SQL Limitationsedit

This functionality is in beta and is subject to change. The design and code is less mature than official GA features and is being provided as-is with no warranties. Beta features are not subject to the support SLA of official GA features.

Nested fields in SYS COLUMNS and DESCRIBE TABLEedit

Elasticsearch has a special type of relationship fields called nested fields. In Elasticsearch SQL they can be used by referencing their inner sub-fields. Even though SYS COLUMNS in non-driver mode (in the CLI and in REST calls) and DESCRIBE TABLE will still display them as having the type NESTED, they cannot be used in a query. One can only reference its sub-fields in the form:


For example:

SELECT dep.dep_name.keyword FROM test_emp GROUP BY languages;

Multi-nested fieldsedit

Elasticsearch SQL doesn’t support multi-nested documents, so a query cannot reference more than one nested field in an index. This applies to multi-level nested fields, but also multiple nested fields defined on the same level. For example, for this index:

       column         |     type      |    mapping
nested_A              |STRUCT         |NESTED
nested_A.nested_X     |STRUCT         |NESTED
nested_A.nested_X.text|VARCHAR        |KEYWORD
nested_A.text         |VARCHAR        |KEYWORD
nested_B              |STRUCT         |NESTED
nested_B.text         |VARCHAR        |KEYWORD

nested_A and nested_B cannot be used at the same time, nor nested_A/nested_B and nested_A.nested_X combination. For such situations, Elasticsearch SQL will display an error message.

Paginating nested inner hitsedit

When SELECTing a nested field, pagination will not work as expected, Elasticsearch SQL will return at least the page size records. This is because of the way nested queries work in Elasticsearch: the root nested field will be returned and it’s matching inner nested fields as well, pagination taking place on the root nested document and not on its inner hits.

Normalized keyword fieldsedit

keyword fields in Elasticsearch can be normalized by defining a normalizer. Such fields are not supported in Elasticsearch SQL.

Array type of fieldsedit

Array fields are not supported due to the "invisible" way in which Elasticsearch handles an array of values: the mapping doesn’t indicate whether a field is an array (has multiple values) or not, so without reading all the data, Elasticsearch SQL cannot know whether a field is a single or multi value.

Sorting by aggregationedit

When doing aggregations (GROUP BY) Elasticsearch SQL relies on Elasticsearch’s composite aggregation for its support for paginating results. But this type of aggregation does come with a limitation: sorting can only be applied on the key used for the aggregation’s buckets. This means that queries like SELECT * FROM test GROUP BY age ORDER BY COUNT(*) are not possible.

Using aggregation functions on top of scalar functionsedit

Aggregation functions like MIN, MAX, etc. can only be used directly on fields, and so queries like SELECT MAX(abs(age)) FROM test are not possible.

Using a sub-selectedit

Using sub-selects (SELECT X FROM (SELECT Y)) is supported to a small degree: any sub-select that can be "flattened" into a single SELECT is possible with Elasticsearch SQL. For example:

SELECT * FROM (SELECT first_name, last_name FROM emp WHERE last_name NOT LIKE '%a%') WHERE first_name LIKE 'A%' ORDER BY 1;

  first_name   |   last_name
 Alejandro     |McAlpine
 Anneke        |Preusig
 Anoosh        |Peyn
 Arumugam      |Ossenbruggen

The query above is possible because it is equivalent with:

SELECT first_name, last_name FROM emp WHERE last_name NOT LIKE '%a%' AND first_name LIKE 'A%' ORDER BY 1;

But, if the sub-select would include a GROUP BY or HAVING or the enclosing SELECT would be more complex than SELECT X FROM (SELECT ...) WHERE [simple_condition], this is currently un-supported.