Dynamoid is an ORM for Amazon's DynamoDB for Ruby applications. It provides similar functionality to ActiveRecord and improves on Amazon's existing HashModel by providing better searching tools and native association support.

DynamoDB is not like other document-based databases you might know, and is very different indeed from relational databases. It sacrifices anything beyond the simplest relational queries and transactional support to provide a fast, cost-efficient, and highly durable storage solution. If your database requires complicated relational queries and transaction support, then this modest Gem cannot provide them for you, and neither can DynamoDB. In those cases you would do better to look elsewhere for your database needs.

But if you want a fast, scalable, simple, easy-to-use database (and a Gem that supports it) then look no further!

Call For Maintainers

Please inquire within. https://github.com/Dynamoid/Dynamoid/issues/125


Installing Dynamoid is pretty simple. First include the Gem in your Gemfile:

gem 'dynamoid', '~> 1'


Dynamoid depends on the aws-sdk, and this is tested on the current version of aws-sdk (~> 2), rails (~> 4). Hence the configuration as needed for aws to work will be dealt with by aws setup.

Here are the steps to setup aws-sdk.

gem 'aws-sdk', '~>2'

(or) include the aws-sdk in your Gemfile.

NOTE: Dynamoid-1.0 doesn't support aws-sdk Version 1 (Use Dynamoid Major Version 0 for aws-sdk 1)

Configure AWS access: Reference

For example, to configure AWS access:

Create config/initializers/aws.rb as follows:

    region: 'us-west-2',
    credentials: Aws::Credentials.new('REPLACE_WITH_ACCESS_KEY_ID', 'REPLACE_WITH_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY'),

Alternatively, if you don't want Aws connection settings to be overwritten for you entire project, you can specify connection settings for Dynamoid only, by setting those in the Dynamoid.configure clause:

  Dynamoid.configure do |config|
    config.access_key = 'REPLACE_WITH_ACCESS_KEY_ID'
    config.secret_key = 'REPLACE_WITH_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY'
    config.region = 'us-west-2'

For a full list of the DDB regions, you can go here.

Then you need to initialize Dynamoid config to get it going. Put code similar to this somewhere (a Rails initializer would be a great place for this if you're using Rails):

  Dynamoid.configure do |config|
    config.namespace = "dynamoid_app_development" # To namespace tables created by Dynamoid from other tables you might have. Set to nil to avoid namespacing.
    config.endpoint = 'http://localhost:3000' # [Optional]. If provided, it communicates with the DB listening at the endpoint. This is useful for testing with [Amazon Local DB] (http://docs.aws.amazon.com/amazondynamodb/latest/developerguide/Tools.DynamoDBLocal.html).

Compatibility Matrix

Ruby / Active Record 4.0.x 4.1.x 4.2.x 5.0.x


You must include Dynamoid::Document in every Dynamoid model.

class User
  include Dynamoid::Document



Dynamoid has some sensible defaults for you when you create a new table, including the table name and the primary key column. But you can change those if you like on table creation.

class User
  include Dynamoid::Document

  table :name => :awesome_users, :key => :user_id, :read_capacity => 5, :write_capacity => 5

These fields will not change an existing table: so specifying a new read_capacity and write_capacity here only works correctly for entirely new tables. Similarly, while Dynamoid will look for a table named awesome_users in your namespace, it won't change any existing tables to use that name; and if it does find a table with the correct name, it won't change its hash key, which it expects will be user_id. If this table doesn't exist yet, however, Dynamoid will create it with these options.


You'll have to define all the fields on the model and the data type of each field. Every field on the object must be included here; if you miss any they'll be completely bypassed during DynamoDB's initialization and will not appear on the model objects.

By default, fields are assumed to be of type :string. Other built-in types are :integer, :number, :set, :array, :datetime, date, :boolean, :raw and :serialized. raw type means you can store Ruby Array, Hash, String and numbers. If built-in types do not suit you, you can use a custom field type represented by an arbitrary class, provided that the class supports a compatible serialization interface. The primary use case for using a custom field type is to represent your business logic with high-level types, while ensuring portability or backward-compatibility of the serialized representation.

You get magic columns of id (string), created_at (datetime), and updated_at (datetime) for free.

class User
  include Dynamoid::Document

  field :name
  field :email
  field :rank, :integer
  field :number, :number
  field :joined_at, :datetime
  field :hash, :serialized


You can optionally set a default value on a field using either a plain value or a lambda:

  field :actions_taken, :integer, {default: 0}
  field :joined_at, :datetime, {default: ->(){Time.now}}

To use a custom type for a field, suppose you have a Money type.

  class Money
    # ... your business logic ...

    def dynamoid_dump
      "serialized representation as a string"

    def self.dynamoid_load(serialized_str)
      # parse serialized representation and return a Money instance

  class User
    include Dynamoid::Document

    field :balance, Money

If you want to use a third-party class (which does not support #dynamoid_dump and .dynamoid_load) as your field type, you can use an adapter class providing .dynamoid_dump and .dynamoid_load class methods for your third-party class. (.dynamoid_load can remain the same from the previous example; here we just add a level of indirection for serializing.) Example:

  # Third-party Money class
  class Money; end

  class MoneyAdapter
    def self.dynamoid_load(money_serialized_str)

    def self.dynamoid_dump(money_obj)

  class User
    include Dynamoid::Document

    field :balance, MoneyAdapter

Lastly, you can control the data type of your custom-class-backed field at the DynamoDB level. This is especially important if you want to use your custom field as a numeric range or for number-oriented queries. By default custom fields are persisted as a string attribute, but your custom class can override this with a .dynamoid_field_type class method, which would return either :string or :number. (DynamoDB supports some other attribute types, but Dynamoid does not yet.)


Just like in ActiveRecord (or your other favorite ORM), Dynamoid uses associations to create links between models.

The only supported associations (so far) are has_many, has_one, has_and_belongs_to_many, and belongs_to. Associations are very simple to create: just specify the type, the name, and then any options you'd like to pass to the association. If there's an inverse association either inferred or specified directly, Dynamoid will update both objects to point at each other.

class User
  include Dynamoid::Document


  has_many :addresses
  has_many :students, :class => User
  belongs_to :teacher, :class_name => :user
  belongs_to :group
  has_one :role
  has_and_belongs_to_many :friends, :inverse_of => :friending_users


class Address
  include Dynamoid::Document


  belongs_to :user # Automatically links up with the user model


Contrary to what you'd expect, association information is always contained on the object specifying the association, even if it seems like the association has a foreign key. This is a side effect of DynamoDB's structure: it's very difficult to find foreign keys without an index. Usually you won't find this to be a problem, but it does mean that association methods that build new models will not work correctly -- for example, user.addresses.new returns an address that is not associated to the user. We'll be correcting this ~soon~ maybe someday, if we get a pull request.


Dynamoid bakes in ActiveModel validations, just like ActiveRecord does.

class User
  include Dynamoid::Document


  validates_presence_of :name
  validates_format_of :email, :with => /@/

To see more usage and examples of ActiveModel validations, check out the ActiveModel validation documentation.

If you want to bypass model validation, pass validate: false to save call:

model.save(validate: false)


Dynamoid also employs ActiveModel callbacks. Right now, callbacks are defined on save, update, destroy, which allows you to do before_ or after_ any of those.

class User
  include Dynamoid::Document


  before_save :set_default_password
  after_create :notify_friends
  after_destroy :delete_addresses


Dynamoid supports STI (Single Table Inheritance) like Active Record does. You need just specify type field in a base class. Example:

class Animal
  include Dynamoid::Document

  field :name
  field :type

class Cat < Animal
  field :lives, :integer

cat = Cat.create(name: 'Morgan')
animal = Animal.find(cat.id)
#=>  Cat


Object Creation

Dynamoid's syntax is generally very similar to ActiveRecord's. Making new objects is simple:

u = User.new(:name => 'Josh')
u.email = 'josh@joshsymonds.com'

Save forces persistence to the datastore: a unique ID is also assigned, but it is a string and not an auto-incrementing number.

u.id # => "3a9f7216-4726-4aea-9fbc-8554ae9292cb"

To use associations, you use association methods very similar to ActiveRecord's:

address = u.addresses.create
address.city = 'Chicago'


Querying can be done in one of three ways:

Address.find(address.id)              # Find directly by ID.
Address.where(:city => 'Chicago').all # Find by any number of matching criteria... though presently only "where" is supported.
Address.find_by_city('Chicago')       # The same as above, but using ActiveRecord's older syntax.

And you can also query on associations:

u.addresses.where(:city => 'Chicago').all

But keep in mind Dynamoid -- and document-based storage systems in general -- are not drop-in replacements for existing relational databases. The above query does not efficiently perform a conditional join, but instead finds all the user's addresses and naively filters them in Ruby. For large associations this is a performance hit compared to relational database engines.


There are three types of limits that you can query with:

  1. record_limit - The number of evaluated records that are returned by the query.
  2. scan_limit - The number of scanned records that DynamoDB will look at before returning.
  3. batch_size - The number of records requested to DynamoDB per underlying request, good for large queries!

Using these in various combinations results in the underlying requests to be made in the smallest size possible and the query returns once record_limit or scan_limit is satisfied. It will attempt to batch whenever possible.

You can thus limit the number of evaluated records, or select a record from which to start, to support pagination:

Address.record_limit(5).start(address) # Only 5 addresses starting at `address`

If you are potentially running over a large data set and this is especially true when using certain filters, you may want to consider limiting the number of scanned records (the number of records DynamoDB infrastructure looks through when evaluating data to return):

Address.scan_limit(5).start(address) # Only scan at most 5 records and return what's found starting from `address`

For large queries that return many rows, Dynamoid can use AWS' support for requesting documents in batches:

# Do some maintenance on the entire table without flooding DynamoDB
Address.all(batch_size: 100).each { |address| address.do_some_work; sleep(0.01) }
Address.record_limit(10_000).batch(100). each {  } # Batch specified as part of a chain

The implication of batches is that the underlying requests are done in the batch sizes to make the request and responses more manageable. Note that this batching is for Query and Scans and not BatchGetItem commands.

Sort Conditions and Filters

You are able to optimize query with condition for sort key. Following operators are available: gt, lt, gte, lte, begins_with, between as well as equality:

Address.where(latitude: 10212)
Address.where('latitude.gt': 10212)
Address.where('latitude.lt': 10212)
Address.where('latitude.gte': 10212)
Address.where('latitude.lte': 10212)
Address.where('city.begins_with': 'Lon')
Address.where('latitude.between': [10212, 20000])

You are able to filter results on the DynamoDB side and specify conditions for non-key fields. Following operators are available: in, contains, not_contains:

Address.where('city.in': ['London', 'Edenburg', 'Birmingham'])
Address.where('city.contains': [on])
Address.where('city.not_contains': [ing])

Consistent Reads

Querying supports consistent reading. By default, DynamoDB reads are eventually consistent: if you do a write and then a read immediately afterwards, the results of the previous write may not be reflected. If you need to do a consistent read (that is, you need to read the results of a write immediately) you can do so, but keep in mind that consistent reads are twice as expensive as regular reads for DynamoDB.

Address.find(address.id, :consistent_read => true)  # Find an address, ensure the read is consistent.
Address.where(:city => 'Chicago').consistent.all    # Find all addresses where the city is Chicago, with a consistent read.

Range Finding

If you have a range index, Dynamoid provides a number of additional other convenience methods to make your life a little easier:

User.where("created_at.gt" => DateTime.now - 1.day).all
User.where("created_at.lt" => DateTime.now - 1.day).all

It also supports .gte and .lte. Turning those into symbols and allowing a Rails SQL-style string syntax is in the works. You can only have one range argument per query, because of DynamoDB's inherent limitations, so use it sensibly!

Global Secondary Indexes

There are two ways to query Global Secondary Indexes (GSI).


The first way explicitly uses your GSI and utilizes the find_all_by_secondary_index method which will lookup a valid GSI to use based on the inputs, you MUST provide the correct keys to match the GSI you want:

        dynamo_primary_key_column_name => dynamo_primary_key_value
    }, # The signature of find_all_by_secondary_index is ugly, so must be an explicit hash here
    :range => {
        "#{range_column}.#{range_modifier}" => range_value
    # false is the same as DESC in SQL (newest timestamp first)
    # true is the same as ASC in SQL (oldest timestamp first)
    :scan_index_forward => false # or true

Where the range modifier is one of Dynamoid::Finders::RANGE_MAP.keys, where the RANGE_MAP is:

  'gt'            => :range_greater_than,
  'lt'            => :range_less_than,
  'gte'           => :range_gte,
  'lte'           => :range_lte,
  'begins_with'   => :range_begins_with,
  'between'       => :range_between,
  'eq'            => :range_eq

Most range searches, like eq, need a single value, and searches like between, need an array with two values.


The second way implicitly uses your GSI through the where clauses and deduces the index based on the query fields provided. Another added benefit is that it is built into query chaining so you can use all the methods used in normal querying. The explicit way from above would be rewritten as follows:

where(dynamo_primary_key_column_name => dynamo_primary_key_value,
      "#{range_column}.#{range_modifier}" => range_value)

The only caveat with this method is that because it is also used for general querying, it WILL NOT use a GSI unless it explicitly has defined projected_attributes: :all on the GSI in your model. This is because GSIs that do not have all attributes projected will only contain the index keys and therefore will not return objects with fully resolved field values. It currently opts to provide the complete results rather than partial results unless you've explicitly looked up the data.

Future TODO could involve implementing select in chaining as well as resolving the fields with a second query against the table since a query against GSI then a query on base table is still likely faster than scan on the base table


There are listed all the configuration options:

  • adapter - usefull only for the gem developers to switch to a new adapter. Default and the only available value is aws_sdk_v2
  • namespace - prefix for table names, default is dynamoid_#{application_name}_#{environment} for Rails application and dynamoid otherwise
  • logger - by default it's a Rails.logger in Rails application and stdout otherwise. You can disable logging by setting nil or false values. Set true value to use defaults
  • access_key - DynamoDb custom credentials for AWS, override global AWS credentials if they present
  • secret_key - DynamoDb custom credentials for AWS, override global AWS credentials if they present
  • region - DynamoDb custom credentials for AWS, override global AWS credentials if they present
  • batch_size - when you try to load multiple items at once with batch_get_item call Dynamoid loads them not with one api call but piece by piece. Default is 100 items
  • read_capacity - is used at table or indices creation. Default is 100 (units)
  • write_capacity - is used at table or indices creation. Default is 20 (units)
  • warn_on_scan - log warnings when scan table. Default is true
  • endpoint - if provided, it communicates with the DynamoDB listening at the endpoint. This is useful for testing with [Amazon Local DB]
  • identity_map - ensures that each object gets loaded only once by keeping every loaded object in a map. Looks up objects using the map when referring to them. Isn't thread safe. Default is false. Use Dynamoid::Middleware::IdentityMap to clear identity map for each HTTP request
  • timestamps - by default Dynamoid sets created_at and updated_at fields for model at creation and updating. You can disable this behavior by setting false value
  • sync_retry_max_times - when Dynamoid creates or deletes table synchronously it checks for completion specified times. Default is 60 (times). It's a bit over 2 minutes by default
  • sync_retry_wait_seconds - time to wait between retries. Default is 2 (seconds)
  • convert_big_decimal - if true then Dynamoid converts numbers stored in Hash in raw field to float. Default is false
  • models_dir - dynamoid:create_tables rake task loads DynamoDb models from this directory. Default is app/models. In Rails application you should set ./app/models value
  • application_timezone - Dynamoid converts all datetime fields to specified time zone when loads data from the storage. Acceptable values - utc, local (to use system time zone) and time zone name e.g. Eastern Time (US & Canada). Default is local


Dynamoid supports basic, ActiveRecord-like optimistic locking on save operations. Simply add a lock_version column to your table like so:

class MyTable

  field :lock_version, :integer


In this example, all saves to MyTable will raise an Dynamoid::Errors::StaleObjectError if a concurrent process loaded, edited, and saved the same row. Your code should trap this exception, reload the row (so that it will pick up the newest values), and try the save again.

Calls to update and update! also increment the lock_version, however they do not check the existing value. This guarantees that a update operation will raise an exception in a concurrent save operation, however a save operation will never cause an update to fail. Thus, update is useful & safe only for doing atomic operations (e.g. increment a value, add/remove from a set, etc), but should not be used in a read-modify-write pattern.

Rake Tasks

  • rake dynamoid:create_tables
  • rake dynamoid:ping

Test Environment

In test environment you will most likely want to clean the database between test runs to keep tests completely isolated. This can be achieved like so

module DynamoidReset
  def self.all
    Dynamoid.adapter.list_tables.each do |table|
      # Only delete tables in our namespace
      if table =~ /^#{Dynamoid::Config.namespace}/
    # Recreate all tables to avoid unexpected errors

# Reduce noise in test output
Dynamoid.logger.level = Logger::FATAL

If you're using RSpec you can invoke the above like so:

RSpec.configure do |config|
  config.before(:each) do

In Rails, you may also want to ensure you do not delete non-test data accidentally by adding the following to your test environment setup:

raise "Tests should be run in 'test' environment only" if Rails.env != 'test'
Dynamoid.configure do |config|
  config.namespace = "#{Rails.application.railtie_name}_#{Rails.env}"


Dynamoid borrows code, structure, and even its name very liberally from the truly amazing Mongoid. Without Mongoid to crib from none of this would have been possible, and I hope they don't mind me reusing their very awesome ideas to make DynamoDB just as accessible to the Ruby world as MongoDB.

Also, without contributors the project wouldn't be nearly as awesome. So many thanks to:

* Current Maintainers

Running the tests

Running the tests is fairly simple. You should have an instance of DynamoDB running locally. Follow this steps to be able to run the tests:

  • First download and unpack the latest version of DynamoDB.

  • Start the local instance of DynamoDB to listen in 8000 port

  • and lastly, use rake to run the tests.

  • When you are done, remember to stop the local test instance of dynamodb


If you want to run all the specs that travis runs, use bundle exec wwtd, but first you will need to setup all the rubies, for each of %w( 2.0.0-p648 2.1.10 2.2.6 2.3.3 2.4.1 jruby- ). WHen you run bundle exec wwtd it will take care of starting and stopping the local dynamodb instance.

rvm use 2.0.0-p648
gem install rubygems-update
gem install bundler
bundle install

Build Status Coverage Status


Copyright (c) 2012 Josh Symonds.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.