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Guides/Schema migration

Schema migration with Neon Postgres and Sequelize

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

Sequelize is a promise-based Node.js ORM that supports multiple relational databases. In this guide, we'll explore how to use Sequelize ORM with a Neon Postgres database in a JavaScript project.

We'll create a Node.js application, configure Sequelize, and show how to set up and run migrations with Sequelize.


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 commands in your terminal to set up a new project using Express.js:

mkdir neon-sequelize-guide && cd neon-sequelize-guide
npm init -y && touch .env index.js 
npm install express dotenv

Add the DATABASE_URL environment variable to the .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

To use the Sequelize ORM to run queries, we need to install the sequelize package and the pg driver to connect to Postgres from Node.js. We also need to install the sequelize-cli package to manage data models and run migrations. Run the following commands to install the required packages:

npm install sequelize pg pg-hstore
npm install sequelize-cli --save-dev

Configure Sequelize

Run the following command to initialize the sequelize configuration:

npx sequelize init

This command creates config, migrations, models, and seeders directories at the project root.

The config directory contains the config.json file, which holds the database configuration. We want to have the database URL read as an environment variable, so we replace it with a config.js file. Create a config.js file in your config/ directory and add the following code:

// config/config.js

const dotenv = require('dotenv');

module.exports = {
  development: {
    url: process.env.DATABASE_URL,
    dialect: 'postgres',
    dialectOptions: { ssl: { require: true } }

To make the sequelize CLI aware of the path to the new configuration file, we need to create a .sequelizerc file at the project root and add the following code:

// .sequelizerc

const path = require('path');

module.exports = {
  'config': path.resolve('config', 'config.js')

Create models and set up migrations

We'll create an Author and a Book model to represent the tables in our database. Run the following commands to create the models:

npx sequelize model:generate --name Author --attributes name:string,bio:string
npx sequelize model:generate --name Book --attributes title:string

Sequelize creates a new file for each model in the models/ directory and a corresponding migration file in the migrations/ directory. Sequelize automatically adds an id field as the primary key for each model, and createdAt and updatedAt fields to track the creation and update times of each record.

We still need to define the relationships between the Author and Book models. Update the book.js file with the following code:

// models/book.js

'use strict';
const { Model } = require('sequelize');

module.exports = (sequelize, DataTypes) => {
  class Book extends Model {
    static associate(models) {
      Book.belongsTo(models.Author, {
        foreignKey: 'authorId',
        as: 'author',
        onDelete: 'CASCADE'
    title: { type: DataTypes.STRING, allowNull: false },
    authorId: { type: DataTypes.INTEGER, allowNull: false },
  }, {
    modelName: 'Book',
  return Book;

Sequelize does not automatically regenerate the migration files when you update the models. So, we need to manually update the migration files to add the foreign key constraint.

Update the migration file corresponding to the Book model with the following code:

'use strict';
/** @type {import('sequelize-cli').Migration} */
module.exports = {
  async up(queryInterface, Sequelize) {
    await queryInterface.createTable('Books', {
      id: {
        allowNull: false,
        autoIncrement: true,
        primaryKey: true,
        type: Sequelize.INTEGER
      title: {
        type: Sequelize.STRING
      createdAt: {
        allowNull: false,
        type: Sequelize.DATE
      updatedAt: {
        allowNull: false,
        type: Sequelize.DATE
      authorId: {
        type: Sequelize.INTEGER,
        onDelete: 'CASCADE',
        references: {
          model: 'Authors',
          key: 'id',
  async down(queryInterface, Sequelize) {
    await queryInterface.dropTable('Books');

Run the following command to apply the migrations and create the tables in the database:

npx sequelize db:migrate

If Sequlize successfully connects to the database and runs the migrations, you should see a success message in the terminal.

Add sample data to the database

We'll add some sample data to the database using the Sequelize ORM. Create a new file named seed.js at the project root and add the following code:

// seed.js

const { Sequelize, DataTypes } = require("sequelize");
const { config } = require("dotenv");

if (!process.env.DATABASE_URL) {
  throw new Error("DATABASE_URL is not set");

const sequelize = new Sequelize(process.env.DATABASE_URL, {
  dialectOptions: {
    ssl: {
      require: true

const Author = require('./models/author')(sequelize, DataTypes);
const Book = require('./models/book')(sequelize, DataTypes);

const seedDatabase = async () => {
  const author = await Author.create(
    { name: 'J.K. Rowling', bio: 'The creator of the Harry Potter series' }
  await Book.create({ title: 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher\'s Stone', authorId: });
  await Book.create({ title: 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', authorId: });

  const author2 = await Author.create(
    { name: 'J.R.R. Tolkien', bio: 'The creator of Middle-earth and author of The Lord of the Rings.' }
  await Book.create({ title: 'The Hobbit', authorId: });
  await Book.create({ title: 'The Fellowship of the Ring', authorId: });
  await Book.create({ title: 'The Two Towers', authorId: });
  await Book.create({ title: 'The Return of the King', authorId: });

  const author3 = await Author.create(
    { name: 'George R.R. Martin', bio: 'The author of the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.' }
  await Book.create({ title: 'A Game of Thrones', authorId: });
  await Book.create({ title: 'A Clash of Kings', authorId: });

  await sequelize.close();


Run the following command to seed the database with the sample data:

node seed.js

Sequelize will print logs to the terminal as it connects to the database and adds the sample data.

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

// index.js

const express = require("express");
const { Sequelize, DataTypes } = require("sequelize");
const { config } = require("dotenv");

if (!process.env.DATABASE_URL) {
  throw new Error("DATABASE_URL is not set");

const sequelize = new Sequelize(process.env.DATABASE_URL, {
  dialectOptions: { ssl: { require: true } }

// Set up the models
const Author = require('./models/author')(sequelize, DataTypes);
const Book = require('./models/book')(sequelize, DataTypes);

// Create a new Express application
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) => {
  try {
    const authors = await Author.findAll();
  } catch (error) {
    console.error("Error fetching authors:", error);
    res.status(500).send("Error fetching authors");

app.get("/books/:author_id", async (req, res) => {
  const authorId = parseInt(req.params.author_id);
  try {
    const books = await Book.findAll({
      where: {
        authorId: authorId
  } catch (error) {
    console.error("Error fetching books for author:", error);
    res.status(500).send("Error fetching books for author");

// 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 for the given authorId.

Run the application using the following command:

node index.js

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.


In this guide, we set up a new Javascript project using Express.js and the Sequelize 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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