Updating a Whole Documentedit

Documents in Elasticsearch are immutable; we cannot change them. Instead, if we need to update an existing document, we reindex or replace it, which we can do using the same index API that we have already discussed in Indexing a Document.

PUT /website/blog/123
  "title": "My first blog entry",
  "text":  "I am starting to get the hang of this...",
  "date":  "2014/01/02"

In the response, we can see that Elasticsearch has incremented the _version number:

  "_index" :   "website",
  "_type" :    "blog",
  "_id" :      "123",
  "_version" : 2,
  "created":   false 

The created flag is set to false because a document with the same index, type, and ID already existed.

Internally, Elasticsearch has marked the old document as deleted and added an entirely new document. The old version of the document doesn’t disappear immediately, although you won’t be able to access it. Elasticsearch cleans up deleted documents in the background as you continue to index more data.

Later in this chapter, we introduce the update API, which can be used to make partial updates to a document. This API appears to change documents in place, but actually Elasticsearch is following exactly the same process as described previously:

  1. Retrieve the JSON from the old document
  2. Change it
  3. Delete the old document
  4. Index a new document

The only difference is that the update API achieves this through a single client request, instead of requiring separate get and index requests.