Models

Models

A Keel app is built around your data, which is described using models. Models are defined in your schema files and look like this.

model Product {
  fields {
    title Text
    description Text
    price Number
    onSale Boolean
  }
}

This example defines a model called Product which has a number of fields, which are defined inside a fields block. Each field has a name and a type. The type can be any of the built-in Keel types or one you've defined elsewhere in your schema, for example an enum or another model.

All models have a few built-in fields by default - id, createdAt, and updatedAt, so although not a common practice a model with no fields block is still valid.

model Product {}

Naming

Keel enforces certain naming conventions to ensure consistency in your schema and API's. Specifically, your models must be named in UpperCamelCase, and your fields must be named in lowerCamelCase.

We also recommend that you name your models using singular terms, such as Product rather than Products.

Field types

The built-in Keel types are:

  • Text - suitable for any text data of any length
  • Number - a whole number, positive or negative
  • Boolean - a true or false value
  • Timestamp - a date time accurate to a microsecond
  • Date - a date, with no time
  • ID - basically the same as Text but indicates the value is used to identify something

As previously mentioned, all models automatically have the following fields:

  • id - a field of type ID that can be used to identify an individual record (we use KSUIDs (opens in a new tab) for ID's)
  • createdAt - a field of type Timestamp which indicates when a record was created
  • updatedAt - a field of type Timestamp which indicates when a record was last updated

You don't have to manually set or update these fields as they all have default values which are filled in automatically when you create or update a record.

Optional fields

By default all model fields are required to have a value e.g. be "not null". If you want a field to be able to contain null values then you can mark it as optional using ? after the field type.

model Person {
  fields {
    name Text
 
    // this field can be null
    nickname Text?
  }
}

Default values

You can specify a default value for Text, Number, Boolean, and enum fields, that will be used when a record is created and no value is provided. To provide a default value use the @default attribute, passing the value that should be used.

For example, the following schema specifies that if no value is provided for the status field when an order is created then the default enum value Placed should be used.

model Order {
  fields {
    status OrderStatus @default(OrderStatus.Placed)
  }
}

The value you provide to @default must match the field type, otherwise you will get a schema validation error.

Default values are implemented at the database level, which means if you provide a default value when adding a new field to an existing model that value will also be used to backfill the field on all existing rows in the database.

Enums

An enum is a set of named values. They are useful when you want to constrain a field to only contain certain values. For example if you are defining a model for an order and want to make sure that the status of the order can only be placed, picked, packed or dispatched, then you can do that with an enum.

Enum names and values must be written in UpperCamelCase.

enum OrderStatus {
  Placed
  Picked
  Packed
  Dispatched
}
 
model Order {
  fields {
    status OrderStatus
  }
}

Now you can be sure that the status field of an order can only be one of the values listed in the enum.

Unique fields

If you need a field to be unique across all records of a model you use the @unique attribute.

As an example every book has an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) which is unique to each book. To model this in a Keel schema you can use a Text field with the @unique attribute.

model Book {
  fields {
    isbn Text @unique
  }
}

Uniqueness is enforced at the database level using a unique constraint. The @unique attribute can be used on fields whose type is Text, Number, Boolean, Date, an enum or a non-repeated relationship.

Composite unique

If you need to create a unique constraint across multiple fields you can do that by using the @unique attribute inside the model definition and providing the names of the fields.

The following example shows how to use a composite unique constraint to ensure that a profile can only like a post once.

model Profile {}
model Post {}
 
model Like {
    fields {
        profile Profile
        post Post
    }
 
    @unique([profile, post])
}

Relationships

Data in a Keel app is relational, which means that models can be related to one another. This is expressed in a Keel schema by using a model as a field type.

When you create a relationship between two models a foreign key will be automatically created for you on one side of the relationship. You don't need to think about the foreign key field when working on your schema but you will see them in API responses and also when using the model API's in functions, so it's good to be aware of them.

One-to-many

One to many relationships are very common and a simple example is the idea of an order which has many items. To model this in a Keel schema you would add fields to both the OrderItem and Order model that reference each other.

model Order {
  fields {
    items OrderItem[]
  }
}
 
model OrderItem {
  fields {
    order Order
  }
}

Because an order has many items, the items field in the Order model is repeated (indicated by [] after the model name), whereas an item belongs to a single order, so the order field in the OrderItem model is not repeated. In one-to-many relationships the belongs to side must be defined, whereas the has many side is optional.

In a one-to-many relationship the foreign key field will be added to the non-repeated side, which means in the previous example the foreign key field would be added to the OrderItem model and will be called orderId.

Many-to-many

Another common type of relationship in data modelling is many to many. Many to many relationships are a little bit more complex than one to many relationships as they require an intermediary model. The intermediary model is just a normal model that is used to join two models together.

A simple example of a many to many relationship is products and tags, where a product can have many tags and a tag can be applied to many products. This would be modelled in a Keel schema using the following three models.

model Product {
  fields {
    name Text
    tags ProductTag[]
  }
}
 
model Tag {
  fields {
    value Text @unique
    products ProductTag[]
  }
}
 
model ProductTag {
  fields {
    product Product
    tag Tag
  }
 
  @unique([product, tag])
}

The models Product and Tag don't directly reference each other in this schema, that is done in the ProductTag model, which references both. In fact, even though we would talk about this as a many-to-many relationship, it's implemented using two one to many relationships. This example also makes use of unique constraints to ensure that there are no duplicate tags, and that a product cannot be linked to the same tag more than once.

As the join model is just a normal model, it has all the normal built-in model fields. This means you can reference a specific product/tag relationship by its id field and know when it was created by using the createdAt field.

Metadata

When modelling many-to-many relationships in the real world there is often additional metadata about the relationship that needs to be stored, and the "join" model is the perfect place to put this data.

For example in a data model where projects have many team members and team members can be part of many projects, you may want to store the role a team member has in each project. The following schema shows how you can do this.

enum TeamMemberRole {
  Lead
  Member
  Observer
}
 
model TeamMember {}
model Project {}
 
model ProjectTeamMember {
  fields {
    teamMember TeamMember
    project Project
    role TeamMemberRole
  }
}

One-to-one

A one-to-one relationship is a relationship in which one side uses the @unique attribute and one side is optional. For example, in the following schema, a country can have only one capital city and a city can be in only one country.

model Country {
  fields {
    name Text
    capitalCity City?
  }
}
 
model City {
  fields {
    name Text
    country Country @unique
  }
}

Note that in this example it is possible for a country to have no capital city but it is not possible for a city to have no country. This is due to the fact that the foreign key can only be added to one side of the relationship, and in Keel it is added to the side that uses @unique. In fact, although a Country has a capitalCity field in the Keel schema, that field does not exist in the database.

On which side you use @unique and which side you use ? will depend on your data model but we recommend you think about which side belongs to to the other, for example it's more reasonable to say a city belongs to a country than the other way around. Another example would be a User model and a Settings model. You would likely say that settings belong to a user, and so you would put the @unique attribute in the Settings model.