Prisma vs. TypeORM – Which is Right For You?

Does your project need an ORM? Maybe you are unsure where to start. In my current project, we use two popular ORMs, TypeORM and Prisma. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. But which is right for you? Let me break down the differences based on my own experience.

Let’s take a step back and talk ORMs. What are they and why might you need one for your project? ORM stands for Object-Relational Mapping. ORM frameworks provide a way to map the data stored in a relational database to objects in a programming language, in our case Typescript, allowing developers to interact with the database.


Now, which ORM is right for you? First, let me introduce Prisma. Prisma is an open-source ORM tool that simplifies database access in modern web applications. It provides a type-safe query API and automatic migrations. With support for multiple database backends, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite, and Microsoft SQL Server, Prisma enhances developer productivity and performance while reducing the risk of errors in database operations.

With Prisma, you can define your database schema using a declarative modeling language. This includes defining entities (tables), fields (columns), relationships, and other constraints. This declarative approach makes it simple to define and maintain the database schema so it’s concise and readable. Using your schema, you can generate a type-safe query API. This means developers can write database queries using a strongly-typed API that is validated at compile-time.

Prisma also supports automatic database schema migrations. As the database schema evolves, Prisma will generate and apply migration scripts automatically, ensuring that the database schema and data remain in sync. This simplifies the process of managing and evolving the database structure without requiring manual intervention or risking data loss.

In addition, Prisma supports real-time data synchronization with its database connectors. This means that applications can receive instant updates whenever data changes in the database, enabling real-time features without needing manual event handling or constant polling.


On the other hand, we have TypeORM. TypeORM is also database-agnostic, meaning you can work with your preferred database system while leveraging the features and abstractions provided by TypeORM.
TypeORM enables developers to define entities, which are TypeScript classes representing database tables. These entities can be annotated with decorators to define the table structure, relationships, constraints, and validations. TypeORM automatically maps the entities to the database schema and handles CRUD operations.

TypeORM provides a query builder API that allows developers to construct database queries programmatically. This fluent API abstracts away the underlying SQL syntax and provides a more convenient and type-safe way to build complex queries. In addition, TypeORM supports raw SQL queries for scenarios requiring more fine-grained control.

It also includes a migration system that will generate migration scripts based on changes to entities and apply these migrations to the database.

Finally, TypeORM supports transaction management, which enables you to perform multiple database operations as a single atomic unit. TypeORM’s caching mechanism improves performance by reducing the number of database queries, enabling query result caching and entity-level caching.

Which is right for you?

Both Prisma and TypeORM have been widely adopted and are supported by an active community of developers. So, which one is right for you?

Type Safety

Both offer type safety features in different aspects of their libraries. Prisma emphasizes type safety through its generated type-safe query API and the strongly typed models defined in its declarative modeling language, while TypeORM focuses on type safety through its type-safe entity models and the type-safe query builder API.

The choice between Prisma and TypeORM regarding type safety depends on personal preference and the project’s specific needs. Developers familiar with TypeScript and looking for a more opinionated and code-generated approach may lean towards Prisma. Meanwhile, those who prefer a more flexible and explicit approach may find TypeORM’s entity models and query-builder more suitable.


In terms of performance and database access, both Prisma and TypeORM have their strengths and trade-offs. Prisma’s query optimization, batching, and real-time updates contribute to its overall performance efficiency.

On the other hand, TypeORM’s flexibility and support for raw SQL queries can be beneficial when dealing with complex or specific database operations.

Ultimately, the performance comparison between Prisma and TypeORM will depend on your specific use case, database system, and query patterns employed in the application. If possible, I would recommend performing benchmarking and testing in the context of the specific project to determine the performance characteristics that align best with the application’s requirements.

Schema definition

One of the most significant differences between TypeORM and Prisma is their schema definition patterns.

TypeORM uses decorators, such as @Entity, @Column, and @Relation, to define entities. These decorators are applied to TypeScript or JavaScript classes, indicating the table structure, column properties, relationships, and constraints. The entity definitions are typically placed within code files alongside the application logic.

It also requires developers to annotate the entity properties and relationships directly within the code files using decorators. For example, the @Column decorator is used to define column properties, and @Relation decorators are used to define relationships between entities. These inline annotations provide metadata that TypeORM uses to generate the corresponding database schema.

export class User {
  @PrimaryGeneratedColumn() id: number
  @Column() firstName: string
  @Column() lastName: string
  @Column() isActive: boolean 
Example TypeORM Entity

Prisma uses a dedicated schema file (usually named schema.prisma) to define the database schema. The Prisma schema is a declarative file written in a specific syntax that specifies the entities, fields, relationships, and constraints. It acts as the single source of truth for the database schema and is separate from the application code files.

By doing this, Prisma emphasizes a clear separation between the application code and the database schema. The Prisma schema file resides outside of the application code files and is solely responsible for defining the database schema. This separation allows for better maintainability and modularity.

model User {
  id Int   @id   @default(autoincrement())
  firstName String 
  lastName String
  isActive Boolean
Example Prisma Model

Final Thoughts

Both Prisma and TypeORM provide a database-agnostic, type-safe solution for database access. Prisma emphasizes a declarative and schema-centric approach with automatic migrations, real-time updates, and a strong TypeScript integration, while TypeORM offers flexibility, a decorator-based entity definition, and raw SQL query support, making it suitable for complex query scenarios. The choice between them depends on your preference for schema management, real-time updates, and your need for fine-grained control over queries and database interactions.

Have you worked with (or experimented with) TypeORM or Prisma? Which one did you find more beneficial or easier to work with? Let me know in the comments.


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