Incompatible changes in ArangoDB 3.9

It is recommended to check the following list of incompatible changes before upgrading to ArangoDB 3.9, and adjust any client programs if necessary.

The following incompatible changes have been made in ArangoDB 3.9:

Architecture requirements

The minimum architecture requirements have been raised from the Westmere architecture to the Sandy Bridge architecture. 256 bit AVX instructions are now expected to be present on all targets that run ArangoDB 3.9 executables. If a target does not support AVX instructions, it may fail with SIGILL at runtime.

Startup options

Disallowed usage of collection names in AQL expressions

The startup option --query.allow-collections-in-expressions added in 3.8.0 controls whether collection names are allowed in arbitrary places in AQL expressions. The default was true, but is now changed to false in 3.9.0 to make queries like FOR doc IN collection RETURN collection fail, where it was probably intended to RETURN doc instead. Also see ArangoDB Server Query Options

Such unintentional usage of collection names in queries now makes the query fail with error 1568 (“collection used as expression operand”) by default. The option can be set to true to restore the 3.8 behavior. However, the option is deprecated from 3.9.0 on and will be removed in future versions. From then on, unintended usage of collection names will always be disallowed.

If you use queries like RETURN collection then you should replace them with FOR doc IN collection RETURN doc to ensure future compatibility.

“Old” system collections

The option --database.old-system-collections was introduced in 3.6 and 3.7 to control if the obsolete system collections _modules and _routing should be created with every new database or not.

The option was introduced with a default value of true in 3.6 and 3.7 for downwards-compatibility reasons. With the introduction of the option, it was also announced that the default value would change to false in ArangoDB 3.8. This has happened, meaning that 3.8 installations by default will not create these system collections anymore.

In ArangoDB 3.9 the option --database.old-system-collections is now completely obsolete, and ArangoDB will never create these system collections for any new databases. The option can still be specified at startup, but it meaningless now.

Replaced arangovpack options

The former options --json and --pretty of the arangovpack utility have been removed and have been replaced with separate options for specifying the input and output types:

  • --input-type (json, json-hex, vpack, vpack-hex)
  • --output-type (json, json-pretty, vpack, vpack-hex)

The former option --print-non-json has been replaced with the new option --fail-on-non-json which makes arangovpack fail when trying to emit non-JSON types to JSON output.

Export API removed

The REST API endpoint /_api/export has been removed in ArangoDB 3.9. This endpoint was previously only present in single server, but never supported in cluster deployments.

The purpose of the endpoint was to provide the full data of a collection without holding collection locks for a long time, which was useful for the MMFile storage engine with its collection-level locks.

The MMFiles engine is gone since ArangoDB 3.7, and the only remaining storage engine since then is RocksDB. For the RocksDB engine, the /_api/export endpoint internally used a streaming AQL query such as

FOR doc IN @@collection RETURN doc

anyway. To remove API redundancy, the API endpoint has been deprecated in ArangoDB 3.8 and is now removed. If the functionality is still required by client applications, running a streaming AQL query can be used as a substitution.

Client tools


The default value of arangodump’s --envelope option changes from true in 3.8 to false in 3.9. This change turns on the non-envelope dump format by default, which will lead to smaller and slightly faster dumps. In addition, the non-enveloped format allows higher parallelism when restoring dumps with arangorestore.

The non-enveloped dump format is different to the enveloped dump format used by default in previous versions of ArangoDB.

In the enveloped format, dumps were JSONL files with a JSON object in each line, and the actual database documents were placed inside a data attribute. There was also a type attribute for each line, which designated the type of object in that line (typically this will have been type "2300", meaning “document”). The old, enveloped format looks like this:

{"type":2300,"key":"test","data":{"_key":"test","_rev":..., ...}}

The non-enveloped format which is now enabled by default only contains the actual documents, e.g.

{"_key":"test","_rev":..., ...}

The change of the default dump format may have an effect on third-party backup tools or script. arangorestore will work fine with both formats. To switch between the formats, arangodump provides the --envelope option.


With the default dump format changing from the enveloped variant to the non-enveloped variant, arangorestore will now by default be able to employ higher parallelism when restoring data of large collections.

When restoring a collection from a non-enveloped dump, arangorestore can send multiple batches of data for the collection in parallel if it can read the dump files faster than the server can respond to arangorestore’s requests. This increased parallelism normally helps to speed up the restore process, but it can also lead to arangorestore saturating the server with its restore requests. In this case it is advised to decrease the value of arangorestore’s --threads option accordingly. The value of --threads will the determine the maximum parallelism used by arangorestore.