Quickest way to get going with Node.js and MongoDB – using the mongodb Node driver and a free MongoDB instance in the cloud with mLab

Lucas Jellema

imageWhile preparing for a workshop on Node.js, I ran into the by far quickest way to get some a simple Node.js application  running against a  MongoDB database. I stumbled into mLab (https://mlab.com/) for database hosting. This company offers various plans for cloud based MongoDB environments – including a free plan for an environment with up to 500 MB data. Plenty for a quick trial of the Node.JS => MongoDB interaction. So here are my steps:

1. Sign Up for an mLab account (confirm email address via link in email)

2. Login to mLab

3. Create a new deployment of type Sandbox:


Set database name: world


and press the button to create the new MongoDB deployment.

4. After a little while, the database is created. Click on the Users tab to create a user – authentication is required for remote access:


Download source from GitHub Repository: https://github.com/lucasjellema/nodejs-mongodb-quickstart


5. optional: Load data into this cloud based MongoDB database, for example by loading a csv file. This requires a local installation of theMongoDB toolset. Navigate to directory country-queries. The run this command:

mongoimport –host dsYOURINSTANCE.mlab.com:yourport –db world –collection countries –drop –file countries.csv  –type csv –fieldFile countriesFields.txt -u YOURUSERNAME -p YOURPASSWORD




6. Create a new Node application using npm:

npm init mongodb-client


7. Download and Add a dependency for mongdb driver:

npm install mongodb –save


8. Create app.js with the following code:

var MongoClient = require('mongodb').MongoClient;
var assert = require('assert');

var cloud = true;

var mongodbHost = '';
var mongodbPort = '27017';

var authenticate ='';
if (cloud) {
 mongodbHost = 'YOURHOST.mlab.com';
 mongodbPort = 'YOURPORT';
 authenticate = 'YOURUSER:YOURPASSWORD@'

var mongodbDatabase = 'world';

// connect string for mongodb server running locally, connecting to a database called test
var url = 'mongodb://'+authenticate+mongodbHost+':'+mongodbPort + '/' + mongodbDatabase;

// find and CRUD: http://mongodb.github.io/node-mongodb-native/2.0/tutorials/crud_operations/
// aggregation: http://mongodb.github.io/node-mongodb-native/2.0/tutorials/aggregation/

MongoClient.connect(url, function(err, db) {
   assert.equal(null, err);
   console.log("Connected correctly to server.");
//var cursor = collection.find({});
    // find top 20 countries by  size
    db.collection('countries').find({},{"sort": [["area",-1]]}).limit(20).toArray(function(err, results){
    console.log("Country One " +JSON.stringify(results[0])); 
    console.log("Name of Country Four " +results[3].name+ " and size: " +results[3].area);

      console.log("Connection to database is closed.");

}) //connect()

And run the application:

node app


9. Instead of creating your own new application, run the files index.js, query.js and crud.js from the GitHub repository  (do not forget to run npm install in the directory that contains these sources, to download the mongodb module and make sure that you set the right values for mongodbHost, mongodbPort and authenticate)


Set connection details:


node index (or node query or node crud)


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