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Deploying Next.js SSR and Prisma on Amplify Hosting

June 7, 2022

In this post, we’ll set up and deploy a Next.js SSR app that uses Prisma as an ORM with a PostgreSQL database. Once integrated, we’ll be able to fetch data using SSR and getServerSideProps. We’ll store the connection information for the database in AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store and deploy the app on Amplify Hosting.

The application and deployment #

  1. Create a Next.js app
  2. Set up Prisma and seed the DB
  3. Create and store the production DB connection string in Parameter Store (SSM)
  4. Configure the Amplify Hosting build to retrieve the connection string from (SSM)
  5. Deploy!

You’ll need a few prerequisites to follow along:

The code associated with this post is available https://github.com/siegerts/amplify-hosting-ssr-prisma.

To follow along, you should be familiar with Next.js, SSR, and relational databases. Let’s get up and running on Amplify Hosting ⚡!

Create a new Next.js project #

We’ll create a the default Next.js SSR application using create-next-app. You can also use the steps below (after the set up) if you’re adding Prisma to a an existing Next.js application deployed on Amplify Hosting.

npx create-next-app amplify-prisma

For reference, below is the package.json. The structure of the project should be configured for SSR. The scripts section should match below:

 {
  "name": "amplify-prisma",
  "version": "0.1.0",
  "private": true,
  "scripts": {
    "dev": "next dev",
    "build": "next build",
    "start": "next start",
    "lint": "next lint"
  },
  "dependencies": {
    "next": "12.1.6",
    "react": "18.1.0",
    "react-dom": "18.1.0"
  },
  "devDependencies": {
    "eslint": "8.17.0",
    "eslint-config-next": "12.1.6"
  }
}

It’s important to note that the app will be built as an SSR application and not a static (SSG) application.

It’s good to familiarize yourself with the Amplify Hosting Next.js SSR support documentation. The docs cover the supported features, functionality, and how to configure Next.js apps for SSG or SSR on Amplify Hosting.

Another good resource is the Amplify Hosting FAQ on GitHub.

Prisma requires the application to have some server-side (i.e. backend) layer to run in. Also, Amplify Hosting will deploy the app differently depending on the type (SSR vs SSG). If starting a new application, the directory structure will resemble:

  .
  ├── node_modules/
  ├── pages/
  │   ├─ api/
  │   ├─ _app.js
  │   └─ index.js
  ├── public/
  ├── styles/
  ├── next.config.js 
  ...

  └─ README.md

Setting up Prisma #

Prisma will allow us to connect to our PostgreSQL database. We’ll follow along with the Prisma documentation to get the database set up.

  1. Add Prisma as a development dependency (i.e. devDependencies)
yarn add prisma -D
  1. Add the client as a dependency
yarn add @prisma/client
  1. Verify the installation
npx prisma
  1. Initialize Prisma within the project
npx prisma init

From the Prisma documentation, this does two things:

  1. Creates a new directory called prisma that contains a file called schema.prisma, which contains the Prisma schema with your database connection variable and schema models
  2. Creates the .env file in the root directory of the project, which is used for defining environment variables (such as your database connection)

After running npx prisma init, the new files will be added.

  .
  ├── node_modules/
+ ├── prisma/
+ │   └─ prisma.schema
  ├── pages/
  │   ├─ api/
  │   ├─ _app.js
  │   └─ index.js
  ├── public/
  ├── styles/
  ├── next.config.js 
+ ├── .env
  ...

  └─ README.md
Add .env to the .gitignore file! You don’t want to check this in to source control!


prisma.schema #

The schema file is used to define the structure of the database through tables and relationships. Prisma then uses this structure to interact with the database with a generated client (below) that provides a typed-ORM specific to the naming conventions and table attributes that you define.

For now, we’ll create a basic schema with a Post table that has a few attributes. In prisma.schema, add the following:

generator client {
  provider = "prisma-client-js"
}

datasource db {
  provider = "postgresql"
  url      = env("DATABASE_URL")
}

model Post {
  id          String   @id @default(cuid())
  title       String?  @db.Text
  description String?  @db.Text
  content     String?  @db.Text
  slug        String   @default(cuid())
  createdAt   DateTime @default(now())
  updatedAt   DateTime @updatedAt
  hidden      Boolean  @default(false)
}

Setting the local DATABASE_URL environment variable #

You’ll need to update the DATABASE_URL environment variable to point to a PostgreSQL compatible database. This database can be different from what you’ll use when you deploy the application. Typically, you’ll use a different database for each environment (local, test, prod, etc.).

No matter what you use, make sure not to expose this! For example, you may use something like this in the .env file:

DATABASE_URL="postgresql://username:somepassword@cloudserver:5432/mydb?schema=public"

Initialize the database schema #

Now, generate the Prisma client and push the schema in the application to the database. The client generation needs to happen each time the schema changes.

npx prisma generate

Create the database tables based on the schema file.

npx prisma db push

If successful, the database will now contain the tables representing the local schema file. A quick way to check this is to use the Prisma Studio UI. Run npx prisma studio to open browser-based database viewer on http://localhost:5555/.

Instantiating the Prisma client #

Now, to make Prisma available in the the Next.js app, add a lib directory with prisma.js.

  .
  ├── node_modules/
+ ├── lib/
+ │   └─ prisma.js
  ├── prisma/
  │   └─ prisma.schema
  ├── pages/
  │   ├─ api/
  │   ├─ _app.js
  │   └─ index.js
  ├── public/
  ├── styles/
  ├── next.config.js 
  ├── .env
  ...

  └─ README.md

Add the following in prisma.js:

// lib/prisma.js
import { PrismaClient } from "@prisma/client";

let prisma;

if (process.env.NODE_ENV === "production") {
  prisma = new PrismaClient();
} else {
  if (!global.prisma) {
    global.prisma = new PrismaClient();
  }
  prisma = global.prisma;
}

export default prisma;

Now, we can use this in getServerSideProps within pages and API routes to fetch the data from the database.

But first, we’ll add some test data to the database to help verify that the data fetching works. You can enter data manually into the database or use the Prisma seed utility. To use the utility, add a seed.js file to the prisma directory:

  .
  ├── node_modules/
  ├── lib/
  │   └─ prisma.js
  ├── prisma/
+ │   ├─ seed.js 
  │   └─ prisma.schema
  ├── pages/
  │   ├─ api/
  │   ├─ _app.js
  │   └─ index.js
  ├── public/
  ├── styles/
  ├── next.config.js 
  ├── .env
  ...

  └─ README.md

Then, in seed.js, add a few records to the database using the Prisma client.

// seed.js 
const { PrismaClient } = require("@prisma/client");

const prisma = new PrismaClient();

async function main() {
  let posts = [
    {
      title: "First post",
      description: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet",
      content:
        "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.",
      slug: "first-post-1",
    },
    {
      title: "Second post",
      description: "Ipsum dolor sit amet",
      content:
        "Tristique sollicitudin nibh sit amet commodo. Feugiat vivamus at augue eget",
      slug: "second-post-2",
    },
  ];

  await prisma.post.createMany({
    data: posts,
  });
}

main()
  .catch((e) => {
    console.error(e);
    process.exit(1);
  })
  .finally(async () => {
    await prisma.$disconnect();
  });

Additionally, add the seed command into prisma section in package.json:

"prisma": {
  "seed": "node prisma/seed.js"
},

Now, use the below command to seed the data:

npx prisma db seed

Cool! Now we have test data. Once again, a quick way to check this is to use the Prisma Studio UI. Run npx prisma studio to open browser-based database viewer on http://localhost:5555/.

Testing the Prisma setup locally #

To test the data fetching locally, we’ll add a simple database query using Prisma to the index.js page of the app.

Replace the contents of index.js with the snippet below:

// index.js
import Head from "next/head";
import styles from "../styles/Home.module.css";
import prisma from "../lib/prisma";

export const getServerSideProps = async () => {
  // this query grabs the data!
  const posts = await prisma.post.findMany({
    select: {
      id: true,
      title: true,
      description: true,
    },
  });
  return { props: { posts } };
};

export default function Home({ posts }) {
  return (
    <div className={styles.container}>
      <Head>
        <title>Create Next App</title>
        <meta name="description" content="Amplify Hosting + Prisma!" />
        <link rel="icon" href="/favicon.ico" />
      </Head>

      <main className={styles.main}>
        <h1 className={styles.title}>Amplify + Prisma!</h1>
        <div className={styles.grid}>
          {posts &&
            posts.map((post) => (
              <div key={post.id} className={styles.card}>
                <h2>{post.title}</h2>
                <p>{post.description}</p>
              </div>
            ))}
        </div>
      </main>
    </div>
  );
}

This query will select all the posts from the Post table and only return the columns specified in select. Test the app with yarn dev. Great - The app should be working!

Next, deploy to Amplify Hosting 🚀.

Deploy the app on Amplify Hosting #

A few things need to happen before we deploy the app. We’re going to need to push the application to GitHub since we’ll deploy with the continuous CI/CD in Amplify Hosting.

Also, we’re going to retrieve the production database (or non-development) connection string from AWS Parameter Store. You could also follow a similar approach for use with Secrets Manager if you’d rather use that service. From the Parameter Store documentation:

To implement password rotation lifecycles, use AWS Secrets Manager. You can rotate, manage, and retrieve database credentials, API keys, and other secrets throughout their lifecycle using Secrets Manager.

The pattern that we’ll use can work with either service. I prefer Parameter Store unless I need rotation as mentioned in the documentation snippet.

Create the database connection string parameter #

Before deploying the app, create a SecureString parameter in Parameter Store. Typically, I use a Python helper (Appendix) script to quickly create parameters but you can also manually add in the AWS Console.

The parameter should follow the connection string pattern that we’ve been using and is required by Prisma:

DATABASE_URL="postgresql://username:somepassword@cloudserver:5432/mydb?schema=public"

Make sure that the service role that you use or create during the deployment process (below) has the correct permissions to access this parameter in SSM.

If you need to adjust the role with an inline policy for a specific resource, you can use the below:

{
    "Sid": "AmplifySSMCalls",
    "Effect": "Allow",
    "Action": [
        "ssm:GetParametersByPath",
        "ssm:GetParameters",
        "ssm:GetParameter",
    ],
    "Resource": "arn:aws:ssm:*:*:path/to/parameter*"
},

This is something to keep in mind for Next.js SSR applications on Amplify - you want to make sure that they Backend Role has the correct permissions for your application.

The permissions required for Next.js apps on Amplify are listed in SSR IAM Permissions.

Update-env.sh #

We’ll use this in the Amplify build settings to:

  1. Retrieve the database connection string for Prisma
  2. Inject that connection string into the .env file as an environment variable to have it picked up by npx prisma db generate

That way, the Prisma client is generated using the correct production database. Add the update-env.sh file into the root directory:

  .
  ├── node_modules/
  ├── lib/
  ├── prisma/
  ├── pages/
  ├── public/
  ├── styles/
  ├── next.config.js 
  ├── .env
+ ├── update-env.sh
  ...

  └─ README.md

In the file, add the below command to call the AWS SDK (aws ssm ...) to retrieve the saved parameter. Make sure that the parameter name (i.e. '/path/to/parameter') matches the name that you used when creating the parameter.

#!/bin/bash

echo "DATABASE_URL=$(aws ssm get-parameter --name '/path/to/parameter' --with-decryption | jq '.Parameter.Value')" >> .env

The script will retrieve the parameter that you’ve created in Parameter Store and write it in the .env file.

This command is executed within a script to avoid having the output value printed to standard out in the build logs.

Now, lets create the app.

Create a new app in Amplify #

We’ll use the Host a web app flow in Amplify Hosting. When creating the application there are a few things to configure.

  1. Connect to the application repository in your GitHub account

  2. Make sure the app is recognized as a Server-side rendering deployment

  3. Choose a role that has the correct permissions for SSM (see section above)

  4. Update the build and test settings to run the update-env.sh script (below)

  5. Click on Advanced Settings and update the application environment variables


Update the build and test settings #

You’ll need to modify the Amplify Build settings in your app to include the the utility script that was just created above. The Prisma client is generated using the secrets retrieved with update-env.sh.

version: 1
frontend:
  phases:
    preBuild:
      commands:
+       - yum -y install jq # 1
+       - jq --version # 2
+       - nvm install 16 # 3
        - yarn install
    build:
      commands:
+       - bash update-env.sh # 4
+       - npx prisma generate # 5
        - yarn run build
  artifacts:
    baseDirectory: .next
    files:
      - '**/*'
  cache:
    paths:
      - node_modules/**/*

When the the build runs:

  1. jq will be installed as a utility to help parse the AWS CLI response from SSM

  2. Verify jq is installed by printing version

  3. Switch with Node.js 16

  4. Execute the update-env.sh utility to retrieve the database connection string from SSM and write the value to the .env file

  5. Generate the prisma client using the connection string SSM parameter

Update environment variables #

Set the environment variable AMPLIFY_NEXTJS_EXPERIMENTAL_TRACE=true in your App settings. In the Environment variables section for the new application, set:

Application deployment #

Finish the configuration set up and Create the application. In the build logs, you’ll see references to the modified build settings from above:

2022-06-020T15:23:48.487Z [INFO]: # Executing command: bash update-env.sh
2022-06-0215:24:01.809Z [INFO]: # Executing command: npx prisma generate
2022-06-02T15:24:03.120Z [INFO]: Environment variables loaded from .env
2022-06-02T15:24:03.122Z [INFO]: Prisma schema loaded from prisma/schema.prisma

Conclusion #

Great! The application is now set up to query data from a relational PostgreSQL database using Prisma. You should now see the data populate the index page when you load the deployment URL generated by Amplify Hosting. Additionally, the database connection details are securely stored in AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store 🔒.



Appendix: Add SecureString in Parameter Store with Python and boto3 #

The utility functions below create SecureString parameters using Python.

import boto3
import logging
from botocore.exceptions import ClientError

session = boto3.Session()

def put_parameter(parameter_name, parameter_value, parameter_type):
    ssm_client = session.client('ssm')
    try:
        result = ssm_client.put_parameter(
            Name=parameter_name,
            Value=parameter_value,
            Type=parameter_type
        )
    except ClientError as e:
        logging.error(e)
        return None
    return result['Version']


def get_parameter(parameter_name, with_decryption):
    ssm_client = session.client('ssm')
    try:
        result = ssm_client.get_parameter(
            Name=parameter_name,
            WithDecryption=with_decryption
        )
    except ClientError as e:
        logging.error(e)
        return None
    return result
   
    
    
if __name__ == "__main__":
    version = put_parameter("</path/to/parameter>", value, "SecureString")
    print(version)

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