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recli - RethinkDB CLI query tool and REPL

recli is a command-line query tool and REPL for RethinkDB, with lots of options to control its output. It supports regular JavaScript syntax and CoffeeScript syntax.


Install recli using npm:

sudo npm install -g recli

This will give you a global recli command. If you prefer or need to install it locally, just drop the "sudo" and "-g". In that case, you can invoke it like so:

node ./node_modules/recli



You can of course create an alias to be able to type "recli", as if you had recli installed globally, just put something like this in your ~/.bash_profile or equivalent:

alias recli='YOURDIR/node_modules/recli/bin/recli.js'


recli can either take a ReQL expression as an argument or be used as a REPL, which lets you type in ReQL expressions in a special shell and see the results immediately.

Here’s how you would use it from the command line:

$ recli 'r.table("bikes")'
... (JSON output) ...

$ recli 'r.table("bikes").get("123").update({foo: "bar"})'
... (JSON output) ...

If you don’t supply a ReQL expression on the command-line, recli will start a REPL for ReQL queries, like so:

$ recli
recli> r.table("bikes")
... (JSON output) ...
recli> r.table("bikes").get("123").update({foo: "bar"})
... (JSON output) ...

Note that results from queries that return a cursor are automatically converted to arrays and printed as JSON documents.


The default output from recli is a color-coded and pretty-formatted RethinkDB query result. It uses node’s util.inspect method, which means that it is actually a string representation of a Javascript object and NOT (by default) strictly valid JSON:

$ recli 'r.table("heroes")'
[ { hero: 'Magneto',
    name: 'Max Eisenhardt',
    aka: ['Magnus', 'Erik Lehnsherr', 'Lehnsherr'],
     [ 'Alpha Flight',
       'Avengers West Coast' ],
    appearances_count: 42 },
  { hero: 'Professor Xavier',
    name: 'Charles Francis Xavier',
     [ 'Alpha Flight',
       'Defenders' ],
    appearances_count: 72 },
  { hero: 'Storm',
    name: 'Ororo Monroe',
     [ 'Amazing Spider-Man vs. Wolverine',
       'Fantastic Four',
       'Iron Fist' ],
    appearances_count: 72 } ]

Note that colors can be disabled by using the -n/--no-colors option.

If you want valid JSON instead, but still nicely indented and readable, use the -j/--json option:

$ recli -j 'r.table("heroes")'
    "hero": "Magneto",
    "name": "Max Eisenhardt",
    "aka": [
      "Erik Lehnsherr", 
    "magazine_titles": [ 
      "Alpha Flight",
      "Avengers West Coast"
    "appearances_count": 42
    "hero": "Professor Xavier",
    "name": "Charles Francis Xavier",
    "magazine_titles": [
      "Alpha Flight",
    "appearances_count": 72
    "hero": "Storm",
    "name": "Ororo Monroe",
    "magazine_titles": [
      "Amazing Spider-Man vs. Wolverine",
      "Fantastic Four",
      "Iron Fist"
    "appearances_count": 72

If you want raw, unformatted and unindented JSON, use the -r/--raw option. This isn’t straight-from-the-wire raw, though, it is the JSON.stringify-ed version of the RethinkDB result data (as returned by the JavaScript driver).

CoffeeScript input

If you prefer to use the CoffeeScript syntax, use the -c/--coffee option:

$ recli -c 'r.table "bikes"'
... (JSON output) ...

Database and connection options

You can specify the database, host and port to connect to with the -d/--database, -h/--host and -p/--port options.

Use --help to get the full usage info:

$ recli --help
Usage: recli [options] [ReQL expression]

REPL mode:
    If the ReQL expression is omitted, recli will enter REPL mode,
    which is a CLI where you can evaluate ReQL expressions.

    A ReQL expression is anything that works in RethinkDB's Data
    Explorer, for example

          r.table('bikes').filter({brand: 'Scott'})

          r.table('bikes').get('123').update({foo: 'bar'})

OPTIONAL options:
    -c, --coffee               Evaluate code as CoffeeScript.

    -d, --database DATABASE    Default database to perform queries against.
                               Can be overridden in the ReQL expression.
                               The default is 'test'.

    -f, --file FILE            Read options from the supplied YAML config
                               file. The default is to look for a global 
                               /etc/recli.yml and user overrides in ~/.recli.yml

    -h, --host HOST            Host to connect to. The default is 'localhost'.

    -j, --json                 Output valid indented JSON instead of pretty-
                               printing the result.

    -n, --no-colors            Do not use colors when pretty-printing.

    -p, --port PORT            TCP port to connect to. The default is 28015.

    -r, --raw                  Print the raw JSON from RethinkDB, with no
                               formatting applied.

    -v, --version              Print the current version of recli.

Any options specified on the command line take precedence over defaults and configuration file settings.

Note that the --coffee, --file, --json and --raw options also support the --no-<option> syntax, like --no-json. This lets you override all configuration file settings.

Configuration files

recli will look for YAML configuration files in /etc/recli.yml and ~/.recli.yml by default. The user config overrides the global config. You can specify another configuration file by using the -f/--file option, in which case none of the default files are loaded.

The keys and values in the configuration files must match the (long-form) options that can be used on the command line (use true and false for flags):

# set default connection options
database: mydb
host: server1

# output valid JSON by default
json: true

# prefer to use CoffeeScript input
coffee: true

REPL history

recli remembers commands that you run in the REPL (between sessions), which gives you access to previously run commands by pressing arrow-up. The history is stored in ~/.recli_history. There is currently no way to disable the history feature.


Stian Grytøyr


  • Luc Heinrich
  • Marshall Cottrell
  • StreetStrider


The MIT License

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