Joshua Colvin

Getting started with Hapi

January 27, 2017 · 11 min read

There are many choices when it comes to Node frameworks: express, koa, and sails just to name a few. In this tutorial we’ll take a look at hapi, a Node framework built by the team at walmart labs. We’ll cover the basics of hapi, creating a server and defining routes, building a simple REST API along the way.

hapi logo

What is hapi?

hapi is a highly modular server framework build on top of Node that favors configuration over code:

hapi enables developers to focus on writing reusable application logic instead of spending time building infrastructure.

hapi is extensible and has a rich ecosystem of plugins. There is probably a plugin for anything you’ll need to do in your application and if not you can write your own! We won’t be using any plugins in this tutorial but you will more than likely need to when building a real application with hapi.

Prerequisites

You will need to have both Node and NPM installed. I’ve purposely avoided using most es2015 features so you should be fine with Node version 4.3.2 and above.

Setting up the project

We will be creating a simple CRUD application that will handle an inventory of products. Our directory structure will look like this:

I’ve added the source code for each step throughout the tutorial. If you get lost, or something is not working you can clone that step and run npm install and you should be back on track.

products-api/
|
|- handlers/
|     |- products.js
|
|- index.js
|- package.json
|- routes.js

Create the directory structure and all files except package.json. We will let npm create package.json for us. Jump into terminal or your command line of choice:

npm init -f

Now we are ready to install our only dependency, hapi:

npm install --save hapi

A basic hapi server

That’s all the setup we need for now. Let’s write some code! The entry point into our application will be index.js so we will begin writing code there.

First we need to require hapi and create an instance of the hapi server:

index.js
var Hapi = require('hapi')
var server = new Hapi.Server()

Next we create a connection to localhost:8080, or a port of your choosing:

index.js
server.connection({
  host: 'localhost',
  port: 8080,
})

Now we use the start() method on our server instance to start the server and log a message to the console.

index.js
server.start(function() {
  console.log('Serving hapi app at:', server.info.uri)
})

Our server won’t actually be running yet though since we haven’t run the file. Open terminal (or the command line of your choice) and run this command:

node index.js

This tells node to execute the index.js file. If all goes well we should see our message Serving hapi app at: localhost:8080 logged out to the terminal.

I suggest using nodemon which will restart your server on file changes. You would just need to substitue nodemon for node in the command above.

source code

Adding a route

Our server is listening but we haven’t told it how to respond. We can set up routes to do this.

We add a route by calling the .route method on our server instance and passing in a route configuration object that tells the server everything it needs to know about our route:

index.js
server.route({
  method: 'GET',
  path: '/',
  handler: function(request, reply) {
    return reply('Hello world')
  },
})

Let’s break this options object down:

  • method: 'GET' : The HTTP request method that tells the server what action it should take. We are asking the server to return a resource, the string Hello world.
  • path: '/' : The url path attached to this route. path would be anything after localhost:8080.
  • handler : function (request, reply) {...} : The handler is how we tell the server how it should respond. We use the [reply()](https://hapijs.com/api#replyerr-result) interface to return the string Hello world.

Restart the server in terminal (node index.js) and open the browser to localhost:8080 and you should see the message Hello world.

source code

Adding multiple routes

This is awesome but most applications have more than one route they need to respond to. server.route() can take a route configuration object or an array of route configuration objects. Let’s add the route for an about page:

index.js
server.route([
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply('Hello world')
    },
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/about',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply('About')
    },
  },
])

We replaced our single route configuration object with an array containing two route configuration objects. Switching between our two routes is as simple as navigating to the corresponding url.

source code

A mock database

A web application that just returns text isn’t very exciting. Let’s see how to return JSON. First we will need some data. Create a new file in the root directory called products.json with the following contents:

To keep things simple, we will use a JSON file instead of a database. One downside of this is that our data will not persist when we restart the server. You could substitute a database or localStorage for data persistence

products.json
[
  {
    "id": "1",
    "description": "Product 1",
    "price": 25
  },
  {
    "id": "2",
    "description": "Product 2",
    "price": 9.99
  },
  {
    "id": "3",
    "description": "Product 3",
    "price": 14
  },
  {
    "id": "4",
    "description": "Product 4",
    "price": 45.5
  },
  {
    "id": "5",
    "description": "Product 5",
    "price": 220
  },
  {
    "id": "6",
    "description": "Product 6",
    "price": 100
  }
]

To keep things simple, products.json will be a stand in for our database. To use it, we need to require it in index.js:

index.js
const products = require('./products.json')

Adding a route that returns JSON

Now let’s add a new route, /products that will return the products data:

You can remove our previous two routes, we won’t be needing them any more

index.js
server.route([
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/products',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply(products)
    },
  },
])

Navigating to localhost:8080/products, you can see that our JSON data was returned!

You may have noticed that we didn’t have to make any changes to our call to reply(). We just passed the json the same way we passed a string earlier. hapi is smart enough to figure this out for us so we don’t have to specify the type of data we are returning!

source code

Using route parameters

In order to fetch an individual product we have to introduce a new concept, route parameters, which allow you to declare dynamic segments of a path. To indicate a dynamic segment you use {variablename}:

index.js
server.route([
  {
    // ...
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/products/{id}',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply(products[request.params.id - 1])
    },
  },
])

This is our most complicated route so far since we are after a product with a particular id. The important thing to notice is the value we asign to path property: '/products/{id}'. Anything we place inside of the curly braces {} will be available in the handler function as req.params.paramname where paramname is the value you placed between the {}. We use this parameter to get the desired product from our array of products:

index.js
return reply(products[request.params.id - 1])

If a product is found that matches the id parameter we send back that product: reply(products[request.params.id - 1]). We could easily create a database query to find products whose id matches request.params.id if we were using a real database.

Using multiple route parameters

You can define multiple parameters in your path as long as they are seperated by a valid character so hapi knows where to do the split:

index.js
path: '/products/{category}/{id}'

If you defined the path above, you would have access to two parameters in your handler function: req.params.category and req.params.id.

source code

Refactoring

We’re making progress but things are getting a little hard to follow in index.js. One thing we can do is extract out our routing into a seperate file. We accomplish this by removing the route configuration objects array from server.route() and putting it into routes.js:

routes.js
module.exports = [
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply('Hello world')
    },
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/about',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply('About')
    },
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/products',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply(products)
    },
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/products/{id}',
    handler: function(request, reply) {
      return reply(products[request.params.id - 1])
    },
  },
]

That’s a good start but we can do better. Our handlers are relatively short right now but that would change were we using a real database. Let’s extract out the route handlers for our products routes into handlers/products.js:

Dont forget to require products.json since we are now accessing that data in handlers/products.js

handlers/products.js
const products = require('../products.json')

exports.find = function(request, reply) {
  return reply(products)
}

exports.findOne = function(request, reply) {
  return reply(products[request.params.id - 1])
}

Now we need to reference the handler functions in routes.js:

Don’t forget to require ./handlers/products

"routes.js"
const Products = require('./handlers/products')

module.exports[
  ({
    // ... other routes
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/products',
    handler: Products.find,
  },
  {
    method: 'GET',
    path: '/products/{id}',
    handler: Products.findOne,
  })
]

Lastly we have to tell server.route() in index.js that we moved the routes:

index.js
server.route(require('./routes'))

source code

Creating a product

We’ve created routes to return all products and return a single products. Let’s define a route that will let us add an item. Let’s start with our handler, which we’ll call create:

handler/products.js
exports.create = function(request, reply) {
  if (request.payload) {
    products.push(request.payload)
  }
  reply(request.payload)
}

This will take whatever is in request.payload, our product data, and push it into the products array. Again, this could be replaced by an insert into a real database.

Now let’s define the route to create a product back in route.js:

routes.js
module.exports = [{
    ...
{
    method: 'POST',
    path: '/products',
    handler: Products.create
}];

Since our application has no UI that allows you to add access this route we will need to use another means of transfering data to our server. Here I will use cURL but you could use something like Postman instead.

While the server is running, open another terminal and run this command:

 $ curl --data "id=7&description=item 7&price=45.99" localhost:8080/products

Open the browser to localhost:8080/products we should now see our newly created product in the list!

source code

Updating a product

Let’s add the ability to update a product. Back in routes.js create the route for our update using PUT as the method:

routes.js
module.exports = [{
 ...
}, {
    method: 'PUT',
    path: '/products/{id}',
    handler: Products.update
}];

Next, let’s create the update handler we referenced in our new route:

handler/products.js
exports.update = function(request, reply) {
  let product = products[request.params.id - 1]
  if (request.payload) {
    product = Object.assign(product, request.payload)
  }
  reply(product)
}

Here we get the product to be updated using request.params.id again. Then we use Object.assign() to combine the product object with our updates (request.payload). Any duplicate properties will use the value from the last passed object, request.payload in this instance.

Let’s hop back over to terminal and test the update route using cURL before we move on:

curl -X PUT --data "description=Macbook Air" localhost:8080/products/4

We are sending a PUT request to localhost:8080/products/4 and passing the data description=Macbook Air which will be available in our handler via request.payload. Open localhost:8080/products in the browser and you should see the updated description for the product with the id of 4.

source code

Deleting a product

Let’s wrap up by implementing the delete route which will allow us to… delete an item:

routes.js
module.exports = [{
    ...
}, {
    method: 'DELETE',
    path: '/products/{id}',
    handler: Products.delete
}];

Once again we will need to define that handler for this route:

handler/products.js
exports.delete = function(request, reply) {
  if (products[request.params.id - 1]) {
    products.splice(request.params.id - 1, 1)
  }
  reply(products)
}

With our server running, we can test our delete route using curl once again:

curl -X DELETE localhost:8080/products/2

Open localhost:8080/products in the browser and you should see that product 2 has been deleted!

source code

Wrapping up

Hopefully you now feel comfortable creating a simple REST API with hapi. This post just scratched the surface as there is alot more that you can do with hapi. A good next step would be to try integrating plugins or swapping out products.json for a real backend like MongoDB.

Joshua Colvin

Joshua Colvin is a software developer specialzing in JavaScript. He lives with his wife and two kids in Michigan.