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Lesson 1: Installing Keystone

Learn how to install Keystone, create your first content type, and get an app up and running with an intuitive editing environment.


Welcome to the Keystone getting started series!

Together we’ll learn how to turn an empty folder into a database-backed Keystone instance with related content types, publishing workflows, password protection, an editing interface, and more.

Looking to demo Keystone in under 5 minutes? Try the quick-start CLI

This series assumes you have some basic familiarity with:

  • The command line for running Keystone
  • The node ecosystem for installing packages from npm, and running npm scripts
  • JavaScript/TypeScript for programming Keystone. You won't need to use much typescript in this series, however you can still benefit from using Keystone's inbuilt types
  • GraphQL for querying your Keystone content

Install Keystone

Let’s start by setting up a workspace for a new Keystone project. Make a new folder and initialise it:

mkdir keystone-learning
cd keystone-learning
yarn init

We’ll be using yarn for installing packages, but you can use npm or any other package manager you prefer.

Now add the Keystone package:

yarn add @keystone-6/core

Configure Keystone

Keystone looks for a file named keystone.ts (or keystone.js) at the project root to handle configuration needs. Let's go ahead and set one up using TypeScript:

// keystone.ts
export default {};

And add TypeScript as a dependency:

yarn add typescript

If you’d rather use JavaScript, make a keystone.js file and skip the TypeScript installation step above.

Your folder structure should now look like this:

├── node_modules # Dependencies
├── keystone.ts # Keystone config
├── package.json # With Keystone and TypeScript as dependencies
└── yarn.lock # Your yarn lock file

We now need to configure keystone.ts with two parts to get our project running:

  • db to define a database configuration
  • list to define the shape of the information we put in that database

Add a Database

We’ll use SQLite in this project to keep things simple, but you can also use Postgres. The minimum config for SQLite looks like this:

import { config } from '@keystone-6/core';
export default config({
db: {
provider: 'sqlite',
url: 'file:./keystone.db',
lists: {} // ...

This will use the local path ./keystone.db for your database storage.

Keystone uses Prisma to take care of database admin including migrations. Keystone owns the Prisma workflow so you can focus on building apps instead of DB admin chores.

Create your first List

Now that we have a database configured, let’s connect some content to it!

We’re going to build a simple blog with users and posts. Let’s start with the User list using text fields for their name and email:

import { config, list } from '@keystone-6/core';
import { allowAll } from '@keystone-6/core/access';
import { text } from '@keystone-6/core/fields';
lists: {
User: list({
access: allowAll,
fields: {
name: text({ validation: { isRequired: true } }),
email: text({ validation: { isRequired: true }, isIndexed: 'unique' }),

List names are derived from the keys in the lists object. For example, the User key becomes the name for the respective User list. This key will be used in Admin UI for the list’s default display name, and in Keystone’s auto-generated GraphQL API.

Field names are derived from the keys in the fields object. Like lists, they’ll be used in Admin UI for field label defaults, and in the GraphQL API. We've added validation to both our fields to say that they are required, and declared that emails must be unique, so there can only be one user with each email.

Admin UI is the name of Keystone’s user friendly editing environment. Accessible from a browser, it’s the place where we’ll add and update content that will be stored in the database.

Run Keystone

We now have everything we need to start Keystone, so let’s do just that:

yarn keystone dev

In a few seconds your terminal will provide you with you a link to the Keystone Admin UI at http://localhost:3000

Terminal dialog showing successful Keystone startup

Head on over to http://localhost:3000/users where you can create your first user with a name and email:

Adding a user record in Keystone Admin UI

Hurrah! You now have Keystone up and running 🎉

Next up, we’ll level-up our blog starter with a post list and connect it to our users.

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