Key Value Operations

    Key-Value (KV) or data service offers the simplest way to retrieve or mutate data where the key is known. Here we cover CRUD operations, document expiration, and optimistic locking with CAS.


    A document refers to an entry in the database (other databases may refer to the same concept as a row). A document has an ID (primary key in other databases), which is unique to the document and by which it can be located. The document also has a value which contains the actual application data. See the concept guide to Documents for a deeper dive into documents in the Couchbase Data Platform. Or read on, for a hands-on introduction to working with documents from the Ruby SDK.

    CRUD Operations

    The core interface to Couchbase Server is simple KV operations on full documents. Make sure you’re familiar with the basics of authorization and connecting to a Cluster from the Start Using the SDK section. We’re going to expand on the short Upsert example we used there, adding options as we move through the various CRUD operations. Here is the Insert operation, with simple error handling:

      collection.insert("document-key", {"title" => "My Blog Post"})
    rescue Error::DocumentExists
      puts "The document already exists!"

    Setting a Compare and Swap (CAS) value is a form of optimistic locking - dealt with in depth in the CAS page. Here we just note that the CAS is a value representing the current state of an item; each time the item is modified, its CAS changes. The CAS value is returned as part of a document’s metadata whenever a document is accessed. Without explicitly setting it, a newly-created document would have a CAS value of 0.

    collection.upsert("my-document", {"initial" => true})
    result = collection.get("my-document")
    content = result.content
    content["modified"] = true
    content["initial"] = false
    collection.replace("my-document", content, Options::Replace(cas: result.cas))

    Expiration sets an explicit time to live (TTL) for a document. For a discussion of item (Document) vs Bucket expiration, see the Expiration Overview page.

    collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Insert(expiry: 2 * 60 * 60))
    # or with ActiveSupport::Duration
    require 'active_support/core_ext/numeric/time'
    collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Insert(expiry: 2.hours))
    # Time instances also acceptable as absolute time points
    expiry = + 30 # 30 seconds from now
    collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Insert(expiry: expiry))


    If Server 6.5 or above is being used, you can take advantage of the Durable Write feature, in which Couchbase Server will only return success to the SDK after the requested replication level has been achieved. The three replication levels are:

    • :majority - The server will ensure that the change is available in memory on the majority of configured replicas.

    • :majority_and_persist_to_active - Majority level, plus persisted to disk on the active node.

    • :persist_to_majority - Majority level, plus persisted to disk on the majority of configured replicas.

    The options are in increasing levels of safety. Note that nothing comes for free - for a given node, waiting for writes to storage is considerably slower than waiting for it to be available in-memory. These trade offs, as well as which settings may be tuned, are discussed in the durability page.

    The following example demonstrates using the newer durability features available in Couchbase server 6.5 onwards.

      collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Upsert(durability_level: :majority))

    To stress, durability is a useful feature but should not be the default for most applications, as there is a performance consideration, and the default level of safety provided by Couchbase will be reasonable for the majority of situations.

    Sub-Document Operations

    All of these operations involve fetching the complete document from the Cluster. Where the number of operations or other circumstances make bandwidth a significant issue, the SDK can work on just a specific path of the document with Sub-Docunent Operations.

    Retrieving full documents

    Using the .get() method with the document key can be done in a similar fashion to the other operations:

      get_result = collection.get("document-key")
      title = get_result.content["title"]
      puts title
      #=> My Blog Post
    rescue Error::DocumentExists
      puts "Document not found!"

    You can then add in logic to filter on the fields returned:

    found = collection.get("document-key")
    content = found.content
    if content["author"] == "mike"
      # do something
      # do something else


    When removing a document, you will have the same concern for durability as with any additive modification to the Bucket:

    rescue Error::DocumentNotFound
      puts "Document did not exist when trying to remove"

    Expiration / TTL

    Couchbase Server includes an option to have particular documents automatically expire after a set time. This can be useful for some use-cases, such as user sessions, caches, or other temporary documents.

    You can set an expiry value when creating a document:

    collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Insert(expiry: 2 * 60 * 60))
    # or with ActiveSupport::Duration
    require 'active_support/core_ext/numeric/time'
    collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Insert(expiry: 2.hours))
    # Time instances also acceptable as absolute time points
    expiry = + 30 # 30 seconds from now
    collection.upsert("my-document", {"doc" => true},
                      Options::Insert(expiry: expiry))

    When getting a document, the expiry is not provided automatically by Couchbase Server but it can be requested:

    found = collection.get("my-document", Options::Get(with_expiry: true))
    puts "Expiry of found doc: #{found.expiry_time})"
    #=> Expiry of found doc: 2020-07-26 21:52:22 +0300
    The type returned by #expiry_time is Time, and always represents absolute time when the document will expire. The #expiry method that returned integer number of seconds since epoch is *deprecated*, and will be removed in release 3.1.

    Note that when updating the document, special care must be taken to avoid resetting the expiry to zero. Here’s how:

    found = collection.get("my-document", Options::Get(with_expiry: true))
    collection.replace("my-document", {"content" => "something new"},
                       Options::Replace(expiry: found.expiry_time))

    Some applications may find getAndTouch useful, which fetches a document while updating its expiry field. It can be used like this:

    collection.get_and_touch("my-document", 24 * 60 * 60)
    # or with ActiveSupport::Duration
    require 'active_support/core_ext/numeric/time'
    If the absolute value of the expiry is less than 30 days (such as 60 * 60 * 24 * 30), it is considered an offset. If the value is greater, it is considered an absolute time stamp. For more on expiration see the expiration section of our documents discussion doc.

    Atomic Counters

    The value of a document can be increased or decreased atomically using #increment() and #decrement() on the Couchbase::BinaryCollection. See the API Guide for more information.

    # increment binary value by 1 (default)
    binary_collection = collection.binary
    res = binary_collection.increment("foo")
    #=> 1
    # Create a document and assign it to 10 -- counter works atomically
    # by first creating a document if it doesn't exist. If it exists,
    # the same method will increment/decrement per the "delta" parameter
    res = binary_collection.increment("counter",
               Options::Increment(initial: 10, delta: 2))
    #=> 10
    # decrement binary value by 1 (default)
    res = binary_collection.decrement("foo")
    #=> 0
    Decrement (with options)
    # Decrement value by 4 to 8
    res = binary_collection.decrement("counter",
               Options::Decrement(initial: 10, delta: 4))
    #=> 8
    Increment & Decrement are considered part of the ‘binary’ API and as such may still be subject to change

    Scoped KV Operations

    It is possible to perform scoped key-value operations on named Collections with the beta version of the next Couchbase Server release, 7.0β. See the API docs for more information.

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

    Here is an example showing an upsert in the users collection, which lives in the travel-sample.tenant_agent_00 keyspace:

    agent_scope = bucket.scope("tenant_agent_00")
    users_collection = agent_scope.collection("users")
    document = {"name" => "John Doe", "preferred_email" => "johndoe111@test123.test"}
    result = users_collection.upsert("user-key", document)

    Additional Resources

    Working on just a specific path within a JSON document will reduce network bandwidth requirements - see the Sub-Document pages.

    Our Query Engine enables retrieval of information using the SQL-like syntax of N1QL.