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Easily insert and update sequelize models with deeply nested associations

While Sequelize will retrieve nested assocations via the include option, it does not provide the ability to write them. This module allows for easy synchronization of nested associations by recursively inserting new, updating existing, or deleting removed association values.

  • Synchronizes nested associations in a single atomic operation
  • Prunes redundant foreign keys and later infers them
  • Works with optimistic locking in Sequelize v4
  • Includes Epilogue middleware for document-oriented PUT/POST



insert(model, values, include, options)

Inserts a new record given values and synchronizes nested associations specified by include.

update(model, values, include, options)

Updates the record corresponding to values and synchronizes nested associations specified by include.



The sequelize model of the root of the structure.


Object representing the values to be written, including any nested structure.


Array specifying the nested associations to be embedded. The include parameter is recursive and is usually a subset of those passed to Model.findById/One/All.



The transaction to be used. When provided, invoking commit or rollback is the resonsibility of the caller. Otherwise, a transaction will be created automatically and committed when done.


Whether to reload and return the full instance after success. May also be an object specifying further options:


The nested associations to be read and returned. Defaults to the include parameter used in the write.


Return plain object instead of Sequelize instances. (default true)


Whether to prune redundant foreign keys. (default true)

Getting Started


npm install --save sequelize-embed

Basic Example

Import sequelize-embed and initialize with sequelize:

const embed = require('sequelize-embed')(sequelize)

Setup an example schema - an Order can have Items, each of which is assigned a Department:

const Order = sequelize.define('Order', {})
const Item = sequelize.define('Item', { quantity: Sequelize.STRING })
const Department = sequelize.define('Department', { name: Sequelize.STRING })
Order.Items = Order.hasMany(Item, { as: 'items', foreignKey: 'orderId' })
Item.Department = Item.belongsTo(Department, { as: 'department', foreignKey: 'deptId' })`

Use the mkInclude helper to define the associations we wish to include. Here itemsOnly will update Items while itemsAndDept will update Items and Departments.

const { mkInclude } = embed.util.helpers
const itemsAndDept = [ mkInclude(Order.Items, mkInclude(Item.Department)) ]
const itemsOnly = [ mkInclude(Order.Items) ]

Insert an order, it's items, and departments by including itemsAndDept:

const order = {
  items: [ { quantity: 1, department: { name: 'produce' } } ]
embed.insert(Order, order, itemsAndDept)
// id: 1,
// items: [ { id: 1, quantity: '1', department: { id: 1, name: 'produce' } } ]

Change the quantity and department of our existing item:

const order = {
  id: 1,
  items: [ { id: 1, quantity: 2, department: { name: 'dairy' } } ]
embed.update(Order, order, itemsAndDept)
// id: 1,
// items: [ { id: 1, quantity: '2', department: { id: 2, name: 'dairy' } } ]

For the purposes of demonstration we've included Departments in our update, but since a Department is shared between orders we probably wouldn't want to include them when updating an order. Let's add another item, this time including just itemsOnly and being sure to specify a department known to exist:

const order = {
  id: 1,
  items: [
    { id: 1, quantity: 2, department: { id: 2, name: 'dairy' } },
    { quantity: 3, department: { id: 1 } } ]
embed.update(Order, order, itemsOnly, { reload: { include: itemsAndDept } })
// id: 1,
// items: [
//   { id: 1, quantity: '2', department: { id: 2, name: 'dairy' } },
//   { id: 2, quantity: '3', department: { id: 1, name: 'produce' } } ]

Notice that the new item was correctly assigned to the produce department despite Departments not being included in the update. Since belongs to foreign keys are on the source, they are always mapped back from any embedded values, even if a value isn't included for update itself. Also, we now pass itemsAndDept as the reload.include option which will include the department field in the result despite it not being updated.

Finally, remove the first item and reassign the second to the dairy department:

const order = {
  id: 1,
  items: [ { id: 2, quantity: 3, department: { id: 2 } } ]
embed.update(Order, order, itemsOnly, { reload: { include: itemsAndDept } })
// id: 1,
// items: [
//   { id: 2, quantity: '3', department: { id: 2, name: 'dairy' } } ]


Since the underlying data is normalized, completing an update or insert operation requires many reads and writes to synchronize the entire structure. For applications where performance is critical, be sure to restrict the total number of embedded associations and only embed those with reasonably low-cardinality.

Epilogue Middleware

Sequelize Embed also provides Epilogue middleware for automatically updating associations during PUT and POST operations. This can greatly simplify client development by giving your REST api the feel of a document-oriented database.

const embed = require('sequelize-embed')(sequelize)
const includeOnRead = ...  // include for get
const includeOnWrite = ... // include for put/post
// setup resource like normal
const resource = epilogue.resource({
  model: Model,
  include: includeOnRead,
  associations: false,
// add middleware to the resource, specifying includes
const middleware = embed.Epilogue(epilogue)


Everything in this repo is BSD License unless otherwise specified

sequelize-embed (c) 2017 Weston Siegenthaler

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