Scrolledit

While a search request returns a single “page” of results, the scroll API can be used to retrieve large numbers of results (or even all results) from a single search request, in much the same way as you would use a cursor on a traditional database.

Scrolling is not intended for real time user requests, but rather for processing large amounts of data, e.g. in order to reindex the contents of one index into a new index with a different configuration.

Note

The results that are returned from a scroll request reflect the state of the index at the time that the initial search request was made, like a snapshot in time. Subsequent changes to documents (index, update or delete) will only affect later search requests.

In order to use scrolling, the initial search request should specify the scroll parameter in the query string, which tells Elasticsearch how long it should keep the “search context” alive (see Keeping the search context alive), eg ?scroll=1m.

POST /twitter/_search?scroll=1m
{
    "size": 100,
    "query": {
        "match" : {
            "title" : "elasticsearch"
        }
    }
}

The result from the above request includes a _scroll_id, which should be passed to the scroll API in order to retrieve the next batch of results.

POST /_search/scroll 
{
    "scroll" : "1m", 
    "scroll_id" : "DXF1ZXJ5QW5kRmV0Y2gBAAAAAAAAAD4WYm9laVYtZndUQlNsdDcwakFMNjU1QQ==" 
}

GET or POST can be used and the URL should not include the index name — this is specified in the original search request instead.

The scroll parameter tells Elasticsearch to keep the search context open for another 1m.

The scroll_id parameter

The size parameter allows you to configure the maximum number of hits to be returned with each batch of results. Each call to the scroll API returns the next batch of results until there are no more results left to return, ie the hits array is empty.

Important

The initial search request and each subsequent scroll request each return a _scroll_id. While the _scroll_id may change between requests, it doesn’t always change — in any case, only the most recently received _scroll_id should be used.

Note

If the request specifies aggregations, only the initial search response will contain the aggregations results.

Note

Scroll requests have optimizations that make them faster when the sort order is _doc. If you want to iterate over all documents regardless of the order, this is the most efficient option:

GET /_search?scroll=1m
{
  "sort": [
    "_doc"
  ]
}

Keeping the search context aliveedit

A scroll returns all the documents which matched the search at the time of the initial search request. It ignores any subsequent changes to these documents. The scroll_id identifies a search context which keeps track of everything that Elasticsearch needs to return the correct documents. The search context is created by the initial request and kept alive by subsequent requests.

The scroll parameter (passed to the search request and to every scroll request) tells Elasticsearch how long it should keep the search context alive. Its value (e.g. 1m, see Time unitsedit) does not need to be long enough to process all data — it just needs to be long enough to process the previous batch of results. Each scroll request (with the scroll parameter) sets a new expiry time. If a scroll request doesn’t pass in the scroll parameter, then the search context will be freed as part of that scroll request.

Normally, the background merge process optimizes the index by merging together smaller segments to create new, bigger segments. Once the smaller segments are no longer needed they are deleted. This process continues during scrolling, but an open search context prevents the old segments from being deleted since they are still in use.

Tip

Keeping older segments alive means that more disk space and file handles are needed. Ensure that you have configured your nodes to have ample free file handles. See File Descriptors.

Additionally, if a segment contains deleted or updated documents then the search context must keep track of whether each document in the segment was live at the time of the initial search request. Ensure that your nodes have sufficient heap space if you have many open scrolls on an index that is subject to ongoing deletes or updates.

Note

To prevent against issues caused by having too many scrolls open, the user is not allowed to open scrolls past a certain limit. By default, the maximum number of open scrolls is 500. This limit can be updated with the search.max_open_scroll_context cluster setting.

You can check how many search contexts are open with the nodes stats API:

GET /_nodes/stats/indices/search

Clear scroll APIedit

Search context are automatically removed when the scroll timeout has been exceeded. However keeping scrolls open has a cost, as discussed in the previous section so scrolls should be explicitly cleared as soon as the scroll is not being used anymore using the clear-scroll API:

DELETE /_search/scroll
{
    "scroll_id" : "DXF1ZXJ5QW5kRmV0Y2gBAAAAAAAAAD4WYm9laVYtZndUQlNsdDcwakFMNjU1QQ=="
}

Multiple scroll IDs can be passed as array:

DELETE /_search/scroll
{
    "scroll_id" : [
      "DXF1ZXJ5QW5kRmV0Y2gBAAAAAAAAAD4WYm9laVYtZndUQlNsdDcwakFMNjU1QQ==",
      "DnF1ZXJ5VGhlbkZldGNoBQAAAAAAAAABFmtSWWRRWUJrU2o2ZExpSGJCVmQxYUEAAAAAAAAAAxZrUllkUVlCa1NqNmRMaUhiQlZkMWFBAAAAAAAAAAIWa1JZZFFZQmtTajZkTGlIYkJWZDFhQQAAAAAAAAAFFmtSWWRRWUJrU2o2ZExpSGJCVmQxYUEAAAAAAAAABBZrUllkUVlCa1NqNmRMaUhiQlZkMWFB"
    ]
}

All search contexts can be cleared with the _all parameter:

DELETE /_search/scroll/_all

The scroll_id can also be passed as a query string parameter or in the request body. Multiple scroll IDs can be passed as comma separated values:

DELETE /_search/scroll/DXF1ZXJ5QW5kRmV0Y2gBAAAAAAAAAD4WYm9laVYtZndUQlNsdDcwakFMNjU1QQ==,DnF1ZXJ5VGhlbkZldGNoBQAAAAAAAAABFmtSWWRRWUJrU2o2ZExpSGJCVmQxYUEAAAAAAAAAAxZrUllkUVlCa1NqNmRMaUhiQlZkMWFBAAAAAAAAAAIWa1JZZFFZQmtTajZkTGlIYkJWZDFhQQAAAAAAAAAFFmtSWWRRWUJrU2o2ZExpSGJCVmQxYUEAAAAAAAAABBZrUllkUVlCa1NqNmRMaUhiQlZkMWFB

Sliced Scrolledit

For scroll queries that return a lot of documents it is possible to split the scroll in multiple slices which can be consumed independently:

GET /twitter/_search?scroll=1m
{
    "slice": {
        "id": 0, 
        "max": 2 
    },
    "query": {
        "match" : {
            "title" : "elasticsearch"
        }
    }
}
GET /twitter/_search?scroll=1m
{
    "slice": {
        "id": 1,
        "max": 2
    },
    "query": {
        "match" : {
            "title" : "elasticsearch"
        }
    }
}

The id of the slice

The maximum number of slices

The result from the first request returned documents that belong to the first slice (id: 0) and the result from the second request returned documents that belong to the second slice. Since the maximum number of slices is set to 2 the union of the results of the two requests is equivalent to the results of a scroll query without slicing. By default the splitting is done on the shards first and then locally on each shard using the _id field with the following formula: slice(doc) = floorMod(hashCode(doc._id), max) For instance if the number of shards is equal to 2 and the user requested 4 slices then the slices 0 and 2 are assigned to the first shard and the slices 1 and 3 are assigned to the second shard.

Each scroll is independent and can be processed in parallel like any scroll request.

Note

If the number of slices is bigger than the number of shards the slice filter is very slow on the first calls, it has a complexity of O(N) and a memory cost equals to N bits per slice where N is the total number of documents in the shard. After few calls the filter should be cached and subsequent calls should be faster but you should limit the number of sliced query you perform in parallel to avoid the memory explosion.

To avoid this cost entirely it is possible to use the doc_values of another field to do the slicing but the user must ensure that the field has the following properties:

  • The field is numeric.
  • doc_values are enabled on that field
  • Every document should contain a single value. If a document has multiple values for the specified field, the first value is used.
  • The value for each document should be set once when the document is created and never updated. This ensures that each slice gets deterministic results.
  • The cardinality of the field should be high. This ensures that each slice gets approximately the same amount of documents.
GET /twitter/_search?scroll=1m
{
    "slice": {
        "field": "date",
        "id": 0,
        "max": 10
    },
    "query": {
        "match" : {
            "title" : "elasticsearch"
        }
    }
}

For append only time-based indices, the timestamp field can be used safely.

Note

By default the maximum number of slices allowed per scroll is limited to 1024. You can update the index.max_slices_per_scroll index setting to bypass this limit.