Features and Improvements in ArangoDB 2.8

The following list shows in detail which features have been added or improved in ArangoDB 2.8. ArangoDB 2.8 also contains several bugfixes that are not listed here. For a list of bugfixes, please consult the CHANGELOG.

AQL improvements

AQL Graph Traversals / Pattern Matching

AQL offers a new feature to traverse over a graph without writing JavaScript functions but with all the other features you know from AQL. For this purpose, a special version of FOR variableName IN expression has been introduced.

This special version has the following format: FOR vertex-variable, edge-variable, path-variable IN traversal-expression, where traversal-expression has the following format: [depth] direction start-vertex graph-definition with the following input parameters:

  • depth (optional): defines how many steps are executed. The value can either be an integer value (e.g. 3) or a range of integer values (e.g. 1..5). The default is 1.
  • direction: defines which edge directions are followed. Can be either OUTBOUND, INBOUND or ANY.
  • start-vertex: defines where the traversal is started. Must be an _id value or a document.
  • graph-definition: defines which edge collections are used for the traversal. Must be either GRAPH graph-name for graphs created with the graph-module, or a list of edge collections edge-col1, edge-col2, .. edge-colN.

The three output variables have the following semantics:

  • vertex-variable: The last visited vertex.
  • edge-variable: The last visited edge (optional).
  • path-variable: The complete path from start-vertex to vertex-variable (optional).

The traversal statement can be used in the same way as the original FOR variableName IN expression, and can be combined with filters and other AQL constructs.

As an example one can now find the friends of a friend for a certain user with this AQL statement:

FOR foaf, e, path IN 2 ANY @startUser GRAPH "relations"
  FILTER path.edges[0].type == "friend"
  FILTER path.edges[1].type == "friend"
  FILTER foaf._id != @startUser

Optimizer rules have been implemented to gain performance of the traversal statement. These rules move filter statements into the traversal statement s.t. paths which can never pass the filter are not emitted to the variables.

As an example take the query above and assume there are edges that do not have type == "friend". If in the first edge step there is such a non-friend edge the second steps will never be computed for these edges as they cannot fulfill the filter condition.

Array Indexes

Hash indexes and skiplist indexes can now optionally be defined for array values so that they index individual array members instead of the entire array value.

To define an index for array values, the attribute name is extended with the expansion operator [*] in the index definition.



When given the following document

  "tags": [

this index will now contain the individual values "AQL", "ArangoDB" and "Index".

Now the index can be used for finding all documents having "ArangoDB" somewhere in their tags array using the following AQL query:

FOR doc IN posts
  FILTER "ArangoDB" IN doc.tags[*]
  RETURN doc

It is also possible to create an index on sub-attributes of array values. This makes sense when the index attribute is an array of objects, e.g.

db.posts.ensureIndex({ type: "hash", fields: [ "tags[*].name" ] });
db.posts.insert({ tags: [ { name: "AQL" }, { name: "ArangoDB" }, { name: "Index" } ] });
db.posts.insert({ tags: [ { name: "AQL" }, { name: "2.8" } ] });

The following query will then use the array index:

FOR doc IN posts
  FILTER 'AQL' IN doc.tags[*].name
  RETURN doc

Array values will automatically be de-duplicated before being inserted into an array index.

Please note that filtering using array indexes only works from within AQL queries and only if the query filters on the indexed attribute using the IN operator. The other comparison operators (==, !=, >, >=, <, <=) currently do not use array indexes.

Optimizer improvements

The AQL query optimizer can now use indexes if multiple filter conditions on attributes of the same collection are combined with logical ORs, and if the usage of indexes would completely cover these conditions.

For example, the following queries can now use two independent indexes on value1 and value2 (the latter query requires that the indexes are skiplist indexes due to usage of the < and > comparison operators):

FOR doc IN collection FILTER doc.value1 == 42 || doc.value2 == 23 RETURN doc
FOR doc IN collection FILTER doc.value1 < 42 || doc.value2 > 23 RETURN doc

The new optimizer rule “sort-in-values” can now pre-sort the right-hand side operand of IN and NOT IN operators so the operation can use a binary search with logarithmic complexity instead of a linear search. The rule will be applied when the right-hand side operand of an IN or NOT IN operator in a filter condition is a variable that is defined in a different loop/scope than the operator itself. Additionally, the filter condition must consist of solely the IN or NOT IN operation in order to avoid any side-effects.

The rule will kick in for a queries such as the following:

LET values = /* some runtime expression here */
FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER doc.value IN values
  RETURN doc

It will not be applied for the followig queries, because the right-hand side operand of the IN is either not a variable, or because the FILTER condition may have side effects:

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER doc.value IN /* some runtime expression here */
  RETURN doc
LET values = /* some runtime expression here */
FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER FUNCTION(doc.values) == 23 && doc.value IN values
  RETURN doc

AQL functions added

The following AQL functions have been added in 2.8:

  • POW(base, exponent): returns the base to the exponent exp

  • UNSET_RECURSIVE(document, attributename, ...): recursively removes the attributes attributename (can be one or many) from document and its sub-documents. All other attributes will be preserved. Multiple attribute names can be specified by either passing multiple individual string argument names, or by passing an array of attribute names:

    UNSET_RECURSIVE(doc, '_id', '_key', 'foo', 'bar')
    UNSET_RECURSIVE(doc, [ '_id', '_key', 'foo', 'bar' ])
  • IS_DATESTRING(value): returns true if value is a string that can be used in a date function. This includes partial dates such as 2015 or 2015-10 and strings containing invalid dates such as 2015-02-31. The function will return false for all non-string values, even if some of them may be usable in date functions.

Miscellaneous improvements

  • the ArangoShell now provides the convenience function db._explain(query) for retrieving a human-readable explanation of AQL queries. This function is a shorthand for require("org/arangodb/aql/explainer").explain(query).

  • the AQL query optimizer now automatically converts LENGTH(collection-name) to an optimized expression that returns the number of documents in a collection. Previous versions of ArangoDB returned a warning when using this expression and also enumerated all documents in the collection, which was inefficient.

  • improved performance of skipping over many documents in an AQL query when no indexes and no filters are used, e.g.

    FOR doc IN collection
      LIMIT 1000000, 10
      RETURN doc
  • added cluster execution site info in execution plan explain output for AQL queries

  • for 30+ AQL functions there is now an additional implementation in C++ that removes the need for internal data conversion when the function is called

  • the AQL editor in the web interface now supports using bind parameters

Deadlock detection

ArangoDB 2.8 now has an automatic deadlock detection for transactions.

A deadlock is a situation in which two or more concurrent operations (user transactions or AQL queries) try to access the same resources (collections, documents) and need to wait for the others to finish, but none of them can make any progress.

In case of such a deadlock, there would be no progress for any of the involved transactions, and none of the involved transactions could ever complete. This is completely undesirable, so the new automatic deadlock detection mechanism in ArangoDB will automatically kick in and abort one of the transactions involved in such a deadlock. Aborting means that all changes done by the transaction will be rolled back and error 29 (deadlock detected) will be thrown.

Client code (AQL queries, user transactions) that accesses more than one collection should be aware of the potential of deadlocks and should handle the error 29 (deadlock detected) properly, either by passing the exception to the caller or retrying the operation.


The following improvements for replication have been made in 2.8 (note: most of them have been backported to ArangoDB 2.7 as well):

  • added autoResync configuration parameter for continuous replication.

    When set to true, a replication slave will automatically trigger a full data re-synchronization with the master when the master cannot provide the log data the slave had asked for. Note that autoResync will only work when the option requireFromPresent is also set to true for the continuous replication, or when the continuous syncer is started and detects that no start tick is present.

    Automatic re-synchronization may transfer a lot of data from the master to the slave and may be expensive. It is therefore turned off by default. When turned off, the slave will never perform an automatic re-synchronization with the master.

  • added idleMinWaitTime and idleMaxWaitTime configuration parameters for continuous replication.

    These parameters can be used to control the minimum and maximum wait time the slave will (intentionally) idle and not poll for master log changes in case the master had sent the full logs already. The idleMaxWaitTime value will only be used when adapativePolling is set to true. When adaptivePolling is disabled, only idleMinWaitTime will be used as a constant time span in which the slave will not poll the master for further changes. The default values are 0.5 seconds for idleMinWaitTime and 2.5 seconds for idleMaxWaitTime, which correspond to the hard-coded values used in previous versions of ArangoDB.

  • added initialSyncMaxWaitTime configuration parameter for initial and continuous replication

    This option controls the maximum wait time (in seconds) that the initial synchronization will wait for a response from the master when fetching initial collection data. If no response is received within this time period, the initial synchronization will give up and fail. This option is also relevant for continuous replication in case autoResync is set to true, as then the continuous replication may trigger a full data re-synchronization in case the master cannot the log data the slave had asked for.

  • HTTP requests sent from the slave to the master during initial synchronization will now be retried if they fail with connection problems.

  • the initial synchronization now logs its progress so it can be queried using the regular replication status check APIs.

  • added async attribute for sync and syncCollection operations called from the ArangoShell. Setthing this attribute to true will make the synchronization job on the server go into the background, so that the shell does not block. The status of the started asynchronous synchronization job can be queried from the ArangoShell like this:

    /* starts initial synchronization */
    var replication = require("org/arangodb/replication");
    var id = replication.sync({
      endpoint: "tcp://master.domain.org:8529",
      username: "myuser",
      password: "mypasswd",
      async: true
    /* now query the id of the returned async job and print the status */

    The result of getSyncResult() will be false while the server-side job has not completed, and different to false if it has completed. When it has completed, all job result details will be returned by the call to getSyncResult().

  • the web admin interface dashboard now shows a server’s replication status at the bottom of the page

Web Admin Interface

The following improvements have been made for the web admin interface:

  • the AQL editor now has support for bind parameters. The bind parameter values can be edited in the web interface and saved with a query for future use.

  • the AQL editor now allows canceling running queries. This can be used to cancel long-running queries without switching to the query management section.

  • the dashboard now provides information about the server’s replication status at the bottom of the page. This can be used to track either the status of a one-time synchronization or the continuous replication.

  • the compaction status and some status internals about collections are now displayed in the detail view for a collection in the web interface. These data can be used for debugging compaction issues.

  • unloading a collection via the web interface will now trigger garbage collection in all v8 contexts and force a WAL flush. This increases the chances of perfoming the unload faster.

  • the status terminology for collections for which an unload request has been issued via the web interface was changed from in the process of being unloaded to will be unloaded. This is more accurate as the actual unload may be postponed until later if there are still references pointing to data in the collection.

Foxx improvements

  • the module resolution used by require now behaves more like in node.js

  • the org/arangodb/request module now returns response bodies for error responses by default. The old behavior of not returning bodies for error responses can be re-enabled by explicitly setting the option returnBodyOnError to false

Miscellaneous changes

The startup option --server.hide-product-header can be used to make the server not send the HTTP response header "Server: ArangoDB" in its HTTP responses. This can be used to conceal the server make from HTTP clients. By default, the option is turned off so the header is still sent as usual.

arangodump and arangorestore now have better error reporting. Additionally, arangodump will now fail by default when trying to dump edges that refer to already dropped collections. This can be circumvented by specifying the option --force true when invoking arangodump.

arangoimp now provides an option --create-collection-type to specify the type of the collection to be created when --create-collection is set to true. Previously --create-collection always created document collections and the creation of edge collections was not possible.