Elasticsearch Document

By Opster Team

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

| 2 min read

Document in Elasticsearch

What is an Elasticsearch document?

While an SQL database has rows of data stored in tables, Elasticsearch stores data as multiple documents inside an index. This is where the analogy must end however, since the way that Elasticsearch treats documents and indices differs significantly from a relational database.

For example, documents could be:

  • Products in an e-commerce index
  • Log lines in a data logging application
  • Invoice lines in an invoicing system

Document fields

Each document is essentially a JSON structure, which is ultimately considered to be a series of key:value pairs. These pairs are then indexed in a way that is determined by the document mapping. The mapping defines the field data type as text, keyword, float, time, geo point or various other data types.

Elasticsearch documents are described as schema-less because Elasticsearch does not require us to pre-define the index field structure, nor does it require all documents in an index to have the same structure. However, once a field is mapped to a given data type, then all documents in the index must maintain that same mapping type.

Each field can also be mapped in more than one way in the index. This can be useful because we may want a keyword structure for aggregations, and at the same time be able to keep an analysed data structure which enables us to carry out full text searches for individual words in the field.

For a full discussion on mapping please see here.

Document source

An Elasticsearch document _source consists of the original JSON source data before it is indexed. This data is retrieved when fetched by a search query.

Document metadata

Each document is also associated with metadata, the most important items being:

_index – The index where the document is stored

_id – The unique ID which identifies the document in the index

Documents and index architecture

Note that different applications could consider  a “document” to be a different thing.  For example, in an invoicing system, we could have an architecture which stores invoices as documents (1 document per invoice),  or we could have an index structure which stores multiple documents as “invoice lines” for each invoice. The choice would depend on how we want to store, map and query the data.


Creating a document in the user’s index:

POST  /users/_doc 
    "name" : "Petey",
    "lastname" : "Cruiser",
    "email" : "petey@gmail.com"

In the above request, we haven’t mentioned an ID for the document so the index operation generates a unique ID for the document. Here _doc is the type of document.

POST  /users/_doc/1
    "name" : "Petey",
    "lastname" : "Cruiser",
    "email" : "petey@gmail.com"

In the above query, the document will be created with ID 1.

You can use the below ‘GET’ query to get a document from the index using ID:

GET  /users/_doc/1

Below is the result, which contains the document (in _source field) as metadata:

    "_index": "users",
    "_type": "_doc",
    "_id": "1",
    "_version": 1,    "_seq_no": 1,    "_primary_term": 1,
    "found": true,
    "_source": {
        "name": "Petey",
        "lastname": "Cruiser",
        "email": "petey@gmail.com"


Starting version 7.0 types are deprecated, so for backward compatibility on version 7.x all docs are under type ‘_doc’, starting 8.x type will be completely removed from ES APIs.

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Related log errors to this ES concept

Could not find token document for refresh
Could not get token document for refresh retrying
Could not get token document for refresh after all retries
Failed to update the original token document after all retries
Unexpected error while indexing monitoring document
Role uses document and or field level security which is not enabled by the current license
Failed to render document skipping it
Failed to update the original token document the update result was Retrying
Failed to update the original token document after all retries the update result was
Could not get token document that should have been created retrying
Could not get token document that should have been created after all retries
Could not find token document with refresh token

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