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Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB Build Docs

This is a partial implementation of an Elixir Ecto adapter for Amazon's DynamoDB. It's very much a work in progress, and has plenty of rough edges. It's complete enough that we're actually using it in other projects, so we're opening it up to the community in hopes that others will find it useful as well :-)

Keep in mind that DynamoDB is a key-value store designed for very high scale, while the Ecto abstractions are primarily designed to work with relational databases. As such, we've had to make significant compromises in the implementation of this adapter to make it work. Please understand that, while we are using it in production, it should be considered beta - do not deploy it without thouroughly testing it for your use cases.

If you wish to contribute, please run $ mix test and confirm that the test results are error-free before you push your commits. (Bonus points for improving our tests and adding your own tests for your changes. Patches with corresponding tests are more likely to be accepted, especially if they are significant.)

Special thanks to ExAws project

We use ExAws to wrap the actual DynamoDB API and requests. This project would not be possible without the extensive work in ExAws.

Design limitations

There are a lot of common things you can do in Ecto with a SQL database that you just can't do (or can't do efficiently) with DynamoDB. If you expect to pick up your existing Ecto-based app and just swap in DynamoDB, you're going to be disappointed. You still have to use this adapter the same way you would approach using a key-value store, and avoid the kinds of patterns you'd use with a relational database.

Is DynamoDB the right choice for you?

It may not be. Understand the DynamoDB limitations. It's designed for very high scale, throughput, and reliability. As a result of this design, there are many kinds of operations that are impossible. Other things are technically possible but not advisable, due to high costs in terms of performance and/or money.

A good starting point is Amazon's own documentation: Amazon: Best Practices for DynamoDB

Our philosophy when creating this adapter can generally be summed up as:

Try to do what the end user will expect the adapter to do, unless it's likely to ruin DynamoDB's performance.

An example of this is our handling of table scans (see below).

Lastly, please read and understand how DynamoDB and its queries and indexes work. If you don't, then a lot of the following behaviour is going to seem random, and you'll be frustrated trying to figure out why things don't work the way you expect them to. We've done our best to simplify what we can, but underneath it all, it's still DynamoDB.

How we use indexes

In DynamoDB, we can fetch individual records or batches of records very quickly if we know the primary key to look up, or the key of an indexed field. We can't easily perform queries which don't have a simple key or ID to look up:

Will work: (note that this will be a case sensitive match as well.)

select * from people where name = 'ALICE'

Won't Work:

select * from people where name like 'Ali%'

(Obviously these are SQL queries, not Ecto queries, but the above examples just provide a general illustration of what sorts of limitations to expect.)

We will try our best to parse queries and find any relevant DynamoDB indexes that exists (this includes both HASH indexes, and HASH+RANGE indexes). As long as the FROM clause contains at least one HASH key from a DynamoDB index, a query will be constructed using our best guess at the most specific matching index (this may not be the best index - unlike a SQL server, we don't understand the data in the table, so the adapter may have to guess - although users can specify the index for queries where the index may be ambiguous, more on that below). Any other fields in the FROM criteria will be converted to DynamoDB filters as required to ensure you only get back the data you requested. We also support is_nil in queries. This will test whether the attribute is either set to null or whether the attribute is missing from the record altogether. Please note that DynamoDB does not allow for this type of filtering on attributes that are being queried against, whether in the primary key or in a secondary index.

If we do not find any matching table index for the query (either a HASH key of an index or the HASH part of a composite HASH+RANGE key), the query will fail by default. It is possible to override this behaviour and have the adapter perform a DynamoDB scan instead. Since scans do not scale well, they can potentially be very costly with large data sets, and we have configured the adapter not to scan unless scanning is explicitly enabled. This can be done via global configuration options, or inline as an option to Repo.all and other query functions. See the section below on scan for more info.

The adapter will query DynamoDB for a list of indexes and indexed fields on the table, and by default it will cache the results to avoid the overhead of repeatedly pulling the same lists of indexes on every query. This does mean that if you update the indexes on a table in DynamoDB, you will need to execute the Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.Cache.update_table_info! function or restart the adapter.

Secondary index selection - default behavior

When querying a table (from f in Foo, where: ...), the adapter's default behavior is to automatically select the "best" index on which to query based on the fields in the query. A few things to note:

  • A hash-only index will be preferred over a composite index with the same hash key if only the hash key field is represented in the query. For example, if you have a Person model with a hash-only key on first_name and a composite key on first_name, last_name, a query that only includes first_name will use the hash-only index; a query with both fields will use the composite. While this probably seems like expected behavior, consider what will happen if the range key from the composite index is not a required field in your application; a query that includes both first_name and last_name will not include records where the range key is nil (as that record hasn't been added to that index), but a query that does not include last_name will return those records.

  • In the event that a query should include two fields fields that are represented by a hash-only index and the hash portion of a composite index, the hash-only index will always be chosen. Again, consider a Person model with a hash-only first_name index and a composite last_name, email index; a query that includes first_name and last_name will use the hash-only first_name index.

So in general, expect the adapter to prefer hash-only indexes where they could be seen as best-representing a query.

Lesson: create your data models and queries carefully.

Limited support for fetching all records - 'scan' disabled by default

Fetching records based on a hash of the primary key allows DynamoDB to distribute its data across many partitions on many servers, resulting in high scalability and reliability. It also means that you can't do arbitrary queries based on unindexed fields.

Well, that's not quite true, but running queries against un-indexed fields is usually a terrible idea. We can translate queries without any matching indexes to a DynamoDB scan operation, but this is not recommended as it can easily burn through all your read capacity. By default, attempting to perform these kinds of queries will raise an error. You can allow them to succeed by enabling the scan option at the adapter level for all queries, or by specifying the corresponding option on individual queries. See 'scan' options below for more information.

If you need to do this a lot, you're losing most of the benefits of DynamoDB, so think carefully before you do.

No joins

DynamoDB does not support joins. Thus, neither do we. Pretty simple.

While it's technically possible for us to decompose the query into multiple individual requests against each table and then perform the join ourselves, this will likely result in very poor performance, and burning through excess read units to do so. It's better to construct these 'joins' manually using key/value lookups against indexes carefully chosen to preserve your predictable key/value store performance.

This is one of those things that are technically possible, but would result in very unpredictable performance that could drag down your entire app, reducing or eliminating any benefit from DynamoDB. You're probably better off using another DB if this is a requirement.

That said, for very simple joins that match a limited number of keys where all the relevant fields are indexed, joins could probably be emulated pretty reasonably. We'd entertain the notion of accepting a patch for this, if anyone wants to go to the trouble, and if the code contains some reasonable safeguards to avoid executing big, expensive joins by accident. It would be tricky though, and it's certainly not a priority for us right now.

Limited sorting

DynamoDB can ONLY return sorted results if there is a matching HASH+RANGE index where the desired sort key is the RANGE portion of the index. In this case we support the :scan_index_forward option as a parameter to Repo queries. However, writing queries like SELECT * FROM person ORDER BY last_name LIMIT 50 may not be practical; we'd have to retrieve every record from the table to do this. (See also DynamoDB LIMIT & Paging below.)

From DynamoDB's Query API:

Query results are always sorted by the sort key value. If the data type of the sort key is Number, the results are returned in numeric order; otherwise, the results are returned in order of UTF-8 bytes. By default, the sort order is ascending. To reverse the order, set the ScanIndexForward parameter to false.

Update support

We currently support both update and update_all with some performance caveats. Since DynamoDB currently does not offer a batch update operation, we emulate it in update_all (and update if the full primary key is not provided). The adapter first fetches the query results to get all the relevant keys, then updates the records one by one (paging as it goes, see DynamoDB LIMIT & Paging below). Consequently, performance might be slower than expected due to the need to execute individual fetches followed by individual inserts. Also please note that this means that update operations are not atomic! Multiple concurrent updates to the same record can race with each other, causing some updates to be silently lost.

All of these caveats can be especially pernicious if you're performing eventually consistent reads, as is the default for DynamoDB: you could write a new version of a record to a key, then attempt to perform an update to the same key, which could read from a zone that hasn't received your write yet. This would cause the update's fetch to return an older version of the record, which will then be modified and written back to DDB, overwriting your changes from the previous write! Thus, even if a single client synchronously updates a key, waits for success, then does another update, you may still experience a complete loss of the first of those two updates!

Lesson: be really careful with updates; and, you may want to use consistent reads unless you really know what you're doing (see the consistent_read option for more info).

DynamoDB BatchWriteItem

We currently support DynamoDB's BatchWriteItem via Ecto's insert_all and delete_all. DynamoDB enforces a limit of 25 records maximum per batch write, but we allow for an unlimited number of records by chunking large groups.

DynamoDB BatchGetItem

We currently support DynamoDB's BatchGetItem via an :in clause in all queries - for example, Repo.all(from m in Model, where: in ["id_1", "id_2"]) or Repo.all(from m in Model, where: in ^model_ids). For tables with a composite primary key, range keys must be supplied in another :in clause in matching order - for example, TestRepo.all(from bp in BookPage, where: in ["page:test-1", "page:test-2"] and bp.page_num in [1, 2]). DynamoDB enforces a limit of 100 records per batch get, but we allow for an unlimited number of records by chunking large groups into separate requests.

DynamoDB LIMIT & Paging

By default, we configure the adapter to fetch all pages recursively for a DynamoDB query operation, and to not fetch all pages recursively in the case of a DynamoDB scan operation. This default can be overridden with the inline :recursive and :page_limit options (see below). We do not respond to the Ecto limit option; rather, we support a :scan_limit option, which corresponds with DynamoDB's limit option, limiting "the number of items that it returns in the result."

Only ONE DynamoDB adapter can be configured

We only launch one instance of ExAws application (and have not yet investigated running multiple instances). This means we can only point to a single amazon Dynamo instance. It's currently not possible to run against two different amazon AWS accounts concurrently. Hopefully this won't be a problem for most users.


We support Ecto migration tasks via create_table, create_if_not_exists_table, and alter_table only. The functions add, remove and modify work with corresponding indexes on the DynamoDB table, rather than columns (as they would in a relational database). The adapter will automatically wait and retry requests when encountering DynamoDB errors that have "OK to retry? Yes" listed in the DynamoDB docs, according to an exponential backoff schedule. Since working with DynamoDB indexes and describing tables includes many options outside of Ecto's scope, for our supported syntax, please see details and examples in the Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.Migration moduledoc, as well as the configuration options, :migration_initial_wait, :migration_wait_exponent, :migration_max_wait, :migration_table_capacity.

Please note: Ecto migration calls Repo.all() on the schema_migrations table, which corresponds with a DynamoDB scan. To run migrations, add "schema_migrations" (or the alternate name you've configured for it) in the configuration file to the config variable :scan_tables. Additionally, note that the creation of the schema-migration records table takes time - if you have not created it yourself already, we recommend running mix ecto.migrate --step 0, then confirming the table is up, which will prevent the adapter from attempting to retrieve records from the schema-migrations table before it's ready.

Unimplemented Features

While the previous section listed limitations that we're unlikely to work around due to philosophical differences between DynamoDB as a key/value store vs an SQL relational database, there are some features that we just haven't implemented yet. Feel free to help out if any of these are important to you!


DynamoDB and ExAws.Dynamo support transactions, but they have not yet been implemented in this adapter. We will probably try to implement transactions at some point, but it's not a high priority for us - if you would like to make a valuable contribution to this project, you could help us to resolve this issue.


In the current release, we do not support Adapter.Storage callbacks.


To be honest, we don't even know what this is for. So it's not going to work :)

Associations & Embeds

While we've not tested these, without joins it's unlikely they work well (if at all).


This callback was implemented under Ecto 3 - it does not seem to be critical for this adapter's behaviour, and we do not know if it is appropriate to implement for DynamoDB. If you have input on this, or you want to help out with its implementation, see the issue here.


This callback was implemented under Ecto 3 - it does not seem to be critical for this adapter's behaviour, and we do not know if it is appropriate to implement for DynamoDB. If you have input on this, or you want to help out with its implementation, see the issue here.

This callback was implemented under Ecto 3 - it does not seem to be critical for this adapter's behaviour, and we do not know if it is appropriate to implement for DynamoDB. If you have input on this, or you want to help out with its implementation, see the issue here.

So what DOES work?

Well, basic CRUD really, which is all you should really expect from a key/value store :).

Get, Insert, Delete and Update. As long as it's simple queries against single tables, it's probably going to work. Anything beyond that probably isn't. All of the following Ecto functions should work to some extent, if not necessarily in every scenario.

  • all/2
  • delete/2
  • delete!/2
  • delete_all/2
  • get/3
  • get!/3
  • get_by/3
  • get_by!/3
  • insert/2
  • insert!/2
  • insert_all/3
  • one/2
  • one!/2
  • update/2
  • update!/2
  • update_all/3


In late 2018, Amazon introduced a new billing option for tables that allows users to specify table billing as pay per request (AKA "on-demand") as well as provisioned - more info - our migrations support both of these options. See lib/ecto_adapters_dynamodb/migration.ex for examples.


Install the Hex package by adding ecto_adapters_dynamodb to your list of dependencies in mix.exs:

defp deps do
    {:ecto_adapters_dynamodb, "~> 3.1"}

Otherwise, to fetch from GitHub:

defp deps do
    {:ecto_adapters_dynamodb, git: "", tag: "3.1.2"}

Local DynamoDB version

In order to make sure your local version of DynamoDB is up to date with the current production features, please use the latest release of DynamoDB local. As of spring 2020, the latest version is 1.11.478, released on January 16, 2020.


Configuring a repository to use the DynamoDB ecto adapter is pretty similar to most other Ecto adapters - you'll set the adapter option in your app's Repo configuration file to Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB, and then set the required (or optional) values in a keyword list in the appropriate application configuration files for your repo.

These values are different from the normal Ecto options. For example, in DynamoDB you don't have username, password, or database options - you'll need to delete these lines. Instead you'll add Amazon access_key_id, secret_access_key, region, and the optional dynamodb host and scheme options if you're not running against the default live Amazon instances (for example, running the local Amazon dev version of DynamoDB for testing and development).

All these options are quietly passed through to ExAws. Prior to version 3, existing ExAws configuration would be overwritten by these options. From version 3, the options are only used in calls made by the adapter, and other global ExAws configuration is maintained. See ExAws Getting Started for more information on these options.

A note on access_key_id and secret_access_key: This can simply be the actual key string, or it can be set to pull these from environment variables or Amazon roles (as per ExAws configuration). Some basic examples follow.

You may also omit all these ExAws options from the adapter config if you wish to configure ExAws manually (for example if you're using other features from ExAws such as S3, or dynamo_streams).

Note that as of version 3, with the exception of logging configuration, all config options are set per-repo.

The adapter also supports Confex-style configuration options.


Include the repo module that's configured for the adapter among the project's Ecto repos:

config :my_app, ecto_repos: [MyApp.Repo]

repo module

Configure your app's repo module to use Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB as its :adapter:

defmodule MyApp.Repo do
  use Ecto.Repo,
    otp_app: :my_app,
    adapter: Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB


Add the repo to your app's Supervisor configuration:

defmodule MyApp do
  def start(_type, _args) do
    children = [

    opts = [strategy: :one_for_one, name: MyApp.Supervisor]
    Supervisor.start_link(children, opts)


Start your app by adding it to the :mod key under application:

def application do
    mod: {MyApp, []}

Depending on your app's configuration, you may need to add :ecto_adapters_dynamodb under :extra_applications.

Configuring a Development Environment against a local instance of Dynamo

For development, we use the local version of DynamoDB, and some dummy variable assignments. Note that the access key/secret here are hardcoded in to the config, and that we set a dynamo key that overrides the connection parameters from the defaults for AWS. We point it to localhost:8000 - the default for a local DynamoDB test server.


config :my_app, MyApp.Repo,
  # ExAws configuration
  access_key_id: "abcd",
  secret_access_key: "1234",
  region: "us-east-1",
  debug_requests: true,	# ExAws option to enable debug on aws http request.
  dynamodb: [
    scheme: "http://",
    host: "localhost",
    port: 8000,
    region: "us-east-1"

Configuring a Production environment using Dynamo running on AWS

For a production setup, it's much simpler. No need to specify the host/port for dynamodb, as it will default to the appriopriate AWS service in the region selected.

In this example configration we do not hard code the secret or access key. These following settings tell ExAws to first attempt to pull the secret and access key from environment variables labelled AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY. If it cannot find those environment variables, it will attempt to fall back on AWS role-based authentication (this only applies if this instance is running in an appropriately configured Amazon instance).

To reiterate, this is just standard ExAws configuration that we're wrapping up in our adapter config. Please consult the ExAws docs for further information.


config :my_app, MyApp.Repo,
  # ExAws configuration
  access_key_id: [{:system, "AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID"}, :instance_role],
  secret_access_key: [{:system, "AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY"}, :instance_role],
  region: "us-east-1"

Other adapter options

The following are adapter options that apply to the Ecto adapter, and are NOT related to ExAws configuration. They control certain behavioural aspects for the driver, enabling and disabling default behaviours and features on queries.

config :my_app, MyApp.Repo
  dynamodb_local: true,
  insert_nil_fields: false,
  remove_nil_fields_on_update: true,
  cached_tables: ["colour"]

The above snippet will (1) notify the adapter that you are running it against a local dev instance of DynamoDB, (2) set the adapter to ignore fields that are set to nil in the changeset, inserting the record without those attributes, (3) set the adapter to remove attributes in a record during an update where those fields are set to nil in the changeset, and (4) cache scan results from the "colour" table, providing the cached result in subsequent calls. More details for each of those options follow.

Production DynamoDB vs. local development DynamoDB

:dynamodb_local :: boolean, default: false

Indicate whether you are running against production (default) or local DynamoDB. The local development version of DynamoDB is not a true replica of the software used in production, and some local behaviours require special handling - in some scenarios for instance, production DynamoDB will raise an error whereas the local version will just hang until it times out. We strongly recommend setting this config value to true in any environment you will be running against local DynamoDB.

Here's an illustration of a situation where this will be useful:

A developer writes a migration that creates a new table set to the "provisioned" billing mode and runs the migration locally and in production. Several months (and several migrations) later, an administrator changes the billing mode for the table from "provisioned" to "on-demand" via the AWS dashboard. The developer is asked to add a new index to the table, and she writes a migration for the index that does not specify provisioned throughput. Since the production table is now "on-demand", the index will run against production without issue; however, her local table is still set to "provisioned". In production, attempting to add an index with no specified throughput to a "provisioned" table will raise the error

(ExAws.Error) ExAws Request Error! {"ValidationException", "One or more parameter values were invalid: Both ReadCapacityUnits and WriteCapacityUnits must be specified for index: index_name"}

but local DynamoDB will hang until it times out and the migration will not be run.

It is our opinion that the developer in this scenario would want to be able to run the migration locally without necessarily having to change the billing mode of the table, since there is no local equivalent of the AWS dashboard and rewriting/rerunning migrations may be undesirable or impractical. Instead, by setting dynamodb_local: true, this adapter will "ignore" the discrepancy by quietly adding default provisioned throughput to the index, allowing the developer to continue her work while keeping her local migrations in sync with production.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but attempting to run a migration to add an index with provisioned throughput to an "on-demand" table in production will raise the error

(ExAws.Error) ExAws Request Error! {"ValidationException", "One or more parameter values were invalid: Neither ReadCapacityUnits nor WriteCapacityUnits can be specified for index: name when BillingMode is PAY_PER_REQUEST"}

whereas local DynamoDB will simply ignore the throughput and proceed to add the index anyway... so setting this value in your configuration will help to ensure uniform behavior when migrating indexes.

nil value handling options

:insert_nil_fields :: boolean, default: true

Determines if fields in the changeset with nil values will be inserted as DynamoDB null values or not set at all. This option is also available inline per query. Please note that DynamoDB does not allow setting indexed attributes to null and will respond with an error. It does allow removal of those attributes.

:remove_nil_fields_on_update :: boolean, default: false

Determines if, during Repo.update or Repo.update_all, fields in the changeset with nil values will be removed from the record/s or set to the DynamoDB null value. This option is also available inline per query.

:empty_mapset_to_nil :: boolean, default: false

When a field contains a DynamoDBSet type and has a MapSet in it, by default the mapset must contain one or more values, otherwise an insert on the object will fail. This is due to DynamoDB not supporting empty sets. Setting this value to true will convert empty mapset values to nil before writing, allowing them to be written to DynamoDB as a null value.

:nil_to_empty_mapset :: boolean, default: false

When a field contains a DynmamoDBSet type, and the value in DynamoDB is null, setting this option causes the loaded value to be populated with an empty MapSet (the result of rather than being left as nil.

Scan-related options

:scan_tables :: [string], default: []

A list of table names for tables pre-approved for a DynamoDB scan command in case an indexed field is not provided in the query wheres. By default, scans are completely disabled on all tables. Use this option carefully; you may be better off using the inline query options to make sure you only perform table scans when you explicitly expect to do so.

:scan_limit :: integer, default: 100

Sets the default limit on the number of records scanned when calling DynamoDB's scan command. This can be overridden by the inline :scan_limit option. Included as limit in the DynamoDB query. (This option does not apply to queries performing recursive fetches.)

:scan_all :: boolean, default: false

Pre-approves all tables for a DynamoDB scan command in case an indexed field is not provided in the query wheres.

:cached_tables :: [string], default: []

A list of table names for tables assigned for caching of the first page of results (without setting DynamoDB's limit parameter in the scan request). For a set table, call Repo.all(Model) to cache the first page of results. To override the caching for a table in this list, and perform a regular scan with associated inline options (see below), provide an additional scan: true option with the query; for example, Repo.all(Model, scan: true, recursive: true).

Migration-related options

:migration_source :: string, default: "schema_migrations"

The name of the table that should be used for tracking schema migrations.

:migration_initial_wait :: integer, default: 1000

The time in milliseconds of the first wait period before retrying a DynamoDB create_table or update_table request.

:migration_wait_exponent :: float, default: 1.05

The exponent to which the wait time between sequential retries of create_table or update_table requests is raised.

:migration_max_wait :: integer, default: 15000

The maximum wait time in milliseconds over sequential retries of a particular create_table or update_table request. Set this to 0 to avoid retries altogether.

:migration_table_capacity :: [integer, integer], default: [1,1]

ProvisionedThroughput as [ReadCapacityUnits, WriteCapacityUnits], for the Schema Migrations table only, automatically created by Ecto if it does not exist.

Logging Configuration

The adapter's logging options are configured during compile time, and can be altered in the application's configuration files (config/config.exs, config/dev.exs, config/test.exs and config/test.exs). To enable logging in colour, the MIX_ENV environment variable must be explicitly exported as dev during compilation.

We provide a few informational log lines, such as which adapter call is being processed, as well as the table, lookup fields, and options detected. Configure an optional log path to have the messages recorded on file.

Note that logging configuration is at the adapter level and is common to all repos.

:log_levels :: [:info, :debug], default: [:info]

:log_colours :: %{log-level-atom: IO.ANSI-colour-atom}, default: info: :green, debug: :normal

:log_path :: string, default: ""


config :ecto_adapters_dynamodb,
  log_levels: [:info, :debug]

Inline Options

The adapter supports a mix of Ecto options and custom inline options; if the Ecto option is not listed here, assume the adapter will ignore it. The following options can be passed during runtime in the Ecto calls. For example, consider a DynamoDB table with a composite index (HASH+RANGE):

  (from MyApp.HikingTrip, where: [location_id: "grand_canyon"]),
  recursive: false,
  scan_limit: 5

will retrieve the first five results from the record set for the indexed HASH, "location_id" = "grand_canyon", disabling the default recursive page fetch for queries. (Please note that without recursive: false, the adapter would ignore the scan limit.)

Supported Ecto Options

:on_conflict :: :raise | :nothing | :replace_all, default: :raise

By default, the adapter will provide the condition expression, attribute_not_exists(PARTITION_KEY_ATTRIBUTE) with the DynamoDB query, failing to insert if the record already exists. To perform an unconditional insert, possibly overwriting an existing record, provide the option on_conflict: :replace_all in the insert query. If on_conflict: :nothing is provided, a struct will be returned, although the record will not be inserted if there is a preexisting record with the same primary key.

Custom Inline Options

Inline Options: Repo.update, Repo.delete

:range_key :: {attribute_name_atom, value}, default: none

If the DynamoDB table queried has a composite primary key, an update or delete query must supply both the HASH and the RANGE parts of the key. We assume that your Ecto model schema will correlate its primary id with DynamoDB's HASH part of the key. However, since Ecto will normally only supply the adapter with the primary id along with the changeset, we offer the range_key option to avoid an extra query to retrieve the complete key. The adapter will attempt to query the table for the complete key if the :range_key option is not supplied.

Inline Options: Repo.update_all

:add / :delete :: [{field_atom, MapSet}], default: none

Ecto does not currently support :push and :pull on fields that are not :array type. To perform DynamoDB's add and delete on sets, pass the action, field, and value as an option.

:prepend_to_list :: [field_atom], default: none

To prepend a value during a :push action, include the field in this option. For example:

Repo.update_all((from Country, where: [name: "New Zealand"]), [push: [tags: "adventure"]], prepend_to_list: [:tags])

:pull_indexes :: [{field_atom, [integer]}], default: none

To remove an element in a DynamoDB list, we must supply the list index of the element/s. Include them in this option. If :pull_indexes is not specified, the adapter will attempt to find and remove all the occurrences of the value in the :pull keyword in the corresponding list field.

Here's an example including both of the options above:

  (from Model, where: [id: "fffx"]), 
  [set: [name: "Speedy"], inc: [int_field: 2], pull: [list_field_1: "value to remove"], list_field_2: "value will be ignored"],
  add: [set_field_1:["add_this"])], delete: [set_field_2:["remove_this"])], pull_indexes: [list_field_2: [5]]


For convenience, we have added an Ecto type, Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.DynamoDBSet, which casts and validates an Elixir MapSet type. Once you've included it in your schema, or extended the Ecto.Type behaviour to MapSet, Ecto Repo insert, update, and get commands; and the adapter's DynamoDb set related options, :add and :delete (mentioned in, Inline Options: Repo.update_all) will apply to the MapSet type.

Here's an example of how to declare the DynamoDBSet type in an Ecto schema:

defmodule Model do
  use Ecto.Schema
  schema "model" do
    field :set, Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.DynamoDBSet

Inline Options: Repo.all, Repo.update_all, Repo.delete_all

:scan_limit :: integer, default: none, except configuration default applies to the DynamoDB scan command

Sets the limit on the number of records scanned in the current query. Included as limit in the DynamoDB query.

:scan :: boolean, default: false (also depends on scan-related configuration)

Approves a DynamoDB scan command for the current query in case an indexed field is not provided in the query wheres.

:exclusive_start_key :: [key_atom: value], default: none

Adds DynamoDB's ExclusiveStartKey to the current query, providing a starting offset.

:scan_index_forward :: boolean, default: none

Adds DynamoDB's ScanIndexForward to the current query, specifying ascending (true/default) or descending (false) traversal of the index. (Quoted from DynamoDB's documentation.)

:consistent_read :: boolean, default: none

If set to true, then the operation uses strongly consistent reads; otherwise, eventually consistent reads are used. Strongly consistent reads are not supported on global secondary indexes. If you query a global secondary index with ConsistentRead set to true, you will receive an error message. (Quoted from DynamoDB's documentation.)

:recursive :: boolean, default: true, except for DynamoDB scan where default is false

Fetches all pages recursively and performs the relevant operation on results in the case of Repo.update_all and Repo.delete_all

:page_limit :: integer, default: none

Sets the maximum number of pages to access. The query will execute recursively until the page limit has been reached or there are no more pages (overrides :recursive option).

:index :: string | atom, default: none

When querying on a secondary index, this option allows a user to explicitly set the index on which to query by providing the name of that index. In most query cases, the adapter will be able to select the "best" index to use without this option, but there are some scenarios where the choice may be ambiguous, such as a query on first_name and last_name where the indexes first_name_last_name and last_name_first_name both exist. Without passing an :index option in such cases, the adapter may arbitrarily select one index over the other, and consistent results can not be guaranteed. This is especially important when a query includes operations that are specific to either hash or range key behaviors such as :in, which will work when applied to hash keys but will break for range keys.

QueryInfo agent

:query_info_key :: string, default: none

If you would like the query information provided by DynamoDB (for example, to retrieve the LastEvaluatedKey even when no results are returned from the current page), include the option, query_info_key: key_string.

After the query is completed, retrieve the query info from the adapter's QueryInfo agent (the key is automatically deleted from the agent upon retrieval):


The returned map corresponds with DynamoDB's return values:

%{"Count" => 10, "LastEvaluatedKey" => %{"id" => %{"S" => "6814"}}, "ScannedCount" => 100}

Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.QueryInfo.get_key provides a 32-character random string for convenience.

Inline Options: Repo.insert, Repo.insert_all

:insert_nil_fields :: boolean, default: set in configuration

Determines if fields in the changeset with nil values will be inserted as DynamoDB null values or not set at all.

Inline Options: Repo.update, Repo.update_all

:remove_nil_fields :: boolean, default: set in configuration

Determines if fields in the changeset with nil values will be removed from the record/s or set to the DynamoDB null value.

DynamoDB between and Ecto :fragment

We currently only support the Ecto fragments of the form:

from(m in Model, where: fragment("? between ? and ?", m.attribute, ^range_start, ^range_end))

from(m in Model, where: fragment("begins_with(?, ?)", m.attribute, ^prefix))


The adapter automatically caches its own calls to describe_table for retrieval of table information. We also offer the option to configure tables for scan caching. To update the cache after making a change in a table, the cache offers two functions:

Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.Cache.update_table_info!(table_name), table_name :: string

This re-fetches and caches the index data for the given table.

Ecto.Adapters.DynamoDB.Cache.update_cached_table!(table_name), table_name :: string

This runs a scan against the given table and updates the in-memory cached copy of it.

Developer Notes

The projection_expression option is used internally during delete_all to select only the key attributes and is recognized during query construction.

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Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this project except in compliance with the License.