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In Elasticsearch the term fielddata is relevant when sorting and doing aggregations (similar to SQL GROUP BY COUNT and AVERAGE functions) on text fields.
For performance reasons, there are some rules as to the kinds of fields that can be aggregated. You can group by any numeric field but for text fields, which have to be of keyword type or have fielddata=true since they don’t support doc_values (Doc values are the on-disk inverted index data structure, built at document indexing time, which makes aggregations possible).
Fielddata is an in-memory data structure used by text fields for the same purpose. Since it uses a lot of heap size it is disabled by default.
The following PUT mapping API call will enable Fielddata on my_field text field.
- As field-data is disabled by default on text fields, in case of an attempt to aggregate on a text field with field-data disabled, you would get the following error message:
“Fielddata is disabled on text fields by default. Set `fielddata=true` on [`your_field_name`] in order to load field data in memory by uninverting the inverted index. Note that this can however, use “significant memory.” – if this happens you can either enable the field-data on that text field, or choose another way to query the data (again, because field-data consumes a lot of memory and is not recommended).