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Atlas Search Overview

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  • Atlas Search Architecture
  • Atlas Search Indexes
  • Atlas Search Queries
  • Next Steps

MongoDB's Atlas Search allows fine-grained text indexing and querying of data on your Atlas cluster. It enables advanced search functionality for your applications without any additional management or separate search system alongside your database. Atlas Search provides options for several kinds of text analyzers, a rich query language that uses Atlas Search aggregation pipeline stages like $search and $searchMeta in conjunction with other MongoDB aggregation pipeline stages, and score-based results ranking.

Atlas Search is available on Atlas instances running MongoDB 4.2 or higher versions only. For certain features, Atlas Search might require a specific version of MongoDB. The following table lists the Atlas Search features that require specific MongoDB versions.

Atlas Search Feature
MongoDB Version for Feature
4.4.11+, 5.0.4+, 6.0+
4.4.12+, 5.0.6+, 6.0+

Atlas Search is not supported for time series collections.

The Atlas Search mongot Java web process uses Apache Lucene and runs alongside mongod on each node in the Atlas cluster. The mongot process:

  1. Creates Atlas Search indexes based on the rules in the index definition for the collection.

  2. Monitors change streams for the current state of the documents and index changes for the collections for which you defined Atlas Search indexes.

  3. Processes Atlas Search queries and returns matching documents.

Atlas Search architecture

If you define stored source fields in your Atlas Search index, the mongot process stores the specified fields and, for matching documents, returns the stored fields directly from mongot instead of doing a full document lookup on the database if you specify the returnStoredSource Option in your query.

Atlas Search stored source architecture

Atlas Search index is a data structure that categorizes data in an easily searchable format. It is a mapping between terms and the documents that contain those terms. Atlas Search indexes enable faster retrieval of documents using certain identifiers. You must configure an Atlas Search index to query data in your Atlas cluster using Atlas Search.

You can create an Atlas Search index on a single field or on multiple fields. We recommend that you index the fields that you regularly use to sort or filter your data in order to quickly retrieve the documents that contain the relevant data at query-time.

When you configure one or more Atlas Search indexes, Atlas enables the mongot process on the nodes in the cluster. Each mongot process talks to the mongod on the same node. To create and update search indexes, the mongot process performs collection scans on the backend database and opens change streams for each index.

You can specify the fields to index using the following methods:

  • Dynamic mappings, which enables Atlas Search to automatically index all the fields of supported types in each document. This takes disk space and might negatively impact cluster performance.

  • Static mappings, which allows you to selectively identify the fields to index.

Atlas Search performs inverted indexing and stores the indexed fields on disk. An inverted index is a mapping between terms and which documents contain those terms. Atlas Search indexes contain the term, the _id, and other relevant metadata about the term, such as the position of the term, in the document.

Although the data stored on Atlas Search isn't an identical copy of data from the collection on your Atlas cluster, Atlas Search indexes still take some disk space and memory. If you enable the store option for fields that contain string values or if you configure the stored source fields in your index, Atlas Search stores an identical copy of the specified fields on disk, which can take disk space.

Atlas Search provides built-in analyzers for creating indexable terms that correct for differences in punctuation, capitalization, stop words, and more. Analyzers apply parsing and language rules to the query. You can also create a custom analyzer using available built-in character filters, tokenizers, and token filters. To learn more about the built-in and custom analyzers, see Process Data with Analyzers.

For text fields, the mongot performs the following tasks to create indexable tokens:

  1. Analysis of the text

  2. Tokenization, which is breaking up of words in a string to indexable tokens

  3. Normalization, such as transforming the text to lower case, folding diacritics, and removing stop words

  4. Stemming, such as ignoring plural and other word forms to index the word in the most reduced form

To learn more about Atlas Search support for other data types, see Data Types and Data Types. The mongot process stores the indexed fields and the _id field on disk per index for the collections on the cluster.

If you change an existing index, Atlas Search rebuilds the index without downtime. This allows you to continue using the old index for existing and new queries until the index rebuilding is complete.

If you make changes to the collection for which you defined Atlas Search indexes, the latest data might not be available immediately for queries. However, mongot monitors the change streams, which allows it to update stored copies of data, and Atlas Search indexes are eventually consistent.

After you set up an Atlas Search index for a collection, you can run queries against the indexed fields.

Atlas Search queries take the form of an aggregation pipeline stage. Atlas Search provides $search and $searchMeta stages, both of which must be the first stage in the query pipeline. These stages can be used in conjunction with other aggregation pipeline stages in your query pipeline. To learn more about these pipeline stages, see Return Atlas Search Results or Metadata.

Atlas Search also provides query operators and collectors that you can use inside the aggregation pipeline stage. The Atlas Search operators allow you to locate and retrieve matching data from the collection on your Atlas cluster. The collector returns a document representing the search metadata results.

You can use Atlas Search operators to query terms, phrases, geographic shapes and points, numeric values, similar documents, synonymous terms, and more. You can also search using regex and wildcard expressions. The Atlas Search compound operator allows you to combine multiple operators inside your $search stage to perform a complex search and filter of data based on what must, must not, or should be present in the documents returned by Atlas Search. You can use the compound operator to also match or filter documents in the $search stage itself. Running $match after $search is less performant than running $search with the compound operator.

To learn more about the syntax, options, and usage of the Atlas Search operators, see Use Operators and Collectors in Atlas Search Queries.

When you run a query, Atlas Search uses the configured read preference to identify the node on which to run the query. The query first goes to the MongoDB process, which is mongod for a replica set cluster or mongos for a sharded cluster. For sharded clusters, your cluster data is partitioned across mongod instances and each mongot knows about the data on the mongod on the same node only. Therefore, you can't run queries that target a particular shard. mongos directs the queries to all shards, making these scatter gather queries.

The MongoDB process routes the query to the mongot on the same node. Atlas Search performs the search and scoring and returns the document IDs and other search metadata for the matching results to mongod. The mongod then performs a full document lookup implicitly for the matching results and returns the results to the client.

Atlas Search associates a relevance-based score with every document in the result set. The relevance-based scoring allows Atlas Search to return documents in the order from the highest score to the lowest. Atlas Search scores documents higher if the query term appears frequently in a document and lower if the query term appears across many documents in the collection. Atlas Search also supports customizing the relevance-based default score by boosting, decaying, or other modifying options. To learn more about customizing the resulting scores, see Score the Documents in the Results.

For hands-on experience creating Atlas Search indexes and running Atlas Search queries against the sample datasets, try the tutorials in the following pages:

←  What is MongoDB Atlas Search?Atlas Search Best Practices →
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