Writing queries

ArangoDB provides the query template string handler (or template tag) to make it easy to write and execute AQL queries in your Foxx services:

const { query } = require("@arangodb");
const max = 13;
const oddNumbers = query`
  FOR i IN 1..${max}
  FILTER i % 2 == 1
  RETURN i
`.toArray();
console.log(oddNumbers); // 1,3,5,7,9,11,13

Any values passed via interpolation (i.e. using the ${expression} syntax) are passed to ArangoDB as AQL bind parameters, so you don't have to worry about escaping them in order to protect against injection attacks in user-supplied data.

The result of the executed query is an ArangoDB array cursor. You can extract all query results using the toArray() method or step through the result set using the next() method.

You can also consume a cursor with a for-loop:

const cursor = query`
  FOR i IN 1..5
  RETURN i
`;
for (const item of cursor) {
  console.log(item);
}

Using collections

When working with collections in your service you generally want to avoid hardcoding exact collection names. But if you pass a collection name directly to a query it will be treated as a string:

// THIS DOES NOT WORK
const users = module.context.collectionName("users");
// e.g. "myfoxx_users"
const admins = query`
  FOR user IN ${users}
  FILTER user.isAdmin
  RETURN user
`.toArray(); // ERROR

Instead you need to pass an ArangoDB collection object:

const users = module.context.collection("users");
// users is now a collection, not a string
const admins = query`
  FOR user IN ${users}
  FILTER user.isAdmin
  RETURN user
`.toArray();

Note that you don't need to use any different syntax to use a collection in a query, but you do need to make sure the collection is an actual ArangoDB collection object rather than a plain string.

Low-level access

In addition to the query template tag, ArangoDB also provides the aql template tag, which only generates a query object but doesn't execute it:

const { db, aql } = require("@arangodb");
const max = 7;
const query = aql`
  FOR i IN 1..${max}
  RETURN i
`;
const numbers = db._query(query).toArray();

You can also use the db._query method to execute queries using plain strings and passing the bind parameters as an object:

// Note the lack of a tag, this is a normal string
const query = `
  FOR user IN @@users
  FILTER user.isAdmin
  RETURN user
`;
const admins = db._query(query, {
  // We're passing a string instead of a collection
  // because this is an explicit collection bind parameter
  // using the AQL double-at notation
  "@users": module.context.collectionName("users")
}).toArray();

Note that when using plain strings as queries ArangoDB provides no safeguards to prevent accidental AQL injections:

// Malicious user input where you might expect a number
const evil = "1 FOR u IN myfoxx_users REMOVE u IN myfoxx_users";
// DO NOT DO THIS
const numbers = db._query(`
  FOR i IN 1..${evil}
  RETURN i
`).toArray();
// Actual query executed by the code:
// FOR i IN i..1
// FOR u IN myfoxx_users
// REMOVE u IN myfoxx_users
// RETURN i

If possible, you should always use the query or aql template tags rather than passing raw query strings to db._query directly.

AQL fragments

If you need to insert AQL snippets dynamically, you can still use the query template tag by using the aql.literal helper function to mark the snippet as a raw AQL fragment:

const filter = aql.literal(
  adminsOnly ? 'FILTER user.isAdmin' : ''
);
const result = query`
  FOR user IN ${users}
  ${filter}
  RETURN user
`.toArray();

Both the query and aql template tags understand fragments marked with the aql.literal helper and inline them directly into the query instead of converting them to bind parameters.

Note that because the aql.literal helper takes a raw string as argument the same security implications apply to it as when writing raw AQL queries using plain strings:

// Malicious user input where you might expect a condition
const evil = "true REMOVE u IN myfoxx_users";
// DO NOT DO THIS
const filter = aql.literal(`FILTER ${evil}`);
const result = query`
  FOR user IN ${users}
  ${filter}
  RETURN user
`.toArray();
// Actual query executed by the code:
// FOR user IN myfoxx_users
// FILTER true
// REMOVE user IN myfoxx_users
// RETURN user

A typical scenario that might result in an exploit like this is taking arbitrary strings from a search UI to filter or sort results by a field name. Make sure to restrict what values you accept.

Managing queries in your service

In many cases it may be initially more convenient to perform queries right where you use their results:

router.get("/emails", (req, res) => {
  res.json(query`
    FOR u IN ${users}
    FILTER u.active
    RETURN u.email
  `.toArray())
});

However to help testability and make the queries more reusable, it's often a good idea to move them out of your request handlers into separate functions, e.g.:

// in queries/get-user-emails.js
"use strict";
const { query, aql } = require("@arangodb");
const users = module.context.collection("users");
module.exports = (activeOnly = true) => query`
  FOR user IN ${users}
  ${aql.literal(activeOnly ? "FILTER user.active" : "")}
  RETURN user.email
`.toArray();

// in your router
const getUserEmails = require("../queries/get-user-emails");

router.get("/active-emails", (req, res) => {
  res.json(getUserEmails(true));
});
router.get("/all-emails", (req, res) => {
  res.json(getUserEmails(false));
});