Create Restful API Within Minutes with FeathersJS
Adam C. |

Creating a Restful API has never been easier with FeathersJS. In the tutorial, we will use MongoDB as an example to show you how quickly we can set up a state of the art API.

Photo by: Priscilla Du Preez

I assume that you have NodeJS installed, if not, then I recommend installing NVM if you are using *NIX, macOS, or windows WSL. 

And I assume you have MongoDB server running. By the way, if you don't have MongoDB installed yet, I suggest you check out the official How-to .There are many ways to install MongoDB, The online tutorials are overwhelming. Following the official guide will save you a lot of time. 

Okay, now you have NodeJS & MongoDB installed, let's go.

Step one

Install feathersjs-cli (a powerful command-line tool ever!)

npm install -g feathersjs-cli

Step two

Create a new folder for our API:

mkdir feathers-demo
cd feathers-demo

Step three

Run the following command to auto-generate an application (in our case, API)

feathers generate app

We would need to go thru some questions during the generation, but they are pretty straightforward,  see the example answers below:

? Do you want to use JavaScript or TypeScript? JavaScript
? Project name feathers-demo
? Description Demonstrate how easy it is to create a restful api
? What folder should the source files live in? src
? Which package manager are you using (has to be installed globally)? npm
? What type of API are you making? REST, Realtime via
? Which testing framework do you prefer? Jest
? This app uses authentication Yes
? Which coding style do you want to use? ESLint
? What authentication strategies do you want to use? (See API docs for all 180+ supported oAuth providers) Username + Password (Local)
? What is the name of the user (entity) service? users
? What kind of service is it? Mongoose
? What is the database connection string? mongodb://localhost:27017/feathers_demo

Please pay attention to those answers:

  1. Yes, we uses authentication
  2. We use “ Username + Password (Local)” for authentication strategy
  3. The name of user service is “users” - the feathers-cli will generate this service for us
  4. We use Mongoose instead of MongoDB for DB Adapter

As you see, the database connection string we chose is "mongodb://localhost:27017/feathers_demo". If you do so, then don't forget to create a database now. I recommend using "NoSQLBooster for MongoDB"  (The free version is good enough to do our job.)

Again, before continue, Please make sure that your mongodb database is running, the username/role is correct, and "mongodb://localhost:27017/feathers_demo" is reachable and the database has been created.

Step four

Run the following command to start the server:

npm run dev

Believe it or not, we just build the first real-time and REST API. If everything is good, you should see the page like this, if you open localhost:3030 in your browser.

But we are not there yet. If your open localhost:3030/users in your browser, you will see a 401 Not Authorized page. That's because we chose "This app uses authentication", and authentication is required for listing users.

//The file is located at: feathers-demo/src/services/users/users.hook.js
module.exports = {
  before: {
    all: [],
    find: [authenticate("jwt")],
    get: [authenticate("jwt")],
    create: [hashPassword("password")],
    update: [hashPassword("password"), authenticate("jwt")],
    patch: [hashPassword("password"), authenticate("jwt")],
    remove: [authenticate("jwt")],

Besides we haven't created the users collection and have no users yet. Because we chose 'mongoose' during the API generation, it should generate a folder 'models' under 'src', where we will see a user.model.js. And the default schema is:

//The file is located at: feathers-demo/src/models/users.model.js
 const schema = new mongooseClient.Schema({
    email: { type: String, unique: true, lowercase: true },
    password: { type: String },
  }, {
    timestamps: true

The easiest way to call/test restful api is using Postman

To create a user, we can use the following info in the Postman


API Endpoint:

Accept: application/json
Content-Type: application/json

BODY raw
  "email": "",
  "password": "secret"

Then we can get  the authentication token, by calling /authentication with the username/password you just created. The token generated will be used to access all services requiring authentication.


API Endpoint:

Accept: application/json
Content-Type: application/json

BODY raw
"strategy": "local",
"email": "",
"password": "secret"

Step five

So far we have users service. Next, we are going to create a new service. We will create a todo service. I know it's boring, but I cannot think of anything better now. 

Back to command line, 

feathers generate service

Again, we would need to go thru some questions during the generation, but it's much shorter this time:

? What kind of service is it? Mongoose
? What is the name of the service? todos
? Which path should the service be registered on? /todos
? Does the service require authentication? Yes

After that, we will see a new todos model created, and the schema looks like this:

//The file is located at: feathers-demo/src/models/todos.model.js
const schema = new Schema({
  text: { type: String, required: true }
 }, {
  timestamps: true

This is default schema, and we will update it like below:

Open model/todos.model.js
const schema = new Schema({
  task: { type: String, required: true }
  done: boolean
 }, {
  timestamps: true

Then, we can use Postman to create a new task:

After that, we can use Postman to get the list of todos:

Since we set up todo service that requires authentication, we have to add Bearer Token in ‘Auth’ tab like below:

Here is the mapping of service methods to REST API calls:

Service methodHTTP methodPath

Okay. That's it. Next time, I will show you how to build a REST client using Axios.  


The Postman API call collection used in the tutorial can be download at: