:rocket: Intelligent search made easy

Searchkick learns what your users are looking for. As more people search, it gets smarter and the results get better. It’s friendly for developers - and magical for your users.

Searchkick handles:

  • stemming - tomatoes matches tomato
  • special characters - jalapeno matches jalapeño
  • extra whitespace - dishwasher matches dish washer
  • misspellings - zuchini matches zucchini
  • custom synonyms - qtip matches cotton swab


  • query like SQL - no need to learn a new query language
  • reindex without downtime
  • easily personalize results for each user
  • autocomplete
  • “Did you mean” suggestions
  • works with ActiveRecord and Mongoid

:speech_balloon: Get handcrafted updates for new features

:tangerine: Battle-tested at Instacart

Build Status

We highly recommend tracking queries and conversions

:zap: Searchjoy makes it easy

Get Started

Install Elasticsearch. For Homebrew, use:

sh brew install elasticsearch

Add this line to your application’s Gemfile:

ruby gem 'searchkick'

For Elasticsearch 0.90, use version 0.6.3 and this readme.

Add searchkick to models you want to search.

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick end

Add data to the search index.

ruby Product.reindex

And to query, use:

ruby products = "2% Milk" products.each do |product| puts end

Searchkick supports the complete Elasticsearch Search API. As your search becomes more advanced, we recommend you use the Elasticsearch DSL for maximum flexibility.


Query like SQL

ruby "2% Milk", where: {in_stock: true}, limit: 10, offset: 50

Search specific fields

ruby fields: [:name, :brand]


ruby where: { expires_at: {gt:}, # lt, gte, lte also available orders_count: 1..10, # equivalent to {gte: 1, lte: 10} aisle_id: [25, 30], # in store_id: {not: 2}, # not aisle_id: {not: [25, 30]}, # not in user_ids: {all: [1, 3]}, # all elements in array or: [ [{in_stock: true}, {backordered: true}] ] }


ruby order: {_score: :desc} # most relevant first - default

All of these sort options are supported

Limit / offset

ruby limit: 20, offset: 40


Boost important fields

ruby fields: ["title^10", "description"]

Boost by the value of a field (field must be numeric)

ruby boost_by: [:orders_count] # give popular documents a little boost boost_by: {orders_count: {factor: 10}} # default factor is 1

Boost matching documents

ruby boost_where: {user_id: 1} # default factor is 1000 boost_where: {user_id: {value: 1, factor: 100}}

Conversions are also a great way to boost.

Get Everything

Use a * for the query.

ruby "*"


Plays nicely with kaminari and will_paginate.

ruby # controller @products = "milk", page: params[:page], per_page: 20

View with kaminari

erb <%= paginate @products %>

View with will_paginate

erb <%= will_paginate @products %>

Partial Matches

By default, results must match all words in the query.

ruby "fresh honey" # fresh AND honey

To change this, use:

ruby "fresh honey", operator: "or" # fresh OR honey

By default, results must match the entire word - back will not match backpack. You can change this behavior with:

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick word_start: [:name] end

And to search (after you reindex):

ruby "back", fields: [{name: :word_start}]

Available options are:

ruby :word # default :word_start :word_middle :word_end :text_start :text_middle :text_end

To boost fields, use:

ruby fields: [{"name^2" => :word_start}] # better interface on the way

Exact Matches

ruby "", fields: [{email: :exact}, :name]


Searchkick defaults to English for stemming. To change this, use:

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick language: "German" end

See the list of languages


ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick synonyms: [["scallion", "green onion"], ["qtip", "cotton swab"]] end

Call Product.reindex after changing synonyms.


Prepopulate English synonyms with the WordNet database.

Download WordNet 3.0 to each Elasticsearch server and move to the /var/lib directory.

sh cd /tmp curl -o wordnet.tar.gz tar -zxvf wordnet.tar.gz mv prolog/ /var/lib

Tell each model to use it:

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick wordnet: true end


By default, Searchkick handles misspelled queries by returning results with an edit distance of one. To turn off this feature, use:

ruby "zuchini", misspellings: false # no zucchini

You can also change the edit distance with:

ruby "zucini", misspellings: {edit_distance: 2} # zucchini


Control what data is indexed with the search_data method. Call Product.reindex after changing this method.

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base def search_data as_json only: [:name, :active] # or equivalently { name: name, active: active } end end

Searchkick uses find_in_batches to import documents. To eager load associations, use the search_import scope.

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base scope :search_import, -> { includes(:searches) } end

By default, all records are indexed. To control which records are indexed, use the should_index? method.

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base def should_index? active # only index active records end end

To Reindex, or Not to Reindex


  • when you install or upgrade searchkick
  • change the search_data method
  • change the searchkick method

No need to reindex

  • App starts

Stay Synced

There are three strategies for keeping the index synced with your database.

  1. Immediate (default)

Anytime a record is inserted, updated, or deleted

  1. Asynchronous

Use background jobs for better performance

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick callbacks: :async end

And install Active Job for Rails 4.1 and below

  1. Manual

Turn off automatic syncing

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick callbacks: false end

Keep Getting Better

Searchkick uses conversion data to learn what users are looking for. If a user searches for “ice cream” and adds Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey to the cart (our conversion metric at Instacart), that item gets a little more weight for similar searches.

The first step is to define your conversion metric and start tracking conversions. The database works well for low volume, but feel free to use Redis or another datastore.

ruby class Search < ActiveRecord::Base belongs_to :product # fields: id, query, searched_at, converted_at, product_id end

You do not need to clean up the search queries. Searchkick automatically treats apple and APPLES the same.

Next, add conversions to the index.

```ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base has_many :searches

searchkick conversions: “conversions” # name of field

def search_data { name: name, conversions:“query”).count # cream” => 234, “chocolate” => 67, “cream” => 2 } end end ```

Reindex and set up a cron job to add new conversions daily.

ruby rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product

Personalized Results

Order results differently for each user. For example, show a user’s previously purchased products before other results.

```ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base

def search_data { name: name, orderer_ids: orders.pluck(:user_id) # boost this product for these users } end

end ```

Reindex and search with:

ruby "milk", boost_where: {orderer_ids:}


Autocomplete predicts what a user will type, making the search experience faster and easier.


Note: If you only have a few thousand records, don’t use Searchkick for autocomplete. It’s much faster to load all records into JavaScript and autocomplete there (eliminates network requests).

First, specify which fields use this feature. This is necessary since autocomplete can increase the index size significantly, but don’t worry - this gives you blazing faster queries.

ruby class City < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick text_start: [:name] end

Reindex and search with:

ruby "san fr", fields: [{name: :text_start}]

Typically, you want to use a JavaScript library like typeahead.js or jQuery UI.

Here’s how to make it work with Rails

First, add a route and controller action.

```ruby # app/controllers/cities_controller.rb class CitiesController < ApplicationController

def autocomplete render json:[:query], fields: [:text_start], limit: 10).map(&:name) end

end ```

Then add the search box and JavaScript code to a view.





ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick suggest: ["name"] # fields to generate suggestions end

Reindex and search with:

ruby products = "peantu butta", suggest: true products.suggestions # ["peanut butter"]


Facets provide aggregated search data.


ruby products = "chuck taylor", facets: [:product_type, :gender, :brand] p products.facets

By default, where conditions are not applied to facets (for backward compatibility).

ruby "wingtips", where: {color: "brandy"}, facets: [:size] # facets *not* filtered by color :(

Change this with:

ruby "wingtips", where: {color: "brandy"}, facets: [:size], smart_facets: true

or set where conditions for each facet separately:

ruby "wingtips", facets: {size: {where: {color: "brandy"}}}


ruby "2% Milk", facets: {store_id: {limit: 10}}


ruby price_ranges = [{to: 20}, {from: 20, to: 50}, {from: 50}] "*", facets: {price: {ranges: price_ranges}}

Use the stats option to get to max, min, mean, and total scores for each facet

ruby "*", facets: {store_id: {stats: true}}


Specify which fields to index with highlighting.

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick highlight: [:name] end

Highlight the search query in the results.

ruby bands = "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: true

Note: The fields option is required, unless highlight options are given - see below.

View the highlighted fields with:

ruby bands.with_details.each do |band, details| puts details[:highlight][:name] # "Two Door <em>Cinema</em> Club" end

To change the tag, use:

ruby "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: {tag: "<strong>"}

To highlight and search different fields, use:

ruby "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: {fields: [:description]}

Additional options, including fragment size, can be specified for each field:

ruby "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: {fields: {name: {fragment_size: 200}}}

You can find available highlight options in the Elasticsearch reference.

Similar Items

Find similar items.

ruby product = Product.first product.similar(fields: ["name"])

Geospatial Searches

```ruby class City < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick locations: [“location”]

def search_data attributes.merge location: [latitude, longitude] end end ```

Reindex and search with:

ruby "san", where: {location: {near: [37, -114], within: "100mi"}} # or 160km

Bounded by a box

ruby "san", where: {location: {top_left: [38, -123], bottom_right: [37, -122]}}

Boost By Distance

Boost results by distance - closer results are boosted more

ruby "san", boost_by_distance: {field: :location, origin: [37, -122]}

Also supports additional options

ruby "san", boost_by_distance: {field: :location, origin: [37, -122], function: :linear, scale: "30mi", decay: 0.5}


Searchkick supports single table inheritance.

ruby class Dog < Animal end

The parent and child model can both reindex.

ruby Animal.reindex Dog.reindex # equivalent

And to search, use:

ruby "*" # all animals "*" # just dogs "*", type: [Dog, Cat] # just cats and dogs

Note: The suggest option retrieves suggestions from the parent at the moment.

ruby "airbudd", suggest: true # suggestions for all animals

Debugging Queries

See how Elasticsearch tokenizes your queries with:

```ruby Product.searchkick_index.tokens(“Dish Washer Soap”, analyzer: “default_index”) # [“dish”, “dishwash”, “washer”, “washersoap”, “soap”]

Product.searchkick_index.tokens(“dishwasher soap”, analyzer: “searchkick_search”) # [“dishwashersoap”] - no match

Product.searchkick_index.tokens(“dishwasher soap”, analyzer: “searchkick_search2”) # [“dishwash”, “soap”] - match!! ```

Partial matches

```ruby Product.searchkick_index.tokens(“San Diego”, analyzer: “searchkick_word_start_index”) # [”s”, “sa”, “san”, “d”, “di”, “die”, “dieg”, “diego”]

Product.searchkick_index.tokens(“dieg”, analyzer: “searchkick_word_search”) # [“dieg”] - match!! ```

See the complete list of analyzers.


Searchkick uses ENV["ELASTICSEARCH_URL"] for the Elasticsearch server. This defaults to http://localhost:9200.


Choose an add-on: SearchBox, Bonsai, or Found.

```sh # SearchBox heroku addons:add searchbox:starter heroku config:add ELASTICSEARCH_URL=heroku config:get SEARCHBOX_URL


heroku addons:add bonsai heroku config:add ELASTICSEARCH_URL=heroku config:get BONSAI_URL


heroku addons:add foundelasticsearch heroku config:add ELASTICSEARCH_URL=heroku config:get FOUNDELASTICSEARCH_URL ```

Then deploy and reindex:

sh heroku run rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product


Create an initializer config/initializers/elasticsearch.rb with:


Then deploy and reindex:

sh rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product


For the best performance, add Typhoeus to your Gemfile.

ruby gem 'typhoeus'

And create an initializer with:

ruby require "typhoeus/adapters/faraday" Ethon.logger ="/dev/null")

Note: Typhoeus is not available for Windows.

Automatic Failover

Create an initializer config/initializers/elasticsearch.rb with multiple hosts:

ruby Searchkick.client = ["localhost:9200", "localhost:9201"], retry_on_failure: true)

See elasticsearch-transport for a complete list of options.


Add the following to config/environments/production.rb:

ruby config.lograge.custom_options = lambda do |event| options = {} options[:search] = event.payload[:searchkick_runtime] if event.payload[:searchkick_runtime].to_f > 0 options end

See Production Rails for other good practices.


Prefer to use the Elasticsearch DSL but still want awesome features like zero-downtime reindexing?

Advanced Mapping

Create a custom mapping:

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick mappings: { product: { properties: { name: {type: "string", analyzer: "keyword"} } } } end

To keep the mappings and settings generated by Searchkick, use:

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick merge_mappings: true, mappings: {...} end

And use the body option to search:

ruby products = body: {match: {name: "milk"}}

View the response with:

ruby products.response

To modify the query generated by Searchkick, use:

ruby products = "2% Milk" do |body| body[:query] = {match_all: {}} end


Reindex one record

ruby product = Product.find 10 product.reindex

Remove old indices

ruby Product.clean_indices

Use a different index name

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick index_name: "products_v2" end

Prefix the index name

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick index_prefix: "datakick" end

Turn off callbacks temporarily

ruby Product.disable_search_callbacks # or use Searchkick.disable_callbacks for all models ExpensiveProductsTask.execute Product.enable_search_callbacks # or use Searchkick.enable_callbacks for all models Product.reindex

Change timeout

ruby Searchkick.timeout = 5 # defaults to 10

Change the search method name in config/initializers/searchkick.rb

ruby Searchkick.search_method_name = :lookup

Eager load associations

ruby "milk", include: [:brand, :stores]

Do not load models

ruby "milk", load: false

Turn off special characters

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base # A will not match Ä searchkick special_characters: false end

Change import batch size

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick batch_size: 200 # defaults to 1000 end

Make fields unsearchable but include in the source

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick unsearchable: [:color] end

Reindex asynchronously

```ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick callbacks: false

def reindex_async # custom code to reindex end

after_commit :reindex_async # or for Mongoid # after_save :reindex_async # after_destroy :reindex_async end ```

Reindex conditionally

Note: With ActiveRecord, use this feature with caution - transaction rollbacks can cause data inconstencies

```ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick callbacks: false

# add the callbacks manually after_save :reindex, if: proc{|model| model.name_changed? } # use your own condition after_destroy :reindex end ```

Reindex all models - Rails only

sh rake searchkick:reindex:all

Migrating from Tire

  1. Change search methods to and add index name in existing search calls

ruby "fruit"

should be replaced with

ruby "fruit", index: "products"

  1. Replace tire mapping w/ searchkick method

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick end

  1. Deploy and reindex

ruby rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product # or Product.reindex in the console

  1. Once it finishes, replace search calls w/ searchkick calls


View the changelog.

Important notes are listed below.

0.6.0 and 0.7.0

If running Searchkick 0.6.0 or 0.7.0 and Elasticsearch 0.90, we recommend upgrading to Searchkick 0.6.1 or 0.7.1 to fix an issue that causes downtime when reindexing.


Before 0.3.0, locations were indexed incorrectly. When upgrading, be sure to reindex immediately.

Elasticsearch Gotchas

Inconsistent Scores

Due to the distributed nature of Elasticsearch, you can get incorrect results when the number of documents in the index is low. You can read more about it here. To fix this, do:

ruby class Product < ActiveRecord::Base searchkick settings: {number_of_shards: 1} end

For convenience, this is set by default in the test environment.


Thanks to Karel Minarik for Elasticsearch Ruby and Tire, Jaroslav Kalistsuk for zero downtime reindexing, and Alex Leschenko for Elasticsearch autocomplete.


  • Search multiple fields for different terms
  • Search across models
  • Search nested objects
  • Add section on testing
  • Much finer customization
  • More transparency into generated queries (for advanced use)


Everyone is encouraged to help improve this project. Here are a few ways you can help:

To get started with development and testing:

  1. Clone the repo
  2. bundle
  3. rake test