Key-value operations in Riak use a few different kinds of object:

For more about buckets, keys, and values, read the object/key operations documentation.


Get an object:

# get a bucket
bucket = client.bucket 'pages'

# …or get a bucket-typed bucket
type = client.bucket_type 'my_cool_type'
bucket = type.bucket 'pages'

# get an object
object = bucket.get 'index.html'
object = bucket['index.html']

# get or create an object
object = bucket.get_or_new 'index.html'

# create a new object
object = 'index.html'

# change the object's data and save
object.raw_data = "<html><body>Hello, world!</body></html>"
object.content_type = "text/html"

# reload an object you already have the vclock of

# reload an object without the vclock
object.reload :force => true

# delete an object


Riak’s key-value interface maniuplates objects. You can think of an object as a tuple:

  {bucket type, bucket, key, metadata, values}

A bucket type and bucket identify a collection of objects, and the set of bucket type, bucket, and key identify a single object.

In the Ruby client, a Riak object is represented by a Riak::RObject instance.

robject = bucket['S. S. Boatname']
robject.class #=> Riak::RObject

Creating Objects

You have a few choices when insantiating an object.

Given a bucket, you can use the RObject constructor to create a new object: bucket, 'Son of Boatname'

If you use the Bucket#new method, the RObject is created with a content_type of application/json for you: 'Son of Boatname'

If you want Riak to pick a key for an object for you, create one without specifying a key:

# these both work
robject = bucket, nil
robject =
robject.key #=> "GB8fW6DDZtXogK19OLmaJf247DN"

Loading Objects

You can load an object if you know its key. If loading the object fails, this will raise a Riak::FailedRequest error with the not_found? flag set.

bucket['S. S. Boatname']
bucket.get 'S. S. Boatname'

If you want to load or create an object with a given key, you can use Bucket#get_or_new to do it:

bucket.get_or_new 'Revenge of Boatname'

Loading Many Objects

Sometimes, you need to load a lot of objects in preparation for aggregation or another operation. The multi-get functionality allows you to use a nested Array of [Bucket, String<key>] identifiers (“pairs”) to load objects using multiple worker threads.

The array of pairs should be structured like this:

pairs = [
    [bucket, 'S. S. Boatname'],
    [bucket, 'Son of Boatname'],
    [bucket, 'Revenge of Boatname'],

The Riak::Client#get_many and Riak::Multiget.get_all class methods simply return the hash of pair to RObject instances:

# equivalent
results = client.get_many pairs
results = Riak::Multiget.get_all client, pairs

If you want to kick off a multiget operation and perform some other operations while it proceeds, use an instance of the Riak::Multiget class.

mg = client, pairs
puts "Loading... Please wait..."
results = mg.results

Manipulating and Storing Objects

Raw Data, No Serialization

Use the RObject#raw_data accessors to manipulate the raw blob/string that represents the value of a Riak object. The client will not transform or parse this data.

robject.content_type = 'image/jpeg'
robject.raw_data = 'cat.jpg'

Serializing and Deserializing Data

Frequently, you’ll store objects you want to be serialized and deserialized for you. Set an appropriate content-type and use the #data accessors:

robject.content_type = 'application/json' = {
    processor: 'MSP-430',
    sensors: %w{range binocular video},
    motor: "trolling motor",
    length: 137.16
} # serializes the Ruby hash to JSON
robject.raw_data #=> "{\"processor\": \"MSP-430\"... #=> {"processor" => "MSP-430",...

Out of the box, the Ruby client supports serializing and deserializing these content-types:

Other Content Types

Support for other content-types can be added: write a module with dump(object) and load(string) methods, and configure it with the Riak::Serializers[] method. For an example, note how the TextPlain and ApplicationJSON serializers are written and configured in the Riak::Serializer module.

Deleting Objects

Objects can be deleted two different ways: the delete method on RObject instances, or the delete method on Bucket instances.

Deleting a RObject you have already fetched is easy. After the delete method returns, the instance will still have its data, but be frozen to prevent further changes.


Deleting from the Bucket without providing a vclock or causal context can cause issues if the object is updated and deleted at about the same time:

# delete the object with key 'Son of Boatname' without any causal context
bucket.delete 'Son of Boatname'

# delete the object with key 'Son of Boatname' with causal context
bucket.delete 'Son of Boatname', vclock: 'a85hYGBgzGDKBVIcypz/fpZz1XzPYEpkzGNluD1P4xxfFgA='

Content and Conflict

Riak objects can have more than one value. If you have an eventually-consistent bucket (i.e. not strongly consistent) with allow_mult enabled and last_write_wins disabled (choose wisely, it’s important), multiple values for a given object are common.

Resolving conflicts can be tricky! Riak’s CRDT implementation and how the Ruby client CRDT support works may lead you to a better solution than relying on client-side conflict resolution.

The Riak::RContent class handles properties of an individual value. Without conflict, Riak::RObject delegates many of its apparent properties to an RContent instance. With conflict, attempts to access these properties will raise a Riak::Conflict error.

robject.conflict? #=> true
robject.raw_data # raises Riak::Conflict

Manual Conflict Resolution

If a Riak::RObject is in conflict, you can resolve the conflict by setting its siblings array to an array with one element. Ideally, you’ll loop through the array of siblings and accumulate a correct one.

In this case, assume we have objects that store a single number, and we want to resolve them to the maximum.

robject.conflict? #=> true

max_sibling = robject.siblings.inject do |max_sibling, current_sibling|
    next max_sibling if >
    next current_sibling

robject.siblings = [max_sibling.dup]

robject.conflict? #=> false

Conflict Resolution Callbacks

Riak::RObject also has on_conflict hooks. These hooks work much like manual conflict resolution. Register them with Riak::RObject.on_conflict, and trigger then on a conflicted object with RObject#attempt_conflict_resolution.

With the same scenario as above:

Riak::RObject.on_conflict do |robject|
    max_sibling = robject.siblings.inject do |max_sibling, current_sibling|
        next max_sibling if >
        next current_sibling

    robject.siblings = [max_sibling.dup]

object.conflict? #=> true
object.conflict? #=> false

You can have multiple conflict resolution callbacks. If they return nil the next one in the list will fire. If you want different callbacks for different buckets, simply make the first thing they do check if the bucket is the expected one:

Riak::RObject.on_conflict do |robject|
  next nil unless == 'robots'
  # actually resolve the robot conflict

If none of the handlers resolve the conflict, the object will remain in conflict.

Working with Bucket Types

Bucket types are used to configure and scope bucket behavior. If you are working with objects scoped to bucket types, there are two APIs for handling them.

2.2 Bucket-Typed Bucket API

The 2.2 version of the client introduces a bucket types, buckets, and key-value objects that know what bucket type they have.

BucketType instances create BucketTyped::Bucket instances:

# Instantiate a Riak::BucketType from the client
my_cool_type = client.bucket_type 'my_cool_type'

# Create a Riak::BucketTyped::Bucket
cool_pages = my_cool_type.bucket 'pages'

# BucketTyped::Bucket is a Bucket subclass
cool_pages.is_a? Riak::Bucket #=> true
cool_pages.is_a? Riak::BucketTyped::Bucket #=> true

Bucket-typed buckets are a subclass of untyped buckets (which are handled as default-typed buckets in Riak). Just like regular buckets, they can create key-value objects:

my_homepage = cool_pages.get_or_new 'index.html'
under_construction = 'under_construction.gif'
background_music = cool_pages.get 'STAIRW~1.MID'

Options-hash-based Bucket Type API

This API is difficult to work with and requires care with passing in options. We do not recommend using it for new development.

2.0 and 2.1 versions of the client do not have special support for bucket types. Key-value operations that require a bucket type must have the type passed in with the options hash.

my_homepage = cool_pages.get 'index.html', type: 'my_cool_type' = +
  "&lt;marquee&gt;welcome to the last line of my homepage&lt;/marquee&gt;" type: 'my_cool_type'
my_homepage.reload type: 'my_cool_type'

If the type is omitted from these methods, the operation will interact with the object in the default type instead of my_cool_type. This is why we recommend the easier Bucket-Typed Bucket API.