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Overview of model relations

Individual models are easy to understand and work with. But in reality, models are often connected or related. When you build a real-world application with multiple models, you’ll typically need to define relations between models. For example:

  • A customer has many orders and each order is owned by a customer.
  • A user can be assigned to one or more roles and a role can have zero or more users.
  • A physician takes care of many patients through appointments. A patient can see many physicians too.

With connected models, LoopBack exposes as a set of APIs to interact with each of the model instances and query and filter the information based on the client’s needs.

You can define the following relations between models:

You can define models relations in JSON in the model definition JSON file file or in JavaScript code. The end result is the same.

When you define a relation for a model, LoopBack adds a set of methods to the model, as detailed in the article on each type of relation.

Using the relation generator

The easiest way to create a new relation between existing models is to use the  slc loopback:relation, or the apic loopback:relation, relation generator.

The tool will prompt you to enter the type of relation (belongsTo, hasMany, and so on) and the affected models.

Relation options

There are three options for most relation types:

  • Scope
  • Properties
  • Custom scope methods

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The scope property can be an object or function, and applies to all filtering/conditions on the related scope.

The object or returned object (in case of the function call) can have all the usual filter options: whereorderincludelimitoffset, …

These options are merged into the default filter, which means that the where part will be AND-ed. The other options usually override the defaults (standard mergeQuery behavior).

When scope is a function, it will receive the current instance, as well as the default filter object.

For example:

// only allow products of type: 'shoe', always include products
Category.hasMany(Product, {
    as: 'shoes', 
    scope: {
        where: { type: 'shoe' }, 
        include: 'products'
Product.hasMany(Image, {
    scope: function(inst, filter) {
        return { type: inst.type }; 
});  // inst is a category - match category type with product type.


You can specify the properties option in two ways:

  • As an object: the keys refer to the instance, the value will be the attribute key on the related model (mapping)
  • As a function: the resulting object (key/values) are merged into the related model directly.

For example, the following relation transfers the type to the product, and de-normalizes the category name into categoryName on creation:

Category.hasMany(Product, {
    as: 'shoes', 
    properties: {
        type: 'type',
        category: 'categoryName'

To accomplish the same thing with a callback function:

Product.hasMany(Image, {
    properties: function(inst) { // inst is a category
        return {type: inst.type, categoryName:};


Normally, properties are transferred from parent to child, but there are cases where it makes sense to do the opposite. To enable this, use the invertProperties option. See an example in Embedded models (embed with belongsTo).

Custom scope methods

Finally, you can add custom scope methods using the scopeMethods property. Again, the option can be either an object or a function (advanced use).

For example:

var reorderFn = function(ids, cb) {
  console.log(; // `this` refers to the RelationDefinition  - `images` (relation name) 
  // Do some reordering here & save cb(null, [3, 2, 1]); }; 
// Manually declare remoting params 
reorderFn.shared = true; 
reorderFn.accepts = { arg: 'ids', type: 'array', http: { source: 'body' } }; 
reorderFn.returns = { arg: 'ids', type: 'array', root: true }; 
reorderFn.http = { verb: 'put', path: '/images/reorder' }; 
Product.hasMany(Image, { scopeMethods: { reorder: reorderFn } });

The following example demonstrates how to access connected models via REST APIs.


var db = loopback.createDataSource({connector: 'memory'});
  Customer = db.createModel('customer', {
    name: String,
    age: Number
  Review = db.createModel('review', {
    product: String,
    star: Number
  Order = db.createModel('order', {
    description: String,
    total: Number

  Customer.scope("youngFolks", {where: {age: {lte: 22}}});
  Review.belongsTo(Customer, {foreignKey: 'authorId', as: 'author'});
  Customer.hasMany(Review, {foreignKey: 'authorId', as: 'reviews'});
  Customer.hasMany(Order, {foreignKey: 'customerId', as: 'orders'});
  Order.belongsTo(Customer, {foreignKey: 'customerId'});
Tags: models