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How to build an application using the Tasklist API and NestJS

The Tasklist API provides a simple way for you to build apps powered by BPMN that require human interaction. On this example we'll use NestJS, one of the most popular Node.js backend frameworks to a build a loan request review application.

Getting started#

To do this tutorial we'll need:

Before we go ahead#

If you followed the steps on the Getting started section you should have cloned a repo with the complete demo application we're going to build over this tutorial. The default branch in this repo has the complete application, so we need to checkout to the branch 0-getting-started before proceeding.

Inside the repo folder you'll find some files and 2 folders, one of these folders is called demo-data/ and the other frontend/. As it might be evident inside of each of these folders there are 2 different projects. The former will be responsible by deploying the demo process into Zeebe and generating instances for that process. The later is a frontend application that will consume our API, this project is boostrapped with Vite, bulma for styling and react-query

Creating a new NestJS application#

Now let's bootstrap our NestJS app, to do that:

  • Open your terminal and go to the cloned repository folder
  • Run nest new api
  • Pick yarn as a package manager

This will create the NestJS project for us inside the api/ folder, we can clean up the project a bit and remove the files api/app.controller.spec.ts, api/app.controller.ts and api/app.service.ts. We can also remove the references from the deleted files in api/app.module.ts, the file should look like this:

import { Module } from "@nestjs/common";
@Module({  imports: [],  controllers: [],  providers: [],})export class AppModule {}

To check if everything is working as expected you can run yarn workspace api run start:dev from the root folder on your terminal. You should see a message similar like the one below:

[00:00:00 AM] Starting compilation in watch mode...[00:00:00 AM] Found 0 errors. Watching for file changes.[Nest] 46621  - 00/00/0000, 00:00:00 AM     LOG [NestFactory] Starting Nest application...[Nest] 46621  - 00/00/0000, 00:00:00 AM     LOG [InstanceLoader] AppModule dependencies initialized +12ms[Nest] 46621  - 00/00/0000, 00:00:00 AM     LOG [NestApplication] Nest application successfully started +3ms

Generating the Tasklist service#

Now inside the api/ folder we'll need to generate a service that will be responsible for accessing the Tasklist API. To do that:

  • Run nest g service
  • You'll be prompted to pick a name for the service, let's pick tasklist
  • Run yarn add @nestjs/axios

A folder called tasklist/ will be created with the service definition and test, again you can delete the tests if you wish. We also installed the package @nestjs/axios so we can make requests to the Tasklist API. To use make HTTP requests we need to inject the module into the service, like below:

import { Injectable } from "@nestjs/common";import { HttpService } from "@nestjs/axios";
@Injectable()export class TasklistService {  constructor(private readonly http: HttpService) {}}

Now were ready to make requests to the API, but first let's define a Data Transfer Object, or DTO, with the shape of the tasks were going to request. For that we can create a file in tasklist/dto/task.dto.ts. There we can define the DTO like:

type Variable = {  name: string;  value: string;};
export class TaskDto {  id: string;  name: string;  processName: string;  creationTime: string;  completionTime: string | null;  assignee: string | null;  variables: Variable[];  taskState: 'CREATED' | 'COMPLETED' | 'CANCELED';  sortValues: [string, string];  isFirst: boolean | null;  formKey: string | null;  processDefinitionId: string;  taskDefinitionId: string;}

We can implement the requests, for that we need to define the Tasklist API query and define the methods on the service:

import { HttpService } from "@nestjs/axios";import { Injectable } from "@nestjs/common";import { firstValueFrom } from "rxjs";import { TaskDto } from "./dto/task.dto";
const getTasksQuery = `  query GetTasks($state: TaskState $pageSize: Int $searchAfter: [String!] $searchBefore: [String!] $taskDefinitionId: String!) {    tasks(query: { state: $state pageSize: $pageSize searchAfter: $searchAfter searchBefore: $searchBefore taskDefinitionId: $taskDefinitionId }) {      id      creationTime      variables {        value        name      }      taskState      isFirst      sortValues    }  }`;
type QueryVariables = {  pageSize?: number;  searchAfter?: [string, string];  searchBefore?: [string, string];  state?: "CREATED" | "COMPLETED";  taskDefinitionId?: string;};
@Injectable()export class TasklistService {  constructor(private readonly http: HttpService) {}
  async getTasks(variables: QueryVariables): Promise<TaskDto[]> {    const { http } = this;    const { errors, data } = (      await firstValueFrom("/", {          /*           for simplicity we just used Axios here, but since the Tasklist API is a GraphQL API           a package like `graphql-request` might be better suited for this          */          query: getTasksQuery,          variables,        })      )    ).data;
    if (errors) {      // handle error    }
    return data.tasks;  }}

For the sake of brevity we only have one query and one method here, to see the complete implementation you can check this file

Handling the Tasklist API authentication#

We have the implementation of our service, but we still can't make requests to the Tasklist API because we're not providing any credentials to the API. To achieve this we need to rename the file .env.example to .env (the file needs to be on the root because we'll reuse it to generate the demo data), and the content of this file should look like this:


You can find all this information on the tab API in our cluster page, the client id and secret should be on the file you downloaded on the Getting started section. Now we have our credentials we can authenticate and inject the JWT token into every request we make into Tasklist API. For that we need to turn our tasklist service into part of a module, run nest g module and name it tasklist, the same we named the service. This will generate the module file and update app.module.ts. We need to edit the app.module.ts file to use only the module:

import { Module } from "@nestjs/common";import { TasklistModule } from "./tasklist/tasklist.module";
@Module({  imports: [TasklistModule],  controllers: [],  providers: [],})export class AppModule {}

We can install the package @nestjs/config and finally implement the authentication:

import { Logger, Module, OnModuleInit } from "@nestjs/common";import { ConfigModule, ConfigService } from "@nestjs/config";import { HttpModule, HttpService } from "@nestjs/axios";import { TasklistService } from "./tasklist.service";import { firstValueFrom, map } from "rxjs";
type AuthResponse = {  access_token: string;  scope: string;  expires_in: number;  token_type: string;};
@Module({  imports: [    HttpModule,    ConfigModule.forRoot({      envFilePath: "../.env",    }),  ],  providers: [TasklistService],  exports: [TasklistService, HttpModule, ConfigModule],})export class TasklistModule implements OnModuleInit {  logger = new Logger(;
  constructor(    private readonly http: HttpService,    private readonly config: ConfigService  ) {}
  public async onModuleInit() {    const {      http: { axiosRef },      config,      logger,    } = this;    const credentials = await this.fetchCredentials();
    logger.log("Tasklist credentials fetched");
    axiosRef.defaults.baseURL = config.get("TASKLIST_API_ADDRESS");    axiosRef.defaults.headers[      "Authorization"    ] = `Bearer ${credentials.access_token}`;    axiosRef.defaults.headers["Content-Type"] = "application/json";    setTimeout(this.onModuleInit.bind(this), credentials.expires_in * 1000); // we need convert minutes to milliseconds  }
  private async fetchCredentials() {    const { http, config } = this;
    return firstValueFrom(      http        .post<AuthResponse>(config.get("ZEEBE_AUTHORIZATION_SERVER_URL"), {          client_id: config.get("ZEEBE_CLIENT_ID"),          client_secret: config.get("ZEEBE_CLIENT_SECRET"),          audience: config.get("ZEEBE_AUTHORIZATION_AUDIENCE"),          grant_type: "client_credentials",        })        .pipe(map((response) =>    );  }}

This will make that when this module is initialised we read the credentials using the @nestjs/config package, authenticate into the API and inject the JWT into Axios. We also set a timeout to request a new token when the first one expires.

Creating your application API#

Now we're able to implement our actual business logic, but first we need to install some packages to create our custom GraphQL API. Run yarn add @nestjs/graphql graphql apollo-server-express. We'll have to generate a module, a service and a resource. To achieve that run the following commands:

nest g modulenest g servicenest g resource

Use the name loanRequests for all options. For the resource generation select the option GraphQL (code first) and you don't have to generate the CRUD entrypoints.

We can now change our app.module.ts file to its final form:

import { Module } from "@nestjs/common";import { GraphQLModule } from "@nestjs/graphql";import { LoanRequestsModule } from "./loan-requests/loan-requests.module";
@Module({  imports: [    GraphQLModule.forRoot({      autoSchemaFile: true,      playground: true,    }),    LoanRequestsModule,  ],})export class AppModule {}

And the loan-requests/loan-requests.module.ts to:

import { Module } from "@nestjs/common";import { LoanRequestsService } from "./loan-requests.service";import { TasklistModule } from "src/tasklist/tasklist.module";import { LoanRequestsResolver } from "./loan-requests.resolver";
@Module({  imports: [TasklistModule],  providers: [LoanRequestsResolver, LoanRequestsService],  exports: [LoanRequestsService, TasklistModule],})export class LoanRequestsModule {}

We just need to implement the service, which will have 3 methods (1 to get all requests, 1 to get a single request and 1 to make a decision) and the 4 resolvers for the GraphQL API (2 mutations and 2 queries). You can find the full implementation here.

You can run yarn start:dev inside the api/ folder and the NestJS app should start without errors. To test your API you can access localhost:3000/graphl on your browser and should see our custom GraphQL API playground.

Demo data generation and sample frontend#

To test our app with the a real frontend we can change the port inside api/main.ts to 6000. And then run from the root folder yarn start:demo-data to start the backend, frontend and demo data generation or just yarn start if you don't need any new data.