector');
};

Override other methods

There are a list of methods that serve as default implementations in the SqlConnector. The connector can choose to override such methods to customize the behaviors. Please see a complete list at http://apidocs.strongloop.com/loopback-connector/.

Implement database/model synchronization methods

It's often desirable to apply model definitions to the underlying relational database to provision or update schema objects so that they stay synchronized with the model definitions.

automigrate and autoupdate

There are two flavors:

  • automigrate - Drop existing schema objects if exist and create them based on model definitions. Existing data will be lost.
  • autoupdate - Detects the difference between schema objects and model definitions, alters the database schema objects. Existing data will be kept.
/**
 * Perform autoupdate for the given models
 * @param {String[]} [models] A model name or an array of model names.
 * If not present, apply to all models
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 */
MySQL.prototype.autoupdate = function (models, cb) {
  // ...
};

MySQL.prototype.automigrate = function (models, cb) {
  // ...
};

The automigrate and autoupdate operations are usually mapped to a sequence of DDL statements.

Build a CREATE TABLE statement

/**
 * Create a DB table for the given model
 * @param {string} model Model name
 * @param cb
 */
MySQL.prototype.createTable = function (model, cb) {
  // ...
};

Check if models have corresponding tables

/**
 * Check if the models exist
 * @param {String[]} [models] A model name or an array of model names. If not
 * present, apply to all models
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 */
MySQL.prototype.isActual = function(models, cb) {
  // ...
};

Alter a table

MySQL.prototype.alterTable = function (model, actualFields, actualIndexes, done, checkOnly) {
  // ...
};

Build column definition clause for a given model

MySQL.prototype.buildColumnDefinitions =
MySQL.prototype.propertiesSQL = function (model) {
  // ...
};

Build index definition clause for a given model property

MySQL.prototype.buildIndex = function(model, property) {
  // ...
};

Build indexes for a given model

MySQL.prototype.buildIndexes = function(model) {
  // ...
};

Build column definition for a given model property

MySQL.prototype.buildColumnDefinition = function(model, prop) {
  // ...
};

Build column type for a given model property

MySQL.prototype.columnDataType = function (model, property) {
  // ...
};

Implement model discovery from database schemas

For relational databases that have schema definitions, the connector can implement the discovery capability to reverse engineer database schemas into model definitions.

Build a SQL statement to list schemas

/**
 * Build sql for listing schemas (databases in MySQL)
 * @params {Object} [options] Options object
 * @returns {String} The SQL statement
 */
 function querySchemas(options) {
   // ...
 }

Build a SQL statement to list tables

/**
 * Build sql for listing tables
 * @param options {all: for all owners, owner|schema: for a given owner}
 * @returns {string} The sql statement
 */
 function queryTables(options) {
   // ...
 }
```js

### Build a SQL statement to list views  

```js
/**
 * Build sql for listing views
 * @param options {all: for all owners, owner: for a given owner}
 * @returns {string} The sql statement
 */
 function queryViews(options) {
   // ...
 }

Discover schemas

 MySQL.prototype.discoverDatabaseSchemas = function(options, cb) {
   // ...
 };

Discover a list of models

/**
 * Discover model definitions
 *
 * @param {Object} options Options for discovery
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 */
 MySQL.prototype.discoverModelDefinitions = function(options, cb) {
   // ...
 };

Discover a list of model properties for a given table

/**
 * Discover model properties from a table
 * @param {String} table The table name
 * @param {Object} options The options for discovery
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 *
 */
 MySQL.prototype.discoverModelProperties = function(table, options, cb) {
   // ...
 };

Discover primary keys for a given table

/**
 * Discover primary keys for a given table
 * @param {String} table The table name
 * @param {Object} options The options for discovery
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 */
 MySQL.prototype.discoverPrimaryKeys = function(table, options, cb) {
   // ...
 };

Discover foreign keys for a given table

/**
 * Discover foreign keys for a given table
 * @param {String} table The table name
 * @param {Object} options The options for discovery
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 */
 MySQL.prototype.discoverForeignKeys = function(table, options, cb) {
   // ...
 };

Discover exported foreign keys for a given table

/**
 * Discover foreign keys that reference to the primary key of this table
 * @param {String} table The table name
 * @param {Object} options The options for discovery
 * @param {Function} [cb] The callback function
 */
 MySQL.prototype.discoverExportedForeignKeys = function(table, options, cb) {
   // ...
 };

Discover indexes for a given table

  MySQL.prototype.discoverIndexes = function(table, options, cb) {
    // ...
  };

Map column definition to model property definition

  MySQL.prototype.buildPropertyType = function(columnDefinition) {
    // ...
  }

Build SQL statements to discover database objects

/**
 * Build the sql statement to query columns for a given table
 * @param schema
 * @param table
 * @returns {String} The sql statement
 */
 function queryColumns(schema, table) {
   // ...
 }

/**
 * Build the sql statement for querying primary keys of a given table
 * @param schema
 * @param table
 * @returns {string}
 */
 function queryPrimaryKeys(schema, table) {
   // ...
 } 

/**
 * Build the sql statement for querying foreign keys of a given table
 * @param schema
 * @param table
 * @returns {string}
 */
 function queryForeignKeys(schema, table) {
   // ...
 }

/**
 * Retrieves a description of the foreign key columns that reference the
 * given table's primary key columns (the foreign keys exported by a table).
 * They are ordered by fkTableOwner, fkTableName, and keySeq.
 * @param schema
 * @param table
 * @returns {string}
 */
 function queryExportedForeignKeys(schema, table) {
   // ...
 }

Base Connector

SQL Connector

ParameterizedSQL(sql, params)

A class for parameterized SQL clauses

Arguments
Name Type Description
sql String or Object

The SQL clause. If the value is a string, treat it as the template using ? as the placeholder, for example, (?,?). If the value is an object, treat it as {sql: '...', params: [...]}

params Array.<*>

An array of parameter values. The length should match the number of placeholders in the template

Returns
Name Type Description
result ParameterizedSQL

A new instance of ParameterizedSQL

parameterizedSQL.merge(ps, [separator])

Merge the parameterized sqls into the current instance

Arguments
Name Type Description
ps Object or Array.<Object>

A parametered SQL or an array of parameterized SQLs

[separator] String

Separator, default to

Returns
Name Type Description
result ParameterizedSQL

The current instance

ParameterizedSQL.append(currentStmt, stmt, [separator])

Append the statement into the current statement

Arguments
Name Type Description
currentStmt Object

The current SQL statement

stmt Object

The statement to be appended

[separator] String

Separator, default to

Returns
Name Type Description
result

The merged statement

ParameterizedSQL.join(sqls, [separator])

Join multiple parameterized SQLs into one

Arguments
Name Type Description
sqls Array.<Object>

An array of parameterized SQLs

[separator] String

Separator, default to

Returns
Name Type Description
result ParameterizedSQL