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Getting Started with Strapi API CMS

May 25, 2021

Strapi is an open-source headless CMS used for building fast and easily manageable APIs written in JavaScript. It enables developers to make flexible API structures easily using a beautiful user interface.

Strapi can be used with various databases including MongoDB, PostgreSQL, etc.


To follow along with this tutorial, you need some understanding of REST APIs. You will also need Postman for testing API endpoints.

In this tutorial, we are going to:

  1. Create an API using Strapi.
  2. Test CRUD API endpoint using Postman.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Installing Node.js and Yarn

To create a Strapi project, you need at least Node.js 14 installed in your machine. If you are running on Windows or Mac, head over to the downloads page to get the Node.js installer.

If you are running on Linux, open a terminal window and run the following commands to install Node.js 14.

$ curl -fsSL | sudo -E bash -
$ sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

We will be using Yarn package manager to create the Strapi project. Open a new terminal window and run the following command to install Yarn.

$ npm install --global yarn

Step 2 – Creating the Strapi project

Let’s create a file manager API to demonstrate basic Strapi usage. Run the following command on a terminal.

$ yarn create strapi-app file-manager --quickstart

Please be patient as this command will take some time to execute.

Strapi uses a SQLite database by default. To setup Strapi using another database, e.g. MongoDB or PostgreSQL, remove the --quickstart flag from the above command.

The command creates a new folder file-manager containing the project files and directories. It also serves your Strapi at http://localhost:1337/admin.

Strapi first launch

Before you can use the newly created Strapi, you need to create an administrator. Fill in and submit the form to create one.

Step 3 – Creating the FILES collection

A Strapi collection provides a way of creating object templates. It acts like a class in Object-Oriented Programming.

Let’s create a file item (collection) containing a name and description field.

  1. Click Content-Types Builder from the sidebar.
  2. Then, click Create new collection type under COLLECTION TYPES.

Creating new Strapi collection

  1. Type Files under display name and hit Continue.
  2. Click the Text field and type name under Name.
  3. Check the Required field and the Unique field in the ADVANCED SETTINGS tab.
  4. Click Add another field.
  5. Select Rich text and type description in the Name field. Then hit Finish.
  6. Hit Save to save the collection and wait for the server to restart.

Step 4 – Creating the TYPES collection

Let’s add another field to the file item: the type field. This field will indicate the type of file. eg. a document, video, audio, etc.

To see how we can do this, we’ll create another collection type.

  1. Head over to the Content-Types Builder and click Create a new collection type.
  2. Type Type under Display name and hit Continue.
  3. Click the Text field and type name under Name.
  4. Check the Required field and the Unique field in the ADVANCED SETTINGS tab and hit Finish.
  5. Click Save to save the collection.
  6. Navigate to Content-Type Builder > COLLECTION TYPES > Files and click ADD ANOTHER FIELD TO THIS COLLECTION TYPE.
  7. Select the Relation field.
  8. On the right-hand dropdown, select Type. Then select the relationship that reads File has one Type.

Creating relations in Strapi collections

  1. Hit Finish and then Save the collection.

Step 5 – Adding data to the collections

  1. Navigate to Types in the left-hand menu and click Add New Types.
  2. Type Document under the Name field and click Save.
  3. Navigate to Files in the left-hand menu and click Add New Files.
  4. Type statement.pdf under Name and Your monthly spending under Description.
  5. Select Document from the Type dropdown and click Save.

Feel free to add other items to your collections.

Step 6 – Publishing your content

To publish your collections, you need to allow CRUD operations for those specific collections. Let’s publish the Files and Types collections.

  1. Navigate to GENERAL > Settings > USERS & PERMISSIONS PLUGIN > Roles.

  2. Click Public.

  3. Scroll down to FILE and TYPE under Permissions > APPLICATION and check the following checkboxes:

    Operation Description
    create for adding a single item
    find for getting all items
    findone for getting a single item
    update for updating a single item
    delete for deleting a single item
  4. Click Save.

  5. Navigate to the statement.pdf and Document you created earlier and click Publish.

Publish collection Strapi

You can now access your collections at http://localhost:1337/files and http://localhost:1337/types.

Step 7 – Testing the endpoints

Retrieving items in a collection

Open Postman and make a GET request to http://localhost:1337/files as shown below. The endpoint returns a list of the items you added to the Files collection.

GET all files

Similarly, you can get a list of the items in the Type collection by performing a GET to http://localhost:1337/types.

Retrieving a single item

A GET request to http://localhost:1337/files/1 will return the file with the id 1.

GET a single item

Similarly, a GET request to http://localhost:1337/types/1 will return the type with id 1.

Creating an item

A POST request to http://localhost:1337/files/ will create a new entry in the Files collection. The endpoint returns the created object upon a successful POST request, as shown below.

Create a single item

Similarly, a POST request to http://localhost:1337/types will create a new entry in the Types collection.

Updating an item

A PUT request to http://localhost:1337/files/2 will update the file with id 2. The endpoint returns the updated object on a successful PUT request, as shown below.

Updating an item

Deleting an item

A DELETE request to http://localhost:1337/files/2 will delete the entry with id 2.

Trying to hit the same endpoint again will return the text Not Found.

Deleting an item

The next steps

With the collections in place, you can now consume your API using your awesome frontend. Strapi offers integrations for some frontend frameworks like Vue.js, Angular, React, etc.

It also offers integrations with static site generators like Hugo. Strapi also has an Apollo-based GraphQL plugin for querying content.

You can also browse through some of the available Strapi starters here.

Strapi has many official and community-made plugins which you can install to add functionality to your Strapi backend.

To deploy your Strapi API see the deployment guidelines.


Strapi is such a cool and awesome tool when it comes to increasing productivity. It reduces the amount of code the developer has to write and manage. Strapi enables the developer to build a strong backend using an easy-to-use interface. Feel free to play around with Strapi.

It has more than just collections to offer.

Happy coding!

Peer Review Contributions by: Adrian Murage