: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, Mongoid, and NoBrainer

:speech_balloon: Get handcrafted updates for new features

:tangerine: Battle-tested at Instacart

Build Status

Get Started

Install Elasticsearch. For Homebrew, use:

brew install elasticsearch

# start the server

Add this line to your application’s Gemfile:

gem 'searchkick'

For Elasticsearch 2.0, use the version 1.0 and above. For Elasticsearch 0.90, use version 0.6.3 and this readme.

Add searchkick to models you want to search.

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base

Add data to the search index.


And to query, use:

products = "apples"
products.each do |product|

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 "apples", where: {in_stock: true}, limit: 10, offset: 50

Search specific fields

fields: [:name, :brand]


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
  category: /frozen .+/,      # regexp
  or: [
    [{in_stock: true}, {backordered: true}]


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

All of these sort options are supported

Limit / offset

limit: 20, offset: 40


select_v2: ["name"]


Searches return a Searchkick::Results object. This responds like an array to most methods.

results ="milk")
results.each { |result| ... }

By default, ids are fetched from Elasticsearch and records are fetched from your database. To fetch everything from Elasticsearch, use:"apples", load: false)

Get total results


Get the time the search took (in milliseconds)


Get the full response from Elasticsearch



Boost important fields

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

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

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

Boost matching documents

boost_where: {user_id: 1}
boost_where: {user_id: {value: 1, factor: 100}} # default factor is 1000
boost_where: {user_id: [{value: 1, factor: 100}, {value: 2, factor: 200}]}

Conversions are also a great way to boost.

Get Everything

Use a * for the query. "*"


Plays nicely with kaminari and will_paginate.

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

View with kaminari

<%= paginate @products %>

View with will_paginate

<%= will_paginate @products %>

Partial Matches

By default, results must match all words in the query. "fresh honey" # fresh AND honey

To change this, use: "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:

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

And to search (after you reindex): "back", fields: [:name], match: :word_start

Available options are:

:word # default

Exact Matches params[:q], fields: [{email: :exact}, :name]

Phrase Matches "fresh honey", match: :phrase


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

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick language: "german"

See the list of stemmers


class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick synonyms: [["scallion", "green onion"], ["qtip", "cotton swab"]]
  # or
  # searchkick synonyms: -> {"/some/path/synonyms.csv") }

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.

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

Tell each model to use it:

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick wordnet: true


By default, Searchkick handles misspelled queries by returning results with an edit distance of one.

You can change this with: "zucini", misspellings: {edit_distance: 2} # zucchini

To improve performance for correctly spelled queries (which should be a majority for most applications), Searchkick can first perform a search without misspellings, and if there are too few results, perform another with them. "zuchini", misspellings: {below: 5}

If there are fewer than 5 results, a 2nd search is performed with misspellings enabled. The result of this query is returned.

Turn off misspellings with: "zuchini", misspellings: false # no zucchini


Search :ice_cream::cake: and get ice cream cake!

Add this line to your application’s Gemfile:

gem 'gemoji-parser'

And use: "🍨🍰", emoji: true


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

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :department

  def search_data
      name: name,
      on_sale: sale_price.present?

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

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

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

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

If a reindex is interrupted, you can resume it with:

Product.reindex(resume: true)

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

  2. Asynchronous

    Use background jobs for better performance

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

    And install Active Job for Rails 4.1 and below. Jobs are added to a queue named searchkick.

  3. Manual

    Turn off automatic syncing

    class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
    searchkick callbacks: false

You can also do bulk updates.

Searchkick.callbacks(:bulk) do

Or temporarily skip updates.

Searchkick.callbacks(false) do


Data is not automatically synced when an association is updated. If this is desired, add a callback to reindex:

class Image < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :product

  after_commit :reindex_product

  def reindex_product
    product.reindex # or reindex_async


We highly recommend tracking searches and conversions.

Searchjoy makes it easy. "apple", track: {user_id:}

See the docs for how to install and use.

Keep Getting Better

Searchkick can use 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.

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

Next, add conversions to the index.

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :searches, class_name: "Searchjoy::Search", as: :convertable

  searchkick conversions: ["conversions"] # name of field

  def search_data
      name: name,
      # {"ice cream" => 234, "chocolate" => 67, "cream" => 2}

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

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.

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  def search_data
      name: name,
      orderer_ids: orders.pluck(:user_id) # boost this product for these users

Reindex and search with: "milk", boost_where: {orderer_ids:}

Instant Search / Autocomplete

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.

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick match: :word_start, searchable: [:title, :author]

Reindex and search with: "tipping poi"

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.

# app/controllers/books_controller.rb
class BooksController < ApplicationController
  def autocomplete
    render json:[:query], {
      fields: ["title^5", "author"],
      limit: 10,
      load: false,
      misspellings: {below: 5}

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

<input type="text" id="query" name="query" />

<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="typeahead.js"></script>
    name: "book",
    remote: "/books/autocomplete?query=%QUERY"



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

Reindex and search with:

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


Aggregations provide aggregated search data.


products = "chuck taylor", aggs: [:product_type, :gender, :brand]

By default, where conditions apply to aggregations. "wingtips", where: {color: "brandy"}, aggs: [:size]
# aggregations for brandy wingtips are returned

Change this with: "wingtips", where: {color: "brandy"}, aggs: [:size], smart_aggs: false
# aggregations for all wingtips are returned

Set where conditions for each aggregation separately with: "wingtips", aggs: {size: {where: {color: "brandy"}}}

Limit "apples", aggs: {store_id: {limit: 10}}

Order "wingtips", aggs: {color: {order: {"_term" => "asc"}}} # alphabetically

All of these options are supported


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

Minimum document count "apples", aggs: {store_id: {min_doc_count: 2}}

Date histogram "pear", aggs: {products_per_year: {date_histogram: {field: :created_at, interval: :year}}}

Moving From Facets

  1. Replace facets with aggs in searches. Note: Stats facets are not supported at this time.

    products = "chuck taylor", facets: [:brand]
    # to
    products = "chuck taylor", aggs: [:brand]
  2. Replace the facets method with aggs for results.

    # to

    The keys in results differ slightly. Instead of:


    You get:


    Update your application to handle this.

  3. By default, where conditions apply to aggregations. This is equivalent to smart_facets: true. If you have smart_facets: true, you can remove it. If this is not desired, set smart_aggs: false.

  4. If you have any range facets with dates, change the key from ranges to date_ranges.

    facets: {date_field: {ranges: date_ranges}}
    # to
    aggs: {date_field: {date_ranges: date_ranges}}

Facets [deprecated]

Facets have been deprecated in favor of aggregations as of Searchkick 1.0. See how to upgrade.

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

By default, where conditions are not applied to facets (for backward compatibility). "wingtips", where: {color: "brandy"}, facets: [:size]
# facets *not* filtered by color :(

Change this with: "wingtips", where: {color: "brandy"}, facets: [:size], smart_facets: true

or set where conditions for each facet separately: "wingtips", facets: {size: {where: {color: "brandy"}}}

Limit "apples", facets: {store_id: {limit: 10}}


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


Specify which fields to index with highlighting.

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

Highlight the search query in the results.

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

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

View the highlighted fields with:

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

To change the tag, use: "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: {tag: "<strong>"}

To highlight and search different fields, use: "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: {fields: [:description]}

Additional options, including fragment size, can be specified for each field: "cinema", fields: [:name], highlight: {fields: {name: {fragment_size: 200}}}

You can find available highlight options in the Elasticsearch reference.

Similar Items

Find similar items.

product = Product.first
product.similar(fields: ["name"], where: {size: "12 oz"})

Geospatial Searches

class City < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick locations: ["location"]

  def search_data
    attributes.merge location: {lat: latitude, lon: longitude}

Reindex and search with: "san", where: {location: {near: {lat: 37, lon: -114}, within: "100mi"}} # or 160km

Bounded by a box "san", where: {location: {top_left: {lat: 38, lon: -123}, bottom_right: {lat: 37, lon: -122}}}

Boost By Distance

Boost results by distance - closer results are boosted more "san", boost_by_distance: {field: :location, origin: {lat: 37, lon: -122}}

Also supports additional options "san", boost_by_distance: {field: :location, origin: {lat: 37, lon: -122}, function: :linear, scale: "30mi", decay: 0.5}


Searchkick supports Elasticsearch’s routing feature.

class Business < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick routing: true

  def search_routing

Reindex and search with: "ice cream", routing: params[:city_id]


Searchkick supports single table inheritance.

class Dog < Animal

The parent and child model can both reindex.

Dog.reindex # equivalent

And to search, use: "*"                   # all animals "*"                      # just dogs "*", type: [Dog, Cat] # just cats and dogs

Note: The suggest option retrieves suggestions from the parent at the moment. "airbudd", suggest: true # suggestions for all animals

Debugging Queries

See how Elasticsearch scores your queries with:"soap", explain: true).response

See how Elasticsearch tokenizes your queries with:

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

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 Elastic Cloud.

# SearchBox
heroku addons:create searchbox:starter
heroku config:set ELASTICSEARCH_URL=`heroku config:get SEARCHBOX_URL`

# Bonsai
heroku addons:create bonsai
heroku config:set ELASTICSEARCH_URL=`heroku config:get BONSAI_URL`

# Found
heroku addons:create foundelasticsearch
heroku config:set ELASTICSEARCH_URL=`heroku config:get FOUNDELASTICSEARCH_URL`

Then deploy and reindex:

heroku run rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product

Amazon Elasticsearch Service

Include elasticsearch 1.0.15 or greater in your Gemfile.

gem "elasticsearch", ">= 1.0.15"

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


To use signed request, include in your Gemfile:

gem 'faraday_middleware-aws-signers-v4'

and add to your initializer:

require "faraday_middleware/aws_signers_v4"
Searchkick.client =
    transport_options: {request: {timeout: 10}}
  ) do |f|
    f.request :aws_signers_v4, {
      credentials:["AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID"], ENV["AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY"]),
      service_name: "es",
      region: "us-east-1"

Then deploy and reindex:

rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product


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


Then deploy and reindex:

rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product


For the best performance, add Typhoeus to your Gemfile.

gem 'typhoeus'

And create an initializer with:

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:

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:

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

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:

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

Note: If you use a custom mapping, you'll need to use custom searching as well.

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

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

Advanced Search

And use the body option to search:

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

Note: This replaces the entire body, so other options are ignored.

View the response with:


To modify the query generated by Searchkick, use:

products = "milk", body_options: {min_score: 1}


products = "apples" do |body|
    body[:min_score] = 1

Multi Search

To batch search requests for performance, use:

fresh_products ="fresh", execute: false)
frozen_products ="frozen", execute: false)
Searchkick.multi_search([fresh_products, frozen_products])

Then use fresh_products and frozen_products as typical results.

Note: Errors are not raised as with single requests. Use the error method on each query to check for errors. Also, if you use the below option for misspellings, misspellings will be disabled.

Multiple Indices

Search across multiple indices with: "milk", index_name: [Product, Category]

Boost specific indices with:

indices_boost: {Category => 2, Product => 1}

Nested Data

To query nested data, use dot notation. "*", where: {"address.zip_code" => 12345}


Reindex one record

product = Product.find 10
# or to reindex in the background

Reindex more than one record without recreating the index

# do this ...
some_company.products.each { |p| p.reindex }
# or this ...
# don't do the following as it will recreate the index with some_company's products only

Reindex large set of records in batches

Product.where("id > 100000").find_in_batches do |batch|

Remove old indices


Use custom settings

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick settings: {number_of_shards: 3}

Use a different index name

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

Use a dynamic index name

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick index_name: -> { "#{name.tableize}-#{I18n.locale}" }

Prefix the index name

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

Multiple conversion fields

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :searches, class_name: "Searchjoy::Search"

  # searchkick also supports multiple "conversions" fields
  searchkick conversions: ["unique_user_conversions", "total_conversions"]

  def search_data
      name: name,
      # {"ice cream" => 234, "chocolate" => 67, "cream" => 2}
      # {"ice cream" => 412, "chocolate" => 117, "cream" => 6}

and during query time:"banana") # boost by both fields (default)"banana", conversions: "total_conversions") # only boost by total_conversions"banana", conversions: false) # no conversion boosting

Change timeout

Searchkick.timeout = 15 # defaults to 10

Set a lower timeout for searches

Searchkick.search_timeout = 3

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

Searchkick.search_method_name = :lookup

Eager load associations "milk", includes: [:brand, :stores]

Turn off special characters

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

Use Okapi BM25 for ranking

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  searchkick similarity: "BM25"

Change import batch size

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

Create index without importing

Product.reindex(import: false)

Lazy searching

products ="carrots", execute: false)
products.each { ... } # search not executed until here

Add request parameters, like search_type and query_cache"carrots", request_params: {search_type: "dfs_query_then_fetch"})

Make fields unsearchable but include in the source

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

Reindex conditionally

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

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

Reindex all models - Rails only

rake searchkick:reindex:all

Turn on misspellings after a certain number of characters "api", misspellings: {prefix_length: 2} # api, apt, no ahi

Note: With this option, if the query length is the same as prefix_length, misspellings are turned off "ah", misspellings: {prefix_length: 2} # ah, no aha

Large Data Sets

For large data sets, check out Keeping Elasticsearch in Sync. Searchkick will make this easy in the future.


This section could use some love.


describe Product do
  it "searches" do
    Product.searchkick_index.refresh # don't forget this
    # test goes here...

Factory Girl

product = FactoryGirl.create(:product)
product.reindex # don't forget this
Product.searchkick_index.refresh # or this


Check out this great post on the Apartment gem. Follow a similar pattern if you use another gem.

Migrating from Tire

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

    should be replaced with "fruit", index: "products"
  2. Replace tire mapping w/ searchkick method

    class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  3. Deploy and reindex

    rake searchkick:reindex CLASS=Product # or Product.reindex in the console
  4. Once it finishes, replace search calls w/ searchkick calls


View the changelog.

Important notes are listed below.


Breaking Changes

  • ActiveRecord 4.1+ and Mongoid 3+: Attempting to reindex with a scope now throws a Searchkick::DangerousOperation error to keep your from accidentally recreating your index with only a few records.

    Product.where(color: "brandy").reindex # error!

    If this is what you intend to do, use:

    Product.where(color: "brandy").reindex(accept_danger: true)
  • Misspellings are enabled by default for partial matches. Use misspellings: false to disable.

  • Transpositions are enabled by default for misspellings. Use misspellings: {transpositions: false} to disable.

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:

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

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.


  • More features for large data sets
  • Improve section on testing
  • Semantic search features
  • Search multiple fields for different terms
  • Search across models
  • Search nested objects
  • Much finer customization


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

To get started with development and testing:

git clone
cd searchkick
bundle install
rake test