Page Contents

How to dynamically add models, repositories, and controllers during runtime

Typically, a LoopBack app’s models, repositories, and controllers are defined as static files in the project directory. However, there may be scenarios where all or some of these might have to be created after the app starts, during runtime.

LoopBack provides the ability to dynamically create models, repositories, and controllers during runtime. This document is an explanation of how to go about doing it.

Defining a ModelDefinition object

A ModelDefinition object is the first step to creating a LoopBack model, it is an abstraction for specifying the various attributes of a LoopBack model. A ModelDefinition object is instantiated by passing a name or a ModelDefinitionSyntax object describing the model’s attributes to the ModelDefinition’s constructor.

An example of creating a ModelDefinition object:

const bookDef = new ModelDefinition({
  name: 'book',
  properties: {
    id: {
      type: 'Number',
      required: true,
      length: null,
      precision: 10,
      scale: 0,
      id: 1,
      mysql: {
        columnName: 'id',
        dataType: 'int',
        dataLength: null,
        dataPrecision: 10,
        dataScale: 0,
        nullable: 'N',
      },
    },
    title: {
      type: 'String',
      required: false,
      length: 512,
      precision: null,
      scale: null,
      mysql: {
        columnName: 'title',
        dataType: 'varchar',
        dataLength: 512,
        dataPrecision: null,
        dataScale: null,
        nullable: 'Y',
      },
    },
  },
  settings: {
    idInjection: false,
    mysql: {schema: 'test', table: 'BookStore'},
  },
});

Defining a Model

A LoopBack model class is created by passing a ModelDefinition object to @loopback/repository’s helper function defineModelClass(). It expects a base model to extend (typically Model or Entity), folowed by the model definition object. In this case it will be Entity.

const BookModel = defineModelClass<typeof Entity, {id: number; title?: string}>(
  Entity,
  bookDef,
);

In case you need to use an existing Model as the base class, specify the Model as the base class instead of Entity.

import DynamicModelCtor from '@loopback/repository';
// Assuming User is a pre-existing Model class in the app
const StudentModel = defineModelClass<
  typeof User,
  {id: number; university?: string}
>(User, studentDef);

For details about ModelDefinition, defineModelClass, Model, Entity, and DynamicModelCtor refer to the @loopback/repository API documentation.

Defining a Datasource

Before a repository for this model can be set up, a datasource should be ready. If required, set one up dynamically by creating an instance of juggler.DataSource. It requires a name for the datasource, the connector, and a connection url as shown below.

const dsName = 'bookstore-ds';
const bookDs = new juggler.DataSource({
  name: dsName,
  connector: require('loopback-connector-mongodb'),
  url: 'mongodb://sysop:moon@localhost',
});
await bookDs.connect();
app.dataSource(bookDs, dsName);

To use the newly created datasource, call its .connect() method and attach it to the app using app.dataSource() method. Note, this method will be available only on RepositoryMixin apps.

Defining a Repository

Now that a datasource is ready, a repository can be created for BookModel.

The @loopback/rest-crud package exports a helper function, defineCrudRepositoryClass, this function creates a DefaultCrudRepository-based repository class for a given model.

const BookRepository = defineCrudRepositoryClass<
  Book,
  typeof Book.prototype.id,
  BookRelations
>(BookModel);

In case you want to use a non-DefaultCrudRepository repository class or you want to create a custom repository, use the defineRepositoryClass() helper function instead. Pass a second parameter to this function as the base class for the new repository.

There are two options for doing this:

1. Using a base repository class

Create a base repository with your custom implementation, and then specify this repository as the base class.

class MyRepoBase<
  E extends Entity,
  IdType,
  Relations extends object
> extends DefaultCrudRepository<E, IdType, Relations> {
  // Custom implementation
}

const BookRepositoryClass = defineRepositoryClass<
  typeof BookModel,
  MyRepoBase<BookModel, typeof BookModel.prototype.id, BookRelations>
>(BookModel, MyRepoBase);

2. Using a Repository mixin

Create a repository mixin with your customization as shown in the “ Defining A Repository Mixin Class Factory Function “ example, apply the mixin on the base repository class (e.g. DefaultCrudRepository) then specify this combined repository as the base class to be used.

const BookRepositoryClass = defineRepositoryClass<
  typeof BookModel,
  DefaultCrudRepository<
    BookModel,
    typeof BookModel.prototype.id,
    BookRelations
  > &
    FindByTitle<BookModel>
>(BookModel, FindByTitleRepositoryMixin(DefaultCrudRepository));

Dependency injection has to be configured for the datasource as shown below.

inject(`datasources.${dsName.name}`)(BookRepository, undefined, 0);
const repoBinding = app.repository(BookRepository);

Note, the app.repository() method will be available only on RepositoryMixin apps.

Defining a Controller

Once a repository is set up, a controller can be created for the model using the defineCrudRestController helper function from the @loopback/rest-crud package. It accepts a Model class and a CrudRestControllerOptions object. You will also have to configure dependency injection for the controller by applying the inject decorator manually.

const basePath = '/' + bookDef.name;
const BookController = defineCrudRestController(BookModel, {basePath});
inject(repoBinding.key)(BookController, undefined, 0);

The controller is then attached to the app by calling the app.controller() method.

app.controller(BookController);

The new CRUD REST endpoints for the model will be available on the app now.

If you want a customized controller, you can create a copy of defineCrudRestController’s implementation and modify it according to your requirements.

For details about defineCrudRestController and CrudRestControllerOptions, refer to the @loopback/rest-crud API documentation.

Model discovery

Some datasource connectors provide methods for discovering model definitions from existing database schema. The following APIs can be very useful when defining LoopBack models dynamically.

// List database tables and/or views
const modelDefs = await ds.discoverModelDefinitions({views: true, limit: 20});

// List database columns for a given table/view
const modelProps = await ds.discoverModelProperties('PRODUCT');
const modelProps = await ds.discoverModelProperties('INVENTORY_VIEW', {
  owner: 'STRONGLOOP',
});

// List primary keys for a given table
const primaryKeys = await ds.discoverPrimaryKeys('INVENTORY');

// List foreign keys for a given table
const foreignKeys = await ds.discoverForeignKeys('INVENTORY');

// List foreign keys that reference the primary key of the given table
const exportedForeignKeys = ds.discoverExportedForeignKeys('PRODUCT');

// Create a model definition by discovering the given table
const schema = await ds.discoverSchema(table, {owner: 'STRONGLOOP'});

For more details, refer to the “ LoopBack DataSource and Connector Guide “.