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Common Errors

Trailing semicolons in query strings

Many SQL databases allow sending multiple queries at once. In this case, multiple queries are seperated using the semicolon character. Often it is also supported to execute a single query that has a semicolon at its end.

AQL does not support this, and it is a parse error to use a semicolon at the end of an AQL query string.

String concatenation

In AQL, strings must be concatenated using the CONCAT() function. Joining them together with the + operator is not supported. Especially as JavaScript programmer it is easy to walk into this trap:

RETURN "foo" + "bar" // [ 0 ]
RETURN "foo" + 123   // [ 123 ]
RETURN "123" + 200   // [ 323 ]

The arithmetic plus operator expects numbers as operands, and will try to implicitly cast them to numbers if they are of different type. "foo" and "bar" are casted to 0 and then added to together (still zero). If an actual number is added, that number will be returned (adding zero doesn’t change the result). If the string is a valid string representation of a number, then it is casted to a number. Thus, adding "123" and 200 results in two numbers being added up to 323.

To concatenate elements (with implicit casting to string for non-string values), do:

RETURN CONCAT("foo", "bar") // [ "foobar" ]
RETURN CONCAT("foo", 123)   // [ "foo123" ]
RETURN CONCAT("123", 200)   // [ "123200" ]

Unexpected long running queries

Slow queries can have various reasons and be legitimate for queries with a high computational complexity or if they touch a lot of data. Use the Explain feature to inspect execution plans and verify that appropriate indexes are utilized. Also check for mistakes such as references to the wrong variables.

A literal collection name, which is not part of constructs like FOR, UPDATE ... IN etc., stands for an array of all documents of that collection and can cause an entire collection to be materialized before further processing. It should thus be avoided.

Check the execution plan for /* all collection documents */ and verify that it is intended. You should also see a warning if you execute such a query:

collection ‘coll’ used as expression operand

For example, instead of:

RETURN coll[* LIMIT 1]

… with the execution plan …

Execution plan:
 Id   NodeType          Est.   Comment
  1   SingletonNode        1   * ROOT
  2   CalculationNode      1     - LET #2 = coll   /* all collection documents */[* LIMIT  0, 1]   /* v8 expression */
  3   ReturnNode           1     - RETURN #2

… you can use the following equivalent query:

FOR doc IN coll
    LIMIT 1
    RETURN doc

… with the (better) execution plan:

Execution plan:
 Id   NodeType                  Est.   Comment
  1   SingletonNode                1   * ROOT
  2   EnumerateCollectionNode     44     - FOR doc IN Characters   /* full collection scan */
  3   LimitNode                    1       - LIMIT 0, 1
  4   ReturnNode                   1       - RETURN doc

Similarly, make sure you have not confused any variable names with collection names by accident:

LET names = ["John", "Mary", ...]
// supposed to refer to variable "names", not collection "Names"
FOR name IN Names