This is a minimal search engine built on the Google Cloud Datastore that in part mimics the old Google App Engine Search API.

It exists for two reasons:

  1. An upgrade path from the GAE Search API.
  2. To aid smaller projects that don't need to run their own ElasticSearch instance.

Query Format

The original App Engine Search query format was pretty tricky to parse, and not often used extensively. The query format used in is much simpler.

OR operator

You can create a multiple branch search with the OR operator. ORs are not nested, you can simply use:

marathon OR race OR run

The OR can be lower case, as 'or' is a common token that is not indexed

Exact match

You can combine tokens together to return documents that have an exact match by using quotes. e.g.

"tallest building"

This can in turn be used with the OR operator:

"tallest building" OR tower

Field match

Finally, you can use the : operator to specify a Document field to search:


To combine with the OR operator you'll need to duplicate the : operator:

name:james OR name:jim OR last_name:kirk

You can also combine with exact matching:

name:"james kirk" OR name:spock

Documents and Indexes

Contrib search is built around the concept of Indexes and Documents. To make your data searchable, you must define a Document subclass that defines the structure in search fields:

class MyDocument(search.Document):
    name = search.TextField()
    age = search.NumberField()

You can then add the document to an index. Indexes are created automatically in the database when you instantiate them if they don't already exist:

index = Index(name="my_index")
index.add(MyDocument(name="Lister", age=3000030))
index.add(MyDocument(name="Cat", age=40))

Finally, you can search for documents using

results ="lister", MyDocument)

The second parameter to search is the Document subclass that results are returned as.

Field Types

The App Engine Search API had an array of field types. Currently only supports the following:

  • TextField - A blob of text up to 1024 ** 2 chars in length
  • DateField - A field for storing a Python datetime or date field.
  • NumberField - A field for storing an integer

Fields under construction (do not use!):

  • AtomField - A field
  • FuzzyTextField - A field that supports stemmed matching

Django Model Integration

It's a very common need to be able to index and search Django model instances. provides a mechanism for this that is similar to the Django admin registration.

First, in your Django app, create a file called Inside you define a subclass of ModelDocument (which is simular to Django's ModelAdmin), and use that to register your model as searchable:

from djangae.contrib import search
from .models import MyModel

class MyModelDocument(search.ModelDocument):
    class Meta:
        fields = ("name", "age")

search.register(MyModel, MyModelDocument)

This has the following effect:

  • Saving an instance of MyModel will automatically index the name and age fields
  • The managers on MyModel (e.g. MyModel.objects) will gain a search(...) method

This means you can search for models in the same way you'd use Django filters:

instances = MyModel.objects.filter(age=10).search("cat")

There's no need to specify the Document subclass when searching for models.

Stopwords and Ranking

By default stop words (i.e common tokens) are both indexed, and searched. The default ranking algorithm treats stop-word matching as weaker than other words.

If you don't want to match stop words, pass match_stopwords=False to the search() method.

Queryset Search Ranking

If you're using ModelDocument the Django queryset .search() method, then ranking order will not apply by default. Instead results will be ordered by whatever the Django queryset is ordered by. You have two options if you want ranking to apply to your queryset.

  1. Pass an empty list to search using the ordered_ids kwarg. This will be populated with the primary keys of the result set ordered by the default search ranking. You can then use this to reorder you final results.
  2. Use .search_and_rank() instead. This however will not return a queryset, and will instead evaluate the queryset and return an ordered list.

Caveats / Issues

Handling common tokens

Searching for a very common token (e.g. punctuation like a '.') will likely return a lot of results. Currently this token query will be artificially limited to 1000 results. This may cause the resulting document set to be missing relevant documents. Further work is needed to improve the querying to resolve this issue, potential solutions are:

  1. Stripping punctuation from queries if there are other non-punctuation tokens
  2. Performing a second in-memory pass to include/exclude documents returned by other token matches


There is currently no way to paginate results. Patches welcome :)