N1QL Queries from the SDK

    You can query for documents in Couchbase using the N1QL query language, a language based on SQL, but designed for structured and flexible JSON documents. Querying can solve typical programming tasks such as finding a user profile by email address, facebook login, or user ID.

    Our query service uses N1QL, which will be fairly familiar to anyone who’s used any dialect of SQL. Further resources for learning about N1QL are listed at the bottom of the page. Before you get started you may wish to checkout the N1QL intro page, or just dive in with a query against our travel sample data set. In this case, the one thing that you need to know is that in order to make a Bucket queryable, it must have at least one index defined. You can define a primary index on a bucket. When a primary index is defined you can issue non-covered queries on the bucket as well.

    Use cbq, our interactive Query shell. Open it, and enter the following:

    CREATE PRIMARY INDEX ON `travel-sample`

    or replace travel-sample with a different Bucket name to build an index on a different dataset.

    The default installation places cbq in /opt/couchbase/bin/ on Linux, /Applications/Couchbase Server.app/Contents/Resources/couchbase-core/bin/cbq on OS X, and C:\Program Files\Couchbase\Server\bin\cbq.exe on Microsoft Windows.

    Queries & Placeholders

    Placeholders allow you to specify variable constraints for an otherwise constant query. There are two variants of placeholders: postional and named parameters. Positional parameters use an ordinal placeholder for substitution and named parameters use variables. A named or positional parameter is a placeholder for a value in the WHERE, LIMIT or OFFSET clause of a query. Note that both parameters and options are optional.

    Positional parameter example:
    $options = new QueryOptions();
    // NOTE: string is single-quoted to avoid PHP variable substitutions and pass '$1' as is
    $result = $cluster->query('SELECT x.* FROM `travel-sample`.inventory.hotel x WHERE x.`country`=$1 LIMIT 10;', $options);
    Named parameter example:
    $options = new QueryOptions();
    $options->namedParameters(['country' => "France"]);
    $result = $cluster->query('SELECT x.* FROM `travel-sample`.inventory.hotel x WHERE x.`country`=$country LIMIT 10;', $options);

    The complete code for this page’s examples can be found here

    Handling Results

    In most cases your query will return more than one result, and you may be looking to iterate over those results:

    $options = new QueryOptions();
    $result = $cluster->query('SELECT x.* FROM `travel-sample`.inventory.hotel x WHERE x.`country`=$1 LIMIT 10;', $options);
    foreach ($result->rows() as $row) {
        printf("Name: %s, Address: %s, Description: %s\n", $row["name"], $row["address"], $row["description"]);

    Scan Consistency

    Setting a staleness parameter for queries, with scan_consistency, enables a tradeoff between latency and (eventual) consistency.

    • A N1QL query using the default Not Bounded Scan Consistency will not wait for any indexes to finish updating before running the query and returning results, meaning that results are returned quickly, but the query will not return any documents that are yet to be indexed.

    • With Scan Consistency set to RequestPlus, all document changes and index updates are processed before the query is run. Select this when consistency is always more important than performance.

    • For a middle ground, AtPlus is a "read your own write" (RYOW) option, which means it just waits for the new documents that you specify to be indexed, rather than an entire index of multiple documents.

    ScanConsisteny (RYOW)
    $query = 'SELECT x.* FROM `travel-sample`.inventory.hotel x WHERE x.`country`="France" LIMIT 10';
    $opts = new QueryOptions();
    $res = $cluster->query($query, $opts);

    Querying at Scope Level

    It is possible to query off the Scope level with the new Couchbase Server release, 7.0, using the query() method. It takes the statement as a required argument, and then allows additional options if needed.

    This feature is marked Uncommitted. Expect a promotion to Committed API in a future minor release.

    A complete list of QueryOptions can be found in the API docs.

    $opts = new QueryOptions();
    $opts->namedParameters(['country' => "France"]);
    $scope = $bucket->scope("inventory");
    $result = $scope->query('SELECT x.* FROM `airline` x WHERE x.`country`=$country LIMIT 10;', $opts);
    foreach ($result->rows() as $row) {
        printf("Name: %s, Callsign: %s, Country: %s\n", $row["name"], $row["callsign"], $row["country"]);

    Additional Resources

    N1QL is not the only query option in Couchbase. Be sure to check that your use case fits your selection of query service.

    The Server doc N1QL intro introduces up a complete guide to the N1QL language, including all of the latest additions.

    The N1QL interactive tutorial is a good introduction to the basics of N1QL use.