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Using Search

You must first enable Riak Search in your environment to use it.


Riak Search is a distributed, full-text search engine that is built on Riak Core and included as part of Riak open source. Search provides the most advanced query capability next to MapReduce, but is far more concise; easier to use, and in most cases puts far less load on the cluster.

Search indexes Riak KV objects as they're written using a precommit hook. Based on the object’s mime type and the Search schema you’ve set for its bucket, the hook will automatically extract and analyze your data and build indexes from it. The Riak Client API is used to invoke Search queries that return a list of bucket/key pairs matching the query. Currently the PHP, Python, Ruby, and Erlang client libraries support integration with Riak Search.


When to Use Search

When Not to Use Search

Indexing Data

Before you can search for values, you first must index them. In its standard form, Riak Search requires you to index a value manually. You can find a detailed list of indexing commands in the Search Indexing Reference.

If you want a simpler, but less explicit form of indexing, check out the Search, KV and MapReduce section of Advanced Search.

Query Interfaces

Querying via Command Line

Riak Search comes equiped with a command line tool search-cmd for testing your query syntax.

This example will display a list of document ID values matching the title “See spot run”.

bin/search-cmd search books "title:\"See spot run\""


Riak Search supports a Solr-compatible interface for searching documents via HTTP. By default, the select endpoint is located at http://hostname:8098/solr/select.

Alternatively, the index can be included in the URL, for example http://hostname:8098/solr/INDEX/select.

The following parameters are supported:

To query data in the system with Curl:

$ curl "http://localhost:8098/solr/books/select?start=0&rows=10000&q=prog*"

Riak Client API

The Riak Client APIs have been updated to support querying of Riak Search. See the client documentation for more information. Currently, the Ruby, Python, PHP, and Erlang clients are supported.

The API takes a default search index as well as as search query, and returns a list of bucket/key pairs. Some clients transform this list into objects specific to that client.


The Riak Client APIs that integrate with Riak Search also support using a search query to generate inputs for a MapReduce operation. This allows you to perform powerful analysis and computation across your data based on a search query. See the client documentation for more information. Currently, the Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, and Erlang clients are supported.

Kicking off a MapReduce query with the same result set over HTTP would use a POST body like this:

  "inputs": {
             "query":"foo OR bar"


  "inputs": {
             "query":"foo OR bar",

The phases in the “query” field should be exactly the same as usual. An initial map phase will be given each object matching the search for processing, but an initial link phase or reduce phase will also work.

The query field specifies the search query. All syntax available in other Search interfaces is available in this query field. The optional filter field specifies the query filter.

The old but still functioning syntax is:

  "inputs": {

The “arg” field of the inputs specification is always a two-element list. The first element is the name of the bucket you wish to search, and the second element is the query to search for.

Query Syntax

Search queries use the same syntax as Lucene and supports most Lucene operators including term searches, field searches, boolean operators, grouping, lexicographical range queries, and wildcards (at the end of a word only).

Terms and Phrases

A query can be as simple as a single term (ie: “red”) or a series of terms surrounded by quotes called a phrase (“See spot run”). The term (or phrase) is analyzed using the default analyzer for the index.

The index schema contains a {{default_operator}} setting that determines whether a phrase is treated as an AND operation or an OR operation. By default, a phrase is treated as an OR operation. In other words, a document is returned if it matches any one of the terms in the phrase.


You can specify a field to search by putting it in front of the term or phrase to search. For example:



title:"See spot run"

You can further specify an index by prefixing the field with the index name. For example:



books.title:"See spot run"

If your field contains special characters, such as ('+','-','/','[',']','(',')',':' or space), then either surround the phrase in single quotes, or escape each special character with a backslash.




Wildcard Searches

Terms can include wildcards in the form of an asterisk ( * ) to allow prefix matching, or a question mark ( ? ) to match a single character.

Currently, the wildcard must come at the end of the term in both cases, and must be preceded by a minimum of two characters.

For example:

Proximity Searches

Proximity searching allows you to find terms that are within a certain number of words from each other. To specify a proximity search, use the tilde argument on a phrase.

For example:

"See spot run"~20

Will find documents that have the words “see”, “spot”, and “run” all within the same block of 20 words.

Range Searches

Range searches allow you to find documents with terms in between a specific range. Ranges are calculated lexicographically. Use square brackets to specify an inclusive range, and curly braces to specify an exclusive range.

The following example will return documents with words containing “red” and “rum”, plus any words in between.

"field:[red TO rum]"

The following example will return documents with words in between “red” and “rum”:

"field:{red TO rum}"

Boosting a Term

A term (or phrase) can have its score boosted using the caret operator along with an integer boost factor.

In the following example, documents with the term “red” will have their score boosted:

red^5 OR blue

Boolean Operators - AND, OR, NOT

Queries can use the boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT. The boolean operators must be capitalized.

The following example return documents containing the words “red” and “blue” but not “yellow”.

red AND blue AND NOT yellow

The required ( + ) operator can be used in place of “AND”, and the prohibited ( - ) operator can be used in place of “AND NOT”. For example, the query above can be rewritten as:

+red +blue -yellow


Clauses in a query can be grouped using parentheses. The following query returns documents that contain the terms “red” or “blue”, but not “yellow”:

(red OR blue) AND NOT yellow