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Expression Builder

The expression builder API is designed to allow programmatic generation of queries. It mimics the API of other well known builder domains, such as SQL. It additionally escapes all user input and makes sure you don’t accidentally introduce query injections. While the query API of Solr or ElasticSearch is read only and injections will not lead to data destruction, you could still leak private information (such as products not yet published).

Simple queries

Constructing simple queries is quite easy. Given that you have configured a default search field or pass one with the query, all you need to do is to call the eq() method. Let’s construct a simple query that consists of a single phrase "this is my search term".

$query = $eb->eq('this is my search term');

Next step might be to limit those searches to a specific field (myField:"this is my search term").

$query = $eb->field('myField', $eb->eq('this is my search term'));

A popular use case is to fall back on everything. To support that, expression builder has an all() method that returns a *:* if all values passed to it are empty. $query1 will contain field:"value" while $query2 contain *:*.

$query1 = $eb->all($eb->field('field', $eb->eq('value')));
$query2 = $eb->all($eb->field('field', $eb->eq(null)));

Note: the expression builder API generally assumes null to be an empty query.

Requiring and prohibiting expressions

To create queries that require a certain condition to be true, we need to add a plus sign (+) in front of it. Let’s create a query in the form of +field:"search term".

$eb->req($eb->field('field', $eb->eq('search term')));

Let’s negate that expression and make sure we only get documents where "search term" is not present (-field:"search term").

$eb->prhb($eb->field('field', $eb->eq('search term')));

If we need to require/prohibit based on dynamic input, we can also use the bool() function. Passing true as an operator will require, passing false will prohibit an expression.

$eb->bool($eb->field('field', $eb->eq('search term')), true);
$eb->bool($eb->field('field', $eb->eq('search term')), false);

Constructing range queries

Another powerful feature of Solr is range queries. You can search between numbers, letters and dates. Let’s start with a simple numeric range query to get only products with ratings between 5 and 10 (rating:[5 TO 10]).

$eb->field('rating', $eb->range(5, 10));

If we want to use an open upper bound (rating:[5 TO *]), we can do that as well:

$eb->field('rating', $eb->range(5, null));

[ is used to define implicit ranges, '{' is used for explicit ranges. We can either use btwnRange() or pass false as a third parameter to range() (rating:{5 TO 10}).

$eb->field('rating', $eb->btwnRange(5, 10));

We promised date ranges, let’s create a query that searches for products from 2012 (publishedOn:[2012-01-01T00:00:00Z TO 2012-12-31T23:59:56]).

$eb->field('publishedOn', $eb->dateRange(new DateTime('2012-01-01 00:00:00'), new DateTime('2012-12-31 23:59:59')));


Grouping is a powerful feature of Lucene’s search syntax. Let’s search for a list of product names (productName:("vinyl" "minidisc" "compact disc")).

$eb->field('productName', $eb->grp('vinyl', 'minidisc', 'compact disc'));

The query above relies on the default operator (either "OR" or "AND"). To explicitly set one, we simply pass a grouping parameter as a last parameter to grp() to create this query: `productName:("vinyl" OR "minidisc" OR "compact disc").

$eb->field('productName', $eb->grp('vinyl', 'minidisc', 'compact disc', GroupExpression::TYPE_OR));

Shortcuts for using grouping with "OR" or "AND" operators.

$eb->field('productName', $eb->orX('vinyl', 'minidisc', 'compact disc'));
$eb->field('productName', $eb->andX('vinyl', 'minidisc', 'compact disc'));

Wildcards and proximity searches

Wildcard searches come in two different forms: * for anything or ? for a single character. To create a query products starting with "ab": productName:ab*.

$eb->field('productName', $eb->wild('ab', '*'));

To search for all product names starting with "ab" and a single character afterwords: productName:ab?.

$eb->field('productName', $eb->wild('ab'));
// Same as
$eb->field('productName', $eb->wild('ab', '?'));

We can also search for all products where the description contains "vinyl" and "minidisc" but only in a distance of ten words: description:"vinyl minidisc"~10.

$eb->field('description', $eb->prx("vinyl", "minidisc", 10));

Compositing multiple queries

To combined multiple queries, we can use comp(). Additionally, we can specify an operator ("OR" or "AND"). Let’s construct a query searching searching for all products that contain "vinyl" in name and description (productName:"vinyl" description:"vinyl").

$eb->comp($eb->field('productName', $eb->eq('vinyl')), $eb->field('description', $eb->eq('vinyl')));

Let’s specify an explicit "OR": productName:"vinyl" OR description:"vinyl".

    $eb->field('productName', $eb->eq('vinyl')),
    $eb->field('description', $eb->eq('vinyl')),

Esoteric: functions and local params

Solr also allows function queries. This is a rather esoteric feature, but we can create that as well. There query we want to create, looks like this: _val_:"product(2,2)".

$eb->field('_val_', $eb->phrase($eb->func('product', [2, 2])));

Another esoteric Solr feature is local params, a way to specify query parser dependencies. Let’s force the dismax query parser, that is designed to handle user inputs: {!dismax v="query string"}.

$eb->localParams('dismax', ['v' => 'query string']);

Another way, just specifying the local params and passing a query afterwards: {!dismax}"query string".

$eb->localParam('dismax', 'query string');