RavenDB Lessons Learned

Facundo Gauna's photo
Facundo Gauna
·Mar 6, 2017·

3 min read

For the last 3 years, I’ve been using RavenDB in various projects. Most have been really positive experiences, but like any other technology, there’s going to be gotchas. Here’s a random collection of lessons learned from my point of view.

1. When you try to boil the ocean, bad things happen

128 - The out-of-the-box result limit on the client-side

Sometimes we get lazy, and we do something like this:

public class BirdRepository : IRepository<Bird>
      public IEnumerable<Bird> GetAll()
        return _documentSession.Query<Bird>().ToList();

Let’s say that IRepository<Bird> forces us to implement a GetAll() method. Our implementation is trying to load all the documents into memory because that’s how we defined the interface.

Some time later, you might notice that although you have 200+ documents, you’re always getting 128 results from your query. This is because RavenDB is built to be safe-by-default, i.e. it won’t let you boil the ocean and load all the documents into memory.

1024 - The out-of-the-box result limit on the server side

Similarly, if you try to by-pass the aforementioned limit by doing a Take(1000) or even worse Take(int.Max), Raven will only give you 1024 documents because this is the limit on the server side. In other circumstances, you might have a transformer that’s trying to group results and take a count. Grouping data in a transformer is allowed only up to this limit. Captain Obvious: grouping data from a transformer is allowed for the sake of transformation and not for aggregation.

So what should you do then?

  • Use paging, it’s really easy
  • If you have to iterate through all the documents because you’re exporting to a CSV file or building a report, you can use the Streaming API. This API allows you to iterate through the whole collection one document at a time.
  • If you must aggregate data, use a Map-Reduce index

2. Web API - Identity Separator

When first using RavenDB, one of my first challenges was trying to make Web API routing and Raven IDs work nicely together.

For instance, when attempting to build a route to GET a resource by ID:

GET api/birds/{id}

If ID is birds/1, the Web API router won’t be able to find the matching controller action.

Your first instinct might be try to use int or Guid IDs in your raven documents. But resist this urge. There’s a simpler way. Just change the convention for the identity separator.

documentStore.Conventions.IdentityPartsSeparator = "-";

Tada! Everything else should fall in place. No special code or side effects later on.

3. Polymorphic Documents

The RavenDB documentation on this topic is quite helpful. There’s a couple of strategies on how you can store polymorphic data in RavenDB.

Similar to how Entity Framework does it, you can store the entities separately or together.

Separate Collections - Multi-Map Indexes

public class Birds_ByName : AbstractMultiMapIndexCreationTask
    public Birds_ByName()
      AddMap<Owl>(owls => from o in owls select new { o.Name });

      AddMap<Eagle>(dogs => from e in eagles select new { e.Name });

Then you can query all birds:

IList<Bird> results = session
    .Query<Bird, Birds_ByName>()
    .Where(x => x.Name == "Bald")

Same Collection - Overriding Default Tag Name

documentStore.Conventions.FindTypeTagName = type =>
    if (typeof(Bird).IsAssignableFrom(type))
    return "Birds";
    return DocumentConvention.DefaultTypeTagName(type);

With this convention, all the documents that extend Bird will be stored as part of the same collection. All queries and indexes will be against the new tag name.

For instance, an Owl document will be indexed by:

from animal in docs.Birds
select new { animal.Name }

4. Large Document Collection? Consider Disabling In-Memory Indexing

Won’t happen in most applications, but if you have limited resources on your RavenDB host and you expect a very large document collection (1 million+ documents), you might consider not storing the index results in memory.

You can toggle this feature right from the index definition.

public class Birds_ByName : AbstractIndexCreationTask<Bird>
  public Birds_ByName()
      // Map Function Here
      DisableInMemoryIndexing = true;
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