Accessing document fields and special variablesedit

Depending on where a script is used, it will have access to certain special variables and document fields.

Update scriptsedit

A script used in the update, update-by-query, or reindex API will have access to the ctx variable which exposes:

ctx._source

Access to the document _source field.

ctx.op

The operation that should be applied to the document: index or delete.

ctx._index etc

Access to document meta-fields, some of which may be read-only.

Search and Aggregation scriptsedit

With the exception of script fields which are executed once per search hit, scripts used in search and aggregations will be executed once for every document which might match a query or an aggregation. Depending on how many documents you have, this could mean millions or billions of executions: these scripts need to be fast!

Field values can be accessed from a script using doc-values, or stored fields or _source field, which are explained below.

Accessing the score of a document within a scriptedit

Scripts used in the function_score query, in script-based sorting, or in aggregations have access to the _score variable which represents the current relevance score of a document.

Here’s an example of using a script in a function_score query to alter the relevance _score of each document:

PUT my_index/my_type/1?refresh
{
  "text": "quick brown fox",
  "popularity": 1
}

PUT my_index/my_type/2?refresh
{
  "text": "quick fox",
  "popularity": 5
}

GET my_index/_search
{
  "query": {
    "function_score": {
      "query": {
        "match": {
          "text": "quick brown fox"
        }
      },
      "script_score": {
        "script": {
          "lang": "expression",
          "source": "_score * doc['popularity']"
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Doc Valuesedit

By far the fastest most efficient way to access a field value from a script is to use the doc['field_name'] syntax, which retrieves the field value from doc values. Doc values are a columnar field value store, enabled by default on all fields except for analyzed text fields.

PUT my_index/my_type/1?refresh
{
  "cost_price": 100
}

GET my_index/_search
{
  "script_fields": {
    "sales_price": {
      "script": {
        "lang":   "expression",
        "source": "doc['cost_price'] * markup",
        "params": {
          "markup": 0.2
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Doc-values can only return "simple" field values like numbers, dates, geo- points, terms, etc, or arrays of these values if the field is multi-valued. It cannot return JSON objects.

Note

Doc values and text fields

The doc['field'] syntax can also be used for analyzed text fields if fielddata is enabled, but BEWARE: enabling fielddata on a text field requires loading all of the terms into the JVM heap, which can be very expensive both in terms of memory and CPU. It seldom makes sense to access text fields from scripts.

Stored Fields and _sourceedit

Stored fields — fields explicitly marked as "store": true — can be accessed using the _fields['field_name'].value or _fields['field_name'].values syntax.

The document _source, which is really just a special stored field, can be accessed using the _source.field_name syntax. The _source is loaded as a map-of-maps, so properties within object fields can be accessed as, for example, _source.name.first.

Important

Prefer doc-values to stored fields

Stored fields (which includes the stored _source field) are much slower than doc-values. They are optimised for returning several fields per result, while doc values are optimised for accessing the value of a specific field in many documents.

It makes sense to use _source or stored fields when generating a script field for the top ten hits from a search result but, for other search and aggregation use cases, always prefer using doc values.

For instance:

PUT my_index
{
  "mappings": {
    "my_type": {
      "properties": {
        "title": { 
          "type": "text"
        },
        "first_name": {
          "type": "text",
          "store": true
        },
        "last_name": {
          "type": "text",
          "store": true
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

PUT my_index/my_type/1?refresh
{
  "title": "Mr",
  "first_name": "Barry",
  "last_name": "White"
}

GET my_index/_search
{
  "script_fields": {
    "source": {
      "script": {
        "lang": "painless",
        "source": "params._source.title + ' ' + params._source.first_name + ' ' + params._source.last_name" 
      }
    },
    "stored_fields": {
      "script": {
        "lang": "painless",
        "source": "params._fields['first_name'].value + ' ' + params._fields['last_name'].value"
      }
    }
  }
}

The title field is not stored and so cannot be used with the _fields[] syntax.

The title field can still be accessed from the _source.

Tip

Stored vs _source

The _source field is just a special stored field, so the performance is similar to that of other stored fields. The _source provides access to the original document body that was indexed (including the ability to distinguish null values from empty fields, single-value arrays from plain scalars, etc).

The only time it really makes sense to use stored fields instead of the _source field is when the _source is very large and it is less costly to access a few small stored fields instead of the entire _source.