Quickstart example

Chillax is Quicklisp-installable, allowing for super-quick, painless installation of Chillax and all its dependencies.

Make sure CouchDB is installed, and currently running. This example assumes that the server is running in localhost, using the default 5984 port. Yason's alist encoder/decoder is used below to make replies readable (by default, it uses hash tables as JSON objects, instead of alists, and strings as keys).

CL-USER> (ql:quickload 'chillax)
CL-USER> (in-package :chillax)
CHILLAX> (defparameter *server* (make-instance 'yason-server :object-as-alist-p t
                                               (lambda (string) (intern string *package*))))
CHILLAX> (defparameter *db* (ensure-db *server* "test"))
CHILLAX> (all-documents *db*)
((|rows|) (|offset| . 0) (|total_rows| . 0))
CHILLAX> (put-document *db* "my_test_doc" '((name . "Josh") (favorite-language . "common-lisp")))
((|rev| . "1-3c964cc898c03c48903a91d90b24a269")
 (|id| . "my_test_doc") (|ok| . T))
CHILLAX> (get-document *db* "my_test_doc")
((FAVORITE-LANGUAGE . "common-lisp")
 (NAME . "Josh")
 (|_rev| . "1-3c964cc898c03c48903a91d90b24a269")
 (|_id| . "my_test_doc"))
CHILLAX> (delete-document *db* (cdr (assoc '|_id| *)) (cdr (assoc '|_rev| *)))
((|rev| . "2-2221fc2b97c1fac1a82ba07d2835ac80")
 (|id| . "my_test_doc")
 (|ok| . T))


Chillax is a CouchDB abstraction layer for Common Lisp. It is not an ORM or similar library, although it may be used to build such things.

Chillax also includes a CouchDB view server, which can be used to write CouchDB views in full, native Common Lisp.

Chillax includes several systems:

About this document

This README is not meant to document how to use CouchDB itself, or how to successfully design applications with it. If you're new to CouchDB, it is recommended that you follow a guide (which can be done while using Chillax).

The CouchDB Guide is recommended, and the CouchDB Wiki can be used as a general reference for CouchDB's API.

Core API

Chillax is a thin, lispy layer on top of CouchDB's RESTful API. Its main purpose is to provide Lisp functions to all of CouchDB's API calls, while translating certain things into Lisp data and concepts. For example, Chillax takes care of checking CouchDB's HTTP response codes for sanity. When error codes are returned, Chillax will signal Lisp corresponding Lisp conditions.

Additionally, Chillax is able to use any representation for CouchDB documents, provided the core Chillax protocols are implemented for that representation, i.e, you can use hash tables, alists, or instances of classes as your 'documents', and Chillax will automatically serialize/deserialize JSON communications with CouchDB according to the protocol's implementation.

Note that, since Chillax really is just a thin layer, it abstracts very little beyond the above. Most Chillax functions will simply return the de-JSON-ified CouchDB responses, and leave you to digging through the response objects for the data you need.

Server API

Chillax's Server API provides access to server-level functionality. Server objects not only give access to these database-independent features, but also act as mediators for all data that goes through Chillax. Chillax's server objects are in charge, for example, of translating CouchDB's JSON responses to and from whatever data format the user has chosen to use Lisp-side.

Server objects are created through appropriate protocol implementations. See STANDARD-SERVER, and YASON-SERVER below for the included implementations. Additional or alternate functionality for serialization can easily be implemented through Chillax's server protocol.

[function] server-uri server

Returns a string representation of the URL SERVER represents.

[function] all-dbs server

Requests a list of all existing databases from SERVER.

[function] config-info server

Requests the current configuration from SERVER.

[function] replicate server target &key create-target-p continuousp

Replicates the database in SOURCE to TARGET. SOURCE and TARGET can both be either database names in the local server, or full URLs to local or remote databases. If CREATE-TARGET-P is true, the target database will automatically be created if it does not exist. If CONTINUOUSP is true, CouchDB will continue propagating any changes in SOURCE to TARGET.

[function] stats server

Requests general statistics from SERVER.

[function] active-tasks server

Lists all the currently active tasks on SERVER.

[function] get-uuids server &key (number 10)

Returns a list of NUMBER unique IDs requested from SERVER. The UUIDs generated by the server are reasonably unique, but are not checked against existing UUIDs, so conflicts may still happen.

Database API

Connecting to a database in Chillax involves creating a database object with one of 3 constructors, all of which accept a server object (see Server API above), and the name of the database.

The Database API additionally provides some utility functions for accessing database-level functionality in CouchDB.

Wiki: HTTP Database API

[function] db-connect server name

Confirms that a particular CouchDB database exists. If so, returns a new database object that can be used to perform operations on it. Will signal a DB-NOT-FOUND error if the database does not already exist.

[function] db-create server name

Creates a new CouchDB database. Returns a database object that can be used to operate on it. Will signal a DB-ALREADY-EXISTS error if there is already a database with the same NAME in SERVER.

[function] ensure-db server name

Either connects to an existing database, or creates a new one. Returns two values: If a new database was created, (DB-OBJECT T) is returned. Otherwise, (DB-OBJECT NIL).

[function] db-info db

Fetches info about a given database from the CouchDB server.

[function] db-delete db

Deletes a CouchDB database.

[function] db-compact db

Triggers a database compaction.

[function] db-changes db

Returns the changes feed for DB

[function] db-uri db

Returns a string representing the full URI for DB.

Document API

All document arguments to these functions must be Lisp objects that the database's server is able to encode to JSON. These functions will likewise return Lisp objects that represent the parsed JSON responses from CouchDB. Exact representations will depend on the server being used.

Wiki: HTTP Document API

[function] get-document db id &key attachmentsp (errorpt)

Finds a CouchDB document in DB, named by ID. PARAMS should be an alist containing the parameters for the HTTP GET request. If ATTACHMENTSP is TRUE, the document's attachments will be included in their entirety in their base64-encoded version. It is not recommended you use this unless you really know what you're doing. If ERRORP is NIL, GET-DOCUMENT will simply return NIL on 404.

[function] get-document-revision db doc-id &key (errorp t)

Quickly fetches the latest revision for DOC-ID. If ERRORP is NIL, this can be used to quickly test the existence of a document.

[function] put-document db id doc &key batch-ok-p

Puts a document into DB, using ID. DOC must be Lisp data that DB's server is able to convert to JSON.

[function] post-document db doc

POSTs a document into DB. CouchDB will automatically assign a UUID if the document does not already exist. Note that using this function is discouraged in the CouchDB documentation, since it may result in duplicate documents because of proxies and other network intermediaries. If what you need is to create a new document with a generated id, consider using GET-UUIDS with PUT-DOCUMENT.

[function] delete-document db id revision

Deletes an existing document.

[function] copy-document from-id to-id &key revision

Copies a document's content in-database.

Bulk Document API

CouchDB supports a bulk document API for fetching, updating, and deleting documents in batches.

Wiki: HTTP Bulk Document API

[function] all-documents db &rest all-keys

Requests the _all_docs document. ALL-KEYS correspond to GET-DOCUMENT's keyword arguments.

[function] batch-get-documents db &rest doc-ids

Uses _all_docs to quickly fetch the given DOC-IDs in a single request. Note that this function will NOT signal a DOCUMENT-NOT-FOUND error when one or more DOC-IDs are not found. Instead, the results will be returned, and it's the user's responsibility to deal with any missing docs.

[function] bulk-post-documents documents &key all-or-nothing-p

Allows you to update or submit multiple documents at the same time, using CouchDB's _bulk_docs API. In order to delete a document through this API, the document must have a _document attribute with JSON 'true' as its value (note that what gets translated into 'true' depends on the server).

DOCUMENTS must be a sequence or sequence-like (depending on what DATA->JSON will do to it).

If ALL-OR-NOTHING-P is true, the entire submission will fail if a single one fails."

Standalone Attachment API

CouchDB has an API for uploading and downloading standalone attachments.

Wiki: Standalone Attachments

[function] put-attachment db doc-id attachment-name data &key rev content-type

Adds DATA as an attachment. DATA can be a number of things:

If the document already exists, REV is required. This function can be used on non-existent documents. If so, REV is not needed, and a document will be created automatically, and the attachment associated with it.

The CONTENT-TYPE should be a string specifying the content type for DATA. (default: "application/octet-stream")

[function] get-attachment db doc-id attachment-name

Returns 3 values:

  1. STREAM - An open flexi-stream that can be READ. In order to read straight binary data, you must first fetch the underlying stream with FLEXI-STREAMS:FLEXI-STREAM-STREAM.
  2. MUST-CLOSE-P - A boolean. If TRUE, the user must CLOSE this stream themselves once reading is done.
  3. CONTENT-LENGTH - Declared content length for the incoming data.

[function] delete-attachment db doc-id attachment-name doc-revision

Deletes an attachment from a document. DOC-REVISION must be the latest revision for the document.

[function] copy-attachment db doc-id attachment-name output-stream

Copies data from the named attachment to OUTPUT-STREAM. Returns the number of bytes copied.

Design Document API

Chillax currently includes a basic wrapper for Design Document-related operations. This API is likely to expand in the future as good ideas reveal themselves. Design documents will still need to be created through the regular document API.

Wiki: HTTP View API

[function] view-cleanup db

Invokes _view_cleanup on DB. Old view output will remain on disk until this is invoked.

[function] compact-design-doc db design-doc-name

Compaction can really help when you have very large views, very little space, or both.

[function] design-doc-info db design-doc-name

Returns an object with various bits of status information. Refer to CouchDB documentation for specifics on each value.

[function] query-view db design-doc-name view-name &key ... (see below) ...

Queries view named by VIEW-NAME in DESIGN-DOC-NAME. Keyword arguments correspond to CouchDB view query arguments.

[function] query-temporary-view db &key (map (error)) reduce (language "javascript")

Queries a temporary view. These views are meant to be for testing and development purposes, and should not be used in actual code.

Core Protocol

You can use the core protocol to customize behavior of Chillax. Writing your own implementation for this protocol is relatively simple and painless, and it allows you to do things such as use your own custom JSON encoder/decoder, if Yason doesn't fit your needs. Classes that implement the protocols, and their behavior, is documented here, as well.

For more information on the design of Chillax's protocol, refer to Chillax and Protocols.

Server Protocol

Self-explanatory readers:

[generic function] data->json server data &key

Converts DATA to JSON suitable for sending to CouchDB.

[generic function] json->data server json &key

Converts JSON to the desired data structure.

[generic function] make-db-object server name

Creates an object which represents a database connection in SERVER. The object must conform to the database protocol.

Included protocol implementations

[standard class] standard-server

Basic implementation of the server protocol. JSON data is handled literally as strings, with no conversion.

It supports the following initargs:

[standard class] yason-server

YASON-SERVERs use Yason's JSON parser/encoder to automatically translate content going to/coming from the associated CouchDB server.

YASON-SERVER is a subclass of STANDARD-SERVER, and the same initargs apply.

It additionally supports the following initargs:

[standard class] jsown-server

JSOWN-SERVERs use JSOWN's JSON parser/encoder to automatically translate content going to/coming from the associated CouchDB server.

JSOWN-SERVER is a subclass of STANDARD-SERVER, and the same initargs apply.

[function] call-with-key-container

This function is part of the chillax.jsown package.

Calls FUNCTION, which require zero arguments, in a context where CONTAINER will be used for jsown:parse-with-container.

[macro] with-key-container

This macro is part of the chillax.jsown package.

Convenience macro for call-with-key-container.

Database Protocol

[generic function] database-server database

Returns the server object with which DATABASE is associated.

[generic function] database-name database

Returns the URL-encoded name of the database, a string. Note that CouchDB accepts certain characters in database names -only- if they are URL-encoded (such as #\/). It is up to individual implementations of DATABASE-NAME to implement this encoding.

Included protocol implementation

[standard class] standard-database

Minimal, class-based implementation of the database protocol.

View Server

The Chillax View Server allows you to write views in full-fledged Common Lisp. In order to use the server, you must create a binary using code loaded by chillax.view-server.asd, and make chillax-server::run-server the toplevel function.

Once you put the binary in a place visible to the CouchDB process, add the following to /etc/couchdb/local.ini (or wherever your local.ini is located):

common-lisp = /path/to/chillax-view-server

Add the common-lisp entry if there's already a query_servers entry.

Once you've done this, you can start making queries directly in Lisp!

CHILLAX> (invoke-temporary-view *db* :language "common-lisp"
                                     :map (prin1-to-string '(lambda (doc) (emit doc 1))))

You can load anything you want into the view server image before dumping it, customize which package it executes views in, etc. The source code is fairly short and easy to digest. It's designed to be customizable for whatever your needs are.


Currently, the view server only provides basic features. A future release of Chillax will bring it back in sync with CouchDB's current line protocol.

Yason Problem

Note that, at least on some systems, versions of Yason prior to commit 00b9a5c06b7c4113a48518a1f136637efb4458b9 will not work (in this commit, #\Return was added to the list of whitespace characters recognized). Using these versions instead of 0.1 is recommended anyway for performance reasons.


The original author and current maintainer/developer of Chillax is Josh Marchán; Ian McEwen subsequently worked on CLOS bindings, since the original version was written for Sheeple. Chillax has since been mostly rewritten (again) to use a simple protocol-based extension API, allowing users to easily extend or alter Chillax's behavior, with minimal code.