Skip to content

6 Common Sequelize Queries Explained in SQL

5 min read

You're comfortable writing queries in Sequelize ORM but when it comes to doing anything in raw SQL you have no clue where to begin.

SQL feels like magic

Developers who can write clever SQL queries are ninja-rockstar gurus

These are some of the quotes I hear when SQL comes up and I understand. Writing SQL queries can feel overwhelming. You spend valuable time trying to understand how a query works instead of writing the actual application and solving real-world problems.

When you finally have something you run the query and NOPE. A syntax error knocks you back down and the error message isn't particularly helpful, to say the least.

Wouldn't it be nice if writing SQL came to you as naturally as JavaScript? Instead of relying on the ORM you can just jump into raw SQL, get the job done, and continue writing your application.

Next time you get a weird bug using Sequelize you can look at the SQL query output. Not only will you understand how the generated query translates to your JavaScript code, but you will know how to fix it!

So let's unveil that not-so-magic behind SQL. Here are 6 queries you know how to make in Sequelize. Rewritten and explained in SQL.

1. Insert one user

This is a simple one, to begin with. We insert a new user in the users table with some basic values.

  first_name: 'Maxim',
  last_name: 'Orlov',
  gender: 'male',
INSERT INTO users(first_name, last_name, gender)
     VALUES ('Maxim', 'Orlov', 'male');

INSERT INTO is the .create() equivalent in SQL. The values are in the same order as the columns above them. That's how the database understands which value to assign to which column. You can specify the columns in whichever order you like, they don't have to match the order in the database, as long as the columns are in sync with the VALUES.

2. Find all users that match a condition

Then we have the most basic find of all, one that matches a single condition. In this case, we want to retrieve all female users from the database.

  gender: 'female',
  FROM users;
 WHERE gender = 'female';

The * in the SELECT statement tells the database we want to get all columns. FROM indicates which table to look at and in the WHERE statement we specify a condition the rows should match.

3. Find all orders that belong to a user

Of all examples, this might be the most difficult one to wrap your head around. Here comes the dreaded JOIN. In SQL you use a join when you want to query data based on two or more tables. In our database we have another table called orders and we want to get all orders that belong to a user.

  include: [
      model: User,
      where: { first_name: 'Maxim' },
    SELECT orders.*
      FROM orders
INNER JOIN users ON orders.user_id = AND users.first_name = 'Maxim';

Because we have more than one table we use the dot notation to specify we want all columns just from the orders table like so: orders.*. We use an INNER JOIN to fetch only the orders that match user_id with the id of the user that fulfills the condition.

4. Find X orders within a date range sorted by a column

Back to a single table query but with a few additional elements. We want to find the 10 highest priced orders created in the last day.

  where: {
    created_at: {
      []: new Date(),
      []: new Date(new Date() - 24 * 60 * 60 * 1000),
  order: [['price', 'DESC']],
  limit: 10,
    FROM orders
   WHERE orders.created_at < now() AND orders.created_at > now() - interval '1 day'
ORDER BY orders.price DESC
   LIMIT 10;

SQL gives you access to functions you can use to make your queries more dynamic. now() and now() - interval '1 day' lets us define a query that always returns results from the last day, regardless of when it's run.

The ORDER BY statement lets us define a column to sort the result by and we use DESC to do this in descending order. With LIMIT we tell SQL we're only interested in the first 10 results. It can discard the rest.

5. Update one user

It's time for an update, a pretty simple one. We want to promote a user to the admin role.

  { role: 'admin' },
  { where: { first_name: 'Maxim' } },
UPDATE users
   SET role = 'admin'
 WHERE first_name = 'Maxim';

The UPDATE statement tells SQL we want to update the users table followed by SET where we specify which column to update with which value. If we wanted to update more than one column we would add more expressions delimited by a comma (eg. role = 'admin', age = 30, ... )

6. Delete a single user

Lastly, we have a simple delete. Nothing fancy to it.

  where: { first_name: 'Maxim' },
      WHERE first_name = 'Maxim';

DELETE FROM is how we tell SQL in which table we want to delete the records that match the WHERE clause.

In case you're using the default paranoid: true in the Model configuration, Sequelize will not delete the row but update the deletedAt column instead with the current timestamp.

Practice makes perfect

SQL can be daunting at first but like with everything, practice makes perfect. It's ok if you don't understand every bit of syntax at first. It'll get easier with time. Keep moving forward and in no time you'll look back and realize you've become a ninja-rockstar guru yourself.

Write clean code. Stay ahead of the curve.

Every other Tuesday, I share tips on how to build robust Node.js applications. Join a community of 1,414 developers committed to advancing their careers and gain the knowledge & skills you need to succeed.

No spam! 🙅🏻‍♀️ Unsubscribe at any time.

You might also like

How to Fix Your EJS Modals When They Don't Show the Correct Info

Does your EJS page behave strangely? Let's examine the id attribute and how this might be the cause of the problem.
Read article

Should You Use char, varchar, or text in PostgreSQL?

What are the differences between char, varchar, and text in PostgreSQL, and which one should you choose?
Read article

Node.js 15 Is Out! What Does It Mean for You?

How does this new major release affect you? Find out what the breaking changes are and how to use the new features.
Read article