Amazon OpenSearch Service tutorial: a quick start guide
December 2022: This post was reviewed for accuracy. You can also refer to the documentation for more information.
September 8, 2021: Amazon Elasticsearch Service has been renamed to Amazon OpenSearch Service. See details.
Open source OpenSearch has REST API operations for everything—including its indexing capabilities. Besides the REST API, there are AWS SDKs for the most popular development languages. In this guide, we use the REST API so that you can learn about the underlying technology in a language-agnostic way.
Indexing is the core of Elasticsearch and OpenSearch. It’s what allows you to perform blazing-fast searches across terabytes of data. But you can’t search data that doesn’t exist. So, in this post, I go over how to create indexes, put data into OpenSearch, and then search with OpenSearch using Amazon OpenSearch Service.
Create an Amazon OpenSearch Service domain
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up for an AWS account. You can try Amazon OpenSearch Service using the free tier for the first 12 months when you sign up with a new account, and getting started with Amazon OpenSearch Service is pretty straightforward.
When your account is ready, create an Amazon OpenSearch Service domain (cluster with config). To get one going (it takes about 15 minutes), follow the steps in Creating and managing Amazon OpenSearch Service domains.
There are only a few basic steps to getting an Amazon OpenSearch Service domain up and running:
- Define your domain
- Configure your cluster
- Set up access
After completing those four steps, you’ll be up and running, and ready to continue this guide. I encourage you to set up a domain now if you haven’t yet. Then launch Kibana so that you can follow along. Kibana is available via a link in your domain overview. To access it, you need to set up the appropriate permissions. To use Amazon Cognito for granting access, see Configuring Amazon Cognito authentication for Amazon OpenSearch Dashboards.
I’ve gone ahead and given my domain open access because it’s only for demo purposes, and I will tear it down after I’m done with the samples. For anything beyond demo purposes, you definitely need to secure your access points when you do any work with Amazon OpenSearch and Kibana. For the highest level of security, I recommend that you put your domain inside a virtual private cloud (VPC).
After you have an Amazon OpenSearch Service domain set up, you can get started by putting some data into OpenSearch Service. Let’s look at that next.
How to get data into Amazon OpenSearch Service
In OpenSearch, data is put into an index as a JSON document. You could explicitly create an index, but there’s no real need for that. Amazon OpenSearch Service creates an index around the first document you add. This makes it possible to put a document into an index without knowing whether it exists.
Let’s begin the tutorial by putting a document into an index.
Putting a document into an index
The HTTP verb for creating a new resource is PUT, which is what you use to create a new document and index in Amazon OpenSearch Service. You can use any HTTP tool, such as Postman, curl, or the dev console in Kibana.
Whichever tool you use, make the HTTP call as follows to create an index with a new document:
The preceding example assumes that you’re using the dev console in Kibana. If you’re using a different tool, adjust accordingly by providing the full URL and credentials, if necessary. Any way you call it, that endpoint creates an index named vegetables and puts a single document into the index with an ID of 1.
_doc part is a bit of a legacy that will soon go away completely. It represents the type of the document. In earlier versions, you could have multiple types of documents in the same index. You could have a food index with types like
_tacos—each with a different structure. Unfortunately, this hinders search performance, so types are being slowly phased out of OpenSearch. It’s better to have an index for each type, like this:
If you would rather have Amazon OpenSearch Service generate an ID for you, like some other JSON repositories, it can.
It’s simple to have Amazon OpenSearch Service generate an ID for your documents. All you have to do is use a
POST instead of a
This call creates an index named
veggies and adds the document to the index. It also generates an ID for the document. You might have noticed that you don’t provide anything after
_doc in the URL. Normally, an ID would go there. Because you’re creating a document with a generated ID, you don’t provide one yet. That’s reserved for something else—updates.
Updating a document with a post
Use an HTTP
POST with the identifier to update an existing document.
You can create a document with the ID
42, as follows:
Then you use that ID to update the document, like this:
This command updates the document with the new classification value “root”. When you try to update a document that does not exist, Amazon OpenSearch Service creates the document.
Let’s recap the commands so far:
PUTcreates a document with a specified ID.
POSTupdates the document with the specified ID.
POSTalso creates a document with an auto-generated ID when you don’t provide one.
Now that you understand the basics, we can look at how to get a bunch of data in all at once using the bulk API.
_bulk API operation, you can perform many actions on one or more indexes in one call. Performing several create, update, and delete actions in a single call speeds up your operations. Here’s the basic formula:
Each action takes two lines of JSON. First, you provide the action description or metadata. Then, on the next line, you have the data. Each part and action is separated by a newline (\n). An action description for an insert might look like the following:
And the next line of data might look like this:
Taken together, the meta and the data represent a single action in a bulk operation. You can send many operations in one call, like the following:
Notice that the last action is a delete. There’s no data following the delete action. And because the URL doesn’t specify an index (and it can), the bulk operation can take action on any index in the domain.
Okay, now that you know how to put data into Amazon OpenSearch Service, let’s move on to searching.
How to search with Amazon OpenSearch Service
Searching is the main event when it comes to OpenSearch! Having a lot of data is great, but what good does it do until you actually put it to use? And what better way to start using your data than to search for specific values?
Are you looking for all the root vegetables? Do you need a count of all leafy greens? How about the number of errors logged per hour? The answers all start with an index search.
Let’s take a look at a basic search. Then you can move on to some more advanced searching.
Your basic search looks like the following:
This example should bring back a JSON response with the lettuce document.
You can do some advanced searching by providing the query options as JSON in the request body. Try the following:
This example should also bring back a JSON response with the lettuce document.
You can do more with this type of query. Let’s try sorting. But first, you need to prep the index. You need to re-create the index because the automatic field mapping chose types that can’t be sorted by default. Delete and create the index as follows:
Then repopulate the index:
And now, you can search with a sort like this:
Here, we just added an ascending sort by the classification.
Now that you know how to search, let’s look at a few ways to get your data that flows through AWS services into your Amazon OpenSearch Service domains.
How to put bulk and streaming data into Amazon OpenSearch Service
Now that you know how to search your data, you probably want to try working with massive amounts of your own data. I’m sure you can think of many uses for searching and aggregating your own data. Think of your logs and all the events that occur in your system. Do you have event logs? Event streams? What about data coming in from IoT devices?
This section covers different ways to load streaming data into Amazon OpenSearch Service. After the data is in, you can start pulling together valuable insights using the search and query APIs that you have already learned about.
We already covered the bulk API, but there’s another way to get data into your Amazon OpenSearch Service domain: you can connect a stream data source to it. Here’s how that works.
Stream data connections
When you’re running on AWS, you can use your existing data pipelines to feed data into Amazon OpenSearch Service. There’s a basic pattern for connecting Amazon S3, Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, and Amazon DynamoDB. You use an AWS Lambda function to connect to the source and put the data into Amazon OpenSearch Service.
Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon CloudWatch, and AWS IoT have more integrated solutions. Amazon OpenSearch Service is a destination for these three streams. For example, you would use a rule action to send IoT stream data to an Amazon OpenSearch Service domain.
Whether you’re running your own OpenSearch clusters or using Amazon OpenSearch Service domains, you can easily learn how to use the REST API to upload data and perform searches. Your eventual goal should be to get data streams into OpenSearch, where you can perform interesting analyses. And Kibana gives you some tools to create data visualizations directly from your data.
There are tons of possibilities waiting for you. You should definitely take a look at what you can do next!
About the Author
Kartavya Jain is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services. He is a hands-on marketing professional who believes in delivering value to customers and field through results-driven, content-rich marketing.