The Java driver uses Jackson internally for serialization and deserialization but you can use a custom implementation for user data

The driver functionalities related to serialization and deserialization (serde) are implemented by 2 different components:

  • internal serde
  • user-data serde

The internal serde is based on Jackson  API and is responsible for serializing/deserializing data definition classes (in packages com.arangodb.model and com.arangodb.entity). This includes all the classes that are not user-data, such as metadata properties for databases, collections, graphs, etc.

Furthermore, it is used to serialize and deserialize user-data of the following managed types:

  • com.fasterxml.jackson.databind.JsonNode and its subclasses (ArrayNode, ObjectNode, …)
  • com.arangodb.util.RawJson
  • com.arangodb.util.RawBytes
  • com.arangodb.entity.BaseDocument
  • com.arangodb.entity.BaseEdgeDocument

Note that in arangodb-java-driver-shaded, due to dependencies relocation, the fully-qualified class name of first entry above (JsonNode) is: com.arangodb.shaded.fasterxml.jackson.databind.JsonNode. The same relocation rule is also applied to its subclasses (ArrayNode, ObjectNode, …).

The user-data serde is used to serialize and deserialize the user-data, namely the data representing:

  • documents
  • vertexes
  • edges
  • AQL bind variables
  • transactions parameters
  • bodies of custom requests and custom responses (com.arangodb.Request<T> and com.arangodb.Response<T>).

A user-data serde implements the com.arangodb.serde.ArangoSerde interface, which is an abstract API with no dependencies on specific libraries. The user-data serde can be explicitly registered via ArangoDB.Builder#serde(ArangoSerde). If no serde is registered, then the driver will use SPI (Service Provider Interface) to automatically discover and load serde service providers (instances of com.arangodb.serde.ArangoSerdeProvider). In case no user-data serde is explicitly registered and no serde service provider can be discovered via SPI, then the internal serde will be used to serialize and deserialize user-data. In this case, please note that the internal serde is not part of the public API and could change in future releases without notice, thus breaking client applications relying on it to serialize or deserialize user-data.

Examples of custom user-data serde implementations can be found here:

JacksonSerde (default user-data serde)

The default user-data serde is com.arangodb.serde.jackson.JacksonSerde. It is implemented delegating Jackson  ObjectMapper, thus compatible with Jackson Streaming, Data Binding and Tree Model API.

It supports both JSON and VPACK data formats, while offering the same API to the user.

The JSON implementation is provided by the module com.arangodb:jackson-serde-json and transitively imported by arangodb-java-driver. This implementation will be used by default.

The VPACK implementation is provided by the optional module com.arangodb:jackson-serde-vpack.

Mapping API

JacksonSerde is fully compatible with Jackson Databind  API. To customize the serialization and deserialization behavior using the Jackson Data Binding API, entities can be annotated with Jackson Annotations . For more advanced customizations refer to Custom serializer section.

Document Annotations

The annotations from package com.arangodb.serde.jackson can be used to annotate fields, parameters, getters and setters for mapping values representing ArangoDB documents metadata (_id, _key, _rev, _from, _to):

  • @Id
  • @Key
  • @Rev
  • @From
  • @To

Renaming Properties

To use a different serialized name for a field, use the annotation @JsonProperty.

public class MyObject {
    private String name;

Ignoring properties

To ignore fields use the annotation @JsonIgnore.

public class Value {
    public int internalValue;

Custom Configuration

Create an instance of JacksonSerde, configure the underlying ObjectMapper and register it in the driver:

JacksonSerde serde = JacksonSerde.of(ContentType.JSON);
serde.configure((ObjectMapper mapper) -> {
    // ...

ArangoDB adb = new ArangoDB.Builder()
    // ...

See also Jackson Databind  configurable features.

Custom serializers

The serialization and deserialization can be customized using the lower level Streaming API or the Tree Model API, creating and registering respectively JsonSerializer<T> and JsonDeserializer<T>, as specified by the Jackson API for CustomSerializers .

static class PersonSerializer extends JsonSerializer<Person> {
    public void serialize(Person value, JsonGenerator gen, SerializerProvider serializers) throws IOException {
        // example using the Streaming API

static class PersonDeserializer extends JsonDeserializer<Person> {
    public Person deserialize(JsonParser parser, DeserializationContext ctxt) throws IOException {
        // example using the Tree Model API
        Person person = new Person();
        JsonNode rootNode = parser.getCodec().readTree(parser);
        JsonNode nameNode = rootNode.get("name");
        if (nameNode != null && nameNode.isTextual()) {
   = nameNode.asText();
        return person;

// registering using annotation
@JsonSerialize(using = PersonSerializer.class)
public static class Person {
    public String name;

// registering programmatically
JacksonSerde serde = JacksonSerde.of(ContentType.JSON);
serde.configure(mapper -> {
    SimpleModule module = new SimpleModule("PersonModule");
    module.addDeserializer(Person.class, new PersonDeserializer());

ArangoDB adb = new ArangoDB.Builder()
    // ...

Jackson datatype and language modules

The JacksonSerde can be configured with Jackson datatype modules  as well as Jackson JVM Language modules .


Kotlin language module  enables support for Kotlin classes and types and can be registered in the following way:

val arangoDB = ArangoDB.Builder()
    .serde(JacksonSerde.of(ContentType.JSON).apply {
        configure { it.registerModule(KotlinModule()) }


Scala language module  enables support for Scala classes and types and can be registered in the following way:

val serde = JacksonSerde.of(ContentType.JSON)
serde.configure(mapper => mapper.registerModule(DefaultScalaModule))

val arangoDB = new ArangoDB.Builder()

Java 8 types

Support for Java 8 features is offered by jackson-modules-java8 .

Joda types

Support for Joda data types, such as DateTime, is offered by jackson-datatype-joda .

Metadata fields

Metadata fields _id, _key, _rev, _from, _to can be mapped using respectively the annotations (from package com.arangodb.serde.jackson): @Id, @Key, @Rev, @From, @To.

public class MyObject {

  private String key;
  // ...