Create a Serverless GraphQL server using Express, Apollo Server and AWS Lambda

Serverless + Webpack

First thing’s first, install the Serverless framework and all the necessary dependencies it’ll need:

$ npm i -S serverless serverless-webpack serverless-http serverless-offline 

We will also need to install Webpack, node-externals packages, and babel-loader. Next create a config file for Webpack:

$ npm i -D webpack webpack-node-externals babel-loader
$ touch webpack.config.js

and place the following, basic config in it:

// webpack.config.js
const path = require("path");
const slsw = require("serverless-webpack");
const nodeExternals = require("webpack-node-externals");
module.exports = {
entry: slsw.lib.entries,
target: "node",
mode: slsw.lib.webpack.isLocal ? "development" : "production",
optimization: {
minimize: false
performance: {
hints: false
devtool: "nosources-source-map",
externals: [nodeExternals()],
module: {
rules: [
test: /.js$/,
exclude: /node_modules/,
use: [
loader: "babel-loader"
output: {
libraryTarget: "commonjs2",
path: path.join(__dirname, ".webpack"),
filename: "[name].js",
sourceMapFilename: "[file].map"

You can find more information about the serverless-webpack plugin here.

Next we’re going to need to create and configure our serverless.yml file:

$ touch serverless.yml

Place the following YML in it:

// serverless.yml
service: serverless-graphql
- serverless-webpack
- serverless-offline
webpackConfig: ./webpack.config.js
includeModules: true
name: aws
runtime: nodejs8.10
stage: dev
region: eu-west-1

We will add and configure our functions next.

Express + Apollo Server

Right, let’s move on to our server. We will need to install Express, Apollo Server and a few other dependencies:

$ npm i -S express apollo-server-express graphql

We’re also going to use the Prisma GraphQL playground to test our fancy server. Let’s install the necessary packages:

$ npm i -D graphql-playground-middleware-express

Create an index.js file which will contain our server code as well as be our entry point:

$ touch index.js

Place the following code in it:

// index.js
import express from "express";
import serverless from "serverless-http";
import graphiql from "graphql-playground-middleware-express";
import { ApolloServer, gql } from "apollo-server-express";
const typeDefs = gql`
type Query {
hello: String
const resolvers = {
Query: {
hello: () => "world"
const app = express();
const server = new ApolloServer({
path: "/graphql"
server.applyMiddleware({ app });
app.get("/playground", graphiql({ endpoint: "/graphql" }));
const handler = serverless(app);
export { handler };

Right, our index.js has been setup to accommodate two lambda functions, one for the GraphQL Apollo Server and the other for the Playground. Update the serverless.yml file and add the two functions we need:

// serverless.yml
handler: index.handler
- http:
path: graphql
method: post
cors: true
handler: index.handler
- http:
path: playground
method: get

…and with that, we’ve pretty much concluded the setup. Let’s give our GraphQL Apollo Server a test! Recall, earlier, we added serverless-offline as a dependency, let’s go ahead and startup our server offline:

$ npx sls offline start

This will start a local instance of our server. You should see the following output:

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