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Connect a Node.js application to PlanetScale

Spin up a PlanetScale MySQL database in seconds and connect to a Node.js application


In this tutorial, you'll create a simple Node.js and Express.js application and connect it to a PlanetScale database.


Already have a Node.js application and just want to connect to PlanetScale? Check out the Node.js quick connect repo.


Set up the database

First, create a new database with the following command:

pscale database create <DATABASE_NAME>

Next, let's add some data to the database. You'll create a new table called users and add one record to it.

To do this, use the PlanetScale CLI shell to open a MySQL shell where you can manipulate your database. You may need to install the MySQL command line client if you haven't already.


A branch, main, was automatically created when you created your database, so you can use that for BRANCH_NAME.

Create the users table:

CREATE TABLE `users` (
`email` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
`first_name` varchar(255),
`last_name` varchar(255)

Then, add a record to it with:

INSERT INTO `users` (id, email, first_name, last_name)
VALUES (1, '', 'Harry', 'Potter');

You can verify it was added with:

select * from users;
| id | email | first_name | last_name |
| 1 | | Harry | Potter |

Next, you'll set up the Express starter application.

Set up the starter Node.js app

Clone the starter repository:

git clone

Enter into the folder and install the dependencies with:

cd express-example
npm install

Now that your application is set up and the database is ready to be used, let's connect them.

Connect to PlanetScale with Express.js

There are two ways to connect to PlanetScale:

  • With an auto-generated username and password
  • Using the PlanetScale proxy with the CLI

Both options are covered below.

These instructions show you how to generate a set of credentials with the PlanetScale CLI.

You can also get these exact values to copy/paste from your PlanetScale dashboard. In the dashboard, click on the database > "Connect" > "Connect with" language dropdown > "Node.js". If the password is blurred, click "New password". Skip to step 3 once you have these credentials.

  1. Authenticate the CLI with the following command:

    pscale auth login
  2. Using the PlanetScale CLI, create a new username and password for the branch of your database:

    pscale password create <DATABASE_NAME> <BRANCH_NAME> <PASSWORD_NAME>

    The PASSWORD_NAME value represents the name of the username and password being generated. You can have multiple credentials for a branch, so this gives you a way to categorize them. To manage your passwords in the dashboard, go to your database dashboard page, click "Settings", and then click "Passwords".

    Take note of the values returned to you, as you won't be able to see this password again.

    Password production-password was successfully created.
    Please save the values below as they will not be shown again
    --------------------- -------------- ----------------------------------- ------------------ -------------------------------------------------------
    production-password xxxxxxxxxxxxx Can Read & Write pscale_pw_xxxxxxx
  3. Next, create your .env file by renaming the .env.example file to .env:

    mv .env.example .env
  4. Use the values from the CLI output in step 1 to construct your connection string that will be used to connect your Node app to your PlanetScale database. Create your connection string in the following format:

  5. In the .env file, fill in the DATABASE_URL variable with the value you constructed above. It should look something like this:

  6. Finally, run your Express application with:

    node app.js

Navigate to http://localhost:3000 and you'll see the data from your users table!

Option 2: Using the PlanetScale proxy with the CLI

Use the following command to create a connection to your database and start the application:

pscale connect <DATABASE_NAME> <BRANCH_NAME> --execute 'node app.js'

Running pscale connect with the execute flag will pass a DATABASE_URL to the Node application, enabling it to connect to PlanetScale. Don't forget to look in app.js to see how the DATABASE_URL is used.

Navigate to http://localhost:3000 and you'll see the data from your users table!

What's next?

Learn more about how PlanetScale allows you to make non-blocking schema changes to your database tables without locking or causing downtime for production databases. If you're interested in learning how to secure your application when connecting to PlanetScale, please read Connecting to PlanetScale securely.

Need help?

Get help from the PlanetScale support team, or join our GitHub discussion board to see how others are using PlanetScale.

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