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Accessing data from collections

Collection data can be accessed by specifying a collection name in a query. A collection can be understood as an array of documents, and that is how they are treated in AQL. Documents from collections are normally accessed using the FOR keyword. Note that when iterating over documents from a collection, the order of documents is undefined. To traverse documents in an explicit and deterministic order, the SORT keyword should be used in addition.

Data in collections is stored in documents, with each document potentially having different attributes than other documents. This is true even for documents of the same collection.

It is therefore quite normal to encounter documents that do not have some or all of the attributes that are queried in an AQL query. In this case, the non-existing attributes in the document will be treated as if they would exist with a value of null. That means that comparing a document attribute to null will return true if the document has the particular attribute and the attribute has a value of null, or that the document does not have the particular attribute at all.

For example, the following query will return all documents from the collection users that have a value of null in the attribute name, plus all documents from users that do not have the name attribute at all:

FOR u IN users
  FILTER u.name == null
  RETURN u

Furthermore, null is less than any other value (excluding null itself). That means documents with non-existing attributes may be included in the result when comparing attribute values with the less than or less equal operators.

For example, the following query will return all documents from the collection users that have an attribute age with a value less than 39, but also all documents from the collection that do not have the attribute age at all.

FOR u IN users
  FILTER u.age < 39
  RETURN u

This behavior should always be taken into account when writing queries.