Using Couchbase Transactions

  • how-to
    A practical guide on using Couchbase Distributed ACID transactions, via the Node.js API.

    This guide will show you examples of how to perform multi-document ACID (atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable) database transactions within your application, using the Couchbase Node.js SDK.

    Refer to the Transaction Concepts concept page for a high-level overview.


    • Couchbase Capella

    • Couchbase Server

    • Couchbase Capella account.

    • You should know how to perform key-value or query operations with the SDK.

    • Your application should have the relevant roles and permissions on the required buckets, scopes, and collections, to perform transactional operations. Refer to the Organizations & Access page for more details.

    • If your application is using extended attributes (XATTRs), you should avoid using the XATTR field txn — this is reserved for Couchbase use.

    • Couchbase Server (6.6.1 or above).

    • You should know how to perform key-value or query operations with the SDK.

    • Your application should have the relevant roles and permissions on the required buckets, scopes, and collections, to perform transactional operations. Refer to the Roles page for more details.

    • If your application is using extended attributes (XATTRs), you should avoid using the XATTR field txn — this is reserved for Couchbase use.

    • NTP should be configured so nodes of the Couchbase cluster are in sync with time.

    Single Node Cluster

    When using a single node cluster (for example, during development), the default number of replicas for a newly created bucket is 1. If left at this default, all key-value writes performed with durability will fail with a DurabilityImpossibleError. In turn, this will cause all transactions (which perform all key-value writes durably) to fail. This setting can be changed via:

    If the bucket already exists, then the server needs to be rebalanced for the setting to take effect.

    Simply npm install the most recent version of the SDK. You may, on occasion, need to import some enumerations for particular settings, but in basic cases nothing is needed.

    Creating a Transaction

    To create a transaction, an application must supply its logic inside an arrow function, including any conditional logic required. Once the arrow function has successfully run to conclusion, the transaction will be automatically committed. If at any point an error occurs, the transaction will rollback and the arrow function may run again.

    const inventory = cluster.bucket('travel-sample').scope('inventory')
    try {
      await cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
        // Inserting a doc:
        await ctx.insert(collection, 'doc-a', {})
        // Getting documents:
        const docA = await ctx.get(collection, 'doc-a')
        // Replacing a doc:
        const docB = await ctx.get(collection, 'doc-b')
        const content = docB.content
        const newContent = {
          transactions: 'are awesome',
        await ctx.replace(docB, newContent)
        // Removing a doc:
        const docC = await ctx.get(collection, 'doc-c')
        await ctx.remove(docC)
        // Performing a SELECT SQL++ (N1QL) query against a scope:
        const qr = await ctx.query('SELECT * FROM hotel WHERE country = $1', {
          scope: inventory,
          parameters: ['United Kingdom'],
        // ...qr.rows
        await ctx.query('UPDATE route SET airlineid = $1 WHERE airline = $2', {
          scope: inventory,
          parameters: ['airline_137', 'AF'],
    } catch (error) {
      if (error instanceof TransactionFailedError) {
        console.error('Transaction did not reach commit point', error)
      if (error instanceof TransactionCommitAmbiguousError) {
        console.error('Transaction possibly committed', error)

    The transaction arrow function gets passed a TransactionAttemptContext object — generally referred to as ctx in these examples. Since the arrow function could be rerun multiple times, it is important that it does not contain any side effects. In particular, you should never perform regular operations on a Collection, such as collection.insert(), inside the arrow function. Such operations may be performed multiple times, and will not be performed transactionally. Instead, you should perform these operations through the ctx object, e.g. ctx.insert().

    The result of a transaction is represented by a TransactionResult object, which can be used to expose debugging and logging information to help track what happened during a transaction.

    In the event that a transaction fails, your application could run into the following errors:

    • TransactionCommitAmbiguousError

    • TransactionFailedError

    Refer to Error Handling for more details on these.


    To aid troubleshooting, raise the log level on the SDK.

    Please see the Node.js SDK logging documentation for details.

    Key-Value Operations

    You can perform transactional database operations using familiar key-value CRUD methods:

    • Create - insert()

    • Read - get()

    • Update - replace()

    • Delete - remove()

    As mentioned previously, make sure your application uses the transactional key-value operations inside the arrow function — such as ctx.insert(), rather than collection.insert().


    To insert a document within a transaction arrow function, simply call ctx.insert().

    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      await ctx.insert(collection, 'docId', {})


    To retrieve a document from the database you can call ctx.get().

    await cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      const aDoc: TransactionGetResult = await ctx.get(collection, 'a-doc')

    As you can see, ctx.get() will return a TransactionGetResult object, which is very similar to the GetResult you are used to.

    Gets will "Read Your Own Writes", e.g. this will succeed:

    await cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      const docId: string = 'docId'
      await ctx.insert(collection, docId, {})
      const doc: TransactionGetResult = await ctx.get(collection, docId)

    Of course, no other transaction will be able to read that inserted document, until this transaction reaches the commit point.


    Replacing a document requires a ctx.get() call first. This is necessary so the SDK can check that the document is not involved in another transaction, and take appropriate action if so.

    cluster.transactions().run(async ctx => {
      const doc: TransactionGetResult = await ctx.get(collection, "doc-id")
      const content: any = doc.content
      const newContent: any = {
        transactions: "are awesome",
      await ctx.replace(doc, newContent)


    As with replaces, removing a document requires a ctx.get() call first.

    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      const doc: TransactionGetResult = await ctx.get(collection, 'doc-id')
      await ctx.remove(doc)

    SQL++ Queries

    If you already use SQL++ (formerly N1QL), then its use in transactions is very similar. A query returns a TransactionQueryResult that is very similar to the QueryResult you are used to, and takes most of the same options.

    As mentioned previously, make sure your application uses the transactional query operations inside the arrow function — such as ctx.query(), rather than cluster.query() or scope.query().

    Here is an example of selecting some rows from the travel-sample bucket:

    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      const st: string = 'SELECT * FROM hotel WHERE country = $1'
      const qr: TransactionQueryResult = await ctx.query(st, {
        scope: inventory,
        parameters: ['United Kingdom'],
      for (let row in qr.rows) {
        // do something

    An example using a Scope for an UPDATE:

    const hotelChain: string = 'http://marriot%'
    const country: string = 'United States'
    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      const qr: TransactionQueryResult = await ctx.query(
        'UPDATE hotel SET price = $1 WHERE url LIKE $2 AND country = $3',
          scope: inventory,
          parameters: [99.99, hotelChain, country],
      if (qr.meta.metrics?.mutationCount != 1) {
        throw new Error('Mutation count not the expected amount.')

    And an example combining SELECT and an UPDATE.

    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      // Find all hotels of the chain
      const qr: TransactionQueryResult = await ctx.query(
        'SELECT reviews FROM hotel WHERE url LIKE $1 AND country = $2',
          parameters: [hotelChain, country],
          scope: inventory,
      // This function (not provided here) will use a trained machine learning model to provide a
      // suitable price based on recent customer reviews.
      let updatedPrice = priceFromRecentReviews(qr)
      // Set the price of all hotels in the chain
      await ctx.query(
        'UPDATE hotel SET price = $1 WHERE url LIKE $2 AND country = $3',
          parameters: [updatedPrice, hotelChain, country],
          scope: inventory,

    As you can see from the snippet above, it is possible to call regular Node.js methods from the arrow function, permitting complex logic to be performed. Just remember that since the arrow function may be called multiple times, so may the method.

    Like key-value operations, queries support "Read Your Own Writes". This example shows inserting a document and then selecting it again:

    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      ctx.query("INSERT INTO `default` VALUES ('doc', {'hello':'world'})") (1)
      const st: string = "SELECT `default`.* FROM `default` WHERE META().id = 'doc'" (2)
      const qr: TransactionQueryResult = await ctx.query(st)
    1 The inserted document is only staged at this point. as the transaction has not yet committed.
    Other transactions, and other non-transactional actors, will not be able to see this staged insert yet.
    2 But the SELECT can, as we are reading a mutation staged inside the same transaction.

    Query Options

    Query options can be provided via TransactionQueryOptions, which provides a subset of the options in the Node.js SDK’s QueryOptions.

    const txQo: TransactionQueryOptions = { profile: QueryProfileMode.Timings }
    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      ctx.query("INSERT INTO `default` VALUES ('doc', {'hello':'world'})", txQo)
    Table 1. Supported Transaction Query Options
    Name Description


    Allows to set positional arguments for a parameterized query.

    parameters({ [key: string]: any })

    Allows you to set named arguments for a parameterized query.


    Sets a different scan consistency for this query.


    Sets a context ID returned by the service for debugging purposes.


    Allows to specify a maximum scan wait time.


    Specifies a maximum cap on the query scan size.


    Sets the batch size for the query pipeline.


    Sets the cap for the query pipeline.


    Allows you to enable additional query profiling as part of the response.


    Tells the client and server that this query is readonly.


    If set to false will prepare the query and later execute the prepared statement.

    raw({ [key: string]: any })

    Escape hatch to add arguments that are not covered by these options.

    Mixing Key-Value and SQL++

    Key-Value and SQL++ query operations can be freely intermixed, and will interact with each other as you would expect. In this example we insert a document with a key-value operation, and read it with a SELECT query.

    cluster.transactions().run(async (ctx) => {
      await ctx.insert(collection, 'doc', { hello: 'world' }) (1)
      // Performing a 'Read Your Own Write'
      const qr = await ctx.query(
        "SELECT `default`.* FROM `default` WHERE META().id = 'doc'" (2)
      if (qr.meta.metrics?.resultCount != 1) {
        throw new Error('Mutation count not the expected amount.')
    1 The key-value insert operation is only staged, and so it is not visible to other transactions or non-transactional actors.
    2 But the SELECT can view it, as the insert was in the same transaction.
    Query Mode

    When a transaction executes a query statement, the transaction enters query mode, which means that the query is executed with the user’s query permissions. Any key-value operations which are executed by the transaction after the query statement are also executed with the user’s query permissions. These may or may not be different to the user’s data permissions; if they are different, you may get unexpected results.

    Concurrent Operations

    The API allows operations to be performed concurrently inside a transaction, which can assist performance. There are two rules the application needs to follow:

    • The first mutation must be performed alone, in serial. This is because the first mutation also triggers the creation of metadata for the transaction.

    • All concurrent operations must be allowed to complete fully, so the transaction can track which operations need to be rolled back in the event of failure. This means the application must 'swallow' the error, but record that an error occurred, and then at the end of the concurrent operations, if an error occurred, throw an error to cause the transaction to retry.

    Query Concurrency
    Only one query statement will be performed by the Query service at a time. Non-blocking mechanisms can be used to perform multiple concurrent query statements, but this may result internally in some added network traffic due to retries, and is unlikely to provide any increased performance.

    Non-Transactional Writes

    To ensure key-value performance is not compromised, and to avoid conflicting writes, applications should never perform non-transactional writes concurrently with transactional ones, on the same document.


    The default configuration should be appropriate for most use-cases. Transactions can optionally be globally configured when configuring the Cluster. For example, if you want to change the level of durability which must be attained, this can be configured as part of the connect options:

    const cluster: Cluster = await connect('couchbase://', {
      username: 'username',
      password: 'password',
      transactions: {
        durabilityLevel: DurabilityLevel.PersistToMajority,

    The default configuration will perform all writes with the durability setting Majority, ensuring that each write is available in-memory on the majority of replicas before the transaction continues. There are two higher durability settings available that will additionally wait for all mutations to be written to physical storage on either the active or the majority of replicas, before continuing. This further increases safety, at a cost of additional latency.

    A level of None is present but its use is discouraged and unsupported. If durability is set to None, then ACID semantics are not guaranteed.

    Additional Resources