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A bunch of import/export tools for the neo4j-shell
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Please note that this tool was only developed to work with Neo4j, if you import/export to any other graph database you're on your own.

Import data into your neo4j database from the neo4j-shell command

neo4j-shell-tools adds a bunch of commands to neo4j-shell which allow you to insert data into a running neo4j database without any hassle.


Download and extract it in your neo4j server's lib directory e.g.

cd /path/to/neo4j-community-2.2.0
curl -o
unzip -d lib

Before you start

Restart neo4j and then launch the neo4j-shell:

cd /path/to/neo4j-community-2.2.0
./bin/neo4j restart

That assumes a default neo4j instance running on port 7474. You can call ./bin/neo4j-shell --help to get a list of other ways to connect to a neo4j instance.

Importing workflow

Before importing data, use the Auto Index command to set up indexing so that you'll be able to find the data afterwards.

Then choose a suitable import command, depending on how your data is structured.

Setup auto indexing

The auto index command is used to automatically create indexes on certain properties defined on nodes or relationships. This is in addition to the properties defined in 'conf/'.

auto-index [-t Node|Relationship] [-r] name age title

  • -r stops indexing those properties


$ auto-index name age title
Enabling auto-indexing of Node properties: [name, age, title]

Cypher Import

Populate your database with write clauses in the cypher query language.

import-cypher [-i in.csv] [-o out.csv] [-d ,] [-q] [-b 10000] create (n {name: {name}, age: {age}}) return id(n) as id, as name

  • -i file.csv: tab or comma separated input data file (or URL), with header. Header names are used as param-names. The cypher statement will be executed one per row
  • -o file.csv: tab or comma separated output data file, all cypher result rows will be written to file, column labels become headers
  • -q: input/output file with quotes
  • -d delim: delim used to separate files (e.g. -d " ", -d \t -d , )
  • -b size: batch size for intermediate commits

Example input file: in.csv

name    age
Michael 38
Selina  15
Rana    8
Selma   5


$ import-cypher -d"\t" -i in.csv -o out.csv create (n {name: {name}, age: {age}}) return id(n) as id, as name
Query: create (n {name: {name}, age: {age}}) return id(n) as id, as name; infile in.csv delim '  ' quoted false outfile out.csv batch-size 20000
Import statement execution created 4 rows of output.

Output file: out.csv

id  name
1   Michael
2   Selina
3   Rana
4   Selma

Optionally support types for column headers: just use prop:type as header in your csv, e.g. name:string,age:int

Supported Types

  • int
  • long
  • double
  • float
  • boolean
  • string
  • byte
  • and arrays thereof with _array, e.g. int_array

Geoff Import

Populate your database with geoff - a declarative notation for representing graph data in a human-readable format.

import-geoff [-i in.geoff]

  • -i in.geoff: newline separated geoff rule file (or URL)

Example input file: in.geoff

(A) {"name": "Alice"}
(B) {"name": "Bob"}


$ import-geoff -i in.geoff
Geoff import of in.geoff created 3 entities.

GraphML Import

Populate your database from GraphML files. GraphML is an XML file format used to describe graphs.

import-graphml [-i in.xml] [-r REL_TYPE] [-b 20000] [-c] [-t]

  • -i in.xml: graphml file (or URL)
  • -r REL_TYPE default relationship-type for relationships without a label attribute
  • -t also import node labels, see the export format
  • -b batch-size batch-commit size
  • -c uses a cache that spills to disk for very large imports

Example input file: in.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<graphml xmlns=""
    <key id="d0" for="node""color" attr.type="string">
    <key id="d1" for="edge""weight" attr.type="double"/>
    <graph id="G" edgedefault="undirected">
        <node id="n0">
            <data key="d0">green</data>
        <node id="n1"/>
        <edge id="e0" source="n0" target="n1">
            <data key="d1">1.0</data>


$ import-graphml -i in.xml
GraphML-Import file in.xml rel-type RELATED_TO batch-size 40000 use disk-cache false
0. 100%: nodes = 1 rels = 0 properties = 0 time 11 ms
Finished: nodes = 2 rels = 1 properties = 2 total time 16 ms
GraphML import created 3 entities.

GraphML Export

Export your Neo4j graph database to GraphML files. GraphML is an XML file format used to describe graphs. Can be used to import and visualize your graph in Gephi.

export-graphml [-o out.graphml] [-t] [-r] [match (n:Foo)-[r]->() return n,r]

  • -o out.graphml: graphml file to write to
  • -t write types, do a first pass over the data to determine property-types and write them to the graphml header
  • -r add all nodes of selected relationships
  • optional cypher query to select a subgraph to export

Example output file: out.graphml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<graphml xmlns=""
<graph id="G" edgedefault="directed">
<key id="name" for="node""name" attr.type="string"/>
<key id="count" for="edge""count" attr.type="int"/>
<node id="n0" labels=":FOO" ><data key="labels">:FOO</data><data key="name">John Doe</data></node>
<node id="n1" labels=":FOO" ><data key="labels">:FOO</data><data key="name">Jane Doe</data></node>
<edge id="e0" source="n0" target="n1" label="KNOWS"><data key="label">KNOWS</data><data key="count">0</data></edge>
<edge id="e1" source="n1" target="n0" label="KNOWS"><data key="label">KNOWS</data><data key="count">1</data></edge>


$ export-graphml -o out.graphml


An up and running neo4j database which you can download from here.

Other Technical Details

Libraries used

More on GraphML

The 'import-graphml' command supports attributes, supports only single pass parsing, optimization for parse.nodeids="canonical"

An import of @chrisdiehl's Enron Dataset took 5 minutes on a MBA:

Finished: nodes = 343266 rels = 1903201 properties = 8888993 total time 313491 ms

Manual Build & Install

git clone
cd neo4j-shell-tools
mvn clean package dependency:copy-dependencies

Then copy the jars that get generated into the neo4j lib directory:

cp target/import-tools-2.2*.jar target/dependency/opencsv-2.3.jar target/dependency/neo4j-geoff-1.7-SNAPSHOT.jar target/dependency/mapdb-0.9.3.jar /path/to/neo4j-community-2.2.0/lib

or make those two files available on your neo4j-shell classpath

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