We have indexes for each of the following doc types:
  • Applications - hqapps
  • Cases - hqcases
  • Domains - hqdomains
  • Forms - xforms
  • Groups - hqgroups
  • Users - hqusers
  • Report Cases - report_cases
  • Report Forms - report_xforms
  • SMS logs - smslogs
  • TrialConnect SMS logs - tc_smslogs

The Report cases and forms indexes are only configured to run for a few domains, and they store additional mappings allowing you to query on form and case properties (not just metadata).

Each index has a corresponding mapping file in corehq/pillows/mappings/. Each mapping has a hash that reflects the current state of the mapping. This is appended to the index name so the index is called something like xforms_1cce1f049a1b4d864c9c25dc42648a45. Each type of index has an alias with the short name, so you should normally be querying just xforms, not the fully specified index+hash.

Whenever the mapping is changed, this hash should be updated. That will trigger the creation of a new index on deploy (by the $ ./manage.py ptop_preindex command). Once the new index is finished, the alias is flipped ($ ./manage.py ptop_es_manage --flip_all_aliases) to point to the new index, allowing for a relatively seamless transition.

Keeping indexes up-to-date

Pillowtop looks at the changes feed from couch and listens for any relevant new/changed docs. In order to have your changes appear in elasticsearch, pillowtop must be running:

$ ./manage.py run_ptop --all

You can also run a once-off reindex for a specific index:

$ ./manage.py ptop_reindexer_v2 user

Changing a mapping or adding data

If you’re adding additional data to elasticsearch, you’ll need modify that index’s mapping file in order to be able to query on that new data.

Adding data to an index

Each pillow has a function or class that takes in the raw document dictionary and transforms it into the document that get’s sent to ES. If for example, you wanted to store username in addition to user_id on cases in elastic, you’d add username to corehq.pillows.mappings.case_mapping, then modify transform_case_for_elasticsearch function to do the appropriate lookup. It accepts a doc_dict for the case doc and is expected to return a doc_dict, so just add the username to that.

Building the new index

Once you’ve made the change, you’ll need to build a new index which uses that new mapping, so you’ll have to update the hash at the top of the file. This can just be a random alphanumeric string. This will trigger a preindex as outlined in the Indexes section.

How to un-bork your broken indexes

Sometimes things get in a weird state and (locally!) it’s easiest to just blow away the index and start over.

  1. Delete the affected index. The easiest way to do this is with elasticsearch-head. You can delete multiple affected indices with curl -X DELETE http://localhost:9200/*. * can be replaced with any regex to delete matched indices, similar to bash regex.
  2. Run $ ./manage.py ptop_preindex && ./manage.py ptop_es_manage --flip_all_aliases.
  3. Try again

Querying Elasticsearch - Best Practices

Here are the most basic things to know if you want to write readable and reasonably performant code for accessing Elasticsearch.

Use ESQuery when possible

Check out ESQuery

  • Prefer the cleaner .count(), .values(), .values_list(), etc. execution methods to the more low level .run().hits, .run().total, etc. With the latter easier to make mistakes and fall into anti-patterns and it’s harder to read.
  • Prefer adding filter methods to using set_query() unless you really know what you’re doing and are willing to make your code more error prone and difficult to read.

Prefer scroll queries

Use a scroll query when fetching lots of records.

Prefer filter to query

Don’t use query when you could use filter if you don’t need rank.

Use size(0) with aggregations

Use size(0) when you’re only doing aggregations thing—otherwise you’ll get back doc bodies as well! Sometimes that’s just abstractly wasteful, but often it can be a serious performance hit for the operation as well as the cluster.

The best way to do this is by using helpers like ESQuery’s .count() that know to do this for you—your code will look better and you won’t have to remember to check for that every time. (If you ever find helpers not doing this correctly, then it’s definitely worth fixing.)