User-defined procedures

This section describes how to write, test and deploy a user-defined procedure for Neo4j.

A user-defined procedure is a mechanism that enables you to extend Neo4j by writing custom code, which can be invoked directly from Cypher. Procedures can take arguments, perform operations on the database, and return results. For a comparison between user-defined procedures, functions and aggregation functions see Introduction.

1. Calling procedures

To call a user-defined procedure, use a Cypher CALL clause. The procedure name must be fully qualified, so a procedure named findDenseNodes defined in the package org.neo4j.examples could be called using:

CALL org.neo4j.examples.findDenseNodes(1000)

A CALL may be the only clause within a Cypher statement or may be combined with other clauses. Arguments can be supplied directly within the query or taken from the associated parameter set. For full details, see the documentation in Cypher Manual → CALL procedure.

2. Writing procedures

Make sure you have read and followed the preparatory setup instructions in Setting up a plugin project.

The example discussed below is available as a repository on GitHub. To get started quickly you can fork the repository and work with the code as you follow along in the guide below.

2.1. Writing integration tests

The test dependencies include Neo4j Harness and JUnit. These can be used to write integration tests for procedures.

First, decide what the procedure should do, then write a test that proves that it does it right. Finally, write a procedure that passes the test.

Below is a template for testing a procedure that accesses Neo4j’s full-text indexes from Cypher.

package example;

import org.junit.Rule;
import org.junit.Test;
import org.neo4j.driver.v1.*;
import org.neo4j.graphdb.factory.GraphDatabaseSettings;
import org.neo4j.harness.junit.Neo4jRule;

import static org.hamcrest.core.IsEqual.equalTo;
import static org.junit.Assert.assertThat;
import static org.neo4j.driver.v1.Values.parameters;

public class ManualFullTextIndexTest
    // This rule starts a Neo4j instance
    public Neo4jRule neo4j = new Neo4jRule()

            // This is the Procedure to test
            .withProcedure( FullTextIndex.class );

    public void shouldAllowIndexingAndFindingANode() throws Throwable
        // In a try-block, to make sure you close the driver after the test
        try( Driver driver = GraphDatabase.driver( neo4j.boltURI() , ) )

            // Given I've started Neo4j with the FullTextIndex procedure class
            //       which my 'neo4j' rule above does.
            Session session = driver.session();

            // And given I have a node in the database
            long nodeId = "CREATE (p:User {name:'Brookreson'}) RETURN id(p)" )
                    .get( 0 ).asLong();

            // When I use the index procedure to index a node
   "CALL example.index($id, ['name'])", parameters( "id", nodeId ) );

            // Then I can search for that node with lucene query syntax
            StatementResult result = "CALL'User', 'name:Brook*')" );
            assertThat( result.single().get( "nodeId" ).asLong(), equalTo( nodeId ) );

2.2. Writing a procedure

With the test in place, write a procedure procedure that fulfills the expectations of the test. The full example is available in the Neo4j Procedure Template repository.

Particular things to note:

  • All procedures are annotated @Procedure.

  • The procedure annotation can take three optional arguments: name, mode, and eager.

    • name is used to specify a different name for the procedure than the default generated, which is class.path.nameOfMethod. If mode is specified then name must be specified as well.

    • mode is used to declare the types of interactions that the procedure will perform. A procedure will fail if it attempts to execute database operations that violates its mode. The default mode is READ. The following modes are available:

      • READ This procedure will only perform read operations against the graph.

      • WRITE This procedure will perform read and write operations against the graph.

      • SCHEMA This procedure will perform operations against the schema, i.e. create and drop indexes and constraints. A procedure with this mode is able to read graph data, but not write.

      • DBMS This procedure will perform system operations such as user management and query management. A procedure with this mode is not able to read or write graph data.

    • eager is a boolean setting defaulting to false. If it is set to true then the Cypher planner will plan an extra eager operation before calling the procedure. This is useful in cases where the procedure makes changes to the database in a way that could interact with the operations preceding the procedure. For example:

      MATCH (n)
      WHERE n.key = 'value'
      WITH n
      CALL deleteNeighbours(n, 'FOLLOWS')`

      This query could delete some of the nodes that would be matched by the Cypher query, and then the n.key lookup will fail. Marking this procedure as eager will prevent this from causing an error in Cypher code. However, it is still possible for the procedure to interfere with itself by trying to read entities it has previously deleted. It is the responsibility of the procedure author to handle that case.

  • The context of the procedure, which is the same as each resource that the procedure wants to use, is annotated @Context.

The correct way to signal an error from within a procedure is to throw a RuntimeException.

2.3. Injectable resources

When writing procedures, some resources can be injected into the procedure from the database. To inject these, use the @Context annotation. The classes that can be injected are:

  • Log

  • TerminationGuard

  • GraphDatabaseService

  • Transaction

All of the above classes are considered safe and future-proof, and will not compromise the security of the database. There are also several classes that can be injected that are unsupported (restricted) and can be changed with little or no notice. Procedures written to use these restricted API’s will not be loaded by default, and it will be necessary to use the to load unsafe procedures. Read more about this config setting in Operations Manual → Securing Extensions.