Using ArangoDB within a NodeJS App

By Dassi Orleando, Alibaba Cloud Tech Share Author. Tech Share is Alibaba Cloud’s incentive program to encourage the sharing of technical knowledge and best practices within the cloud community.


ArangoDB is a multi-model NoSQL database management system allowing to build high performance applications using a convenient SQL-like query language or JavaScript extensions.

Previously, we’ve seen how to install ArangoDB into an Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) Ubuntu server. We’ve also experimented the command-line and graphical tools to perform some queries on databases, collections and users. Let’s consider we’ve that base to better follow the current write-up which will show the use of ArangoDB as database management system into a NodeJS project.


  1. Basic understanding of NodeJS understanding
  2. Have installed ArangoDB on an Alibaba Cloud ECS server

Setup a NodeJS Project

Let’s assume we’ve done the required study or research and felt down to the fact we need to use ArangoDB to build our NodeJS App. The communication with ArangoDB server is possible via a REST interface provided many interfaces

Independently of your project architecture, there are some required npm packages we’ll be using to implement a basic API:

  • ExpressJS: a NodeJS web framework used to implement REST services
  • Arangojs: the official ArangoDB Javascript driver

From our project directory in the command line, let’s hit the following command to install both of them while letting them persist in the package.json file:

Note: for the next sections to work properly we need to run our ArangoDB server and get the correct database user’s credentials to use within our API, by default there is always a root user with an empty password if not customized before.

Here is how the dashboard looks like when we’re connected as a database root user:

Create Database & Collections

ArangoDB’s multi-model feature allows to manage many types of database with the same engine, for the sake of this article we will create and use a Document database for a basic CRUD API.

From the dashboard let’s create a database called alibabacloudblog as illustrated in the screenshot bellow (owned by the current user: root):

Let’s switch to be connected to the database we have just created (still from the admin panel) so that we’ll manage our database to do things like create collections (represents table in relational DBMS).

We then create the article collection, it’s a self-explaining word representing an article as in a blog with title and description as main fields.

As example, here’s the screen to create the article Document collection:

Database Configuration

Config file: config/db.js

Next, into the config folder we create a database configuration file called db.js within our project with the following content:

Database connection

Here’s how we setup the database connection:

Let’s select the database to work with, it’s the one we’ve created up here and defined in the configuration file:

We specify the database user with a single line of code, it consists of the user’s username and password as following:

It’s possible to connect by using a bearer token with the function useBearerAuth talking the token as single parameter, read more about it here.

Note: be sure to use an actual database user you’ve into your server installation as for this example we’re using the root user with root as its password both need to be updated in db.js file.

Article Service

Next, we create the Article service. It’s actually the place we’ll be writing every codes necessary to manage Article while interacting with the correct database collection.

This service is used as interface for Article database operations and eventual custom business logics, these functions will then be used into the resources/article.js file acting as the Article controller (Rest).

Note that all documents created in any collections will automatically get the following server-generated attributes:

  • _id: A unique id, consisting of collection name and a server-side sequence value
  • _key: The server sequence value
  • _rev: The document’s revision id

Whenever you run queries on the documents in collections, don’t be surprised if these additional attributes are returned as well.

At any moment of your App development you can decide to add more fields to a collection’s document, as the field are dynamic there is no need to perform any other special queries on other documents unless you’ve something else to accomplish.

You can count the number of documents of a collections using the following query as described in the guide:

A more populated approach to handle the whole data would have been by making a JOIN between two collections, one the Article who serve to define the blog’s article model and another the user defining the article’s authors. Let’s read more about join here.

Instead of using the predefined collections functions we have up here in the ArangoJS SDK, one might try writing plain AQL queries and end up with the same result, here’s a simple query getting a user by its Name and ID (using bind parameters):


Here are some keywords available to use in order to perform AQL queries:

  • FOR: array iteration
  • RETURN: results projection
  • FILTER: results filtering
  • SORT: result sorting
  • LIMIT: result slicing
  • LET: variable assignment
  • COLLECT: result grouping
  • INSERT: insertion of new documents
  • UPDATE: (partial) update of existing documents
  • REPLACE: replacement of existing documents
  • REMOVE: removal of existing documents
  • UPSERT: insertion or update of existing documents

Let’s update a single user by its key:

The same query performed with the UPDATE keyword is as follow:

The most important thing when performing an update is to provide the exact document _key or _id fields as they are unique, unless we’ll be updating another document.

Removing a document in users collection if we know its key:

In this case as we’re using the Javascript driver, here is the syntax using to perform these queries:

If interested in using it for custom business logic into your API, here is the AQL getting started which is clearly showing details on how to use AQL. Queries guide with more examples are available on the reference manual.

Create an Article

Here’s the controller action to create an Article:

Update an Article

In the same way, the update rest action is as follow:

Find an Article by Key

Let’s define the find by key controller action:

Find all Articles

Loading all saved Articles is a simple task as it’s done only by calling the all() collection’s method as we did into ArticleService, here’s the corresponding controller call:

Delete Article

Deleting an Article is being done as follow:

Bulk Delete

We can use removeByKeys function to remove many Articles in a bulk way: Article.removeByKeys(keys) here keys is an array of Articles _key.

Run the API

A basic command is available to run our API on our ECS or locally on any computer as simply as typing node server.js, if not customized by default the port 3000 will serve the App.

We can quickly use a Rest API client to test the whole thing or via the dashboard, here is the Article collection content:


In this long article, we’ve seen how to build a basic NodeJS API using ArangoDB as the database management system with its ArangoJS driver.

The full source code for this article can be found on my GitHub page.


Follow me to keep abreast with the latest technology news, industry insights, and developer trends.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store