Introduction

This section provides a brief overview of the Neo4j editions, versioning, Cypher language, interaction, and capabilities.

Neo4j is the world’s leading graph database. The architecture is designed for optimal management, storage, and traversal of nodes and relationships. The graph database takes a property graph approach, which is beneficial for both traversal performance and operations runtime. Neo4j offers dedicated memory management and memory-efficient operations.

Neo4j is scalable and can be deployed as a standalone server or across multiple machines in a fault-tolerant cluster for production environments. Other features for production applications include hot backups and extensive monitoring.

There are two editions of Neo4j to choose from, the Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition includes all that Community Edition has to offer, plus extra enterprise requirements such as backups, clustering, and failover capabilities.

1. Community Edition

The Community Edition is a fully functional edition of Neo4j, suitable for single-instance deployments. It has full support for key Neo4j features, such as, ACID-compliant transactions, Cypher, and programming APIs. It is ideal for learning Neo4j, do-it-yourself projects, and applications in small workgroups.

2. Enterprise Edition

The Enterprise Edition extends the functionality of Community Edition to include key features for performance and scalability, such as, a clustering architecture and online backup functionality. Additional security features include role-based access control and LDAP support, for example, Active Directory. It is the choice for production systems with requirements for scale and availability, such as, commercial solutions and critical internal solutions.

3. Versioning

Neo4j uses semantic versioning (Semantic Versioning Specification 2.0.0). Given a version number MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH, the increment is based on:

  • MAJOR version - incompatible API changes towards previous MAJOR version.

  • MINOR version - functionality in a backwards compatible manner.

  • PATCH release - backwards compatible bug fixes.

Neo4j’s fully managed cloud service Neo4j Aura uses only MAJOR versioning.

4. Cypher

Cypher is a declarative query language for graphs. Neo4j uses the property graph approach, where relationships are stored alongside the data in the model, and not computed at query time. Cypher is a powerful, graph-optimized query language that understands, and takes advantage of, these stored connections. When trying to find patterns or insights in data, Cypher queries are often much simpler and easier to write than massive SQL JOINs. Since Neo4j does not have tables, there are no JOINs to worry about.

5. Interaction

The recommended way of programmatically interacting with the database is either through the official Neo4j Drivers, or through using the Java Reference → Neo4j Java API. Neo4j provides an ACID-compliant transactional backend for your applications.

5.1. The official Neo4j Drivers

The official Neo4j Drivers interacts with Neo4j via the Bolt protocol (https://neo4j-drivers.github.io/).

See the Neo4j Download Center - Drivers for more links.

5.2. Other tools

6. Neo4j feature details

6.1. Neo4j key features

Table 1. Key features
Feature Community Edition Enterprise Edition

Property graph model

Native graph processing & storage

ACID-compliant transactions

Cypher graph query language

Neo4j Browser with syntax highlighting

Bolt Protocol

Language drivers for C#, Java, JavaScript & Python [1\]

High-performance native API

High-performance caching

Cost-based query optimizer

Graph algorithms library to support AI initiatives [1\]

Fast writes via native label indexes

Composite indexes

Full-text node & relationship indexes

Store copy

Auto-reuse of space

Multiple databases (beyond the system and default databases)

Slotted and Pipelined Cypher runtimes

Property-existence constraints

Node Key constraints

Listing and terminating running queries

Role-based access control

Sub-graph access control

LDAP and Active Directory integration

Kerberos security option

[1]Must be downloaded and installed separately.

6.2. Performance and scalability

Table 2. Performance and scalability features
Feature Community Edition Enterprise Edition

Causal Clustering for global scale applications

Enterprise lock manager accesses all cores on server

Intra-cluster encryption

Offline backups

Online backups

Encrypted backups

Rolling upgrades

Automatic cache warming

Routing and load balancing with Neo4j Drivers

Advanced monitoring

Graph size limitations

34 billion nodes, 34 billion relationships, and 68 billion properties

No limit

Bulk import tool

Bulk import tool, resumable