Sequelize is an ORM (Object Relational Mapper) for NodeJS that provides easy access to various databases like MySQL, MariaDB, SQLite, or PostgreSQL.

It has a nice website with helpful documentation and examples to get started. Also there is an IRC channel #sequelizejs on Freenode.

In this article we will build a voting application where users can vote for a poll and we will record their IP so they cannot vote twice. We will use sequelize to model our data and build a REST API. Later we will build the front end using emberjs.

Scaffold Voting Application

Since we are using emberjs we might use ember-cli for our project. But, yet recently I published a yeoman generator generator-emberfs for emberjs fullstack projects like the one we are building now. It does all the scaffolding for emberjs on the client side and expressjs on the server side. So we will use it for this article.

You can install using the command:

npm install -g generator-emberfs
  yo emberfs

Directory Structure

This is our directory structure for voting application. config folder contains the initial server code and configuration files. app/models, app/routes and app/views folders contain our server side models, routes, and views respectively. db folder is for the sqlite database file and code for our database seed.

|-- app
|   |-- models
|   |   |-- index.js
|   |   `-- poll.js
|   |-- routes
|   |-- `-- api.js
|   `-- views
|       `-- layouts
|-- config
|   |-- app.js
|   `-- server.js
`-- db
    |-- development.sqlite
    `-- seed.js

We will define only routes for the REST API so we won’t mention about the app/views folder here.

Note that this folder structure is boilerplate for the generator-emberfs. So you won’t need to do the tedious work if you use it.

Models in Sequelize

This is our model diagram. Poll is a question and has many Choices. Choice is a poll choice with a text and description and has many Votes. Vote has an ip that identifies the voter, so we can make sure one ip can vote only once.


All our models are in file app/models/poll.js. Later we will import them.

Vote model is simple, just a single field ip and has no relationships. It also has some helpers methods which I will mention later.

var Vote = sequelize.define('Vote', {
    ip: DataTypes.STRING
    // ... define model fields here
  }, {
    classMethods: {
      associate: function(models) {
        // define relationships here
        // ... define class methods here

Choice model has two fields, text and description, and has one-to-many relationship with the Vote model. We define the relationships in a class method named associate.

var Choice = sequelize.define('Choice', {
    text: DataTypes.STRING,
    description: DataTypes.STRING
  }, {
    classMethods: {
      associate: function(models) {
        Choice.hasMany(models.Vote, { as : 'votes' });

Poll model has one field question, and has one-to-many relationship with the Choice model.

var Poll = sequelize.define('Poll', {
    question: DataTypes.STRING
  }, {
    classMethods: {
      associate: function(models) {
        Poll.hasMany(models.Choice, { as: 'choices' });

Import all models in Sequelize

Now we have defined our models, we need to import them with sequelize. We will do that in file app/models/index.js.

In our example we have only one file defining our models namely app/models/poll.js. But we can have more than that, and we will import all the files in app/models folder.

First let’s require our dependencies, and initialize Sequelize. votes-app-db is the name of our database.

We are using sqlite for the database and ./db/development.sqlite file for the database. sqlite is a zero-configuration, serverless database. It works directly from the database files on disk.

File: app/models/index.js

var fs = require('fs'),
  path = require('path'),
  lodash = require('lodash'),
  Sequelize = require('sequelize'),
  sequelize = null,
  db = {};

sequelize = new Sequelize('votes-app-db', null, null, {
  dialect: 'sqlite',
  storage: './db/development.sqlite'

Before we import the models, let’s see how we export our models in app/models/poll.js.

File: app/models/poll.js

var Sequelize = require('sequelize');

module.exports = function(sequelize, DataTypes) {
  // I omit the definitions.
  var Vote, Poll, Choice;

  return [Vote, Poll. Choice];

We export an array of our models. Now let’s import each file in app/models to sequelize.

File: app/models/index.js

  .filter(function(file) {
    return (file.indexOf('.') !== 0) && (file !== 'index.js');
  .forEach(function(file) {
    var model = sequelize.import(path.join(__dirname, file));
    if (model instanceof Array) {
      model.forEach(function(m) {
        db[] = m;
    } else {
      db[] = model;

We filter out the index.js and import every file to sequelize. Later we keep references to our models in db object. Note that our model files can both return an array or a single object, that’s what the if condition is checking for.

Finally we call the associate class method for each model that will define the relationships between models. Then we export all the models (db object) along with sequelize.

Object.keys(db).forEach(function(modelName) {
  if ('associate' in db[modelName]) {

module.exports = lodash.extend({
  sequelize: sequelize,
  Sequelize: Sequelize
}, db);

Seed for the Database

Next, we seed the database a sample poll with two choices.

File: db/seed.js

module.exports = function(db) {

    question: 'What features would you like to see'
  }).success(function(poll) {
      id: 1,
      text: 'Improved UI',
      description: 'New, fancy interface',
    }, {
      id: 2,
      text: 'Improved Performance',
      description: 'Faster response times',


Note that each model has a create and bulkCreate function. The difference is create takes a single object and bulkCreate takes an array of objects.

One final thing is the choice model instances has an extra attribute, PollId, that is the foreign key referencing the Poll model.

Helper methods for Models

We will define two helper methods for the Vote model. They are both defined under the classMethods object (near to associate method).

findCount method takes a choiceId and finds the number of votes for that choice.

File: app/models/poll.js

findCount: function(choiceId, callback) {
      where: { 'ChoiceId': choiceId}
    }).success(function(count) {
      callback(null, count);

addVote method takes an ip and a choice and creates a new vote. The trick here is that we have to make sure the given ip doesn’t vote twice for the same poll. So we need a nifty sql statement to “select all the votes for the poll that the given choice belongs to and that is the same ip as the given ip”. This statement will return a single vote if the given ip has voted for the same poll or null if it hasn’t.

File: app/models/poll.js

addVote: function(ip, choice, callback) {
    // sequelize translation of the sql command:
    // select * from votes, choices, polls where
    // votes.choiceId == and choices.pollId ==
    // and == choice in
    // (select pollId from votes, choices where
    // votes.choiceId == and votes.ip == ip)
    Poll.findAll({ where: Sequelize.and(
        '': choice
        { in:
          Sequelize.literal('select "Choices"."PollId" from "Votes", "Choices" where "Votes"."ChoiceId" = "Choices"."id" and "Votes"."ip" = \'' + ip + '\'')
        include: [ {
          model: Choice, as: 'choices',
          include: [{ model: Vote, as: 'votes' }]}]
      }).success(function(votes) {
        if (!votes || votes.length === 0) {
            ip: ip,
            ChoiceId: choice
            .success(function(vote) {
              callback(null, vote);
        } else {
          callback("Vote already exists");

I am sure there is a better way to build this statement in sequelize, but this works too. Note that we make use of Sequelize.literal method that interprets the raw sql command.

Finally upon success, if the vote already exists, we give error, otherwise we create a new vote which builds and saves the vote to the database.

Routes for Express 4

Routing in Express 4 is modular and mountable. A Router instance is a complete middleware. But, yet I won’t get into detail how to use express routers in this article. For more information check out the express docs and the migration guide.

All our API routes are in file app/routes/api.js.

/polls route lists all the available polls.

router.get('/polls', function(req, res) {
      // you can include choices for the poll, or not.
      //include: [{ model: db.Choice, as: 'choices' }]
    }).success(function(polls) {
        polls: polls

Note that include option enables us to embed the choices for the poll. In our case we opt not to.

/polls/:id route gets a single poll with a given id. This time we include the choices for the poll as well. The trick here is for each choice we find the number of votes for that choice, and include the count in the choice model using the setDataValue method.

router.get('/polls/:id', function(req, res) {

      where: { id: },
      include: [{model: db.Choice, as: 'choices' }]
    }).success(function(poll) {, function(choice, callback) {
        db.Vote.findCount(, function(err, count) {
          choice.setDataValue('count', count);
          callback(err, choice);
      }, function(err, results) {
        poll.setDataValue('choices', results);
          poll: poll

Note that we use async library to map poll.choices and add the vote count for each choice. Later we use setDataValue method for the poll model to set the choices to the map results.

We post to /votes route to make a vote. One ip can vote for a poll only once, thanks to our addVote helper method.'/votes', function(req, res) {
    var ip = req.headers['x-forwarded-for'] || req.connection.remoteAddress;
    // randomize the ip to test your app
    //ip = Math.random();
    var choice =;
    db.Vote.addVote(ip, choice, function(err, vote) {
      if (err) {
      } else {

Note that we use x-forwarded-for header or the req.connection.remoteAddress to get the ip. If you want to test the application so you can have many votes, randomize the ip with Math.random.

Finally /votes/:choiceId route will return the number of votes for a given choice.

router.get('/votes/:choiceId', function(req, res) {
    var choice = req.params.choiceId;

    db.Vote.findCount(choice, function(err, count) {
      if (err) {
      } else {
        res.send({ vote: count });

Setup the Server

Finally we start sequelize, seed the database, and fire up the express server.

File: app/config/app.js

var app = require('./server'),
  db = require('../app/models');

  .sync({ force: true})
  .complete(function(err) {
    if (err) {
      throw err[0];
    } else {
      // seed
      app.listen(app.get('port'), function() {
        console.log('express listening on ' + app.get('port'));

Note that we require ../app/models that exports all the models and sequelize as the db object. Also we require ./server that exports the express application. I won’t mention about configuring and setting up the express server, it’s simple enough and you should do it however you like. For more details check out the full repository at github.


In this article we have built a REST API using sequelize for voting polls. We’ve setup models in sequelize provided seed for the database, used query methods for the models, and setup the API routes for the express server. Next up we will build the front end using emberjs.

The full repository is at github.

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