Features and Improvements in ArangoDB 2.4

The following list shows in detail which features have been added or improved in ArangoDB 2.4. ArangoDB 2.4 also contains several bugfixes that are not listed here. For a list of bugfixes, please consult the CHANGELOG.

V8 version upgrade

The built-in version of V8 has been upgraded from 3.16.14 to 3.29.59. This activates several ES6 (also dubbed Harmony or ES.next) features in ArangoDB, both in the ArangoShell and the ArangoDB server. They can be used for scripting and in server-side actions such as Foxx routes, traversals etc.

The following ES6 features are available in ArangoDB 2.4 by default:

  • iterators
  • the of operator
  • symbols
  • predefined collections types (Map, Set etc.)
  • typed arrays

Many other ES6 features are disabled by default, but can be made available by starting arangod or arangosh with the appropriate options:

  • arrow functions
  • proxies
  • generators
  • String, Array, and Number enhancements
  • constants
  • enhanced object and numeric literals

To activate all these ES6 features in arangod or arangosh, start it with the following options:

arangosh --javascript.v8-options="--harmony --harmony_generators"

More details on the available ES6 features can be found in this blog.

FoxxGenerator

ArangoDB 2.4 is shipped with FoxxGenerator, a framework for building standardized Hypermedia APIs easily. The generated APIs can be consumed with client tools that understand Siren.

Hypermedia is the simple idea that our HTTP APIs should have links between their endpoints in the same way that our web sites have links between them. FoxxGenerator is based on the idea that you can represent an API as a statechart: Every endpoint is a state and the links are the transitions between them. Using your description of states and transitions, it can then create an API for you.

The FoxxGenerator can create APIs based on a semantic description of entities and transitions. A blog series on the use cases and how to use the Foxx generator is here:

A cookbook recipe for getting started with FoxxGenerator is here.

AQL improvements

Optimizer improvements

The AQL optimizer has been enhanced to use of indexes in queries in several additional cases. Filters containing the IN operator can now make use of indexes, and multiple OR- or AND-combined filter conditions can now also use indexes if the filter conditions refer to the same indexed attribute.

Here are a few examples of queries that can now use indexes but couldn't before:

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER doc.indexedAttribute == 1 || doc.indexedAttribute > 99
  RETURN doc

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER doc.indexedAttribute IN [ 3, 42 ] || doc.indexedAttribute > 99
  RETURN doc

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER (doc.indexedAttribute > 2 && doc.indexedAttribute < 10) ||
         (doc.indexedAttribute > 23 && doc.indexedAttribute < 42)
  RETURN doc

Additionally, the optimizer rule remove-filter-covered-by-index has been added. This rule removes FilterNodes and CalculationNodes from an execution plan if the filter condition is already covered by a previous IndexRangeNode. Removing the filter's CalculationNode and the FilterNode itself will speed up query execution because the query requires less computation.

Furthermore, the new optimizer rule remove-sort-rand will remove a SORT RAND() statement and move the random iteration into the appropriate EnumerateCollectionNode. This is usually more efficient than individually enumerating and sorting.

Data-modification queries returning documents

INSERT, REMOVE, UPDATE or REPLACE queries now can optionally return the documents inserted, removed, updated, or replaced. This is helpful for tracking the auto-generated attributes (e.g. _key, _rev) created by an INSERT and in a lot of other situations.

In order to return documents from a data-modification query, the statement must immediately be immediately followed by a LET statement that assigns either the pseudo-value NEW or OLD to a variable. This LET statement must be followed by a RETURN statement that returns the variable introduced by LET:

FOR i IN 1..100
  INSERT { value: i } IN test LET inserted = NEW RETURN inserted

FOR u IN users
  FILTER u.status == 'deleted'
  REMOVE u IN users LET removed = OLD RETURN removed

FOR u IN users
  FILTER u.status == 'not active'
  UPDATE u WITH { status: 'inactive' } IN users LET updated = NEW RETURN updated

NEW refers to the inserted or modified document revision, and OLD refers to the document revision before update or removal. INSERT statements can only refer to the NEW pseudo-value, and REMOVE operations only to OLD. UPDATE and REPLACE can refer to either.

In all cases the full documents will be returned with all their attributes, including the potentially auto-generated attributes such as _id, _key, or _rev and the attributes not specified in the update expression of a partial update.

Language improvements

COUNT clause

An optional COUNT clause was added to the COLLECT statement. The COUNT clause allows for more efficient counting of values.

In previous versions of ArangoDB one had to write the following to count documents:

RETURN LENGTH (
  FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER ...some condition...
  RETURN doc
)

With the COUNT clause, the query can be modified to

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER ...some condition...
  COLLECT WITH COUNT INTO length
  RETURN length

The latter query will be much more efficient because it will not produce any intermediate results with need to be shipped from a subquery into the LENGTH function.

The COUNT clause can also be used to count the number of items in each group:

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER ...some condition...
  COLLECT group = doc.group WITH COUNT INTO length
  return { group: group, length: length }

COLLECT modifications

In ArangoDB 2.4, COLLECT operations can be made more efficient if only a small fragment of the group values is needed later. For these cases, COLLECT provides an optional conversion expression for the INTO clause. This expression controls the value that is inserted into the array of group values. It can be used for projections.

The following query only copies the dateRegistered attribute of each document into the groups, potentially saving a lot of memory and computation time compared to copying doc completely:

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER ...some condition...
  COLLECT group = doc.group INTO dates = doc.dateRegistered
  return { group: group, maxDate: MAX(dates) }

Compare this to the following variant of the query, which was the only way to achieve the same result in previous versions of ArangoDB:

FOR doc IN collection
  FILTER ...some condition...
  COLLECT group = doc.group INTO dates
  return { group: group, maxDate: MAX(dates[*].doc.dateRegistered) }

The above query will need to copy the full doc attribute into the lengths variable, whereas the new variant will only copy the dateRegistered attribute of each doc.

Subquery syntax

In previous versions of ArangoDB, subqueries required extra parentheses around them, and this caused confusion when subqueries were used as function parameters. For example, the following query did not work:

LET values = LENGTH(
  FOR doc IN collection RETURN doc
)

but had to be written as follows:

LET values = LENGTH((
  FOR doc IN collection RETURN doc
))

This was unintuitive and is fixed in version 2.4 so that both variants of the query are accepted and produce the same result.

Web interface

The Applications tab for Foxx applications in the web interface has got a complete redesign.

It will now only show applications that are currently running in ArangoDB. For a selected application, a new detailed view has been created. This view provides a better overview of the app, e.g.:

  • author
  • license
  • version
  • contributors
  • download links
  • API documentation

Installing a new Foxx application on the server is made easy using the new Add application button. The Add application dialog provides all the features already available in the foxx-manager console application plus some more:

  • install a Foxx application from Github
  • install a Foxx application from a zip file
  • install a Foxx application from ArangoDB's application store
  • create a new Foxx application from scratch: this feature uses a generator to create a Foxx application with pre-defined CRUD methods for a given list of collections. The generated Foxx app can either be downloaded as a zip file or be installed on the server. Starting with a new Foxx app has never been easier.

Miscellaneous improvements

Default endpoint is 127.0.0.1

The default endpoint for the ArangoDB server has been changed from 0.0.0.0 to 127.0.0.1. This will make new ArangoDB installations unaccessible from clients other than localhost unless the configuration is changed. This is a security precaution measure that has been requested as a feature a lot of times.

If you are the development option --enable-relative, the endpoint will still be 0.0.0.0.

System collections in replication

By default, system collections are now included in replication and all replication API return values. This will lead to user accounts and credentials data being replicated from master to slave servers. This may overwrite slave-specific database users.

If this is undesired, the _users collection can be excluded from replication easily by setting the includeSystem attribute to false in the following commands:

  • replication.sync({ includeSystem: false });
  • replication.applier.properties({ includeSystem: false });

This will exclude all system collections (including _aqlfunctions, _graphs etc.) from the initial synchronization and the continuous replication.

If this is also undesired, it is also possible to specify a list of collections to exclude from the initial synchronization and the continuous replication using the restrictCollections attribute, e.g.:

require("org/arangodb/replication").applier.properties({ 
  includeSystem: true,
  restrictType: "exclude",
  restrictCollections: [ "_users", "_graphs", "foo" ] 
});