Jacob Paris
← Back to all content

Add Prisma to a Remix app

Prisma is a popular ORM for handling database interactions. Instead of querying your database directly, you generate a Prisma client that gives you a type-safe API for reading and writing data.

Prisma will also handle migrations for you, so you can make changes to your schema and Prisma will automatically generate the SQL to update your database.

In the Remix ecosystem, two of the three official starter stacks use Prisma by default, but if you're starting with a blank slate you'll need to add it yourself.

In this guide we'll add Prisma to a Remix app and set it up to use SQLite. There are two packages to install.

npm i @prisma/client
npm i --save-dev prisma

Add Prisma to your project

It doesn't take long to get Prisma integrated into your project. The first step is to initialize a new Prisma project.

Create a new file app/db.server.ts and add the following:

import { PrismaClient } from "@prisma/client"
declare global {
var __prisma: PrismaClient
if (!global.__prisma) {
global.__prisma = new PrismaClient()
export const prisma = global.__prisma

This looks a little complicated, but it's just a wrapper around the Prisma client that makes sure it's only instantiated once, like a singleton.

Environment variables

You'll want to set the DATABASE_URL=file:./data.db?connection_limit=1 environment variable to the path where you want your SQLite database to live. Setting the connection limit to 1 prevents bugs during dev server reloading when a new connection attempt is made. A .env file is a good place to keep it during development.

This is a good time to set the same environment variable on your host too. If you're using fly, either use fly secrets set or, since it's not sensitive, just add it your fly.toml


Write your schema

The schema is where you define your tables and columns.

Create a new file prisma/schema.prisma and write a basic schema to get started.

generator client {
provider = "prisma-client-js"
datasource db {
provider = "sqlite"
url = env("DATABASE_URL")
model Issue {
id Int @id @default(autoincrement())
draftId String @unique
title String
description String
createdAt DateTime @default(now())
updatedAt DateTime @updatedAt
files File[]
model File {
url String @id @unique
createdAt DateTime @default(now())
updatedAt DateTime @updatedAt
issue Issue @relation(fields: [issueId], references: [id])
issueId Int

Prisma uses code generation to create typescript types for your schema. You'll need to run npx prisma generate to generate the types and then npx prisma migrate deploy to apply any migrations we've written.

You will need to do this before the first startup and after every change to the schema.

Go to your package.json, add a setup script to run the migrations:

"scripts": {
"setup": "prisma generate && prisma migrate deploy"

Next, you'll need to create the migrations that will take a blank database through the steps it needs to get to your current schema. This is another command you'll need to run every time you change the schema.

npx prisma migrate dev
npm run setup

Run those commands and you should see a migrations directory in your prisma folder. This will be committed to your repo.

Read and write documents

Prisma should be fully set up now. Let's try it out!

In one of your routes

  • add an action that inserts a new item into the database
  • add a loader that reads all the items from the database and returns them as JSON
  • add a form that submits to the action
import { prisma } from "~/db.server.ts"
export async function action({
}: ActionFunctionArgs) {
await prisma.items.insert({
data: {
title: "Item title",
return {
success: true,
export async function loader({
}: LoaderFunctionArgs) {
const data = await db.items.findMany()
return json({
export default function Index() {
const { items } = useLoaderData<typeof loader>()
return (
<h1> Items </h1>
{items.map((item) => (
<li key={item.id}>{item.title}</li>
<Form method="POST">
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />

Every time you hit the submit button, you should see a new item pop up on the list! You can shut down the server and restart it, and the items will still be there, safe in your database.

Include the migrations in your build

Docker uses the ADD command to copy files into the image. If you have a single staged build (i.e. you're not using a multi-stage build), then you can just add the migrations to your build:

FROM base
ADD prisma .
RUN npx prisma generate

If you're doing a multi-staged build, you probably have a build layer where you copy all of your source code into the image (using ADD . .). The migrations will be copied too when that happens, but you'll need to copy them again into the final image.

With that structure, the final COPY line is the one you'll want to bring into your own Dockerfile.

FROM base as build
ADD prisma .
RUN npx prisma generate
FROM base as run
COPY --from=build /myapp/node_modules/.prisma /myapp/node_modules/.prisma
COPY --from=build /myapp/prisma /myapp/prisma

Try deploying again and you should be good to go!

Professional headshot

Hey there! I'm a developer, designer, and digital nomad building cool things with Remix, and I'm also writing Moulton, the Remix Community Newsletter

About once per month, I send an email with:

  • New guides and tutorials
  • Upcoming talks, meetups, and events
  • Cool new libraries and packages
  • What's new in the latest versions of Remix

Stay up to date with everything in the Remix community by entering your email below.

Unsubscribe at any time.