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Guides/Schema migration

Schema migration with Neon Postgres and Prisma ORM

Set up Neon Postgres and run migrations for your Javascript project using Prisma ORM

Prisma is an open-source ORM for Node.js and Typescript, known for its ease of use and focus on type safety. It supports many databases, including Postgres, and provides a robust system for managing database schemas and migrations.

This guide walks you through using Prisma ORM with a Neon Postgres database in a Javascript project. We'll create a Node.js application, set up Prisma, and show how to run migrations using Prisma.


To follow along with this guide, you will need:

  • A Neon account. If you do not have one, sign up at Neon. Your Neon project comes with a ready-to-use Postgres database named neondb. We'll use this database in the following examples.
  • Node.js and npm installed on your local machine. We'll use Node.js to build and test the application locally.

Setting up your Neon database

Initialize a new project

  1. Log in to the Neon Console and navigate to the Projects section.
  2. Select an existing project or click the New Project button to create a new one.

Retrieve your Neon database connection string

Navigate to the Connection Details section to find your database connection string. It should look similar to this:


Keep your connection string handy for later use.

Setting Up the Node application

Create a new Node project

We'll create a simple catalog, with API endpoints that query the database for authors and a list of their books. Run the following command in your terminal to set up a new project using Express.js:

mkdir neon-prisma-guide && cd neon-prisma-guide
npm init -y && touch .env index.js 
npm pkg set type="module" && npm pkg set scripts.start="node index.js"
npm install express

To use the Prisma ORM for making queries, install the @prisma/client package and the Prisma CLI. The CLI is only needed as a development dependency to generate the Prisma Client for the given schema.

npm install @prisma/client && npm install prisma --save-dev
npx prisma init

These commands create a new prisma folder in your project with a schema.prisma file, where we will define the database schema for our application.

Configure Prisma to Use Neon Database

Open the prisma/schema.prisma file and update the datasource db block with your Neon database connection details:

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

Add the DATABASE_URL environment variable to your .env file, which you'll use to connect to your Neon database. Use the connection string that you obtained from the Neon Console earlier:

# .env

Define the Database schema

In the prisma/schema.prisma file, add the following model definitions:

model Author {
  id        Int      @id @default(autoincrement())
  name      String
  bio       String?
  createdAt DateTime @default(now()) @map("created_at")
  books     Book[]

model Book {
  id        Int      @id @default(autoincrement())
  title     String
  authorId  Int      @map("author_id")
  createdAt DateTime @default(now()) @map("created_at")
  author    Author   @relation(fields: [authorId], references: [id])

Two models are defined above: Author, which contains information about authors, and Book, for details about published books. The Book model includes a foreign key that references the Author model.

Generate Prisma client and run migrations

To create and apply migrations based on your schema, run the following command in the terminal:

npx prisma migrate dev --name init

This command generates migration files written in SQL corresponding to our schema definitions and applies them to create the tables in your Neon database. We used the --name flag to name the migration.

The command also generates a Prisma Client that is aware of our schemas:

import { PrismaClient } from '@prisma/client'

const prisma = new PrismaClient();

We'll use this client later to interact with the database.

Seed the Database

To test that the application works, we need to add some example data to our tables. Create a seed.js file in your project and add the following code to it:

// seed.js

import { PrismaClient } from '@prisma/client'

const prisma = new PrismaClient();

const seed = async () => {
  const authors = [
      name: "J.R.R. Tolkien",
      bio: "The creator of Middle-earth and author of The Lord of the Rings.",
      books: {
        create: [
          { title: "The Hobbit" },
          { title: "The Fellowship of the Ring" },
          { title: "The Two Towers" },
          { title: "The Return of the King" }
      name: "George R.R. Martin",
      bio: "The author of the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.",
      books: {
        create: [
          { title: "A Game of Thrones" },
          { title: "A Clash of Kings" }
      name: "J.K. Rowling",
      bio: "The creator of the Harry Potter series.",
      books: {
        create: [
          { title: "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" },
          { title: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" }

  for (const author of authors) {
      data: author,

async function main() {
  try {
    await seed();
    console.log("Seeding completed");
  } catch (error) {
    console.error("Error during seeding:", error);
  } finally {
    await prisma.$disconnect()


Run the seed script to populate the database with the initial data:

node seed.js

You should see the Seeding completed message in the terminal, indicating that the seed data was inserted into the database.

Implementing the API Endpoints

Now that the database is set up and populated with data, we can implement the API to query the authors and their books. We'll use Express, which is a minimal web application framework for Node.js.

Create an index.ts file at the project root, and add the following code to set up your Express server:

import express from "express";
import { PrismaClient } from '@prisma/client'

const prisma = new PrismaClient();
const app = express();
const port = process.env.PORT || 3000;

app.get("/", async (req, res) => {
  res.send("Hello World! This is a book catalog.");

app.get("/authors", async (req, res) => {
  const authors = await;

app.get("/books/:author_id", async (req, res) => {
  const authorId = parseInt(req.params.author_id);
  const books = await{
    where: {
      authorId: authorId

// Start the server
app.listen(port, () => {
  console.log(`Server running on http://localhost:${port}`);

This code sets up a simple API with two endpoints: /authors and /books/:authorId. The /authors endpoint returns a list of all the authors, and the /books/:authorId endpoint returns a list of books written by the specific author with the given authorId.

Run the application using the following command:

npm run start

This will start the server at http://localhost:3000. Navigate to http://localhost:3000/authors and http://localhost:3000/books/1 in your browser to check that the API works as expected.

Migration after a schema change

To demonstrate how to execute a schema change, we'll add a new column to the authors table, listing the country of origin for each author.

Update the Prisma model

Modify the Author model in the prisma/schema.prisma file to add the new country field:

model Author {
  id        Int      @id @default(autoincrement())
  name      String
  bio       String?
  country   String?
  createdAt DateTime @default(now()) @map("created_at")
  books     Book[]

Generate and apply the migration

Run the following command to generate a new migration and apply it to the database:

npx prisma migrate dev --name add-country

This command generates a new migration file to add the new field and applies it to the database. It also updates the Prisma client to reflect the change in the schema.

Verify the migration

To verify the migration, run the application again:

npm run start

You can navigate to http://localhost:3000/authors in your browser to check that each author entry has a country field, currently set to null.


In this guide, we set up a new Javascript project using Express.js and Prisma ORM and connected it to a Neon Postgres database. We created a schema for the database, generated and ran migrations, and implemented API endpoints to query the database.

Source code

You can find the source code for the application described in this guide on GitHub.


For more information on the tools used in this guide, refer to the following resources:

Need help?

Join our Discord Server to ask questions or see what others are doing with Neon. Users on paid plans can open a support ticket from the console. For more detail, see Getting Support.

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