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A First Look at KeystoneJS


Last Updated:
KeystoneJS, Prisma, GraphQL


All of this project’s code can be found in the First Look monorepo on my GitHub.


KeystoneJS is a CMS for developers that provides a GraphQL API & Management UI for content and data based on your schema. In this tutorial we will use create-keystone-app to scaffold a basic blog dashboard with users. In a future part we will deploy this project.

Create Keystone App

create-keystone-app is a CLI app for getting started with Keystone. It will generate a couple of files for you and install all the dependencies you need to run the Admin UI and start using the GraphQL API.

Terminal window
yarn create keystone-app
success Installed "create-keystone-app@4.0.12" with binaries:
- create-keystone-app
ℹ️ You're about to generate a project using Keystone
Next packages. If you'd like to use Keystone 5, please
use `create-keystone-5-app` instead. Learn more about
the changes between Keystone 5 and Keystone Next on
our website.​

Give your project a name. Mine will be called ajcwebdev-keystone.

✔ What directory should create-keystone-app generate your app into? · ajcwebdev-keystone

You will need a database URL. If you want one fast you can use Railway, Supabase, Fly, or any of the other couple dozen “spin up Postgres in 30 seconds” services out there. I’ll be using Railway.

You can follow the first half of this guide to see how to spin up the database. The only important difference is when you copy your connection string from Railway, change the first part from postgresql:// to postgres://.

Your connection string will look like this with a password instead of xxxx:

✔ What database url should we use? · postgres://

This will create the app and provide further instructions.

🎉 Keystone created a starter project in: ajcwebdev-keystone
To launch your app, run:
- cd ajcwebdev-keystone
- yarn dev
Next steps:
- Edit ajcwebdev-keystone/keystone.ts to customize your app.
- Open the Admin UI - ​http://localhost:3000​
- Read the docs - ​​
- Star Keystone on GitHub -​

Develop Keystone App Locally

Run yarn dev to start your local development server.

Terminal window
cd ajcwebdev-keystone
yarn dev

This will run keystone-next dev.

$ keystone-next dev
✨ Starting Keystone
⭐️ Dev Server Ready on http://localhost:3000
✨ Generating GraphQL and Prisma schemas
✨ Your database is now in sync with your schema. Done in 3.17s
✨ Connecting to the database
✨ Generating Admin UI code
✨ Creating server
✨ Preparing GraphQL Server
✨ Preparing Admin UI Next.js app
info - Using webpack 4. Reason: custom webpack configuration in next.config.js
event - compiled successfully
👋 Admin UI and GraphQL API ready

Open localhost:3000.

01 - welcome-to-keystonejs-localhost

Create a user

02 - create-first-user

You are then asked if you want to sign up for the KeystoneJS newsletter. Bold move!!!

03 - sign-up-for-keystone-mailing-list

After you decide whether to reward such brash behavior you will be taken to the Keystone dashboard where you can view your users and posts.

04 - keystone-dashboard

You will see the user you initially created.

05 - keystone-dashboard-users

Create a Post

You will see that there are no posts yet. What ever shall we do?

06 - keystone-dashboard-posts

After clicking “Create Post” you will be able to create a post.

07 - keystone-dashboard-create-post-template

Write a post. Make it a masterpiece.

08 - a-new-post

Look back at your database to make sure it didn’t explode.

09 - post-in-railway

Query your GraphQL API

Open localhost:3000/api/graphql and run the following posts query.

query {
posts {

10 - graphql-posts-query

Deploy Keystone App

Turns out deploying a Keystone app is kind of complicated unless you follow a separate guide called How to embed Keystone + SQLite in a Next.js app. If it’s possible to deploy this thing to Vercel, then in theory it should be possible to deploy it to Netlify. Tune in next time for that!

You can also view all the code for this project on my GitHub but if you clone it then it’s not actually gonna work if you try and spin it up cause by default create-keystone-app hardcodes your DATABASE_URL and figuring out how to make it work without doing that is kind of complicated.