Getting Started with AWS

Build an iOS Application

Create a simple iOS application using AWS Amplify

Module 4: Add a GraphQL API and Database

In this module you will use the Amplify CLI and libraries to configure and add a GraphQL API to your app.


Now that we've created and configured the app with user authentication, let's add an API and Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) operations on a database.

In this module, you will add an API to our app using the Amplify CLI and libraries. The API you will be creating is a GraphQL API that leverages AWS AppSync (a managed GraphQL service) which is backed by Amazon DynamoDB (a NoSQL database). For an introduction to GraphQL, visit this page.

The app you will be building is a note taking app that allows users to create, delete, and list notes. This example gives you a good idea how to build many popular types of CRUD+L (create, read, update, delete, and list) applications.

What You Will Learn

  • Create and deploy a GraphQL API
  • Write front-end code to interact with the API

Key Concepts

API – Provides a programming interface that allows communication and interactions between multiple software intermediaries.

GraphQL – A query language and server-side API implementation based on a typed representation of your application. This API representation is declared using a schema based on the GraphQL type system. (To learn more about GraphQL, visit this page.)

 Time to Complete

20 minutes

 Services Used


  • Create a GraphQL API Service and a Database

    To create the GraphQL API and its backing database, open a Terminal and execute this command from your project directory:

    amplify add api
    ? Please select from one of the below mentioned services: select GraphQL and press enter
    ? Provide API name: select the default, press enter
    ? Choose the default authorization type for the API: use the arrow key to select Amazon Cognito User Pool and press enter
    ? Do you want to configure advanced settings for the GraphQL API: select the default No, I am done and press enter
    ? Do you have an annotated GraphQL schema? keep the default N and press enter
    ? What best describes your project: choose any model, we are going to replace it with our own anyway. Press enter
    ? Do you want to edit the schema now? type Y and press enter

    The default text editor that you choose when you initialized the project (amplify init) opens with a prebuild data schema.

    Delete the schema and replace it with our app GraphQL schema:

    type NoteData
    @auth (rules: [ { allow: owner } ]) {
        id: ID!
        name: String!
        description: String
        image: String

    The data model is made of one class NoteData and 4 properties: id and name are mandatory. description and image are optional strings.

    The @model transformer indicates we want to create a database to store thes data.

    The @auth transformer adds authentication rules to allow access to these data. For this project, we want only the owner of NoteData to have access to them.

    Once done, do not forget to save.

  • Generate Client Side Code

    Based on the GraphQL data model definition we just created, Amplify generates client side code (i.e. Swift code) to represent the data in our app.

    To generate the code, in your terminal, execute the following command:

    amplify codegen models

    This creates Swift files in amplify/generated/models directory, as you can see with:

    ➜  iOS Getting Started git:(master) ✗ ls -al amplify/generated/models
    total 24
    drwxr-xr-x  5 stormacq  admin  160 Jul  9 14:20 .
    drwxr-xr-x  3 stormacq  admin   96 Jul  9 14:20 ..
    -rw-r--r--  1 stormacq  admin  380 Jul  9 14:20 AmplifyModels.swift
    -rw-r--r--  1 stormacq  admin  822 Jul  9 14:20 NoteData+Schema.swift
    -rw-r--r--  1 stormacq  admin  445 Jul  9 14:20 NoteData.swift

    Imort these files in your Xcode project: locate  them in the Finder and drag'n drop them to the project in Xcode.

  • Deploy the API Service and Database

    To deploy the backend API and database we have just created, go to your terminal and execute the command:

    amplify push
    # press Y when asked to continue
    ? Are you sure you want to continue? accept the default Y and press enter
    ? Do you want to generate code for your newly created GraphQL API type N and press enter

    After a few minutes, you should see a success message:

    ✔ All resources are updated in the cloud
    GraphQL endpoint:
  • Add API Client Library to the Xcode Project

    Before going to the code, you add the Amplify API Library to the dependencies of your project. Open the Podfile file and add the line with AmplifyPlugins/AWSAPIPlugin or copy/paste the enire file below.

    # you need at least version 13.0 for this tutorial, more recent versions are valid too
    platform :ios, '13.0'
    target 'getting started' do
      # Comment the next line if you don't want to use dynamic frameworks
      # Pods for getting started
      pod 'Amplify', '~> 1.0'                             # required amplify dependency
      pod 'Amplify/Tools', '~> 1.0'                       # allows to call amplify CLI from within Xcode
      pod 'AmplifyPlugins/AWSCognitoAuthPlugin', '~> 1.0' # support for Cognito user authentication
      pod 'AmplifyPlugins/AWSAPIPlugin', '~> 1.0'         # support for GraphQL API

    In a terminal, execute the command:

    pod install

    The command takes a few moments to complete. You should see this (actual version numbers may vary):

    Analyzing dependencies
    Downloading dependencies
    Installing AmplifyPlugins 1.0.4
    Installing AppSyncRealTimeClient (1.1.6)
    Installing ReachabilitySwift (5.0.0)
    Installing Starscream (3.0.6)
    Generating Pods project
    Integrating client project
    Pod installation complete! There are 4 dependencies from the Podfile and 11 total pods installed.
  • Initialize Amplify Libs at Runtime

    Back to Xcode, open Backend.swift and add a line in hte Amplify initialization sequence in private init() method. Complete code block should look like this:

    // initialize amplify
    do {
       try Amplify.add(plugin: AWSCognitoAuthPlugin())
       try Amplify.add(plugin: AWSAPIPlugin(modelRegistration: AmplifyModels()))
       try Amplify.configure()
       print("Initialized Amplify")
    } catch {
       print("Could not initialize Amplify: \(error)")
  • Add Bridging between GraphQL Data Model and App Model

    Our project already has a data model to represent a Note. So I made a design decision to continue to use that model and provide for an easy way to convert a NoteData to a Note. Open ContentView.swift and add this initializer in the Note class.

    convenience init(from data: NoteData) {
        self.init(id:, name:, description: data.description, image: data.image)
        // store API object for easy retrieval later
        self._data = data
    fileprivate var _data : NoteData?
    // access the privately stored NoteData or build one if we don't have one.
    var data : NoteData {
        if (_data == nil) {
            _data = NoteData(id:,
                                description: self.description,
                                image: self.imageName)
        return _data!
  • Add API CRUD Methods to the Backend Class

    Let's add 3 methods to call our API: a method to query the Note, a method to create a new Note, and a method to delete a Note. Notice that these method works on the app data model (Note) to make it easy to interract from the User Interface. These method transparently convert Note to GraphQL's NoteData objects.

    Open the Backend.swift file and add the following snipet at the end of Backend class:

        // MARK: API Access
        func queryNotes() {
            _ = Amplify.API.query(request: .list(NoteData.self)) { event in
                switch event {
                case .success(let result):
                    switch result {
                    case .success(let notesData):
                        print("Successfully retrieved list of Notes")
                        // convert an array of NoteData to an array of Note class instances
                        for n in notesData {
                            let note = Note.init(from: n)
                            DispatchQueue.main.async() {
                    case .failure(let error):
                        print("Can not retrieve result : error  \(error.errorDescription)")
                case .failure(let error):
                    print("Can not retrieve Notes : error \(error)")
        func createNote(note: Note) {
            // use to access the NoteData instance
            _ = Amplify.API.mutate(request: .create( { event in
                switch event {
                case .success(let result):
                    switch result {
                    case .success(let data):
                        print("Successfully created note: \(data)")
                    case .failure(let error):
                        print("Got failed result with \(error.errorDescription)")
                case .failure(let error):
                    print("Got failed event with error \(error)")
        func deleteNote(note: Note) {
            // use to access the NoteData instance
            _ = Amplify.API.mutate(request: .delete( { event in
                switch event {
                case .success(let result):
                    switch result {
                    case .success(let data):
                        print("Successfully deleted note: \(data)")
                    case .failure(let error):
                        print("Got failed result with \(error.errorDescription)")
                case .failure(let error):
                    print("Got failed event with error \(error)")

    In the same Backend.swift file, update the updateUserData(withSignInStatus:) method to look like this:

    // change our internal state, this triggers an UI update on the main thread
    func updateUserData(withSignInStatus status : Bool) {
        DispatchQueue.main.async() {
            let userData : UserData = .shared
            userData.isSignedIn = status
            // when user is signed in, query the database, otherwise empty our model
            if status {
            } else {
                userData.notes = []

    Now, all is left is to create a piece of user interface to create a new Note and to delete a Note from the list.

  • Add an Edit Button to Add Note

    Now that the backend and data model pieces are in place, the last step in this section is to allow users to create a new Note and to delete them.

    In Xcode, open ContentView.swift

    a. In ContentView struct, add state variables bound to the user interface.

    // add at the begining of ContentView class
    @State var showCreateNote = false
    @State var name : String        = "New Note"
    @State var description : String = "This is a new note"
    @State var image : String       = "image"

    b. Anywhere in the file, add a View struct to let user create a new Note:

    struct AddNoteView: View {
        @Binding var isPresented: Bool
        var userData: UserData
        @State var name : String        = "New Note"
        @State var description : String = "This is a new note"
        @State var image : String       = "image"
        var body: some View {
            Form {
                Section(header: Text("TEXT")) {
                    TextField("Name", text: $name)
                    TextField("Name", text: $description)
                Section(header: Text("PICTURE")) {
                    TextField("Name", text: $image)
                Section {
                    Button(action: {
                        self.isPresented = false
                        let noteData = NoteData(id : UUID().uuidString,
                                                name: self.$name.wrappedValue,
                                                description: self.$description.wrappedValue)
                        let note = Note(from: noteData)
                        // asynchronously store the note (and assume it will succeed)
                        Backend.shared.createNote(note: note)
                        // add the new note in our userdata, this will refresh UI
                    }) {
                        Text("Create this note")

    c. Add a + button on the navigation bar to present a sheet to create a Note

    Back to ContentView struct, replace navigationBarItems(leading SignOutButton()) with

        .navigationBarItems(leading: SignOutButton(),
                            trailing: Button(action: {
        }) {
            Image(systemName: "plus")
    }.sheet(isPresented: $showCreateNote) {
        AddNoteView(isPresented: self.$showCreateNote, userData: self.userData)
  • Add a Swipe to Delete Behavior

    Finally, in ContentView, add the 'swipe to delete' behavior: add the .onDelete { } method to the ForEach struct:

    ForEach(userData.notes) { note in
        ListRow(note: note)
    }.onDelete { indices in
        indices.forEach {
            // removing from user data will refresh UI
            let note = self.userData.notes.remove(at: $0)
            // asynchronously remove from database
            Backend.shared.deleteNote(note: note)
  • Build and Test

    To verify everything works as expected, build and run the project. Click Product menu and select Run or type ⌘R. There should be no error.

    Assuming you are still signed in, the app starts on the emply List. It now has a + button to add a Note. Tap the + sign, Tap Create this Note and the note should appear in the list.

    You can close the AddNoteView by pulling it down. Note that, on the iOS simulator, it is not possible to tap + a second time, you need to 'pull-to-refresh' the List first.

    You can delete Note by swiping a row left.

    Here is the complete flow.



You have now created an iOS app! Using AWS Amplify, you added a GraphQL API and configured create, read, and delete functionality in your app.

In the next module, we will add UI and behavior to manage pictures.

Was this module helpful?

Thank you
Please let us know what you liked.
Sorry to disappoint you
Is something out-of-date, confusing or inaccurate? Please help us improve this tutorial by providing feedback.