Clustered storage and caching solution using Cassandra
Last updated 6 years ago by mauritsl .
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Castor: NodeJS Cassandra Client

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Cassandra client library for NodeJS, using the native binary protocol.

Key features:

  • Using Cassandra's binary protocol
  • Object oriented data access
  • Automatic input encoding
  • Connection pooling
  • Using promises
  • Native support for all Cassandra datatypes

Data structure is read automatically, so Castor knows how to encode the input. This improves the security as well, since you are well protected against injection attacks when you stick with the get, set and del methods, rather than sending raw queries using the query method.


Install using npm install castor-client


var Castor = require('castor-client');
var db = new Castor('localhost', 'keyspace');

Retreiving data

Data is retreived using the get function. You can call this function directly after connecting to the database. There is no need to wait for an event, as queries are automatically stacked and executed when the connection is ready.

Every call to get requires that you specify a tablename as parameter. The list of fields which you want to retreive can be specified using the fields function. All fields will be returned if not specified. The query is executed when you call the then function or when using the execute function to get the raw promise. You can use the filter function multiple times.

Iterating on the resultset can be done in two ways. You can iterate using the valid, current and next functions or you can use the toArray function to get the whole resultset as an array.

  .fields(['user_id', 'birthdate'])
  .filter('username', 'John Doe')
  .orderBy('username', 'asc')
.then(function(rows) {
  // Basic iteration.
  while (rows.valid()) {
    var row = rows.current();
  // Before we can loop again, we must call the rewind() function.
  // Using the toArray() function.
  rows.toArray().forEach(function(row)) {
  // Get the 'username' column as an array.
  var usernames = rows.getColumn('username');
  // Get the row count.
  var rowCount = rows.count();
}).fail(function(error) {

Updating and inserting data

There is no real difference between UPDATE and INSERT queries in Cassandra. It is possible to insert data using an UPDATE query. But the update query does not allow us to insert rows with only the primary key and the insert query does not allow us to use increments / decrements. In Castor, you always use the set function for both cases.

  .field('firstname', 'John')
  .field('lastname', 'Doe')
.then(function() {
}).fail(function(error) {

Counter columns can be updated using the incr and decr functions.

  .field('user_id', user_id)

Generate UUID

In Cassandra, it's common to use UUID's for identifying rows. Castor provides a simple way to generate a UUID matching the UUID version 4 standard. To generate a UUID, use the uuid function.

var user_id = db.uuid();
  .field('user_id', user_id)
  .field('username', 'John')

Deleting data

Deleting data can be done using the del method.

  .filter('user_id', user_id)
.then(function() {
}).fail(function(error) {

In Cassandra, it is also possible to delete just a few fields from the row.

  .fields(['firstname', 'lastname'])
  .filter('user_id', user_id)


The desired consistency can be provided using the consistency function. This function is available on get, set, del and query.

.then(function(rows) {

The following options are available:

  • CONSISTENCY_ANY (not applicable on get)


The join function allows you to easily include values derived from another table through a foreign key. Be aware that Cassandra does not support joins. This function does actually do another query for each row. This function should be used with great care, as it might have detrimental effects on performance when used on large resultsets.

  .fields(['user_id', 'username'])
  .join('user_id', 'post.user_id', ['title'])
.then(function(rows) {
  while (rows.valid()) {
    var row = rows.current();
    console.log(row.username + ' has post ' + row.title);;

Joins do not multiply the number of rows like SQL does. For each row and field, the join can provide at most one value. When no matching row in the right table can be found, a null is provided. So if a user in the example above has multiple posts in the table post, the column title will only contain the first post title returned from the database.

The join function accepts an optional fourth argument which is used as fieldname prefix. This is useful when using multiple joins.

  .fields(['user_id', 'username'])
  .join('user_id', 'post.user_id', ['title', 'image_id'], 'post_')
  .join('post_image_id', 'image.image_id', ['data'])
.then(function(rows) {
  while (rows.valid()) {
    var row = rows.current();
    console.log(row.username + ' has post ' + row.title);;

Joins are allowed to use fields from the preceding joins.

Token-based iteration

Rows are identified by tokens in Cassandra. A token is a hash of the primary key value, represented as a 64bit signed (-263 to 263-1). Use the includeToken function to include the token in the resultset. Tokens can be used to iterate through the whole column family. Iteration can be done by using WHERE token(field) > 234 (in CQL). In Castor, this filter can be added with the fromToken function. Rows are ordered by their token and returned in that order. Iterating can be done by combining fromToken with limit. Queries without fromToken will always start with the first rows in the column family, thus with token -263.

The following example will iterate the user table row by row.

function fetchRow(token) {
  var query = db.get('user')
  if (typeof token !== 'undefined') {
  query.then(function(rows) {
    if (rows.valid()) {
      var user = rows.current();
      console.log('Got user ' + user.user_id);
    else {

Tokens are not unique for rows in tables with multiple fields in the primary key. The example above only works when the primary key has one field (which is likely "user_id"). Do not use tokens for iterating wide tables (tables with multiple columns in the primary key).

The token values are returned as strings and accepted in that format by the fromToken function. The application should not make any assumptions about the token format.


Query results can be retreived as promises using the execute function. These promises can be consumed by other promise libraries like "Q". By using execute, you can return the promise to include the query in a chain of 'thenables'.

Q.when(true).then(function() {
  return db.get('user').execute();
}).then(function(users) {
  return db.get('posts').execute();
}).then(function(posts) {
}).fail(function(error) {

The advantage of this workflow is that you can specify an error handler (the fail function) once for all queries in the chain.

When not using chains, you can directly call then after execute.

db.get('users').execute().then(function(rows) { });

As shown in many examples above, the then function is also directly available on the query specification. The then function automatically calls the execute function and delegates the call to the then function of the promise. That means that the example above is the same as:

db.get('users').then(function(rows) { });

This can only be done when using then. You cannot call fail in this way. You still have to use execute when you want to use fail without using then.

db.get('users').execute().fail(function(error) { });

Column specifications

You can get a specification of the columns in the resultset using the getColumns function. All available functions can be found in the following example.

db.get('users').then(function(rows) {
  rows.getColumns().forEach(function(column) {
    // Get specification as string (e.g. "user_id <uuid>").
    // Get type specification.
    var type = column.getType();
    // Valuetype for keys used in maps.
    // Valuetype for values used in lists, sets and maps.
    if (type.getType() == type.VARCHAR) {
      // ...

The getType function on the type specification returns an integer. This can be compared to one of the following constants:

  • BLOB
  • INT
  • TEXT
  • UUID
  • INET

Retreiving database schema

The database schema can be retreived with the db.schema() function. You can provide a column family name. The whole keyspace will be returned if you omit this parameter.

The schema is read after connecting to the database and is then cached in memory. If you need to reload it you can use the reloadSchema function, which will return a promise that is resolved without a value when the schema is reloaded. All new queries (except raw queries via query) are queued until the new schema is loaded.

Using multiple keyspaces

It is possible to use multiple keyspaces, but you always need to start the connection with a specific keyspace. You can get a new client with the use function. The new client will use the same connection as the parent client.

var Castor = require('castor-client');
var db1 = new Castor('localhost', 'keyspace1');
var db2 = db1.use('keyspace2');

// Execute a query on keyspace1.

// Execute a query on keyspace2.

When switching to a different keyspace, the new client will load its schema. This is a performance hit for applications that use multiple keyspaces with identical schema's. In this case you can pass true to the second argument. This will bypass the schema loading. The new client will use a reference to its parent schema.

var db2 = db1.use('keyspace2', true);

Executing raw queries

Instead of using get, set and del, you may also use query to execute raw queries. This is not the recommended way to use Castor, since there is no sanitizing available for user input.

db.query('SELECT * FROM user').then(function(rows) {


A Vagrant provisioning file is included to run Cassandra on VirtualBox. This can be used to run the unit test and for development of other Cassandra applications. Use the commands below to setup this environment.

git clone
cd node-castor-client
vagrant up
vagrant ssh

You are now logged into the virtual machine, where you can run the test with the following commands:

sudo su
cd /data
npm test

You can access the shell from within the virtual machine by typing cqlsh. Other applications can connect to this database on host at port 9042 (default).

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