Building a REST API

In this tutorial you will create a REST API for a URL Shortener service.

In a few short minutes, you'll learn how to:

  • Create REST APIs with Encore
  • Use PostgreSQL databases
  • Create and run tests

REST APIs are resource-oriented, meaning that we start by identifying the resources our app needs and designing an URL hierarchy based on them. For our URL Shortener we’ll have just a single resource: the URL.

Our API structure will be:

  • POST /url — Create a new, shortened URL (returns id)
  • GET /url/:id — Returns the full URL given an id

Let’s get going!

Creating our Shorten endpoint

We start by defining a new url service. You can use the Encore application you created in the Quick Start guide or create a new one from scratch, it’s up to you.

Create a new folder url and create a new file url/url.go that looks like this:

package url

import (
    "context"
    "crypto/rand"
    "encoding/base64"
)

type URL struct {
    ID  string // short-form URL id
    URL string // complete URL, in long form
}

type ShortenParams struct {
    URL string // the URL to shorten
}

// Shorten shortens a URL.
//encore:api public method=POST path=/url
func Shorten(ctx context.Context, p *ShortenParams) (*URL, error) {
    id, err := generateID()
    if err != nil {
        return nil, err
    }
    return &URL{ID: id, URL: p.URL}, nil
}

// generateID generates a random short ID.
func generateID() (string, error) {
    var data [6]byte // 6 bytes of entropy
    if _, err := rand.Read(data[:]); err != nil {
        return "", err
    }
    return base64.RawURLEncoding.EncodeToString(data[:]), nil
}

This sets up the POST /url endpoint (see the //encore:api annotation on the Shorten function). Let’s see if it works!

$ encore run
API Base URL:      http://localhost:4000
Dev Dashboard URL: http://localhost:62709/hello-world-cgu2
4:19PM INF registered endpoint path=/url service=url endpoint=Shorten

Let’s try calling it:

$ curl http://localhost:4000/url -d '{"URL": "https://encore.dev"}'
{
  "ID": "5cJpBVRp",
  "URL": "https://encore.dev"
}

It works! There’s just one problem... We’re not actually storing the URL anywhere. That means we can generate shortened IDs but there’s no way to get back to the original URL! We need to store a mapping from the short ID to the complete URL.

Saving URLs in a database

Fortunately, Encore makes it really easy to set up a PostgreSQL database to store our data. To do so, we first define a database schema, in the form of a migration file.

Create a new folder named migrations inside the url folder. Then, create an initial database migration file named url/migrations/1_create_tables.up.sql. The file name format is important (it must start with 1_ and end in .up.sql).

Add the following contents to the file:

CREATE TABLE url (
    id TEXT PRIMARY KEY,
    original_url TEXT NOT NULL
);

Next, go back to the url/url.go file and import the encore.dev/storage/sqldb package by modifying the import statement to become:

import (
    "context"
    "crypto/rand"
    "encoding/base64"

    "encore.dev/storage/sqldb"
)

Now, to insert data into our database, let’s create a helper function insert:

// insert inserts a URL into the database.
func insert(ctx context.Context, id, url string) error {
    _, err := sqldb.Exec(ctx, `
        INSERT INTO url (id, original_url)
        VALUES ($1, $2)
    `, id, url)
    return err
}

Finally we can update our Shorten function to insert into the database:

func Shorten(ctx context.Context, p *ShortenParams) (*URL, error) {
    id, err := generateID()
    if err != nil {
        return nil, err
    } else if err := insert(ctx, id, p.URL); err != nil {
        return nil, err
    }
    return &URL{ID: id, URL: p.URL}, nil
}

Before running your application, make sure you have Docker installed and running. It's required to locally run Encore applications with databases.

Start your application again with encore run and Encore automatically sets up your database. Let’s try it out!

$ curl http://localhost:4000/url -d '{"URL": "https://encore.dev"}'
{
  "ID": "zr6RmZc4",
  "URL": "https://encore.dev"
}

Let’s verify that it was saved in the database by running encore db shell url from the app root directory:

$ encore db shell url
psql (13.1, server 11.12)
Type "help" for help.

url=# select * from url;
    id    |    original_url     
----------+--------------------
 zr6RmZc4 | https://encore.dev
(1 row)

That was easy!

Retrieving the full URL

To complete our URL shortener API, let’s add the endpoint to retrieve a URL given its short id.

Add this endpoint to url/url.go:

// Get retrieves the original URL for the id.
//encore:api public method=GET path=/url/:id
func Get(ctx context.Context, id string) (*URL, error) {
    u := &URL{ID: id}
    err := sqldb.QueryRow(ctx, `
        SELECT original_url FROM url
        WHERE id = $1
    `, id).Scan(&u.URL)
    return u, err
}

Encore uses the path=/url/:id syntax to represent a path with a parameter. The id name corresponds to the parameter name in the function signature. In this case it is of type string, but you can also use other built-in types like int or bool if you want to restrict the values.

Let’s make sure it works:

$ curl http://localhost:4000/url/zr6RmZc4
{
  "ID": "zr6RmZc4",
  "URL": "https://encore.dev"
}

And there you have it! That's how you build REST APIs in Encore.

Add a test and deploy

Before deployment, it is good practice to have tests to assure that the service works properly. Such tests including database access are easy to write.

For this tutorial a test to check that the whole cycle of shortening the URL, storing and then retrieving the original URL could look like:

package url

import (
    "context"
    "testing"
)

// TestShortenAndRetrieve - test that the shortened URL is stored and retrieved from database.
func TestShortenAndRetrieve(t *testing.T) {
    testURL := "https://github.com/encoredev/encore"
    sp := ShortenParams{URL: testURL}
    resp, err := Shorten(context.Background(), &sp)
    if err != nil {
        t.Fatal(err)
    }
    wantURL := testURL
    if resp.URL != wantURL {
        t.Errorf("got %q, want %q", resp.URL, wantURL)
    }

    firstURL := resp
    gotURL, err := Get(context.Background(), firstURL.ID)
    if err != nil {
        t.Fatal(err)
    }
    if *gotURL != *firstURL {
        t.Errorf("got %v, want %v", *gotURL, *firstURL)
    }
}

Store this in a separate file url/url_test.go and run encore test ./....

A final step before you deploy is to commit all changes to the project repo. Do this by committing the new files to the project's git repo.

$ git add url
$ git commit -m 'working service including test'

Then you can finally deploy your application to the cloud by running:

$ git push encore

This will trigger a deployment and Encore will build and test your app, provision the necessary infrastructure (including databases), and deploy your app to the cloud. Head to the web platform to follow the progress of your deployment.

Now you have a fully fledged backend running in the cloud, well done!

What's next

Now that you know how to build a backend with a database, you're ready to let your creativity flow and begin building your next great idea!

A great next step is to integrate with GitHub. Once you've linked with GitHub, Encore will automatically start building and running tests against your Pull Requests.

We're excited to hear what you're going to build with Encore, join the pioneering developer community on Slack and share your story.