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Basic Usage

This section offers a very short introduction to Gremlin's feature set. For a closer look at the topic, refer to Gremlin Query Language.

The examples in this section make extensive use of a toy graph distributed with JanusGraph called The Graph of the Gods. This graph is diagrammed below. The abstract data model is known as a Property Graph Model and this particular instance describes the relationships between the beings and places of the Roman pantheon. Moreover, special text and symbol modifiers in the diagram (e.g. bold, underline, etc.) denote different schematics/typings in the graph.

Graph of the Gods

visual symbol meaning
bold key a graph indexed key
bold key with star a graph indexed key that must have a unique value
underlined key a vertex-centric indexed key
hollow-head edge a functional/unique edge (no duplicates)
tail-crossed edge a unidirectional edge (can only traverse in one direction)

Loading the Graph of the Gods Into JanusGraph

The example below will open a JanusGraph graph instance and load The Graph of the Gods dataset diagrammed above. JanusGraphFactory provides a set of static open methods, each of which takes a configuration as its argument and returns a graph instance. This tutorial demonstrates loading The Graph of the Gods using the helper class GraphOfTheGodsFactory with different configurations. This section skips over the configuration details, but additional information about storage backends, index backends, and their configuration are available in Storage Backends, Index Backends, and Configuration Reference.

Loading with an index backend

The below example calls one of these open methods on a configuration that uses the BerkeleyDB storage backend and the Elasticsearch index backend:

gremlin> graph ='conf/')
gremlin> GraphOfTheGodsFactory.load(graph)
gremlin> g = graph.traversal()
==>graphtraversalsource[standardjanusgraph[berkeleyje:../db/berkeley], standard]

The and GraphOfTheGodsFactory.load() methods do the following to the newly constructed graph prior to returning it:

  1. Creates a collection of global and vertex-centric indices on the graph.
  2. Adds all the vertices to the graph along with their properties.
  3. Adds all the edges to the graph along with their properties.

Please see the GraphOfTheGodsFactory source code for details.

For those using JanusGraph/Cassandra (or JanusGraph/HBase), be sure to make use of conf/ (or conf/ and GraphOfTheGodsFactory.load().

gremlin> graph ='conf/')
gremlin> GraphOfTheGodsFactory.load(graph)
gremlin> g = graph.traversal()
==>graphtraversalsource[standardjanusgraph[cql:[]], standard]

Loading without an index backend

You may also use the conf/, conf/, conf/, or conf/ configuration files to open a graph without an indexing backend configured. In such cases, you will need to use the GraphOfTheGodsFactory.loadWithoutMixedIndex() method to load the Graph of the Gods so that it doesn’t attempt to make use of an indexing backend.

gremlin> graph ='conf/')
gremlin> GraphOfTheGodsFactory.loadWithoutMixedIndex(graph, true)
gremlin> g = graph.traversal()
==>graphtraversalsource[standardjanusgraph[cql:[]], standard]


Using any configuration file other than conf/ requires that you have a dedicated backend configured and running. If you just want to quickly open a graph instance and explore some of the JanusGraph features, you could simply choose conf/ to open an in-memory backend.

Global Graph Indices

The typical pattern for accessing data in a graph database is to first locate the entry point into the graph using a graph index. That entry point is an element (or set of elements) — i.e. a vertex or edge. From the entry elements, a Gremlin path description describes how to traverse to other elements in the graph via the explicit graph structure.

Given that there is a unique index on name property, the Saturn vertex can be retrieved. The property map (i.e. the key/value pairs of Saturn) can then be examined. As demonstrated, the Saturn vertex has a name of "saturn, " an age of 10000, and a type of "titan." The grandchild of Saturn can be retrieved with a traversal that expresses: "Who is Saturn’s grandchild?" (the inverse of "father" is "child"). The result is Hercules.

gremlin> saturn = g.V().has('name', 'saturn').next()
gremlin> g.V(saturn).valueMap()
==>[name:[saturn], age:[10000]]
gremlin> g.V(saturn).in('father').in('father').values('name')

The property place is also in a graph index. The property place is an edge property. Therefore, JanusGraph can index edges in a graph index. It is possible to query The Graph of the Gods for all events that have happened within 50 kilometers of Athens (latitude:37.97 and long:23.72). Then, given that information, which vertices were involved in those events.

gremlin> g.E().has('place', geoWithin(, 23.72, 50)))
gremlin> g.E().has('place', geoWithin(, 23.72, 50))).as('source').inV().as('god2').select('source').outV().as('god1').select('god1', 'god2').by('name')
==>[god1:hercules, god2:hydra]
==>[god1:hercules, god2:nemean]
Graph indices are one type of index structure in JanusGraph. Graph indices are automatically chosen by JanusGraph to answer which ask for all vertices (g.V) or all edges (g.E) that satisfy one or multiple constraints (e.g. has or interval). The second aspect of indexing in JanusGraph is known as vertex-centric indices. Vertex-centric indices are utilized to speed up traversals inside the graph. Vertex-centric indices are described later.

Graph Traversal Examples

Hercules, son of Jupiter and Alcmene, bore super human strength. Hercules was a Demigod because his father was a god and his mother was a human. Juno, wife of Jupiter, was furious with Jupiter’s infidelity. In revenge, she blinded Hercules with temporary insanity and caused him to kill his wife and children. To atone for the slaying, Hercules was ordered by the Oracle of Delphi to serve Eurystheus. Eurystheus appointed Hercules to 12 labors.

In the previous section, it was demonstrated that Saturn’s grandchild was Hercules. This can be expressed using a loop. In essence, Hercules is the vertex that is 2-steps away from Saturn along the in('father') path.

gremlin> hercules = g.V(saturn).repeat('father')).times(2).next()

Hercules is a demigod. To prove that Hercules is half human and half god, his parent’s origins must be examined. It is possible to traverse from the Hercules vertex to his mother and father. Finally, it is possible to determine the type of each of them — yielding "god" and "human."

gremlin> g.V(hercules).out('father', 'mother')
gremlin> g.V(hercules).out('father', 'mother').values('name')
gremlin> g.V(hercules).out('father', 'mother').label()
gremlin> hercules.label()

The examples thus far have been with respect to the genetic lines of the various actors in the Roman pantheon. The Property Graph Model is expressive enough to represent multiple types of things and relationships. In this way, The Graph of the Gods also identifies Hercules' various heroic exploits --- his famous 12 labors. In the previous section, it was discovered that Hercules was involved in two battles near Athens. It is possible to explore these events by traversing battled edges out of the Hercules vertex.

gremlin> g.V(hercules).out('battled')
gremlin> g.V(hercules).out('battled').valueMap()
gremlin> g.V(hercules).outE('battled').has('time', gt(1)).inV().values('name')

The edge property time on battled edges is indexed by the vertex-centric indices of a vertex. Retrieving battled edges incident to Hercules according to a constraint/filter on time is faster than doing a linear scan of all edges and filtering (typically O(log n), where n is the number incident edges). JanusGraph is intelligent enough to use vertex-centric indices when available. A toString() of a Gremlin expression shows a decomposition into individual steps.

gremlin> g.V(hercules).outE('battled').has('time', gt(1)).inV().values('name').toString()
==>[GraphStep([v[24744]],vertex), VertexStep(OUT,[battled],edge), HasStep([]), EdgeVertexStep(IN), PropertiesStep([name],value)]

More Complex Graph Traversal Examples

In the depths of Tartarus lives Pluto. His relationship with Hercules was strained by the fact that Hercules battled his pet, Cerberus. However, Hercules is his nephew — how should he make Hercules pay for his insolence?

The Gremlin traversals below provide more examples over The Graph of the Gods. The explanation of each traversal is provided in the prior line as a // comment.

Cohabitors of Tartarus
gremlin> pluto = g.V().has('name', 'pluto').next()
gremlin> // who are pluto's cohabitants?
gremlin> g.V(pluto).out('lives').in('lives').values('name')
gremlin> // pluto can't be his own cohabitant
gremlin> g.V(pluto).out('lives').in('lives').where(is(neq(pluto))).values('name')
gremlin> g.V(pluto).as('x').out('lives').in('lives').where(neq('x')).values('name')
Pluto’s Brothers
gremlin> // where do pluto's brothers live?
gremlin> g.V(pluto).out('brother').out('lives').values('name')
gremlin> // which brother lives in which place?
gremlin> g.V(pluto).out('brother').as('god').out('lives').as('place').select('god', 'place')
==>[god:v[1024], place:v[512]]
==>[god:v[1280], place:v[768]]
gremlin> // what is the name of the brother and the name of the place?
gremlin> g.V(pluto).out('brother').as('god').out('lives').as('place').select('god', 'place').by('name')
==>[god:jupiter, place:sky]
==>[god:neptune, place:sea]

Finally, Pluto lives in Tartarus because he shows no concern for death. His brothers, on the other hand, chose their locations based upon their love for certain qualities of those locations.!

gremlin> g.V(pluto).outE('lives').values('reason')
==>no fear of death
gremlin> g.E().has('reason', textContains('loves'))
gremlin> g.E().has('reason', textContains('loves')).as('source').values('reason').as('reason').select('source').outV().values('name').as('god').select('source').inV().values('name').as('thing').select('god', 'reason', 'thing')
==>[god:neptune, reason:loves waves, thing:sea]
==>[god:jupiter, reason:loves fresh breezes, thing:sky]