NestJS InjectRepository Error: Cannot Read Property ‘prototype’ of Undefined

Updated: December 31, 2023 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment

When you’re building applications with Node.js and NestJS, you might encounter the error message Cannot read property 'prototype' of undefined. This typically appears when you try to use the @InjectRepository() decorator but there is an issue with how your repository is provided or imported. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this – it’s a common hiccup in the development process with NestJS when dealing with database repositories, especially for those new to the framework or to TypeScript’s nuanced type system.

This error message can be pretty cryptic if you’re seeing it for the first time, but it’s actually pointing you towards a relatively specific issue. Fundamentally, this error occurs because the entity or class you’re trying to inject a repository for hasn’t been defined properly, hasn’t been loaded correctly, or sometimes because you’ve forgotten to decorate your entity class with @Entity(). NestJS relies on TypeScript decorators to manage dependency injection, and discrepancies in how these are used can lead to the framework’s inability to resolve the required dependencies – thus resulting in the error at hand.

Understanding the Error

Before diving into solutions, it’s helpful to understand the problem. NestJS is built on top of TypeScript and utilizes an advanced Dependency Injection (DI) system. The @InjectRepository() decorator works in tandem with TypeORM or any other compatible ORM to inject repository instances tied with specific entities. When NestJS can’t find the expected prototype for the entity, it will throw an error, indicating the process of wiring up the dependencies has gone wrong somewhere.

The root cause of this ‘undefined’ error message is typically a gap in the configuration, such as when:

  1. The entity class is not properly decorated with @Entity().
  2. The entity is not listed in the entities array of your ORM configuration.
  3. There is a circular dependency that’s preventing the entity class from being loaded correctly.
  4. You have not imported the module that providers your repository into the module where you’re trying to use it.

Resolving the Error

To address the issue, start by making sure your entity class is marked with the @Entity() decorator, which is how you define a class as an entity in TypeORM. This decorator tells TypeORM that the class should be associated with a table in your database, and its absence can cause the error we’re discussing.

The next thing to check is your ORM configuration. Make sure that the class is included in the entities list in whichever way your specific ORM requires. In TypeORM, this would be in the options you pass when you create the connection, or in the ormconfig.json file.

Circular dependencies can also lead to this error. This generally means that two or more modules or classes are interdependent in a way that prevents them from being loaded correctly. To fix this, refactor your code to get rid of this cyclic dependency, ensuring a unidirectional flow of dependency.

Finally, check your module imports. Each NestJS module that makes use of a repository needs to have that repository’s provider module imported within its own imports array. Forgetting to do this is a common source of injection-related errors in NestJS.

While there can be many issues causing this problem, let’s focus on a specific scenario and how to fix it with sample code.

Imagine you have a User entity which should be connected to a UsersService.

export class User {
 id: number;

 name: string;

 // Other columns

Ensure your entity is properly decorated, as in the example above. Next, configure this entity in your TypeORM setup:

 //...other config
 entities: [User],

Then, make sure your service is set up correctly with @InjectRepository():

export class UsersService {
  private userRepository: Repository<User>,
 ) {}

 // Additional methods...

Finally, your module should import the appropriate modules:

 imports: [TypeOrmModule.forFeature([User])],
 providers: [UsersService],
 controllers: [UsersController], // if you have any
export class UsersModule {}

This illustration reflects the correct setup and should clear out the error if followed meticulously.

Further Considerations

If you’ve gone through these steps and are still facing issues, it might be wise to clean your project’s build artifacts – leftover files from previous compilations may sometimes interfere with NestJS’s ability to resolve dependencies correctly. Run a build clean-up command like npm run build -- --clean (if you have such a script in your package.json), or simply delete your dist/ directory and rebuild the project.

If these strategies don’t resolve the error, consider creating a minimal repository that reproduces the issue and seek support from the NestJS community or on platforms like Stack Overflow, where more contextual support is available.