Creating a Serverless Application with Next.js and CockroachDB

13 March, 2022

Hey there! Hope you're having a wonderful day or night - today, we'll be building a simple Next.js serverless application deployed on Vercel, which uses CockroachDB for the backend serverless database.

Curious what we'll be building? Check it out live demo at, and the code at harshhhdev/guestbook.

Now, before we start, I'd like to answer the main question: out of all databases in the world, why are we using one named after a pest?

Well, let me break it down for you, here's a list of things which separate CockroachDB from other serverless databases, and what caused me to fall in love with it:

  1. Compatible with PostgreSQL ecosystem
    • CockroachDB uses Postgres-compatible SQL, meaning that for many developers like me, we can use tools directly from the PostgreSQL ecosystem, and migrating isn't a pain.
  2. You're not wasting a penny
    • CockroachDB's pricing is simple, and to the point. You get 5GB storage for free, which is plenty, along with $1 for every extra gigabyte of storage you use. Along with this, you get 250M request units monthly, and pay just $1 for every 10M extra request units. If this isn't a steal, I don't know what is.
  3. Avoid downtime
    • Behind the scenes, your data is replicated at least 3 times - meaning that you won't face downtime for things like availability zone outages, database upgrades, and security patches. Even schema changes are online!

For the name, well... I really like it. It's memorable - we forget names such as Hasura and Aurora rather quickly, but this one will for sure stick to the back of your mind for being unique.

...and as a side-note: no, this isn't sponsored by CockroachDB - although I will not turn down any sponsorships ๐Ÿ˜›



Now that you know why I love CockroachDB, let's get into building our actual app.

A simple, clean and dark web app deployed to Vercel. It's inspired by leerob's guestbook, as I believe that was a perfect example of an app we could use to demonstrate this.


Getting Started

Let's kickstart our Next.js and TypeScript project!

npx create-next-app@latest --ts
# or
yarn create next-app --typescript

Let's start the server now.

cd guestbook
yarn dev

Your server should be running on localhost

I want to first start off by configuring NextAuth, which helps us add authentication to our serverless application. We'll be setting up a "Login with GitHub" feature on our website, for which we'll need to create a new GitHub OAuth Application.

Let's download some important packages first. We need to install the base package along with the Prisma adapter, which helps us keep track of accounts, users, sessions, etc. in our database.

yarn add next-auth @next-auth/prisma-adapter

To do this, first go to GitHub, navigate over to settings > developer settings > OAuth Apps and click "Create New OAuth App". Enter in the required information, and for callback URL input in http://localhost:3000/api/auth/callback/github.

Awesome! Now let's go back to our project and create a new file at pages/api/auth/[...nextauth].ts which will contain our configuration.

import NextAuth from 'next-auth'
import GitHub from 'next-auth/providers/github'

import { PrismaAdapter } from '@next-auth/prisma-adapter'
import prisma from '@lib/prisma'

export default NextAuth({
  adapter: PrismaAdapter(prisma),
  providers: [
      clientId: process.env.GITHUB_ID,
      clientSecret: process.env.GITHUB_SECRET,
  secret: process.env.SECRET,
  session: { strategy: 'jwt' },
  jwt: { secret: process.env.SECRET },
  pages: { signIn: '/' },
  callbacks: {
    async session({ session, token, user }) { = token.sub

      return session
  debug: false,

I've setup a custom callback for session, as we'll be needing that later on.

As you may have noticed, we're facing some errors regarding our environment variables we use. Not to worry, we can simply define them in an external file. Create a new file at typings/env.d.ts and populate it with the values in your .env.

namespace NodeJS {
  interface ProcessEnv extends NodeJS.ProcessEnv {
    NEXTAUTH_URL: string
    GITHUB_ID: string
    GITHUB_SECRET: string
    DATABASE_URL: string
    SECRET: string

Speaking of environment variables, don't forget to create a .env file and populate it with your variables.

For SECRET, you can run openssl -rand hex 32 to generate a random string, or find a generator to do so online. NEXTAUTH_URL can be set to http://localhost:3000 for our development environment. Also plug in the rest of the GITHUB fields with information obtained from the GitHub OAuth Application you created earlier.

Let's now begin to write our Prisma data schema, and connect it with CockroachDB.

Start by installing prisma and @prisma/client

# Installs both as as development dependencies
yarn add prisma @prisma/client -D

Now, let's create a new file at prisma/schema.prisma and open it up.

Inside here, let's configure our datasource and client.

generator client {
  provider        = "prisma-client-js"
  previewFeatures = ["cockroachdb"]

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

As a side note, I apologise for the non-syntax highlighted files. Currently, prism's codeblock highlighter doesn't have support for Prisma, so you'll be looking at large text blocks.

Since CockroachDB is just a preview feature as of now, we'll have to put it under "preview features". Check the Prisma list of supported databases if you're reading this post after a while, just to double-check if it's still in preview.

Since we're using NextAuth, we'll be adding tables in our database to properly support it. According to the documentation, we need to add in the following tables:

model Account {
    id                       String   @id @default(cuid())
    createdAt                DateTime @default(now())
    updatedAt                DateTime @updatedAt
    userId                   String
    type                     String
    provider                 String
    providerAccountId        String
    refresh_token            String?
    refresh_token_expires_in Int?
    access_token             String?
    expires_at               Int?
    token_type               String?
    scope                    String?
    id_token                 String?
    session_state            String?
    oauth_token_secret       String?
    oauth_token              String?
    user                     User     @relation(fields: [userId], references: [id], onDelete: Cascade)
    @@unique([provider, providerAccountId])

model Session {
    id           String   @id @default(cuid())
    sessionToken String   @unique
    userId       String
    expires      DateTime
    user         User     @relation(fields: [userId], references: [id], onDelete: Cascade)

model User {
    id            String    @id @default(cuid())
    createdAt     DateTime  @default(now())
    updatedAt     DateTime  @updatedAt
    isAdmin       Boolean   @default(false)
    name          String?
    email         String?   @unique
    emailVerified DateTime?
    image         String?
    accounts      Account[]
    sessions      Session[]
    posts         Post[]

model VerificationToken {
    identifier String
    token      String   @unique
    expires    DateTime
    @@unique([identifier, token])

Cool! Now we need to setup our Post model. We'll give it a many-to-one relationship with user, as a single user can create an infinite amount of posts.

model Post {
    id        String   @id @default(cuid())
    createdAt DateTime @default(now())
    content   String   @db.VarChar(100)
    userId    String
    user      User     @relation(fields: [userId], references: [id], onDelete: Cascade)

Previously, Prisma did not support the migrate feature for CockroachDB however that has changed after v3.11.0 ๐Ÿฅณ.

Now, let's create a CockroachDB database. Sign in, and hit "create cluster" on the clusters dashboard. Choose the "serverless" plan, with the region and provider of your choice, and name your cluster.

Inside your cluster, we'll start by creating a SQL user. Hit "add user", name your user and generate the password. Store the password somewhere safe, as you'll need it later on.

At top, hit "connection string" and copy the connection string provided.

Let's go back into our .env file and fill in our DATABASE_URL.

Inside here, create a field called DATABASE_URL and add in the URL you just copied.

Now that we have that done, let's run yarn prisma generate to generate the Prisma Client.

Awesome! Now, let's run yarn prisma migrate dev to sync CockroachDB with our database schema.

Now, we have one final step before we can start using Prisma inside of our Next.js application.

Create a new file, lib/prisma.ts. Inside of this, we'll include a global way of accessing Prisma throughout our application.

import { PrismaClient } from '@prisma/client'

declare global {
  var prisma: PrismaClient | undefined

const prisma = global.prisma || new PrismaClient()

if (process.env.NODE_ENV !== 'production') global.prisma = prisma

export default prisma

This instantiates a single instance PrismaClient and saves it on the global object. Then we keep a check to only instantiate PrismaClient if it's not on the global object otherwise use the same instance again if already present to prevent instantiating extra PrismaClient instances. This is because of the fact that next dev clears Node cache on run, so we'll get an error for too many Prisma instances running.

For more details, see this link

Cool! Now that we have our database setup, it's time to switch gears for a bit and add styling to our application using TailwindCSS. Following the documentation on their website, we need to do the following:

# Install needed development dependencies
yarn add tailwindcss postcss autoprefixer

# Initialise a Tailwind configuration file
npx tailwindcss init -p

Awesome! We can now started customising our file. Let's just add in our content paths, along with some other stuff.

module.exports = {
  content: [
  theme: {
    extend: {
      fontFamily: {
        sans: ['IBM Plex Sans'],
      colors: {
        gray: {
          0: '#fff',
          100: '#fafafa',
          200: '#eaeaea',
          300: '#999999',
          400: '#888888',
          500: '#666666',
          600: '#444444',
          700: '#333333',
          800: '#222222',
          900: '#111111',
      maxWidth: {
        30: '30vw',
        60: '60vw',
        95: '95vw',
      minWidth: {
        500: '500px',
        iphone: '320px',
  plugins: [],

Cool! We can now move onto styling our application. Delete all content inside your styles/global.css, and add in these basic styles.

@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

body {
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
  box-sizing: border-box;
  @apply bg-gray-900 font-sans;

h1 {
  @apply text-white font-bold text-4xl;

h3 {
  @apply text-white font-bold text-2xl;

::selection {
  @apply bg-white;
  @apply text-gray-900;

button {
  user-select: none;
  cursor: pointer;
  @apply font-sans;

a {
  @apply text-gray-400 underline-offset-4;
  text-decoration: none;

a:hover {
  @apply text-white;

p {
  @apply text-gray-400 text-base;

::-webkit-scrollbar {
  width: 5px;

::-webkit-scrollbar-track {
  background: transparent;

::-webkit-scrollbar-thumb {
  @apply bg-gray-600;

Since we're using a custom font, we need to create a new file under pages called _document.tsx, where we import the font.

import Document, { Html, Head, Main, NextScript } from 'next/document'

export default class GuestbookDocument extends Document {
  render() {
    return (
      <Html lang='en'>
          <Main />
          <NextScript />

Let's switch gears from styling, and go into our index.tsx to edit some things.

We'll remove the basic content, along with removing the imports up top for next/image and next/head.

import type { NextPage } from 'next'
import styles from '../styles/Home.module.css'

const Home: NextPage = () => {
  return (
    <div className='flex flex-col items-center mt-10'>
      <div className='max-w-95 lg:max-w-60 xl:max-w-30'></div>

export default Home

Awesome! Now let's first work on a Header component which will help us login with GitHub into our application. Create a new file at components/Header.tsx.

Inside here, create a component called Login. This will be our Login button, and we'll do conditional rendering to render either a "Login" or "Logout" button depending upon the user being authenticated or not.

const Login: FC = () => {
  const { data: session, status } = useSession()

  if (session)
    return (
      <div className='flex items-center'>
        <a href='#' className='text-xl ml-5' onClick={() => signOut()}>
    return (
      <a href='#' className='text-xl' onClick={() => signIn('github')}>
        Login With GitHub

Awesome! Let's create another component, which will be our default export from this file. We'll add some basic text and headings here, explaining to users what this application is about. We'll also bring in our Login component here.

const Header: FC = () => {
  return (
    <div className='flex flex-col'>
      <Login />
      <h1 className='mt-16 mb-5'>Harsh&apos;s Guestbook</h1>
        Welcome to Harsh&apos;s Guestbook. This a rebuild of{' '}
          @leerob&apos;s guestbook
        </a>{' '}
        using{' '}
        <a href='' className='underline'>
          serverless technologies
        . Leave a comment below, it can be totally random ๐Ÿ‘‡

Superb! Let's now work on setting up our API routes. Create a new file under the directory pages/api/new.ts and inside of here let's setup some basic logic for creating a new post.

import { NextApiRequest, NextApiResponse } from 'next'
import { getSession } from 'next-auth/react'
import prisma from '@lib/prisma'

const newPost = async (req: NextApiRequest, res: NextApiResponse) => {
  const session = await getSession({ req })
  const { content } = req.body

  if (typeof session?.id === 'string') {
    try {
      const post = await{
        data: {
          content: content,
          user: { connect: { id: } },

      return res.status(200).json({ post })
    } catch (err) {
      return res.status(509).json({ error: err })

export default newPost

Awesome! While we're at this, let's create the Form component which calls this API route.

import { FC, FormEvent, useRef, useState } from 'react'

const Form: FC = () => {
  const createPost = async (e: FormEvent<HTMLFormElement>) => {
    // ...implement create logic

  return (
      <form className='w-full mb-16' onSubmit={(e) => createPost(e)}>
          placeholder='Go ahead, say what you like!'
          className='w-full mt-8 bg-gray-800 rounded-md border-gray-700 border-2 p-5 resize-y font-sans text-base text-white box-border'
        <p className='my-8'>
          Keep it family friendly, don&apos;t be a doofus. The only information
          displayed on this site will be the name on your account, and when you
          create this post.
          className='text-gray-900 bg-white px-8 py-3 text-lg rounded border-2 border-solid border-white hover:bg-gray-900 hover:text-white duration-200'

export default Form

Alright, so we've now setup basic code regarding our structure for this component. Let's dive deeper into the functions and set the up now.

We'll be using 3 hooks, useSession from NextAuth along with useSWRConfig from Vercel's SWR to manage different things in our component. Let's create them now.

Before we begin, let's ensure we have SWR installed.

Also, to purify the content inside of our input fields, let's use dompurify.

yarn add swr dompurify

Now that we have those installed, we can work on our method.

const { data: session, status } = useSession()
const { mutate } = useSWRConfig()
const content = useRef<HTMLTextAreaElement>(null)
const [visible, setVisible] = useState(false)
const [error, setError] = useState(false)

const createPost = async (e: FormEvent<HTMLFormElement>) => {

  const headers = new Headers()
  headers.append('Content-Type', 'application/json')

  const raw = JSON.stringify({
    content: dompurify.sanitize(content.current?.value!),

  const requestOptions: RequestInit = {
    method: 'POST',
    headers: headers,
    body: raw,

  try {
    await fetch('/api/new', requestOptions)

    content!.current!.value = ''
  } catch (err) {

That's a big method! Let's break it down. It first prevents the form from reloading by doing e.preventDefault(). Then, it creates some new headers and adds a Content-Type of application/json to tell the route that our body is in JSON. Next is the raw object which sanitises the value of our input (which we get through useRef), before wrapping our fetch method in a trycatch. Inside the trycatch, we use set our successs hook to true, clear our textarea and mutate which lets us change the cached data for a given route, which in our case is /api/posts. In case this fails, we set our error hook to true and log the error.

Whew! That was long. Try to create a post now, it should work! But we're not done yet, lots more to do.

Let's create another file to seed our database.

Confused what that is? Seeding simply refers to populating our database with an initial set of data.

Create a file at prisma/seed.ts. Inside here, we'll create an array and map it, creating a new post for each element in the array. Make sure to populate the id field with the ID of an existing user to connect the posts to their account.

Then, we'll call the method and handle exceptions.

import { PrismaClient } from '@prisma/client'
const prisma = new PrismaClient()

const main = async () => {
  const posts = [
    'I am such a dark mode addict',
    'I should really try out Remix sometime soon',
    'I cannot imagine life without Vercel sometimes',
    'Prisma is love, Prisma is life',
    'Once I started using TypeScript, JavaScript just feels weird',
    async (content) =>
        data: {
          content: content,
          user: { connect: { id: '' } },

  console.log(`๐ŸŒฑ Created ${posts.length} records `)

  .catch((err) => {
  .finally(async () => {
    await prisma.$disconnect

Awesome! Although if we try to run this method, it'll result in an error. We need to setup ts-node for this in our Next.js environment.

Let's start by installing ts-node as a development dependency.

yarn add ts-node -D

Now, in our package.json, let's do:

  "prisma": {
    "seed": "ts-node --compiler-options {\"module\":\"CommonJS\"} prisma/seed.ts"

Awesome! We can now run yarn prisma db seed to populate our database with initial values for posts.

Let's now go back to our main file, and strap everything together. We need to create a getServerSideProps function which which runs on the server side at request time. Here, we'll call the findMany method in Prisma to find all of our posts, and sort them by when they were created. We'll also include the user relation to be returned from this function, so we have access to it.

export const getServerSideProps: GetServerSideProps = async () => {
  const posts = await{
    include: { user: true },
    orderBy: { createdAt: 'desc' },

  return {
    props: {

Beware! You might run into a JSON serialising problem. To fix this, simply install the following packages:

yarn add superjson babel-plugin-superjson-next

Now, create a new file .babelrc and configure it for superjson:

  "presets": ["next/babel"],
  "plugins": ["superjson-next"]

Spectacular! Now that we have that going, we'll have to create a new type for this value of posts that we're returning, as we're unable to use the default type generated by Prisma.

If you're following along in JavaScript, feel free to skip this. But for [TypeScript] users, create a new file at typings/index.ts.

Inside here, we can define our postWithUser type using Prisma.validator and Prisma.PostGetPayload.

import { Prisma } from '@prisma/client'

const postWithUser = Prisma.validator<Prisma.PostArgs>()({
  include: { user: true },
export type PostWithUser = Prisma.PostGetPayload<typeof postWithUser>

Cool! Now that we have that, let's import it into pages/index.tsx and use it inside props.

// ...
import { PostWithUser } from '@typings/index'

const Home: NextPage<{ posts: PostWithUser[] }> = ({ posts }) => {
  return (
    <div className='flex flex-col items-center mt-10'>
      <div className='max-w-95 lg:max-w-60 xl:max-w-30'>
        <Header />
        <Form />

Good work! Let's now move over to create an API route for posts to fetch them as they're updated. Create a file at pages/api/posts.ts and run findMany to get all posts from Prisma and sort them out. We'll then return a code of 200, and map the posts onto a JSON format.

import { NextApiRequest, NextApiResponse } from 'next'
import prisma from '@lib/prisma'

const fetchPosts = async (req: NextApiRequest, res: NextApiResponse) => {
  try {
    const posts = await{
      orderBy: { createdAt: 'desc' },
      include: { user: true },

    return res.status(200).json( => ({
        createdAt: post.createdAt,
        content: post.content,
        user: post.user,
  } catch (err) {
    return res.status(509).json({ error: err })

export default fetchPosts

Now that we have that going, let's create a new file to map out the posts at components/Posts.tsx. We'll be using the same SWR tools we did earlier to fetch data as it's updated.

This time, we need to create a fetcher component which which returns PostWithUser as a promise.

import { PostWithUser } from '@typings/index'

export default async function fetcher(
  input: RequestInfo,
  init?: RequestInit
): Promise<PostWithUser[]> {
  const res = await fetch(input, init)
  return res.json()

...let's import that into our file and set it up.

import { FC } from 'react'
import { format } from 'date-fns'
import useSWR from 'swr'
import fetcher from '@lib/fetcher'
import { PostWithUser } from '@typings/index'

const Posts: FC<{ fallback: PostWithUser[] }> = ({ fallback }) => {
  const { data: posts } = useSWR('/api/posts', fetcher, { fallback })

  return (
    <div className='mb-32'>
      {posts?.map((post, index) => (
        <div key={index}>
            Written by {} ยท Posted on{' '}
            {format(new Date(post.createdAt), "d MMM yyyy 'at' h:mm bb")}

export default Posts

This basically takes in an array of posts as props as a fallback, and then waits for a response from the API. This uses a library called date-fns to format the time.

Awesome! Go back to the index.tsx file and add in this component, passing the data returned from getServerSideProps as props.

...and we're finished! WHOO-HOO! If you made it down here, good work! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. We should now have a fully functioning, 100% serverless application powered by CockroachDB.

This post took me a long time to write and create. If you enjoyed it, please be sure to give it a "โค" and follow me for similar posts.

I will be live with @aydrian on Twitch explaining how to migrate this exact application written in PostgreSQL onto CockroachDB with zero application downtime, so stay tuned for that!

With that being said, I'll conclude this by saying that serverless computing is amazing, and has a lot of potential. I'm planning to write another post sometime soon on when you should or shouldn't use a serverless database, so stay tuned and follow for more!

Enjoy your day, goodbye ๐Ÿ‘‹!