Execution of fetch queries

With all the SQL drivers, building a plain table generally works as follows.

  • A connection to the database is established.
  • The sql_query_pre_all queries are executed to perform any necessary initial setup, such as setting per-connection encoding with MySQL. These queries run before the entire indexing process, and also after a reconnect for indexing MVA attributes and joined fields.
  • The sql_query_pre pre-query is executed to perform any necessary initial setup, such as setting up temporary tables or maintaining counter tables. These queries run once for the entire indexing process.
  • Pre-queries as sql_query_pre is executed to perform any necessary initial setup, such as setting up temporary tables, or maintaining counter table. These queries run once per whole indexing.
  • Main query as sql_query is executed and the rows it returns are processed.
  • Post-query as sql_query_post is executed to perform some necessary cleanup.
  • The connection to the database is closed.
  • Indexer does the sorting phase (to be pedantic, table-type specific post-processing).
  • A connection to the database is established again.
  • Post-processing query as sql_query_post_index is executed to perform some necessary final cleanup.
  • The connection to the database is closed again.

Example of a source fetching data from MYSQL:

source mysource {
  type             = mysql
  path             = /path/to/realtime
  sql_host         = localhost
  sql_user         = myuser
  sql_pass         = mypass
  sql_db           = mydb
  sql_query_pre    = SET CHARACTER_SET_RESULTS=utf8
  sql_query_pre    = SET NAMES utf8
  sql_query        =  SELECT id, title, description, category_id  FROM mytable
  sql_query_post   = DROP TABLE view_table
  sql_query_post_index = REPLACE INTO counters ( id, val ) \
    VALUES ( 'max_indexed_id', $maxid )
  sql_attr_uint    = category_id
  sql_field_string = title

table mytable {
  type   = plain
  source = mysource
  path   = /path/to/mytable


This is the query used to retrieve documents from a SQL server. There can be only one sql_query declared, and it's mandatory to have one. See also Processing fetched data


Pre-fetch query or pre-query. This is a multi-value, optional setting, with the default being an empty list of queries. The pre-queries are executed before the sql_query in the order they appear in the configuration file. The results of the pre-queries are ignored.

Pre-queries are useful in many ways. They can be used to set up encoding, mark records that are going to be indexed, update internal counters, set various per-connection SQL server options and variables, and so on.

Perhaps the most frequent use of pre-query is to specify the encoding that the server will use for the rows it returns. Note that Manticore accepts only UTF-8 text. Two MySQL specific examples of setting the encoding are:

sql_query_pre = SET CHARACTER_SET_RESULTS=utf8
sql_query_pre = SET NAMES utf8

Also, specific to MySQL sources, it is useful to disable query cache (for indexer connection only) in pre-query, because indexing queries are not going to be re-run frequently anyway, and there's no sense in caching their results. That could be achieved with:

sql_query_pre = SET SESSION query_cache_type=OFF


Post-fetch query. This is an optional setting, with the default value being empty.

This query is executed immediately after sql_query completes successfully. When the post-fetch query produces errors, they are reported as warnings, but indexing is not terminated. Its result set is ignored. Note that indexing is not yet completed at the point when this query gets executed, and further indexing may still fail. Therefore, any permanent updates should not be done from here. For instance, updates on a helper table that permanently change the last successfully indexed ID should not be run from the sql_query_post query; they should be run from the sql_query_post_index query instead.


Post-processing query. This is an optional setting, with the default value being empty.

This query is executed when indexing is fully and successfully completed. If this query produces errors, they are reported as warnings, but indexing is not terminated. Its result set is ignored. The $maxid macro can be used in its text; it will be expanded to the maximum document ID that was actually fetched from the database during indexing. If no documents were indexed, $maxid will be expanded to 0.


sql_query_post_index = REPLACE INTO counters ( id, val ) \
    VALUES ( 'max_indexed_id', $maxid )

The difference between sql_query_post and sql_query_post_index is that sql_query_post is run immediately when Manticore receives all the documents, but further indexing may still fail for some other reason. On the contrary, by the time the sql_query_post_index query gets executed, it is guaranteed that the table was created successfully. Database connection is dropped and re-established because sorting phase can be very lengthy and would just time out otherwise.

Processing fetched data

By default, the first column from the result set of sql_query is indexed as the document id.

Document ID MUST be the very first field, and it MUST BE UNIQUE SIGNED (NON-ZERO) INTEGER NUMBER from -9223372036854775808 to 9223372036854775807.

You can specify up to 256 full-text fields and an arbitrary amount of attributes. All the columns that are neither document ID (the first one) nor attributes will be indexed as full-text fields.

Declaration of attributes:


Declares a 64-bit signed integer.


Declares a boolean attribute. It's equivalent to an integer attribute with bit count of 1.


Declares a floating point attribute.

The values will be stored in single precision, 32-bit IEEE 754 format. Represented range is approximately from 1e-38 to 1e+38. The amount of decimal digits that can be stored precisely is approximately 7.

One important usage of float attributes is storing latitude and longitude values (in radians), for further usage in query-time geosphere distance calculations.


Declares a JSON attribute.

When indexing JSON attributes, Manticore expects a text field with JSON formatted data. JSON attributes support arbitrary JSON data with no limitation in nested levels or types.


Declares a multi-value attribute.

Plain attributes only allow attaching 1 value per each document. However, there are cases (such as tags or categories) when it is desired to attach multiple values of the same attribute and be able to apply filtering or grouping to value lists.

The MVA can take the values from a column (like the rest of the data types) - in this case, the column in the result set must provide a string with multiple integer values separated by commas - or by running a separate query to get the values.

When executing a query, the engine runs the query, groups the results by IDs, and assigns the values to their corresponding documents in the table. Values with an ID not found in the table are discarded. Before executing the query, any defined sql_query_pre_all will be run.

The declaration format for sql_attr_multi is as follows:

sql_attr_multi = ATTR-TYPE ATTR-NAME 'from' SOURCE-TYPE \
    [;QUERY] \


  • ATTR-TYPE is uint, bigint or timestamp.
  • SOURCE-TYPE is field, query, ranged-query, or ranged-main-query.
  • QUERY is an optional SQL query used to fetch all (docid, attrvalue) pairs.
  • RANGED-QUERY is an optional SQL query used to fetch min and max ID values, similar to sql_query_range.
  • The backslashes are included for clarity only; everything can be declared in a single line as well.

It's used with ranged-query SOURCE-TYPE. If using ranged-main-query SOURCE-TYPE, then omit the RANGED-QUERY, and it will automatically use the same query from sql_query_range(useful option in complex inheritance setups to save having to manually duplicate the same query many times).

sql_attr_multi = uint tag from field
sql_attr_multi = uint tag from query; SELECT id, tag FROM tags
sql_attr_multi = bigint tag from ranged-query; \
    SELECT id, tag FROM tags WHERE id>=$start AND id<=$end; \
    SELECT MIN(id), MAX(id) FROM tags


Declares a string attribute. The maximum size of each value is fixed at 4GB.


Declares a UNIX timestamp.

Timestamps can store dates and times in the range of January 01, 1970, to January 19, 2038, with a precision of one second. The expected column value should be a timestamp in UNIX format, which is a 32-bit unsigned integer number of seconds elapsed since midnight on January 01, 1970, GMT. Timestamps are internally stored and handled as integers everywhere. In addition to working with timestamps as integers, you can also use them with different date-based functions, such as time segments sorting mode or day/week/month/year extraction for GROUP BY.

Note that DATE or DATETIME column types in MySQL cannot be directly used as timestamp attributes in Manticore; you need to explicitly convert such columns using UNIX_TIMESTAMP function (if the data is in range).

Note timestamps can not represent dates before January 01, 1970, and UNIX_TIMESTAMP() in MySQL will not return anything expected. If you only need to work with dates, not times, consider TO_DAYS() function in MySQL instead.


Declares an unsigned integer attribute.

You can specify the bit count for integer attributes by appending ':BITCOUNT' to attribute name (see example below). Attributes with less than default 32-bit size, or bitfields, perform slower.

sql_attr_uint = group_id
sql_attr_uint = forum_id:9 # 9 bits for forum_id


Declares a combo string attribute/text field. The values will be indexed as a full-text field, but also stored in a string attribute with the same name. Note, it should only be used when you are sure you want the field to be searchable both in a full-text manner and as an attribute (with the ability to sort and group by it). If you just want to be able to fetch the original value of the field, you don't need to do anything for it unless you implicitly removed the field from the stored fields list via stored_fields.

sql_field_string = name


Declares a file based field.

This directive makes indexer interpret field contents as a file name, and load and process the referred file. Files larger than max_file_field_buffer in size are skipped. Any errors during the file loading (IO errors, missed limits, etc.) will be reported as indexing warnings and will not early terminate the indexing. No content will be indexed for such files.

sql_file_field = field_name


Joined/payload field fetch query. Multi-value, optional, the default is an empty list of queries.

sql_joined_field lets you use two different features: joined fields and payloads (payload fields). Its syntax is as follows:

sql_joined_field = FIELD-NAME 'from'  ( 'query' | 'payload-query' | 'ranged-query' | 'ranged-main-query' ); \
        QUERY [ ; RANGE-QUERY ]


  • FIELD-NAME is a joined/payload field name
  • QUERY is an SQL query that must fetch values for further processing
  • RANGE-QUERY is an optional SQL query that fetches a range of values to process

Joined fields let you avoid JOIN and/or GROUP_CONCAT statements in the main document fetch query (sql_query). This can be useful when the SQL-side JOIN is slow, or needs to be offloaded on the Manticore side, or simply to emulate MySQL-specific GROUP_CONCAT functionality in case your database server does not support it.

The query must return exactly 2 columns: document ID, and text to append to a joined field. Document IDs can be duplicate, but they must be in ascending order. All the text rows fetched for a given ID will be concatenated together, and the concatenation result will be indexed as the entire contents of a joined field. Rows will be concatenated in the order returned from the query, and separating whitespace will be inserted between them. For instance, if the joined field query returns the following rows:

( 1, 'red' )
( 1, 'right' )
( 1, 'hand' )
( 2, 'mysql' )
( 2, 'manticore' )

then the indexing results would be equivalent to adding a new text field with a value of 'red right hand' to document 1 and 'mysql sphinx' to document 2, including the keyword positions inside the field in the order they come from the query. If the rows need to be in a specific order, that needs to be explicitly defined in the query.

Joined fields are only indexed differently. There are no other differences between joined fields and regular text fields.

Before executing the joined fields query, any set of sql_query_pre_all will be run, if any exist. This allows you to set the desired encoding, etc., within the joined fields' context.

When a single query is not efficient enough or does not work because of the database driver limitations, ranged queries can be used. It works similarly to the ranged queries in the main indexing loop. The range will be queried for and fetched upfront once, then multiple queries with different $start and $end substitutions will be run to fetch the actual data.

When using ranged-main-query query, omit the ranged-query, and it will automatically use the same query from sql_query_range (a useful option in complex inheritance setups to save having to manually duplicate the same query many times).

Payloads let you create a special field in which, instead of keyword positions, so-called user payloads are stored. Payloads are custom integer values attached to every keyword. They can then be used at search time to affect the ranking.

The payload query must return exactly 3 columns:

  • document ID
  • keyword
  • and integer payload value.

Document IDs can be duplicate, but they must be in ascending order. Payloads must be unsigned integers within the 24-bit range, i.e., from 0 to 16777215.

The only ranker that accounts for payloads is proximity_bm25 (the default ranker). On tables with payload fields, it will automatically switch to a variant that matches keywords in those fields, computes a sum of matched payloads multiplied by field weights, and adds that sum to the final rank.

Please note that the payload field is ignored for full-text queries containing complex operators. It only works for simple bag-of-words queries.

  • Configuration file
  • Just SELECT
  • Full-text search
  • Complex full-text search
source min {
    type = mysql
    sql_host = localhost
    sql_user = test
    sql_pass =
    sql_db = test
    sql_query = select 1, 'Nike bag' f \
    UNION select 2, 'Adidas bag' f \
    UNION select 3, 'Reebok bag' f \
    UNION select 4, 'Nike belt' f

    sql_joined_field = tag from payload-query; select 1 id, 'nike' tag, 10 weight \
    UNION select 4 id, 'nike' tag, 10 weight;

index idx {
    path = idx
    source = min


sql_column_buffers = <colname>=<size>[K|M] [, ...]

Per-column buffer sizes. Optional, default is empty (deduce the sizes automatically). Applies to odbc, mssql source types only.

ODBC and MS SQL drivers sometimes cannot return the maximum actual column size to be expected. For instance,NVARCHAR(MAX) columns always report their length as 2147483647 bytes to indexer even though the actually used length is likely considerably less. However, the receiving buffers still need to be allocated upfront, and their sizes have to be determined. When the driver does not report the column length at all, Manticore allocates default 1 KB buffers for each non-char column, and 1 MB buffers for each char column. Driver-reported column length also gets clamped by an upper limit of 8 MB, so in case the driver reports (almost) a 2 GB column length, it will be clamped and an 8 MB buffer will be allocated instead for that column. These hard-coded limits can be overridden using the sql_column_buffers directive, either in order to save memory on actually shorter columns or to overcome the 8 MB limit on actually longer columns. The directive values must be a comma-separated list of selected column names and sizes:


sql_query = SELECT id, mytitle, mycontent FROM documents
sql_column_buffers = mytitle=64K, mycontent=10M

Ranged queries

Main query, which needs to fetch all the documents, can impose a read lock on the whole table and stall the concurrent queries (e.g. INSERTs to MyISAM table), waste a lot of memory for result set, etc. To avoid this, Manticore supports so-called ranged queries. With ranged queries, Manticore first fetches min and max document IDs from the table, and then substitutes different ID intervals into main query text and runs the modified query to fetch another chunk of documents. Here's an example.

Ranged query usage example:

sql_query_range = SELECT MIN(id),MAX(id) FROM documents
sql_range_step = 1000
sql_query = SELECT * FROM documents WHERE id>=$start AND id<=$end

If the table contains document IDs from 1 to, say, 2345, then sql_query would be run three times:

  1. with $start replaced with 1 and $end replaced with 1000;
  2. with $start replaced with 1001 and $end replaced with 2000;
  3. with $start replaced with 2001 and $end replaced with 2345.

Obviously, that's not much of a difference for 2000-row table, but when it comes to indexing 10-million-row table, ranged queries might be of some help.


Defines the range query. The query specified in this option must fetch min and max document IDs that will be used as range boundaries. It must return exactly two integer fields, min ID first and max ID second; the field names are ignored. When enabled, sql_query will be required to contain $start and $end macros. Note that the intervals specified by $start..$end will not overlap, so you should not remove document IDs that are exactly equal to $start or $end from your query.


This directive defines the range query step. The default value is 1024.


This directive can be used to throttle the ranged query. By default, there is no throttling. Values for sql_ranged_throttle should be specified in milliseconds.

Throttling can be useful when the indexer imposes too much load on the database server. It causes the indexer to sleep for a given amount of time once per each ranged query step. This sleep is unconditional and is performed before the fetch query.

sql_ranged_throttle = 1000 # sleep for 1 sec before each query step