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Prisma and Kysely: Can we have both, and why?



What is Prisma?

Prisma is an open-source next-generation ORM tool that provides a set of tools for developers to interact with databases in a more efficient and type-safe manner. It consists of several components, including Prisma Client and Prisma Studio, and Prisma Migrate. Prisma Client is an auto-generated and type-safe query builder for Node.js and TypeScript, while Prisma Studio is a GUI tool for viewing and editing data in the database. The Prisma schema is a file where developers define their application models in an intuitive data modeling language. It offers methods for querying, creating, updating, and deleting data in the database, and it provides benefits like static typing.

How does Prisma work?

Prisma works by utilizing Prisma engine. These engines are implemented in Rust and provide a low-level API that is used by the higher-level interfaces. The Prisma engine acts as the direct interface to the database, and all higher-level interfaces communicate with the database through this engine layer. For example, Prisma Client connects to the query engine to read and write data in the database.

Prisma engine


Prisma Migrate is a database migration tool that helps manage changes to the database schema. Whenever developer makes changes to the Prisma schema, they can run the prisma migrate dev command to generate a migration file. This file contains the SQL statements that will be executed to update the database schema.
Later on, when the application is deployed to production, the developer can run the prisma migrate deploy command to apply the migration to the database. Remeber to commit the migration file to the version control system.

model Product {
    id        String   @id
    createdAt DateTime @default(now())
    createdBy String
    updatedAt DateTime @updatedAt
    updatedBy String
    name      String
-   comment   String
$ npx prisma migrate dev --name drop_comment_for_product

File generated: prisma/migrations/20230616092528_drop_comment_for_product.sql

ALTER TABLE "LinePlan" DROP COLUMN "comment";


What is Kysely?

Kysely is a type-safe and autocompletion-friendly TypeScript SQL query builder. A query builder helps developers construct SQL queries programmatically without the need for manual SQL coding. It is a lightweight alternative to ORMs. Kysely ensures that the queries are syntactically correct and type-safe at compile-time. Inspired by Knex. It supports various features like subqueries, joins, and more, and offers auto-completion for enhanced development experience.

How does Kysely work?

Kysely is a bridge between the database and the application. To make it type-safe, it uses TypeScript's type system to ensure that the queries are syntactically correct and type-safe at compile-time. The developer needs to provide the database schema to Kysely, and it will generate the types for the tables and columns. It provides a set of methods with autocompletion for constructing SQL queries. To sum up, Kysely just generates the SQL queries and executes them against the database.


Kysely provides a migration feature that allows you to manage and apply database schema changes over time. Migrations are written in TypeScript and are executed using the Kysely library. The migration process involves creating migration files, defining the necessary schema changes in the migration files, and running the migrations to apply the changes to the database. It does not provide a CLI tool for managing migrations, but it provides a set of APIs that can be used to create a custom migration tool.

import { Kysely } from 'kysely'

export async function up(db: Kysely<any>): Promise<void> {
  // Migration code to apply schema changes

export async function down(db: Kysely<any>): Promise<void> {
  // Migration code to revert schema changes
import * as path from 'path'
import { env } from '~/env.mjs'
import { Pool } from 'pg'
import { promises as fs } from 'fs'
import { Kysely, Migrator, PostgresDialect, FileMigrationProvider } from 'kysely'

async function migrateToLatest() {
  const db = new Kysely<Database>({
    dialect: new PostgresDialect({
      pool: new Pool({
        connectionString: env.DATABASE_URL,

  const migrator = new Migrator({
    provider: new FileMigrationProvider({
      migrationFolder: path.join(__dirname, 'some/path/to/migrations'),

  const { error, results } = await migrator.migrateToLatest()

  results?.forEach((it) => {
    if (it.status === 'Success') {
      console.log(`Migration "${it.migrationName}" was executed successfully.`)
    } else if (it.status === 'Error') {
      console.error(`Failed to execute migration "${it.migrationName}".`)

  if (error) {
    console.error('Failed to migrate:')

  await db.destroy()


Combining Prisma and Kysely

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion.


I would prefer to use Kysely.
I would use a solution as close as possible to plain SQL. New libraries are created all the time, and it is hard to know which one will be maintained in the future. But plain old SQL is a standard, and it will be supported for a long time. In case of Kysely solution will get outdated, it should be less time-consuming to switch to another query builder or just use plain SQL, that to switch from Prisma to another ORM.

How about type safety?

We will take advantage of kysely-prisma. It is a library that generates Kysely types from the Prisma schema.


I would prefer to use Prisma.
In Prisma, the data model is defined in the schema and serves as the foundation for your application models. The data model defines the structure and relationships between your models, which map to tables or collections in your database. The Prisma schema is a declarative language that is used to define the data model. It is a very powerful tool that allows you to define the data model in a way that is easy to understand and maintain. Right now we do not have native support for multiple schemas, but Prisma team is working on it.

There is extension for VS Code that allows highlighting syntax and provides auto-completion. There is also a tool that allows you to visualize the Prisma schema, like Prisma Schema Visualizer.


I would prefer to use Primsa.
The huge advantage of Prisma is that it is just generating plain SQL migration scripts. Just modify the Prisma schema and run prisma migrate dev command. It will create a migration file for you.

To apply migrations to the database, simply execute the Prisma prisma migrate deploy command. This command will apply all migrations, including those that have already been applied and those that have not. You can create a new migration file and include SQL statements in it. This ensures that the migration is only applied once. It is a very convenient solution.


Prisma provides better amazing DX. The API is intuitive, typescript friendly, and easy to use. It is also mature and has a large community. There can be some issues with performance, but Prisma provides an escape hatch to use raw SQL queries.

In general, Prisma is an excellent tool for building applications. But if you know from the beginning that you will need to deal with a huge amount of data, you should consider using plain SQL or query builder.

ORMs can boost your productivity, but it can also slow you down. It is a trade-off between productivity and performance.

Both Prisma and Kysely are great tools. They are both very powerful and easy to use. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. It is up to you to decide which one is better for your project. I hope this article has helped you make a decision.