Getting Started with DreamFactory

Welcome to the DreamFactory platform! Whether you’re an open source user, or a paid customer taking advantage of DreamFactory’s advanced capabilities, we wrote this guide to help you begin incorporating the platform into your organization in the most efficient way possible.


This guide is under heavy development, and is a work-in-progress. Check back often as we'll be publishing updates regularly!

About this Guide

This guide consists of numerous chapters covering the following topics:

Chapter 1. Introducing REST and DreamFactory

So why would you want to use the DreamFactory platform in the first place? It’s likely because even world class developers and administrators are faced with ever-increasing complexity due in large part to the extraordinary number of internal and third-party data sources which must be integrated with mobile and web applications, ERP solutions, and myriad other services. In this chapter you’ll learn how DreamFactory can bring order to this chaos by introducing silo breaking capabilities to your enterprise, offering a platform for which not only can you auto-generate the APIs used to connect to these data sources, but also secure and monitor them.

Chapter 2. Installing and Configuring DreamFactory

Much of the DreamFactory platform is open source, with the code made available via GitHub. But this doesn’t mean you have to be a command-line wizard to begin generating APIs in a flash. In this chapter you’ll learn how to install and configure DreamFactory regardless of your operating system or experience level. We’ll also talk about configuring DreamFactory to suit your specific needs, and highlight key configuration changes which will make your life much easier.

Chapter 3. Generating a Database-backed API

After installing your DreamFactory instance, you'll naturally want to take the platform for a test drive. Most users desire to begin by generating a database API, because the advantages of doing so are so evident. By merely supplying a set of authentication credentials, DreamFactory will generate an API for any of an array of popular databases, including MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and others. Once generated, you can immediately beging issuing REST API calls to carry out record creation, retrieval, modification, and deletion tasks. You’ll also be able to perform advanced queries using the REST API, including filters, grouping, joins, limiting, and more.

Chapter 4. Authenticating and Monitoring Users

From the moment your API is generated, rest assured it is protected by at minimum a complicated API key. However this represents only the beginning in terms of your options regarding securing an API. You can use DreamFactory's user authentication and authorization features to provide user-specific login via a variety of authentication solutions, including basic auth, LDAP, Active Directory, and SSO. In this chapter you'll learn all about these solutions, and additionally learn how to use DreamFactory's rate limiting and logging capabilities to closely monitor request volume and behavior.

Chapter 5. Generating a SOAP-to-REST API

The SOAP Protocol has long been instrumental to network-based data exchange, however over time REST has slowly gained influence within enterprises, with many DreamFactory users seeking to supplant their SOAP services with a REST-based solution. In this chapter you'll learn how to mount an existing SOAP service to DreamFactory and interact with it using an auto-generated REST interface.

Chapter 6. Integrating Business Logic

The ability to merely auto-generate a REST API is already going to produce an immediate productivity boost, however eventually you're going to want to tweak one or more API endpoints' default behavior to accommodate more sophisticated project requirements. Most often this involves using DreamFactory’s scripting feature, which allows you to write custom code used to validating input parameters, call other APIs, and much more. In this chapter we'll walk through several real-world examples which highlight how easy it is to extend your API endpoints with one of four supported scripting engines (NodeJS, PHP, Python, and V8JS).

Chapter 7. Configuring Limiting and Logging

In this chapter you'll learn how to use DreamFactory's API limiting and logging capabilities to assign and monitor access to your restricted APIs.

Chapter 8. Securing, and Maintaining Your DreamFactory Enviroment

While DreamFactory is already secure, and relatively maintenance free, there are quite a few modifications you can make to enhance your instance. In this chapter we'll provide a wide ranging overview of the many changes you can make to maintain, and secure your environment.

Chapter 9. Performance Considerations

DreamFactory is already very performant out of the box, however logically you'll want to do everything practical to ensure your instance can really fly. In this chapter we'll provide some benchmarks, and guidance regarding how to properly tune your instance environment.

Chapter 10. Running DreamFactory on a Raspberry Pi

DreamFactory's a really fascinating project in that its architecture is suitable for infinite horizontal and vertical scaling, yet can be run on small appliance-like devices such as the Raspberry Pi. In this chapter we'll talk about a few configuration-related gotchas associated with installing DreamFactory's prerequisites on the Raspberry Pi.

Chapter 11. JavaScript Examples

In this chapter we'll provide a few JavaScript-based examples demonstrating how web applications can interact with DreamFactory-exposed APIs.

Appendix A. Configuration Parameter Reference

DreamFactory is packed with features capable of being tweaked via configuration parameters. These parameters can be managed as server environment variables or within a .env file found in the platform's root directory. This appendix defines all available parameters.

More Ways to Learn

Hopefully you'll find this guide indispensable, however it's just one of several learning resources at your disposal. Check out the following links to learn more about what else is available!

The DreamFactory Wiki

The DreamFactory wiki is our definitive reference guide, providing a terse but comprehensive summary of the platform's key features. Here you'll find installation instructions, scripting examples, and a great deal of other information.


Dozens of videos are available via the DreamFactory Youtube channel.

The DreamFactory Forum

Volunteers and DreamFactory staff alike regularly patrol our community forum. If Stack Overflow is preferred, be sure to tag the question using the dreamfactory tag!

Contact us

Do you have any input or questions about this guide, or the DreamFactory platform? We’d love to hear from you! E-mail our support team with your feedback.