Extend Ruby on Rails ActiveRecord with Neo4j nodes. Keep RDBMS and utilize the power of Neo4j queries
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New home for Neoid! https://github.com/neoid-gem/neoid


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Make your ActiveRecords stored and searchable on Neo4j graph database, in order to make fast graph queries that MySQL would crawl while doing them.

Neoid to Neo4j is like Sunspot to Solr. You get the benefits of Neo4j speed while keeping your schema on your plain old RDBMS.

Neoid doesn't require JRuby. It's based on the great Neography gem which uses Neo4j's REST API.

Neoid offers querying Neo4j for IDs of objects and then fetch them from your RDBMS, or storing all desired data on Neo4j.

Important: Heroku Support is not available because Herokud doesn't support Gremlin. So until further notice, easiest way is to self host a Neo4j on EC2 in the same zone, and connect from your dyno to it


See Changelog. Including some breaking changes (and solutions) from previos versions.


Add to your Gemfile and run the bundle command to install it.

gem 'neoid', '~> 0.1.1'

Requires Ruby 1.9.2 or later.


Need help with getting neoid up and running? Got a time-consuming problem you want to get solved quickly? Get neoid support on CodersClan.


Rails app configuration:

In an initializer, such as config/initializers/01_neo4j.rb:

ENV["NEO4J_URL"] ||= "http://localhost:7474"

uri = URI.parse(ENV["NEO4J_URL"])

$neo = Neography::Rest.new(uri.to_s)

Neography.configure do |c|
  c.server = uri.host
  c.port = uri.port

  if uri.user && uri.password
    c.authentication = 'basic'
    c.username = uri.user
    c.password = uri.password

Neoid.db = $neo

Neoid.configure do |c|
  # should Neoid create sub-reference from the ref node (id#0) to every node-model? default: true
  c.enable_subrefs = true

01_ in the file name is in order to get this file loaded first, before the models (initializers are loaded alphabetically).

If you have a better idea (I bet you do!) please let me know.

ActiveRecord configuration


For nodes, first include the Neoid::Node module in your model:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Neoid::Node

This will help to create/update/destroy a corresponding node on Neo4j when changed are made a User model.

Then, you can customize what fields will be saved on the node in Neo4j, inside neoidable configuration, using field. You can also pass blocks to save content that's not a real column:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Neoid::Node
  neoidable do |c|
    c.field :slug
    c.field :display_name
    c.field :display_name_length do


Let's assume that a User can Like Movies:

# user.rb

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Neoid::Node

  has_many :likes
  has_many :movies, through: :likes

  neoidable do |c|
    c.field :slug
    c.field :display_name

# movie.rb

class Movie < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Neoid::Node

  has_many :likes
  has_many :users, through: :likes

  neoidable do |c|
    c.field :slug
    c.field :name

# like.rb

class Like < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :user
  belongs_to :movie

Now let's make the Like model a Neoid, by including the Neoid::Relationship module, and define the relationship (start & end nodes and relationship type) options with neoidable config and relationship method:

class Like < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :user
  belongs_to :movie

  include Neoid::Relationship

  neoidable do |c|
    c.relationship start_node: :user, end_node: :movie, type: :likes

Neoid adds the methods neo_node and neo_relationships to instances of nodes and relationships, respectively.

So you could do:

user = User.create!(display_name: "elado")
user.movies << Movie.create("Memento")
user.movies << Movie.create("Inception")

user.neo_node                # => #<Neography::Node…>
user.neo_node.display_name   # => "elado"

rel = user.likes.first.neo_relationship
rel.start_node  # user.neo_node
rel.end_node    # user.movies.first.neo_node
rel.rel_type    # 'likes'

Disabling auto saving to Neo4j:

If you'd like to save nodes manually rather than after_save, use auto_index: false:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Neoid::Node
  neoidable auto_index: false do |c|

user = User.create!(name: "Elad") # no node is created in Neo4j!

user.neo_save # now there is!


You can query with all Neography's API: traverse, execute_query for Cypher, and execute_script for Gremlin.


Finding a node by ID

Nodes and relationships are auto indexed in the node_auto_index and relationship_auto_index indexes, where the key is Neoid::UNIQUE_ID_KEY (which is 'neoid_unique_id') and the value is a combination of the class name and model id, Movie:43, this value is accessible with model.neo_unique_id. So use the constant and this method, never rely on assebling those values on your own because they might change in the future.

That means, you can query like this:

Neoid.db.get_node_auto_index(Neoid::UNIQUE_ID_KEY, user.neo_unique_id)
# => returns a Neography hash

Neoid::Node.from_hash(Neoid.db.get_node_auto_index(Neoid::UNIQUE_ID_KEY, user.neo_unique_id))
# => returns a Neography::Node

Finding all nodes of type

If Subreferences are enabled, you can get the subref node and then get all attached nodes:

# => this, according to Neography, returns an array of Neography::Node so no conversion is needed

Gremlin Example:

These examples query Neo4j using Gremlin for IDs of objects, and then fetches them from ActiveRecord with an in query.

Of course, you can store using the neoidable do |c| c.field ... end all the data you need in Neo4j and avoid querying ActiveRecord.

Most liked movies

gremlin_query = <<-GREMLIN
  m = [:]



movie_ids = Neoid.db.execute_script(gremlin_query)

Movie.where(id: movie_ids)

Side note: the resulted movies won't be sorted by like count because the RDBMS won't necessarily do it as we passed a list of IDs. You can sort it yourself with array manipulation, since you have the ids.

Movies of user friends that the user doesn't have

Let's assume we have another Friendship model which is a relationship with start/end nodes of user and type of friends,

user = User.find(1)

gremlin_query = <<-GREMLIN
  u = g.idx('node_auto_index').get(unique_id_key, user_unique_id).next()
  movies = []


movie_ids = Neoid.db.execute_script(gremlin_query, unique_id_key: Neoid::UNIQUE_ID_KEY, user_unique_id: user.neo_unique_id)

Movie.where(id: movie_ids)

Full Text Search

Index for Full-Text Search

Using search block inside a neoidable block, you can store certain fields.

# movie.rb

class Movie < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Neoid::Node

  neoidable do |c|
    c.field :slug
    c.field :name

    c.search do |s|
      # full-text index fields
      s.fulltext :name
      s.fulltext :description

      # just index for exact matches
      s.index :year

Records will be automatically indexed when inserted or updated.

Querying a Full-Text Search index

# will match all movies with full-text match for name/description. returns ActiveRecord instanced

# same as above but returns hashes with the values that were indexed on Neo4j

# search in multiple types
Neoid.neo_search([Movie, User], "hello")

# search with exact matches (pass a hash of field/value)
Movie.neo_search(year: 2013).results

Full text search with Neoid is very limited and is likely not to develop more than this basic functionality. I strongly recommend using gems like Sunspot over Solr.


Neoid has a batch ability, that is good for mass updateing/inserting of nodes/relationships. It sends batched requests to Neography, and takes care of type conversion (neography batch returns hashes and other primitive types) and "after" actions (via promises).

A few examples, easy to complex:

Neoid.batch(batch_size: 100) do

With then:

User.first.name # => "Elad"

Neoid.batch(batch_size: 100) do
end.then do |results|
  # results is an array of the script results from neo4j REST.

  results[0].name # => "Elad"

Nodes and relationships in the results are automatically converted to Neography::Node and Neography::Relationship, respectively.

With individual then as well as then for the entire batch:

Neoid.batch(batch_size: 30) do |batch|
  (1..90).each do |i|
    (batch << [:create_node, { name: "Hello #{i}" }]).then { |result| puts result.name }
end.then do |results|
  puts results.collect(&:name)

When in a batch, neo_save adds gremlin scripts to a batch, instead of running them immediately. The batch flushes whenever the batch_size option is met. So even if you have 20000 users, Neoid will insert/update in smaller batches. Default batch_size is 200.

Inserting records of existing app

If you have an existing database and just want to integrate Neoid, configure the neoidables and run in a rake task or console.

Use batches! It's free, and much faster. Also, you should use includes to incude the relationship edges on relationship entities, so it doesn't query the DB on each relationship.

Neoid.batch do
  [ Like.includes(:user).includes(:movie), OtherRelationshipModel.includes(:from_model).includes(:to_model) ].each { |model| model.all.each(&:neo_save) }


This will loop through all of your relationship records and generate the two edge nodes along with a relationship (eager loading for better performance). The second line is for nodes without relationships.

For large data sets use pagination. Better interface for that in the future.

Behind The Scenes

Whenever the neo_node on nodes or neo_relationship on relationships is called, Neoid checks if there's a corresponding node/relationship in Neo4j (with the auto indexes). If not, it does the following:

For Nodes:

  1. Ensures there's a sub reference node (read here about sub references), if that option is on.
  2. Creates a node based on the ActiveRecord, with the id attribute and all other attributes from neoidable's field list
  3. Creates a relationship between the sub reference node and the newly created node
  4. Auto indexes a node in the auto index, for fast lookup in the future

Then, when it needs to find it again, it just seeks the auto index with that ActiveRecord id.

For Relationships:

Like Nodes, it uses an auto index, to look up a relationship by ActiveRecord id

  1. With the options passed in the neoidable, it fetches the start_node and end_node
  2. Then, it calls neo_node on both, in order to create the Neo4j nodes if they're not created yet, and creates the relationship with the type from the options.
  3. Adds the relationship to the relationship index.


In order to test your app or this gem, you need a running Neo4j database, dedicated to tests.

I use port 7574 for testing.

To run another database locally (read here too):

Copy the entire Neo4j database folder to a different location,


symlink bin, lib, plugins, system, copy conf to a single folder, and create an empty data folder.

Then, edit conf/neo4j-server.properties and set the port (org.neo4j.server.webserver.port) from 7474 to 7574 and run the server with bin/neo4j start

Testing Your App with Neoid (RSpec)

In environments/test.rb, add:

ENV["NEO4J_URL"] = 'http://localhost:7574'

In your spec_helper.rb, add the following configurations:

config.before :all do

config.before :each do

Testing This Gem

Run the Neo4j DB on port 7574, and run rake from the gem folder.


Please create a new issue if you run into any bugs. Contribute patches via pull requests. Write tests and make sure all tests pass.

Heroku Support

Unfortunately, as for now, Neo4j add-on on Heroku doesn't support Gremlin. Therefore, this gem won't work on Heroku's add on. You should self-host a Neo4j instance on an EC2 or any other server.



Developed by @elado