Learn about the Apache Spark and Neo4j 3.0 connector with demos for GraphX, GraphFrames and more

We proudly want to participate in this week’s flurry of announcements around Apache Spark.

While we’re cooperating with Databricks in other areas like the implementation of openCypher on Spark and as an industry-partner of AMPLab, today I want to focus on the Neo4j Spark Connector.

Enabled by Neo4j 3.0

One of the important features of Neo4j 3.0 is Bolt, the new binary protocol with accompanying official drivers for Java, JavaScript, .NET and Python. That caused me to give implementing a connector to Apache Spark a try, and also to see how fast I can transfer data from Neo4j to Spark and back again.

The implementation was really straightforward. All the interaction with Neo4j is as simple as sending parameterized Cypher statements to the graph database to read, create and update nodes and relationships.

Features of the Spark Connector

So I started with implementing a Resilient Distributed Dataset (RDD) and then added the other Spark features, including GraphFrames, so that the connector now supports:

    • RDD
    • DataFrame
    • GraphX
    • GraphFrames

You can find more detailed information about it’s usage here; this is only a quick overview on how to get started.


I presume you already have Apache Spark installed. Then download, install and start Neo4j 3.0.

For a simple dataset of connected people, run the following two Cypher statements that create 1M people (with :Person labels and id, name and age attributes) and 1M :KNOWS relationships, all in about a minute.

A Simple Social Network Domain

UNWIND range(1, 1000000) AS x
CREATE (:Person {id: x, name: 'name' + x, age: x % 100}))

UNWIND range(1, 1000000) AS x
MATCH (n) 
WHERE id(n) = x
MATCH (m) 
WHERE id(m) = toInt(rand() * 1000000)
CREATE (n)-[:KNOWS]->(m)

Spark Shell

Now we can start both spark-shell with our connector and GraphFrames as packages.

$SPARK_HOME/bin/spark-shell \
--conf spark.neo4j.bolt.password= \
--packages neo4j-contrib:neo4j-spark-connector:1.0.0-RC1,\

And to start using it, we only do a quick RDD and GraphX demo and then look at GraphFrames.

RDD Demo

import org.neo4j.spark._

// statement to fetch nodes with id less than given value
val query = "cypher runtime=compiled MATCH (n) where id(n) < {maxId} return id(n)"
val params = Seq("maxId" -> 100000)

Neo4jRowRDD(sc, query, params).count
// res0: Long = 100000

GraphX Demo

import org.neo4j.spark._

val g = Neo4jGraph.loadGraph(sc, label1="Person", relTypes=Seq("KNOWS"),  label2="Person")
// g: org.apache.spark.graphx.Graph[Any,Int] = org.apache.spark.graphx.impl.GraphImpl@574985d

// What's the size of the graph?
g.vertices.count          // res0: Long = 999937
g.edges.count             // res1: Long = 999906

// let's run PageRank on this graph
import org.apache.spark.graphx._
import org.apache.spark.graphx.lib._

val g2 = PageRank.run(g, numIter = 5)

val v = g2.vertices.take(5)
// v: Array[(org.apache.spark.graphx.VertexId, Double)] =
//    Array((185012,0.15), (612052,1.0153), (354796,0.15), (182316,0.15), (199516,0.385))

// save the PageRank data back to Neo4j, property-names are optional
Neo4jGraph.saveGraph(sc, g2, nodeProp = "rank", relProp = null)
// res2: (Long, Long) = (999937,0)

GraphFrames Demo

import org.neo4j.spark._

val labelPropertyPair =   ("Person" -> "name")
val relTypePropertyPair = ("KNOWS" -> null)

val gdf = Neo4jGraphFrame(sqlContext, labelPropertyPair, relTypePropertyPair, labelPropertyPair)
// gdf: org.graphframes.GraphFrame = GraphFrame(v:[id: bigint, prop: string],
//                                              e:[src: bigint, dst: bigint, prop: string])

gdf.edges.count           // res2: Long = 999999

// pattern matching
val results = gdf.find("(A)-[]->(B)").select("A","B").take(3)
// results: Array[org.apache.spark.sql.Row] = Array([[159148,name159149],[31,name32]],
//               [[461182,name461183],[631,name632]], [[296686,name296687],[1031,name1032]])

Please Help

The connector, like our official drivers is licensed under the Apache License 2.0. The source code is available on GitHub and the connector and its releases are also listed on spark packages.

I would love to get some feedback of the things you liked (and didn’t) and that worked (or didn’t). That’s what the relase candidate versions are meant for, so please go ahead and raise GitHub Issues.

Ready to take a deeper dive into Neo4j? Click below to get your free copy of the Learning Neo4j ebook and catch up to speed with the world’s leading graph database.

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About the Author

Michael Hunger , Developer Relations

Michael Hunger Image

Michael Hunger has been passionate about software development for a very long time. For the last few years he has been working on the open source Neo4j graph database filling many roles.

As caretaker of the Neo4j community and ecosystem he especially loves to work with graph-related projects, users and contributors. As a developer, Michael enjoys many aspects of programming languages, learning new things every day, participating in exciting and ambitious open source projects and contributing and writing software related books and articles.


Allen Lu says:

I have a few questions regarding configuration and connection.
In the configuration step “–conf spark.neo4j.bolt.password= ” I can’t seem to get neo4j to connect when I enter my password after the = sign; however, when I don’t enter anything after the = I can get it to connect. When I run something this way I get the error “Unable to connect to ‘localhost’ on port 7687”. I believe the local host should be 7474.

Colin Moore-Hill says:

7687 is the end point for the bolt protocol which spark uses, where 7474 is the end point used for http requests. Hopes this helps. Spanarchian.

Anurag says:

Hello Michael,

I was unable to run the Cypher statement :

UNWIND range(1, 1000000) AS x
CREATE (:Person {id: x, name: ‘name’ + x, age: x % 100}))

But when I made change in the Cypher statement than it run:

UNWIND range(1, 1000000) AS x
CREATE (:Person {id: x, name: ‘name’ + x, age: x % 100})

Could you please check it?

Simone says:

Hi, thanks for this, very interesting… do you also have examples to execute the same task the other way round, like writing a Spark DataFrame to a Neo4j database?

Sukumaar says:

Unable to download neo4j packages in spark , getting this error:

Exception in thread “main” java.lang.RuntimeException: [unresolved dependency: neo4j-contrib#neo4j-spark-connector;1.0.0-RC1: not found, unresolved dependency: graphframes#graphframes;0.1.0-spark1.6: not found]
at org.apache.spark.deploy.SparkSubmitUtils$.resolveMavenCoordinates(SparkSubmit.scala:1087)
at org.apache.spark.deploy.SparkSubmit$.prepareSubmitEnvironment(SparkSubmit.scala:287)
at org.apache.spark.deploy.SparkSubmit$.submit(SparkSubmit.scala:154)
at org.apache.spark.deploy.SparkSubmit$.main(SparkSubmit.scala:121)
at org.apache.spark.deploy.SparkSubmit.main(SparkSubmit.scala)

please provide solution

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