Subscribe to receive notifications of new posts:

Subscription confirmed. Thank you for subscribing!

Easy Postgres integration on Cloudflare Workers with Neon.tech

Loading...

4 min read
Seamless Postgres integration on Cloudflare Workers with Neon.tech

It’s no wonder that Postgres is one of the world’s favorite databases. It’s easy to learn, a pleasure to use, and can scale all the way up from your first database in an early-stage startup to the system of record for giant organizations. Postgres has been an integral part of Cloudflare’s journey, so we know this fact well. But when it comes to connecting to Postgres from environments like Cloudflare Workers, there are unfortunately a bunch of challenges, as we mentioned in our Relational Database Connector post.

Neon.tech not only solves these problems; it also has other cool features such as branching databases — being able to branch your database in exactly the same way you branch your code: instant, cheap and completely isolated.

How to use it

It’s easy to get started. Neon’s client library @neondatabase/serverless is a drop-in replacement for node-postgres, the npm pg package with which you may already be familiar. After going through the getting started process to set up your Neon database, you can easily create a Worker to ask Postgres for the current time like so:

  1. Create a new Worker — Run npx wrangler init neon-cf-demo and accept all the defaults. Enter the new folder with cd neon-cf-demo.
  2. Install the Neon package — Run npm install @neondatabase/serverless.
  3. Provide connection details — For deployment, run npx wrangler secret put DATABASE_URL and paste in your connection string when prompted (you’ll find this in your Neon dashboard: something like postgres://user:[email protected]/main). For development, create a new file .dev.vars with the contents DATABASE_URL= plus the same connection string.
  4. Write the code — Lastly, replace src/index.ts with the following code:
import { Client } from '@neondatabase/serverless';
interface Env { DATABASE_URL: string; }

export default {
  async fetch(request: Request, env: Env, ctx: ExecutionContext) {
    const client = new Client(env.DATABASE_URL);
    await client.connect();
    const { rows: [{ now }] } = await client.query('select now();');
    ctx.waitUntil(client.end());  // this doesn’t hold up the response
    return new Response(now);
  }
}

To try this locally, type npm start. To deploy it around the globe, type npx wrangler publish.

You can also check out the source for a slightly more complete demo app. This shows your nearest UNESCO World Heritage sites using IP geolocation in Cloudflare Workers and nearest-neighbor sorting in PostGIS.

How does this work? In this case, we take the coordinates supplied to our Worker in request.cf.longitude and request.cf.latitude. We then feed these coordinates to a SQL query that uses the PostGIS distance operator <-> to order our results:

const { longitude, latitude } = request.cf
const { rows } = await client.query(`
  select 
    id_no, name_en, category,
    st_makepoint($1, $2) <-> location as distance
  from whc_sites_2021
  order by distance limit 10`,
  [longitude, latitude]
);

Since we created a spatial index on the location column, the query is blazing fast. The result (rows) looks like this:

[{
  "id_no": 308,
  "name_en": "Yosemite National Park",
  "category": "Natural",
  "distance": 252970.14782223428
},
{
  "id_no": 134,
  "name_en": "Redwood National and State Parks",
  "category": "Natural",
  "distance": 416334.3926827573
},
/* … */
]

For even lower latencies, we could cache these results at a slightly coarser geographical resolution — rounding, say, to one sixtieth of a degree (one arc minute) of longitude and latitude, which is a little under a mile.

Sign up to Neon using the invite code serverless and try the @neondatabase/serverless driver with Cloudflare Workers.

Why we did it

Cloudflare Workers has enormous potential to improve back-end development and deployment. It’s cost-effective, admin-free, and radically scalable.

The use of V8 isolates means Workers are now fast and lightweight enough for nearly any use case. But it has a key drawback: Cloudflare Workers don’t yet support raw TCP communication, which has made database connections a challenge.

Even when Workers eventually support raw TCP communication, we will not have fully solved our problem, because database connections are expensive to set up and also have quite a bit of memory overhead.

This is what the solution looks like:

It consists of three parts:

  1. Connection pooling built into the platform — Given Neon’s serverless compute model, splitting storage and compute operations, it is not recommended to rely on a one-to-one mapping between external clients and Postgres connections. Instead, you can turn on connection pooling simply by flicking a switch (it’s in the Settings area of your Neon dashboard).
  2. WebSocket proxy — We deploy our own WebSocket-to-TCP proxy, written in Go. The proxy simply accepts WebSocket connections from Cloudflare Worker clients, relays message payloads to a requested (Neon-only) host over plain TCP, and relays back the responses.
  3. Client library — Our driver library is based on node-postgres but provides the necessary shims for Node.js features that aren’t present in Cloudflare Workers. Crucially, we replace Node’s net.Socket and tls.connect with code that redirects network reads and writes via the WebSocket connection. To support end-to-end TLS encryption between Workers and the database, we compile WolfSSL to WebAssembly with emscripten. Then we use esbuild to bundle it all together into an easy-to-use npm package.

The @neondatabase/serverless package is currently in public beta. We have plans to improve, extend, and explain it further in the near future on the Neon blog. In line with our commitment to open source, you can configure our serverless driver and/or run our WebSocket proxy to provide access to Postgres databases hosted anywhere — just see the respective repos for details.

So try Neon using invite code serverless, sign up and connect to it with Cloudflare Workers, and you’ll have a fully flexible back-end service running in next to no time.

We protect entire corporate networks, help customers build Internet-scale applications efficiently, accelerate any website or Internet application, ward off DDoS attacks, keep hackers at bay, and can help you on your journey to Zero Trust.

Visit 1.1.1.1 from any device to get started with our free app that makes your Internet faster and safer.

To learn more about our mission to help build a better Internet, start here. If you're looking for a new career direction, check out our open positions.

Developer Week Developers Serverless Integration Storage

Follow on Twitter

Erwin van der Koogh |@evanderkoogh
Cloudflare |Cloudflare

Related Posts