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#104 in Database interfaces

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This Rust crate is designed to provide a secondary index on top of the RocksDB key/value store, similar to what PouchDB does for LevelDB. Your application will provide implementations of the Document trait to suit the various types of data to be stored in the database, and this library will invoke the mapping function on those Document instances to produce index key/value pairs.

The behavior of this library is similar to PouchDB, albeit with an API suitable for the language. Unlike PouchDB, this library does not put any constraints on the format of the database records. As a result, the library relies on the application to provide the functions for deserializing records and invoking the emit() function with the secondary key and an optional value. To avoid unnecessary deserialization, the library will call Document.map() with each defined index name whenever the application calls the put() function on the Database instance.


What this library does exactly: the indices managed by this library are "stand-alone", meaning they are not embedded within the database files (e.g. zone maps or bloom filters). Additionally, the index is updated in a lazy fashion, meaning that changes are appended rather than eagerly merged on update. This description from [3] nicely captures the overall performance:

Here, each entry in the secondary indexes is a composite key consisting of (secondary key + primary key). The secondary lookup is a prefix search on secondary key, which can be implemented using regular range search on the index table. Here, writes and compactions are faster than "Lazy," but secondary attribute lookup may be slower as it needs to perform a range scan on the index table.

One difference from a simple composite index is that this library permits the application to emit a value along with the secondary key, in place of the null that would normally be the value in the secondary index.

Contributions Are Welcome

While the author has read a couple of relevant research papers, he is not by any means an expert in database technology. Likewise, his Rust skills may not be all that impressive either. If you wish to contribute, by all means, please do. Thank you in advance.

Building and Testing


  • Rust stable (2018 edition)

Building and Testing

These commands will build the library and run the tests.

$ cargo clean
$ cargo build
$ cargo test

Apple M1 Support

With the 0.16 release of rust-rocksdb this library supports building using the ARM64 target on the macOS platform since release 2.5.0.


See the full example in examples/tagged.rs, which creates a RocksDB database, adds a few records,establishes a secondary index, and queries that index using specific key values.

cargo run --example tagged

An example demonstrating numeric indices, examples/numdex.rs, utilizes the bitwise sort order preservation of base32hex, which also has the benefit of making the numeric keys "safe" for the composite key format of the secondary index. The key in the numdex index is the UTC milliseconds, and the query is for assets updated within a specific date range. Both the index keys and the query keys must be encoded, and it helps for the numbers to be in Big-endian order.

cargo run --example numdex

Quick Example

This code snippet is lifted from the aforementioned example. It shows the most basic usage of opening the database, adding records, and querying an index. Examples of the functions for generating the index keys and values are in the examples/tagged.rs example code.

let db_path = "my_database";
let views = vec!["tags".to_owned()];
let dbase = Database::open_default(Path::new(db_path), views, Box::new(mapper)).unwrap();
let documents = [
    Asset {
        key: String::from("asset/blackcat"),
        location: String::from("hawaii"),
        tags: vec![
    // ...
for document in documents.iter() {
    let key = document.key.as_bytes();
    let _ = dbase.put(&key, document);

// querying the "tags" index for keyword "cat"
let result = dbase.query_by_key("tags", b"cat");
let iter = result.unwrap();
let results: Vec<QueryResult> = iter.collect();
for result in results {
    let doc_id = str::from_utf8(&result.doc_id).unwrap().to_owned();
    println!("query result key: {:}", doc_id);


Optional features

Mokuroku supports several optional features to reduce the burden of using this crate with other popular crates.

  • anyhow: Enable auto-conversion of anyhow::Error to mokuroku::Error
  • serde_cbor: Enable auto-conversion of serde_cbor::Error to mokuroku::Error

Performance features

  • multi-threaded-cf: Passed to rocksdb to allow column families to be created and dropped from multiple threads concurrently.



Quick note on the terminology that this project uses. You may see the term view used here and there. This is what CouchDB and PouchDB call the indices in their documentation. Given this crate attempts to operate in a similar fashion, it seems natural to use the same term. The function name emit also comes from the "map/reduce" API of CouchDB, and makes as much sense as anything else.


The application will use the mokuroku::Database struct in place of rocksb::DB, as this crate will create and manage that DB instance. Since the crate is managing the secondary indices, it is necessary for the application to call the put() function on Database, rather than calling directly to DB. For those operations that should not affect any index, the application is free to get a direct reference to DB using the Database.db() function.

At startup, the application will create an instance of Database and provide three arguments.

  1. Path to the database files, just as with DB::open()
  2. Collection of index names that will be passed to Document.map()
  3. A boxed function of type mokuroku::ByteMapper

The set of index names are those indices which the library will update every time Database.put() is called. That is, the implementation of Document that is passed to the put() call will have its map() invoked with each of the provided index names. Not every Document will emit index key/value pairs for every index. In fact, there is no requirement to emit anything, it is entirely application dependent. Similarly, a single invocation of a mapper may emit multiple values, which is demonstrated in the tagged example.

The ByteMapper is necessary when the library needs to rebuild an index. Since the library will be reading every record in the default column family, it does not know how to deserialize the records into the appropriate Document implementation. For this reason, the application must provide this function to recognize and deserialize records, and then emit index key/value pairs.

After setting up the database, the application may want to invoke query() on the database for each named index. This will cause the library to build the indices if they are missing, which will improve the response time of subsequent calls to query().

Data Model

The application defines the database record format; this library does not put any restrictions on the format of the keys or values. That is a big part of why the usage is slightly more complicated then something like PouchDB.

The library maintains the secondary indices in separate column families, whose names start with mrview- to avoid collision with any column family that the application may have created. For instance, if the application creates an index named tags, then the library will create a column family named mrview-tags and populate it with the values given to the Emitter passed to the implementations of Document.map() and ByteMapper defined by the application.

The index keys output by the application need not be unique. The library will append the data record primary key to ensure that no index entry will overwrite any other (the two keys are separated by a null byte; if you need to change this use the Database.separator() function). The application can emit an optional value for the index entry, whose format is entirely up to the application.


In published order, the following papers were referenced during the design of this library, with the second being the most relevant.


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