Updating a node but returning its state from before the update

Some use cases require updating node (or relationship) properties, but returning the node (or relationship) as it was prior to the update.

You’ll need to get a ‘snapshot’ of the node before the update, and return that snapshot instead of the node itself.

Neo4j 3.1 and above

You can use map projection to get your node snapshot:

MATCH (p:Person{name:'Keanu Reeves'})
WITH p, p {.*} as snapshot
SET p.name = 'The One'
RETURN snapshot

The returned map result will still have the name property set to ‘Keanu Reeves’.

Note that the result is a map, not a node, so node id and labels are not included in the returned data.

Returning an explicit null value

If you need to explicitly show a missing field (in the snapshot) as a null value in Neo4j 3.1 or above, you can also solve this with map projection by explicitly including the field in the projection.

MATCH (p:Person{name:'Keanu Reeves'})
WITH p, p {.*, .lastUpdated} as snapshot
SET p.lastUpdated = TIMESTAMP()
RETURN snapshot

If the lastUpdated property didn’t exist on the node, it will still be returned in the map with a null value instead of not appearing at all.

Neo4j 3.0 and below

Map projection isn’t available, so use properties() instead.

MATCH (p:Person{name:'Keanu Reeves'})
WITH p, properties(p) as snapshot
SET p.name = 'The One'
RETURN snapshot

The returned map result will still have the name property set to ‘Keanu Reeves’.

Note that the result is a map, not a node, so node id and labels are not included in the returned data.

Returning an explicit null value

If you need to explicitly show a missing field (in the snapshot) as a null value in Neo4j 3.0, you’ll need to use the map helper functions of APOC Procedures.

MATCH (p:Person{name:'Keanu Reeves'})
WITH p, properties(p) as props
CALL apoc.map.setKey(props, 'lastUpdated', null) YIELD value as snapshot
SET p.lastUpdated = timestamp()
RETURN snapshot

If the lastUpdated property didn’t exist on the node, it will still be returned in the map with a null value instead of not appearing at all.