How To Solve Issues Related to Log – Unexpected value for setting . it should be dash delimited

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Updated: Feb-20

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Troubleshooting background

To troubleshoot Elasticsearch log “Unexpected value for setting . it should be dash delimited” it’s important to understand common problems related to Elasticsearch concepts: cluster, metadata, settings. See detailed explanations below complete with common problems, examples and useful tips.

Metadata in Elasticsearch

What it is

Metadata in Elasticsearch refers to storing some additional information for each document. This is achieved using the specific metadata fields available in Elasticsearch. The default behavior of some of these metadata fields can be customized during mapping creation.

Examples

Using _meta meta-field for storing application-specific information with the mapping:

PUT /my_index?pretty
{
  "mappings": {
    "_meta": { 
      "domain": "security",
      "release_information": {
        "date": "18-01-2020",
        "version": "7.5"
      }
    }
  }
}

Notes
  • In version 2.x, Elasticsearch had a total 13 meta fields available, which are: _index, _uid, _type, _id, _source, _size, _all, _field_names, _timestamp, _ttl, _parent, _routing, _meta
  • In version 5.x, _timestamp and _ttl meta fields were removed.
  • In version 6.x, the _parent meta field was removed.
  • In version 7.x, _uid and _all meta fields were removed.

Settings in Elasticsearch

What it is 

In ElasticSearch, you can configure cluster-level settings, node-level settings and index level settings. Here we discuss each of them.

A. Cluster Wide Settings

These settings can be either persistent, meaning they apply across restarts, or transient, meaning they won’t survive a full cluster restart. If a transient setting is reset, the first one of these values that is defined is applied:

  • the persistent setting
  • the setting in the configuration file
  • the default value

The order of precedence for cluster settings is:

  1. transient cluster settings
  2. persistent cluster settings
  3. settings in the elasticsearch.yml configuration file
Examples:

An example of persistent cluster settings update:

PUT /_cluster/settings
{
    "persistent" : {
        "indices.recovery.max_bytes_per_sec" : "500mb"
    }
}

An example of a transient update:

PUT /_cluster/settings
{
    "transient" : {
        "indices.recovery.max_bytes_per_sec" : "40mb"
    }
}

B. Index Settings

These are the settings that are applied to individual indices. There is an API to update index level settings.

Examples:

The following API call will set the number of replica shards to 5 for my_index  index.

PUT /my_index/_settings
{
    "index" : {
        "number_of_replicas" : 5    
     }
}

To revert a setting to the default value, use null.

PUT /my_index/_settings
{
    "index" : {
        "refresh_interval" : null
    }
}

C. Node settings

These settings apply to nodes. Nodes can fulfill different roles, for example, there are master nodes , data nodes, or coordinating nodes. Node settings are set through the elasticsearch.yml file for each node. 

Examples:
  • Setting a node to be a data node ( in the elasticsearch.yml file ) 
node.data: true
  • Disabling the ingest role for the node ( which is enabled by default)
node.ingest: false

For production clusters, you will need to run each type of node on a dedicated machine with two or more instances of each, for HA  ( minimum three for master nodes ).

Notes and Good Things to Know:
  • Learning the cluster settings and index settings is important, it can spare you a lot of trouble. For example, if you are going to ingest huge amount of data into an index, then if the number of replica shards are set , for example at 5 replica shards, the indexing process will be super slow because the data will be replicated at the same time it is indexed. What you can do to speed up indexing is to set the replica shards to 0 by updating the settings, and set it back to the original number when indexing is done, using the settings API.

  • Another useful example of using cluster-level settings is when a node has just joined the cluster and the cluster is not assigning any shards to the node. Although shard allocation is enabled by default on all nodes, someone may have disabled shard allocation at some point (for example, in order to perform a rolling restart), and forgot to re-enable it later. To enable shard allocation, you can update the Cluster Settings API:

PUT /_cluster/settings{ "transient":    {       "cluster.routing.allocation.enable" : "all"     }}
  • It’s better to set cluster-wide settings with Settings API instead of with the elasticsearch.yml file and to use the file only for local changes. This will keep the same setting on all nodes. But if you define different settings on different nodes by accident using the elasticsearch.yml configuration file, it is hard to notice these discrepancies.

  • See also: Recoveries


To help troubleshoot related issues we have gathered selected Q&A from the community and issues from Github , please review the following for further information :

1 ElasticSearch searching with hyphen inside a word 8.32 K 5

2H Syntax Error Redirection Unexpect  


Log Context

Log ”Unexpected value [{}] for setting [{}]; it should be dash delimited” classname is MetaDataUpdateSettingsService.java
We have extracted the following from Elasticsearch source code to get an in-depth context :

                     final int min;
                    final int max;

                    final int dash = autoExpandReplicas.indexOf('-');
                    if (-1 == dash) {
                        logger.warn("Unexpected value [{}] for setting [{}]; it should be dash delimited";
                                autoExpandReplicas; IndexMetaData.SETTING_AUTO_EXPAND_REPLICAS);
                        continue;
                    }
                    final String sMin = autoExpandReplicas.substring(0; dash);
                    try {






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