HTTP API Documentation

All functionality of ArangoDB servers is provided via a RESTful API over the HTTP protocol, and you can call the API endpoints directly, via database drivers, or other tools

ArangoDB servers expose an application programming interface (API) for managing the database system. It is based on the HTTP protocol that powers the world wide web. All interactions with a server are ultimately carried out via this HTTP API.

You can use the API by sending HTTP requests to the server directly, but the more common way of communicating with the server is via a database driver. A driver abstracts the complexity of the API away by providing a simple interface for your programming language or environment and handling things like authentication, connection pooling, asynchronous requests, and multi-part replies in the background. You can also use ArangoDB’s web interface, the arangosh shell, or other tools.

The API documentation is relevant for you in the following cases:

  • You want to build or extend a driver.
  • You want to utilize a feature that isn’t exposed by your driver or tool.
  • You need to send many requests and avoid any overhead that a driver or tool might add.
  • You operate a server instance and need to perform administrative actions via the API.
  • You are interested in how the low-level communication works.


The API adheres to the design principles of REST  (Representational State Transfer). A REST API is a specific type of HTTP API that uses HTTP methods to represent operations on resources (mainly GET, POST, PATCH, PUT, and DELETE), and resources are identified by URIs. A resource can be a database record, a server log, or any other data entity or object. The communication between client and server is stateless.

A request URL can look like this: http://localhost:8529/_db/DATABASE/_api/document/COLLECTION/KEY?returnOld=true&keepNull=false

  • http is the scheme, which is https if you use TLS encryption
  • http: is the protocol
  • localhost is the hostname, which can be an IP address or domain name including subdomains
  • 8529 is the port
  • /_db/DATABASE/_api/document/COLLECTION/KEY is the pathname
  • ?returnOld=true&keepNull=false is the search string
  • returnOld=true&keepNull=false is the query string

The HTTP API documentation mainly describes the available endpoints, like for updating a document, creating a graph, and so on. Each endpoint description starts with the HTTP method and the pathname, like PATCH /_api/document/{collection}/{key}.

  • The PATCH method is for updating, PUT for replacing, POST for creating (or triggering an action), DELETE for removing, GET for reading, HEAD for reading metadata only
  • /_api/document/… is the path of ArangoDB’s HTTP API for handling documents and can be preceded by /_db/{database} with {database} replaced by a database name to select another database than the default _system database
  • {collection} and {key} are placeholders called Path Parameters that you have to replace with a collection name and document key in this case
  • The pathname can be followed by a question mark and the so-called Query Parameters, which is a series of key/value pairs separated by ampersands to set options, like /_api/document/COLLECTION/KEY?returnOld=true&keepNull=false
  • Some endpoints allow you to specify HTTP headers in the request (not in the URL), like If-Match: "REVISION"
  • A Request Body is the payload you may need to send, typically JSON data
  • Responses are the possible HTTP responses in reply to your request in terms of the HTTP status code and typically a JSON payload with a result or error information

On the wire, a simplified HTTP request can look like this:

PATCH /_api/document/coll1/docA?returnOld=true HTTP/1.1
Host: localhost:8529
Authorization: Basic cm9vdDo=
If-Match: "_hV2oH9y---"
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 20

{"attr":"new value"}

And a simplified HTTP response can look like this:

HTTP/1.1 202 Accepted
Etag: "_hV2r5XW---"
Location: /_db/_system/_api/document/coll1/docA
Server: ArangoDB
Connection: Keep-Alive
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 160


Swagger specification

ArangoDB’s RESTful HTTP API is documented using the industry-standard OpenAPI Specification, more specifically OpenAPI version 3.1 . You can explore the API with the interactive Swagger UI using the ArangoDB web interface.

  1. Click SUPPORT in the main navigation of the web interface.
  2. Click the Rest API tab.
  3. Click a section and endpoint to view the description and parameters.

The web interface with the navigation on the left and the tabs at the top

Also see this blog post: Using the ArangoDB Interactive API Documentation .