Couchbase Ruby Client

This is the official client library for use with Couchbase Server. There are related libraries available:


If you find an issue, please file it in our JIRA. Also you are always welcome on the #libcouchbase channel at IRC servers. Checkout library overview and API documentation.


This gem depends libcouchbase. In most cases installing libcouchbase doesn't take much effort.

MacOS (Homebrew)

$ brew install libcouchbase

The official homebrew repository contains only stable versions of libvbucket and libcouchbase, if you need preview, take a look at Couchbase's fork:

$ brew install

If you are experience issues with installing using system ruby, you might try to use rbenv, and install couchbase there. Here are the steps:

$ brew install rbenv ruby-build

Add the following line to the end of your .bashrc:

if which rbenv > /dev/null; then eval "$(rbenv init -)"; fi

Then install ruby and make it global:

$ rbenv install 2.1.2
$ rbenv global 2.1.2

Now you are ready to install and use couchbase ruby gem as usual:

$ gem install couchbase

Debian (Ubuntu)

Add the appropriate line to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/couchbase.list for your OS release:

# Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot (Debian unstable)
deb oneiric oneiric/main

# Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx (Debian stable or testing)
deb lucid lucid/main

Import the Couchbase PGP key:

wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Then install them

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install libcouchbase-dev

Again, if you need a preview of a future version, just use another repository in your couchbase.list

# Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot (Debian unstable)
deb oneiric oneiric/main

# Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx (Debian stable or testing)
deb lucid lucid/main

Centos (Redhat and rpm-based systems)

Add these lines to /etc/yum.repos.d/couchbase.repo using the correct architecture

name = Couchbase package repository
baseurl =

name = Couchbase package repository
baseurl =

Then to install libcouchbase itself, run:

$ sudo yum update && sudo yum install libcouchbase-devel

We have preview repositories for RPMs too, use them if you want to try the latest version of libcouchbase:

name = Couchbase package repository
baseurl =

name = Couchbase package repository
baseurl =


There are no additional dependencies for Windows systems. The gem carries a prebuilt binary for it.

Couchbase gem

Now install the couchbase gem itself

$ gem install couchbase

The library verified with all major ruby versions: 1.8.7, 1.9.3, 2.0, 2.1.


First, you need to load the library:

require 'couchbase'

There are several ways to establish a new connection to Couchbase Server. By default it uses http://localhost:8091/pools/default/buckets/default as the endpoint. The client will automatically adjust configuration when the cluster will rebalance its nodes when nodes are added or deleted therefore this client is "smart".

c = Couchbase.connect

This is equivalent to following forms:

c = Couchbase.connect("http://localhost:8091/pools/default/buckets/default")
c = Couchbase.connect("http://localhost:8091/pools/default")
c = Couchbase.connect("http://localhost:8091")
c = Couchbase.connect(:hostname => "localhost")
c = Couchbase.connect(:hostname => "localhost", :port => 8091)
c = Couchbase.connect(:pool => "default", :bucket => "default")

The hash parameters take precedence on string URL.

If you worry about state of your nodes or not sure what node is alive, you can pass the list of nodes and the library will iterate over it until finds the working one. From that moment it won't use your list, because node list from cluster config carries more detail.

c = Couchbase.connect(:bucket => "mybucket",
                      :node_list => ['','])

There is also a handy method Couchbase.bucket which uses thread local storage to keep a reference to a connection. You can set the connection options via Couchbase.connection_options:

Couchbase.connection_options = {:bucket => 'blog'}                   #=> "blog"
Couchbase.bucket.set("foo", "bar")      #=> 3289400178357895424

The library supports both synchronous and asynchronous mode. In asynchronous mode all operations will return control to caller without blocking current thread. You can pass a block to the method and it will be called with result when the operation will be completed. You need to run the event loop once you've scheduled your operations:

c = Couchbase.connect do |conn|
  conn.get("foo") {|ret| puts ret.value}
  conn.set("bar", "baz")

The handlers could be nested do |conn|
  conn.get("foo") do |ret|
    conn.incr(ret.value, :initial => 0)

The asynchronous callback receives an instance of Couchbase::Result which responds to several methods to figure out what was happened:

To handle global errors in async mode #on_error callback should be used. It can be set in following fashions:

c.on_error do |opcode, key, exc|
  # ...

handler = lambda {|opcode, key, exc| }
c.on_error = handler

By default connections use :quiet mode. This mean it won't raise exceptions when the given key does not exist:

c.get("missing-key")            #=> nil

It could be useful when you are trying to make you code a bit efficient by avoiding exception handling. (See #add and #replace operations). You can turn on these exceptions by passing :quiet => false when you are instantiating the connection or change corresponding attribute:

c.quiet = false
c.get("missing-key")                    #=> raise Couchbase::Error::NotFound
c.get("missing-key", :quiet => true)    #=> nil

The library supports three different formats for representing values:

The couchbase API is the superset of Memcached binary protocol, so you can use its operations.


val = c.get("foo")
val, flags, cas = c.get("foo", :extended => true)

Get and touch

val = c.get("foo", :ttl => 10)

Get multiple values. In quiet mode will put nil values on missing positions:

vals = c.get("foo", "bar", "baz")
val_foo, val_bar, val_baz = c.get("foo", "bar", "baz") do
  c.get("foo") do |ret|

Get multiple values with extended information. The result will represented by hash with tuples [value, flags, cas] as a value.

vals = c.get("foo", "bar", "baz", :extended => true)
vals.inspect    #=> {"baz"=>["3", 0, 4784582192793125888],
                     "foo"=>["1", 0, 8835713818674332672],
                     "bar"=>["2", 0, 10805929834096100352]}

Hash-like syntax

c["foo", "bar", "baz"]
c["foo", {:extended => true}]
c["foo", :extended => true]         # for ruby 1.9.x only


c.touch("foo")                      # use :default_ttl
c.touch("foo", 10)
c.touch("foo", :ttl => 10)
c.touch("foo" => 10, "bar" => 20)
c.touch("foo" => 10, "bar" => 20){|key, success|  }


c.set("foo", "bar")
c.set("foo", "bar", :flags => 0x1000, :ttl => 30, :format => :plain)
c["foo"] = "bar"
c["foo", {:flags => 0x1000, :format => :plain}] = "bar"
c["foo", :flags => 0x1000] = "bar"          # for ruby 1.9.x only
c.set("foo", "bar", :cas => 8835713818674332672)
c.set("foo", "bar"){|cas, key, operation|  }


The add command will fail if the key already exists. It accepts the same options as set command above.

c.add("foo", "bar")
c.add("foo", "bar", :flags => 0x1000, :ttl => 30, :format => :plain)


The replace command will fail if the key already exists. It accepts the same options as set command above.

c.replace("foo", "bar")


These commands are meaningful when you are using the :plain value format, because the concatenation is performed by server which has no idea how to merge to JSON values or values in ruby Marshal format. You may receive an Couchbase::Error::ValueFormat error.

c.set("foo", "world")
c.append("foo", "!")
c.prepend("foo", "Hello, ")
c.get("foo")                    #=> "Hello, world!"


These commands increment the value assigned to the key. It will raise Couchbase::Error::DeltaBadval if the delta or value is not a number.

c.set("foo", 1)
c.incr("foo")                   #=> 2
c.incr("foo", :delta => 2)      #=> 4
c.incr("foo", 4)                #=> 8
c.incr("foo", -1)               #=> 7
c.incr("foo", -100)             #=> 0 do
  c.incr("foo") do |ret|

c.set("foo", 10)
c.decr("foo", 1)                #=> 9
c.decr("foo", 100)              #=> 0 do
  c.decr("foo") do |ret|

c.incr("missing1", :initial => 10)      #=> 10
c.incr("missing1", :initial => 10)      #=> 11
c.incr("missing2", :create => true)     #=> 0
c.incr("missing2", :create => true)     #=> 1

Note that it isn't the same as increment/decrement in ruby. A Couchbase increment is atomic on a distributed system. The Ruby incement could ovewrite intermediate values with multiple clients, as shown with following set operation:

c["foo"] = 10
c["foo"] -= 20                  #=> -10


c.delete("foo", :cas => 8835713818674332672)
c.delete("foo", 8835713818674332672) do
  c.delete do |ret|


Flush the items in the cluster.

c.flush do
  c.flush do |ret|


Return statistics from each node in the cluster

c.stats(:memory) do
  c.stats do |ret|

The result is represented as a hash with the server node address as the key and stats as key-value pairs.

      # ...
      # ...
      # ...
  # ...


It is possible to create timers to implement general purpose timeouts. Note that timers are using microseconds for time intervals. For example, following examples increment the keys value five times with 0.5 second interval:

c.set("foo", 100)
n = 1 do
  c.create_periodic_timer(500000) do |tm|
    c.incr("foo") do
      if n == 5
        n += 1

Views (Map/Reduce queries)

If you store structured data, they will be treated as documents and you can handle them in map/reduce function from Couchbase Views. For example, store a couple of posts using memcached API:

c['biking'] = {:title => 'Biking',
               :body => 'My biggest hobby is mountainbiking. The other day...',
               :date => '2009/01/30 18:04:11'}
c['bought-a-cat'] = {:title => 'Bought a Cat',
                     :body => 'I went to the the pet store earlier and brought home a little kitty...',
                     :date => '2009/01/30 20:04:11'}
c['hello-world'] = {:title => 'Hello World',
                    :body => 'Well hello and welcome to my new blog...',
                    :date => '2009/01/15 15:52:20'}

Now let's create design doc with sample view and save it in file 'blog.json':

  "_id": "_design/blog",
  "language": "javascript",
  "views": {
    "recent_posts": {
      "map": "function(doc){if( && doc.title){emit(, doc.title);}}"

This design document could be loaded into the database like this (also you can pass the ruby Hash or String with JSON encoded document):


To execute view you need to fetch it from design document _design/blog:

blog = c.design_docs['blog']
blog.views                    #=> ["recent_posts"]
blog.recent_posts             #=> [#<Couchbase::ViewRow:9855800 @id="hello-world" @key="2009/01/15 15:52:20" @value="Hello World" @doc=nil @meta={} @views=[]>, ...]

The gem uses a streaming parser to access view results so you can iterate them easily. If your code doesn't keep links to the documents the GC might free them as soon as it decides they are unreachable, because the parser doesn't store global JSON tree.

blog.recent_posts.each do |doc|
  # do something
  # with doc object
  doc.key   # gives the key argument of the emit()
  doc.value # gives the value argument of the emit()

Load with documents

blog.recent_posts(:include_docs => true).each do |doc|
  doc.doc       # gives the document which emitted the item
  doc['date']   # gives the argument of the underlying document

You can also use Enumerator to iterate view results

require 'date'
posts_by_date ={|h,k| h[k] = []}
enum = c.recent_posts(:include_docs => true).each  # request hasn't issued yet
enum.inject(posts_by_date) do |acc, doc|
  acc[date] = Date.strptime(doc['date'], '%Y/%m/%d')

Couchbase Server could generate errors during view execution with 200 OK and partial results. By default the library raises exception as soon as errors detected in the result stream, but you can define the callback on_error to intercept these errors and do something more useful.

view = blog.recent_posts(:include_docs => true)
logger =

view.on_error do |from, reason|
  logger.warn("#{view.inspect} received the error '#{reason}' from #{from}")

posts = view.each do |doc|
  # do something
  # with doc object

Note that errors object in view results usually goes after the rows, so you will likely receive a number of view results successfully before the error is detected.


As far as couchbase gem uses libcouchbase as the backend, you can choose from several asynchronous IO options:


Clone the repository. For starters, you can use github mirror, but make sure you have read and understand CONTRIBUTING.markdown if you are going to send us patches.

$ git clone git://
$ cd couchbase-ruby-client

Install all development dependencies. You can use any ruby version since 1.8.7, but make sure your changes work at least on major releases (1.8.7, 1.9.3, 2.0.0 and 2.1.0 at the moment):

$ gem install bundler
$ bundle install

Don't forget to write the tests. You can find examples in the tests/ directory. To run tests with a mock just compile extension and run the test task, it will download a test mock of couchbase cluster as a part of the process (the mock is generally slower, but easier to setup):

$ rake compile test

If you have real Couchbase server installed somewhere, you can pass its address using environment variable COUCHBASE_SERVER like this:

$ COUCHBASE_SERVER=localhost:8091 rake compile test

And finally, you can package the gem with your awesome changes. For UNIX-like systems a regular source-based package will be enough, so the command below will produce pkg/couchbase-VERSION.gem, where VERSION is the current version from file lib/couchbase/version.rb:

$ rake package

The Windows operating system usually doesn't have a build environment installed. This is why we are cross-compiling blobs for Windows from UNIX-like boxes. To do it you need to install mingw and the rake-compiler and then build a variety of ruby versions currently supported on Windows. An example config looks like this:

$ rake-compiler update-config
Updating /home/avsej/.rake-compiler/config.yml
Found Ruby version 1.8.7 for platform i386-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/i686-w64-mingw32/ruby-1.8.7-p374/lib/ruby/1.8/i386-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)
Found Ruby version 1.9.3 for platform i386-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/i686-w64-mingw32/ruby-1.9.3-p448/lib/ruby/1.9.1/i386-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)
Found Ruby version 2.0.0 for platform i386-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/i686-w64-mingw32/ruby-2.0.0-p247/lib/ruby/2.0.0/i386-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)
Found Ruby version 2.1.0 for platform i386-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/i686-w64-mingw32/ruby-2.1.0/lib/ruby/2.1.0/i386-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)
Found Ruby version 1.9.3 for platform x64-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/x86_64-w64-mingw32/ruby-1.9.3-p448/lib/ruby/1.9.1/x64-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)
Found Ruby version 2.0.0 for platform x64-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/x86_64-w64-mingw32/ruby-2.0.0-p247/lib/ruby/2.0.0/x64-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)
Found Ruby version 2.1.0 for platform x64-mingw32 (/home/avsej/.rake-compiler/ruby/x86_64-w64-mingw32/ruby-2.1.0/lib/ruby/2.1.0/x64-mingw32/rbconfig.rb)

To install all versions needed for rake package:windows use these commands:

$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=i386-mingw32 VERSION=1.8.7-p374
$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=i386-mingw32 VERSION=1.9.3-p448
$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=i386-mingw32 VERSION=2.0.0-p247
$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=i386-mingw32 VERSION=2.1.0
$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=x64-mingw32 VERSION=1.9.3-p448
$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=x64-mingw32 VERSION=2.0.0-p247
$ rake-compiler cross-ruby HOST=x64-mingw32 VERSION=2.1.0

Before you build, check relevant ruby and libcouchbase versions in tasks/compile.rake. After that you can run the package:windows task and you will find all artifacts in pkg/ directory:

$ rake package:windows
$ ls -1 pkg/*.gem