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Expressions are path or formulas to access and modify the data inside a document. Based on the concept of JSON path (, LiteDB supports a similar syntax to navigate inside a document.

In previous versons, LiteDB used lambda expressions directly on objects. This was very flexible, but also had poor perfomance. LiteDB v5 uses BsonExpressions, which are expressions that can be directly applied to a BsonDocument.

BsonExpressions can either be used natively (there is an implicit conversion between string and BsonExpression) or by mapping a lambda expression (methods that take a lambda expression do this automatically).

  • Path starts with $: $.Address.Street, where $ represents the root document. The $ symbol are optional and default in document navigation (Address.Street works too)
  • Int values are defined by [0-9]*: 123
  • Double values are defined by [0-9].[0-9]: 123.45
  • Strings are represented with a single/double quote: 'Hello World'
  • Null is represented by null
  • Bool is represented using true or false keywords.
  • Document starts with { key1: <value|expression>, key2: ... }
  • Arrays are represented with [<value|expression>, <value|expression>, ...]
  • Functions are represented with FUNCTION_NAME(par1, par2, ...): LOWER($.Name)


  • $.Price
  • $.Price + 100
  • SUM($.Items[*].Price)

Expressions can be used in many ways:

  • Creating an index based on an expression:
    • collection.EnsureIndex("idx_name", "LOWER($.Name)", false)
    • collection.EnsureIndex(x => x.Name.ToLower())
  • Querying documents inside a collection based on expression (full scan search)
    • collection.Find("SUBSTRING($.Name, 0, 1) = 'T'")
  • Update using SQL syntax
    • UPDATE customers SET Name = LOWER($.Name) WHERE _id = 1
  • Creating new document result in SELECT shell command
    • SELECT { upper_titles: ARRAY(UPPER($.Books[*].Title)) } WHERE $.Name LIKE "John%"
  • Querying documents using the SQL syntax
    • SELECT $.Name, $.Phones[@.Type = "Mobile"] FROM customers


  • $ - Root document
  • $.Name - Field Name
  • $.Name.First - Field First from Name subdocument
  • $.Books - Returns the array of books
  • $.Books[0] - Returns the first book inside Books array
  • $.Books[*] - Returns every book inside Books
  • $.Books[*].Title Returns the title from every book in Books
  • $.Books[-1] - Returns the last book inside Books array

Path also supports expressions to filter child nodes

  • $.Books[@.Title = 'John Doe'] - Returns all books where Title is 'John Doe'

  • $.Books[@.Price > 100].Title - Returns all titles where Price is greater than 100

Inside an array, @ acts as a sub-iterator, pointing to the current sub-document. It’s possible use functions inside expressions too:

  • $.Books[SUBSTRING(LOWER(@.Title), 0, 1) = 't'] - Returns all books whose Title starts with 'T' or 't'.

Difference between $ and *

In SQL query, it is possible use both $ and *. They have different functionalities:

  • $ represents current root document. When $ is used, you are referencing the root document. If neither $ nor * are present, $ is assumed.

  • * represent a group of documents. Used when GROUP BY is present or when you want to return a single value in a query (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM customers).

SELECT $ FROM customers returns IEnumerable<BsonDocument> result (N documents). SELECT * FROM customers returns a single value, a BsonArray with all documents result inside.


Functions are used to manipulate data in expressions. A few examples will be provided for each category of functions. For a complete list of functions, check the API documentation.

Aggregate Functions

Aggregate functions take an array as input and return a single value.

  • COUNT(arr) - Returns the number of elements in the array arr
  • AVG(arr) - Returns the average value in the array arr
  • LAST(arr) - Returns the last element in the array arr

DataType Functions

DataType functions provide explicit data type conversion.

  • STRING(expr) - Returns the result of expr converted to string
  • INT32(expr) - Tries to convert the result of expr to an Int32, returning null if not possible
  • DATETIME(expr) - Tries to convert the result of expr to a DateTime, returning null if not possible

Date Functions

  • YEAR(date) - Returns the year value from date
  • DATEADD('year', 3, date) - Returns a new date with 3 years added to date
  • DATEDIFF('day', dateStart, dateEnd) - Returns the difference in days between dateEnd and dateStart

Math Functions

  • ABS(num) - Returns the absolute value of num
  • ROUND(num, digits) - Returns num rounded to digits digits
  • POW(base, exp) - Returns base to the power of exp

String Functions

  • UPPER(str) - Returns str in uppercase
  • TRIM(str) - Returns a new string without leading and trailing white spaces
  • REPLACE(str, old, new) - Returns a new string with every ocurrence of old in str replaced by new

High-Order Functions

High-Order functions take an array and a lambda expression that is applied to every document in the array. Use the @ symbol to represent inner looped value.

  • MAP(arr => expr) returns a new array with the map expression applied to each element

    • MAP([1,2,3] => @*2) returns [2,4,6]
    • MAP([{a:1, b:2}, {a:3, b:4}] => @.a) returns [1,3]
  • FILTER(arr => expr) returns a new array containing only the elements for which the filter expression returns true

    • FILTER([1,2,3,4,5] => @ > 3) returns [4,5]
    • FILTER([{a:1, b:2}, {a:2}] => @.b != null) returns [{a:1, b:2}]
  • SORT(arr => expr) returns a new array sorted by the result of expr in ascending order -SORT([3,2,5,1,4] => @) returns [1,2,3,4,5] -SORT([{a:2}, {a:1, b:2}] => @.a) returns [{a:1, b:2}, {a:2}]

  • SORT(arr => expr, order) returns a new array sorted by the result of expr with the order defined by order (ascending if order is 1 or 'asc', descending if order is -1 or 'desc') -SORT([3,2,5,1,4] => @, 'desc') returns [5,4,3,2,1] -SORT([{a:1, b:2}, {a:2}] => @.a, -1) returns [{a:2}, {a:1, b:2}]

Misc Functions

  • JSON(str) - Takes a string representation of a JSON and returns a BsonValue containing the parsed document
  • CONCAT(arr1, arr2) - Returns a new array containg the concatenation between arrays arr1 and arr2
  • RANDOM(min, max) - Returns a random Int32 between min and max