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seraph-model provides some convenient functions for storing and retrieving typed nodes from a neo4j database. It is intended to work with seraph.

Quick example

var db = require('seraph')('http://localhost:7474')
var model = require('seraph-model');

var User = model(db, 'user');{ name: 'Jon', city: 'Bergen' }, function(err, saved) {
  if (err) throw err;

  User.findAll(function(err, allUsers) {
    // allUsers -> [{ name: 'Jon', city: 'Bergen', id: 0 }]
  User.where({ city: 'Bergen' }, function(err, usersFromBergen) {
    // usersFromBergen -> all user objects with city == bergen


seraph-model ^0.8.3 works with Neo4j 2 and 3.

To check if it works with your version, you should check out the repo, and change the Neo4j version at the start of the tests to the version you're running


Is here.


seraph-model is licensed with the MIT license.


How to do things

Model instance methods

Creating a new model

model = require('seraph-model)(seraphDbObject, modelTypeName)

You can create a new model by calling the function returned by requiring seraph-model. There are no instances of this model, only objects, which are passed to the model itself in order to perform work on it. Much like seraph itself.

It works by labelling each object with a type that you specify.


var db = require('seraph')('http://localhost:7474');
var Beer = require('seraph-model')(db, 'beer');{name: 'Pacific Ale', brewery: 'Stone & Wood'}, function(err, beer) {
  // saved!

After running this, your node is saved, and labelled as a beer, so a cypher query like MATCH node:beer RETURN node would return your node.

Adding preparers

Preparers are functions that are called upon an object to transform it before saving it. A preparer is a function that takes an object and a callback, and calls back with an error and the updated object.

Preparers can also do validation. If a preparer returns an error, it will be passed to the save callback as if it were a validation error. However, if you just want to do validation and not mutate the object, use a validator instead.

Preparers are called before validators.

You can manually prepare an object by using the model.prepare function.


var prepareFileSize = function(object, callback) {
  fs.stat(object.file, function(err, stat) {
    if (err) return callback('There was an error finding the file size');
    object.filesize = stat.size;
    callback(null, object);

model.on('prepare', prepareFileSize);{file: 'foo.txt'}, function(err, object) {
  // object -> { file: 'foo.txt', filesize: 521, id: 0 }
});{file: 'nonexistant.txt'}, function(err, object) {
  // err -> 'There was an error finding the file size'

Adding validators

Validators are functions that are called with an object before it is saved. If they call back with anything that is not falsy, the saving process is halted, and the error from the validator function is returned to the save callback.

Validators are called after preparers.

You can manually validate an object by using the model.validate function.


var validateAge = function(person, callback) {
  if (object.age >= 21) {
  } else {
    callback('You must be 21 or older to sign up!');

model.on('validate', validateAge);{ name: 'Jon', age: 23 }, function(err, person) {
  // person -> { name: 'Jon', age: 23, id: 0 }
});{ name: 'Jordan', age: 17 }, function(err, person) {
  // err -> 'You must be 21 or older to sign up!'

Save events

There's a few events you can listen on:

  • beforeSave fired after preparation and validation, but before saving.
  • afterSave fired after saving.


model.on('beforeSave', function(obj) {
  console.log(obj, "is about to be saved"); = 'bar';
  return obj;

Setting a properties whitelist

Fields are a way of whitelisting which properties are allowed on an object to be saved. Upon saving, all properties which are not in the whitelist are stripped. Composited properties are automatically whitelisted.


beer.fields = ['name', 'brewery', 'style'];{
  name: 'Rye IPA', 
  brewery: 'Lervig', 
  style: 'IPA',
  country: 'Norway'
}, function(err, theBeer) {
  // theBeer -> { name: 'Rye IPA', brewery: 'Lervig', style: 'IPA', id: 0 }

Composition of Models.

Composition allows you to relate two models so that you can save nested objects faster, and atomically. When two models are composed, even though you might be saving 10 objects, only 1 api call will be made.

With this, you can also nest objects, which can make your life a bit easier when saving large graphs of different objects.

Composited objects will also be implicitly retrieved when reading from the database, to a specified depth..

Because of this, you should be careful and sparing about what you compose. Compose only those models which you want to have every time you read an instance of this model.


var beer = model(db, "Beer");
var hop = model(db, "Hop");

beer.compose(hop, 'hops', 'contains_hop');

var pliny = {
  name: 'Pliny the Elder',
  brewery: 'Russian River',
  hops: [
    { name: 'Columbus', aa: '13.9%' },
    { name: 'Simcoe', aa: '12.3%' },
    { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%' }

// Since objects were listed on the 'hops' key that I specified, they will be 
// saved with the `hop` model, and then related back to my beer., function(err, saved) {
  // if any of the hops or the beer failed validation with their model, err
  // will be populated and nothing will be saved.
  /* -> { brewery: 'Russian River',
          name: 'Pliny the Elder',
          id: 11,
           [ { name: 'Columbus', aa: '13.9%', id: 12 },
             { name: 'Simcoe', aa: '12.3%', id: 13 },
             { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%', id: 14 } ] }

  db.relationships(saved, function(err, rels) {
    console.log(rels) // -> [ { start: 11, end: 12, type: 'contains_hop', properties: {}, id: 0 },
                      // { start: 11, end: 13, type: 'contains_hop', properties: {}, id: 1 },
                      // { start: 11, end: 14, type: 'contains_hop', properties: {}, id: 2 } ]

  // Read directly with seraph, function(err, readPlinyFromDb) {
    /* -> { brewery: 'Russian River',
            name: 'Pliny the Elder',
            id: 11 }

  // Read with model, and you get compositions implicitly., function(err, readPliny) {
    /* -> { brewery: 'Russian River',
            name: 'Pliny the Elder',
            id: 11,
             [ { name: 'Columbus', aa: '13.9%', id: 12 },
               { name: 'Simcoe', aa: '12.3%', id: 13 },
               { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%', id: 14 } ] }
  });, function(err, hop) {
    console.log(hop); // -> { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%', id: 14 }

Relations properties

When you save a composed object, you can specify the relationship properties through the _rel key.


var pliny = {
  name: 'Pliny the Elder',
  brewery: 'Russian River',
  hops: [
    { name: 'Columbus', aa: '13.9%', _rel: { quantity: "a bit" } },
    { name: 'Simcoe', aa: '12.3%', _rel: { quantity: "a lot" } },
    { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%' }
};, function(err, saved) {
  /* -> { brewery: 'Russian River',
          name: 'Pliny the Elder',
          id: 11,
           [ { name: 'Columbus', aa: '13.9%', _rel: { quantity: "a bit" } id: 12 },
             { name: 'Simcoe', aa: '12.3%', _rel: { quantity: "a lot" }, id: 13 },
             { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%', id: 14 } ] }

Updating models with compositions

You can use the regular function to update a model with compositions on it. If the compositions differ from the previous version of the model, the relationships to the previously composed nodes will be deleted but the nodes themselves will not be. If you want to update the base model but don't want the overhead that the compositions involves, you can use with excludeCompositions set to true. See the docs for more info.

A couple of alternatives for updating compositions exist: model.push for pushing a single object to a composition without having to first read the model from the database, and model.saveComposition for updating an entire composition in one go.

model.compose(model, key, relName[, opts])

Add a composition.

  • model — the model which is being composed
  • key — the key on an object being saved which will contained the composed models.
  • relName — the name/label of the relationship that is created between a root model and its composed models. These relationships are always outgoing.
  • opts - an object with a set of options. possible options are documented below.

composition options

  • many (default = false) — whether this is a *-to-many relationship. If truthy, the this composition will always be represented as an array on the base object.
  • orderBy (default = null) - how this composition should be ordered. This can be set to either the name of a property on the composed node to order with (ascending), or an object with the name of the property value and the order direction. Possible values might include: 'age', {property: 'age', desc: true}, {property: 'age', desc: false}.
  • updatesTimestamp: (default = false) - if true, whenever a composed model is saved, it will update the updated timestamp of the root model. Does nothing if this is not using timestamps.

model.readComposition(objectOrId, compositionKey, callback)

Read a single composition from a model.

  • objectOrId — an id or an object that contains an id that refers to a model.
  • compositionKey – the composition which to retrieve.
  • callback — callback for result, format (err, resultingComp). resulingComp will either be an array of composed objects or a single object if there was only one

Example (from the above context)

beer.readComposition(pliny, 'hops', function(err, hops) {
  /* [ { name: 'Columbus', aa: '13.9%', id: 12 },
      { name: 'Simcoe', aa: '12.3%', id: 13 },
      { name: 'Centennial', aa: '8.0%', id: 14 } ]  */

Setting a unique key

In neo4j, you can enforce uniqueness of nodes by using a uniqueness constraint on a given key for a label. You can add this constraint yourself, but doing so through seraph-model will give you the option to use the existing node in the event of a conflict.

Unique Key

Specifiying a unique key will create a constraint on that key. This means that no two nodes saved as this kind of model can have the same value for that key.

For example:

var Car = model(db, 'car');
Car.setUniqueKey('model');{make: 'Citroën', model: 'DS4'}, function(err, ds4) {
  // ds4 -> { id: 1, make: 'Citroën', model: 'DS4' }{make: 'Toyota', model: 'DS4'}, function(err, otherDs4) {
    // err.statusCode -> 409 (conflict)
});{make: 'Subaru'}, function(err, subaru) {
  // err -> 'The `model` key is not set, but is required to save this object'

You can also specify that instead of returning a conflict error, that you want to just return the old object when you attempt to save a new one at the same index. For example:

var Tag = model(db, 'tag');
Tag.setUniqueKey('tag', true, function() {{tag: 'finnish'}, function(err, tag) {
    // tag -> { id: 1, tag: 'finnish' }
    // presumably later on, someone wants to save the same tag{tag: 'finnish'}, function(err, tag) {
      // instead of saving another tag 'finnish', the first one was returned
      // tag -> { id: 1, tag: 'finnish' }

Computed fields

Computed fields are fields on a model that exist transiently (they aren't stored in the database) and can be composed of other fields on the object or external information. You specify the field that you want to be computed, and the function that should be used to compute the value of that field for the model, and it will automatically be computed every time the model is read (and removed from the model just before saving). You can use addComputedField or addComputer to add a computed field.


var Car = model(db, 'car');
Car.addComputedField('name', function(car) {
  return car.make + ' ' + car.model;
Car.addComputedField('popularity', function(car, cb) {
  fetchPopularityRating(car.make, car.model, function(err, rating) {
    if (err) return cb(err);
    cb(null, rating.numberOfOwners);
});{ make: 'Citroën', model: 'DS4' }, function(err, car) {
  // = 'Citroën DS4'
  // car.popularity = 8599


Schemas are a way of defining some constraints on a model and enforcing them while saving. An example of a schema might be:

var User = model(db, 'user');
User.schema = {
  name: { type: String, required: true },
  email: { type: String, match: emailRegex, required: true },
  age: { type: Number, min: 16, max: 85 },
  expiry: Date

Setting a schema will automatically use the keys of the schema as the model's fields property.

Each of the constraints and their behaviour are explained below.


A type property on the schema indicates the type that this property should be. Upon saving, seraph-model will attempt to coerce properties that have a type specified into that type.

'date' or Date

Expects a date, and coerces it to a number using Date.getTime. Values will be parsed using Moment.js' date parser.

Examples of coercion:

new Date("2013-02-08T09:30:26")    ->   1360315826000
"2013-02-08T09:30:26"              ->   1360315826000
1360315826000                      ->   1360315826000

'string' or String

Expects a string. Values will be coerced to a string using .toString().

'number' or Number

Expects a number. Values will be coerced to a number. If the coercion results in NaN, validation will fail.

'boolean' or Boolean

Expects a boolean. Values that are not already a boolean will be coerced based on their truthiness (i.e. !!value), with the exception of '0' which is coerced to false.

'array' or Array

Expects an array. If the value is not an array, it will be coerced to an array by inserting the value into an array and returning that.

Examples of coercion:

[1,2,3]     -> [1,2,3]
'cat'       -> ['cat']

Other types

You can give your own types to check against. If type is set to a string value that is not one of the above, the value's type is checked with typeof value == type. If type is a function, the value's type is checked with value instanceof type.


Supply a default value for this property. If the property is undefined or null upon saving, the property will be set to this value.

Default value: undefined. Example values: 'Anononymous User', 500, [1, 2, 3].


User.schema = {
  name: { default: 'Anonymous User' }


Trim leading/trailing whitespace from a string.

Default value: false. Example values: true, false.


Transform a string to uppercase.

Default value: false. Example values: true, false.


Transform a string to lowercase.

Default value: false. Example values: true, false.


Ensure this property exists. Validation will fail if it null or undefined.

Default value: false. Example values: true, false.


Values should match this regular expression. Validation will fail if the value does not.

Default value: undefined. Example values: /^user/i, new RegExp("^user", "i").


Values should be one of the values in the enum. Validation will fail if the value is not in the enum.

Default value: undefined. Example values: ['male', 'female'], [10, 20, 30].


Values should be greater than or equal to the given number. Validation will fail if the value is less.

Default value: undefined. Example values: 10, 0.05.


Values should be less than or equal to the given number. Validation will fail if the value is greater.

Default value: undefined. Example values: 100, 0.95., [excludeCompositions,] callback(err, savedObject))

Saves or updates an object in the database. The steps for doing this are:

  1. object is prepared using model.prepare
  2. object is validated using model.validate. If validation fails, the callback is called immediately with an error.
  3. The beforeSave event is fired.
  4. A cypher query is assembled that will save/update the node with the appropriate label, as well as any relevant composited nodes.
  5. object is saved.
  6. The afterSave event is fired.

If excludeCompositions is truthy, any composed models attached to object will not be altered in the database (they will be ignored), and the object which is returned will exclude compositions.

You need to remember that the _rel key of any object is a reserved word for relations properties (see Relations properties) and will be stripped from the object when saving, so it's not recommended using this name in your model.

model.update(object, [excludeCompositions,] callback(err, savedObject))

Additive version of Will not rewrite all properties on an object, and instead will only update the properties given on object. Otherwise behaves in the same way as

model.push(rootId, compName, object(s), callback(err, savedObject(s)))

Pushes a single object as a composed model on the model represented by rootId. This does not read the database first so there is no danger of a race condition.

model.saveComposition(rootId, compName, objects, callback(err, savedObjects))

Updates a composition set on a model. The models composed under compName on the model will be replaced with those specified by objects. This can be a partial update if you have an already existing array of composited objects., callback(err, model))

Reads a model from the database given an id or an object containing the id. model is either the returned object or false if it was not found.

model.exists(idOrObject, callback(err, doesExist))

Check if a model exists.

model.findAll([opts,] callback(err, allOfTheseModels))

Finds all of the objects that were saved with this type. Returns composited nodes.

opts is a set of options to pass to the read call. See query for available settings.

model.where(predicate, [opts,] callback(err, matchingModels))

This is a operationally similar to seraph.find, but is restricted to searching for nodes marked as this kind of model only. Will also return composited nodes.

predicate can also contain Javascript RegExp objects for some values. For instance, to make a case insensitive request, one might use :

Car.where({ make: new RegExp('Aston Martin', 'i') }, { varName: "car" }, function(err, cars) {
  // `cars` might have 'ASTON MARTIN', 'aston martin', 'AsToN mArTiN' (and many others) as `make` values... as long as James Bond's driving.

opts is a set of options to pass to the query call. Special options for where:

  • any (default = false) - if set to true, will match nodes with any of the specified values, rather than nodes with all of them.

model.query(query, params, [opts,] callback)

Takes a partial cypher query and extends it to retrieve seraph-models of this type. This is useful if you have computed properties or compositions. The query should be a regular cypher query, but it should not have a RETURN statement. It should also have a node variable (name is configurable via the opts.varName setting) that represents the model. So for example, lets say I want to find all Cars with an age greater than x years. I might do a query like this:

Available options

  • varName (default = node) - the variable name in the query referring to nodes of the current model.
  • skip (default = 0) - skip this many nodes in the resultset (exactly the same as cypher's SKIP)
  • limit (default = none) - limit to this many results (exactly the same as cypher's LIMIT)
  • orderBy - an order by clause. to order by a property, use varName as well. For example, if varName is beer, I can have a orderBy value of beer.abv DESC.
  • otherVars - an array of other variable names that you want to return. they will be attached to each node in the result. for example if you have a variable in your query age, and you specify it in otherVars, its value will be returned on each return model as the age property. Note that if a property with that name already exists, it will be overwritten (on the client, not in the database)
  • include - an array of included models. These are models which are related to the model you'd like to retrieve, but not composed. Specifying them here will automatically fetch these relations, and run any computations for that model after reading. It's also just convenient so that you don't have to specify your own MATCHes when you have non-composed relations. include should be an object, where each key is the name of the property on the resulting node, and each value is an object with the following options:
    • model the seraph-model that will be read
    • relName the name/label of the relationship relating the root node and this model
    • direction (optional - default: out) the direction of the relationship (valid options are: in, out or many).
    • many (optional - default: false) if set to true, the result is always and array
  • computeLevels - compute computed variables on models up to this depth in the composition graph. This may be desirable if you are reading many nodes, and you have computations that cause a database query to be executed. This can grow very quickly to a lot of http calls, and so computeLevels can be used to restrict the computation to only your root model (0) or the closest compositions (1, etc).
Car.query('MATCH (car:car) WHERE car.age > {x}', { x: 10 }, { varName: 'car' }, function(err, cars) {
  // `cars` is always an array

model.prepare(object, callback(err, preparedObject))

Prepares an object by using the model.preparers array of functions to mutate it. For more information, see Adding preparers

model.validate(object, callback(err, preparedObject))

Validates that an object is ready for saving by calling each of the functions in the model.validators array. For more information, see Adding validators


This is an array of property names which acts as a whitelist for property names in objects to be saved. If it is set, any properties in objects to be saved that are not included in this array are stripped. Composited properties are automatically whitelisted. See Setting a properties whitelist for more information and examples.

model.setUniqueKey(keyName, [returnOldOnConflict = false], [callback])

Adds a uniqueness constraint to the database that makes sure keyName has a unique value for any nodes labelled as this kind of model. If the constraint already exists, no changes are made.

Note: If you do not specify a callback, this mode will be set only on the seraph-model client. No constraint will be added to the database.

See the using a unique key section for more information and examples.

model.useTimestamps([createdField = 'created', [updatedField = 'updated'])

If called, the model will add a created and updated timestamp field to each model that is saved. These are timestamps based on the server's time (in ms).

You can also use the model.touch(node, callback) function to update the updated timestamp without changing any of the node's properties. This is useful if you're updating composed models seperately but still want the base model to be updated.

model.addComputedField(fieldName, computer)

Add a computed field to a model.

model.addComputer(fieldNameArray, computer)

Add multiple computed fields to a model, that are computed with a single computer. computer is a function that takes arguments obj and callback, and calls a callback with err and a modified obj with the computed fields added. fieldNameArray is an array of names of computed properties. These need to be known so that they will not be persisted back into the database.



See migration guide for details on migrating from 0.5.0 to 0.6.0. If you've been using 0.5.0 this is mandatory, your models won't work if you don't migrate.

  • Models now use labels (new in neo4j 2) instead of legacy indexes to keep track of their type.
  • Removed all legacy indexing. Any legacy indexes you use should be now created manually. The afterSave or beforeSave events are recommended for this purpose.
  • setUniqueKey now uses neo4j 2.0.0 uniqueness constraints.
  • cypherStart becomes redundant.
  • addUniqueKey now has a callback, since it is now adding a uniqueness constraint to the database.
  • Saving a model that has its uniqueness set to returnOld will now update the existing node's properties on save, to the specified ones (old behaviour was to discard the specified properties, make no changes, and return the existing node).
  • All timestamps are now in milliseconds, and can no longer be customised.
  • New option on compose: updatesTimestamp - allows the composed node to update the updated timestamp of any nodes it is composed upon, when updating. This functionality existed already, but was not optional. It is now opt-in.
  • Both read and write now use only a single API call.

Migration Guide

to 0.6.0

This will remove the nodes legacy index that was used to keep track of seraph-models pre 0.6.0. It will label all of the nodes that were in that index with the type of the model. If you specify, it will also migrate your created/updated timestamps. You will need to write your own script to use it.

You can include the migration function like so:

var migrate = require('seraph-model/migrations/0.5-to-0.6');

This function has the following signature:

migrate(db, models, [migrateTimestamps,] [migrateTimestampsFn,] callback)
  • db - an instance of seraph pointing to your neo4j db that you want to migrate
  • models - an array of your seraph-models that you would like to migrate.
  • migrateTimestamps - whether or not this migration should attempt to update your timestamps to the new millisecond-only format
  • migrateTimestampsFn - a function to take a timestamp of your old format, and conver it to milliseconds since 1970/01/01. defaults to function(ts) { return ts * 1000 }.
  • callback - function to call when the migration is complete.