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    5.5.6 • Public • Published

    Azure Table Storage Entities

    An elegant library for working with azure table storage as a cheap, consistent key/value store.


    Azure exposes its storage in the form of tables. This library wraps each table in an entity class. Instances of this class represent a row from the table. The library defines several class methods and several instance methods.

    Entity classes are created in two steps. The configuration step defines the shape of the table, and the setup step provides runtime information (credentials, etc.) needed to access the data.


    The configure call returns the class, and takes options:

      version:           2,                    // Version of the schema
      partitionKey:      Entity.keys.HashKey('prop1'), // Partition key, can be StringKey
      rowKey:            Entity.keys.StringKey('prop2', 'prop3'), // RowKey...
      properties: {
        prop1:           Entity.types.Blob,    // Properties and types
        prop2:           Entity.types.String,
        prop3:           Entity.types.Number,
        prop4:           Entity.types.JSON,
        prop5:           Entity.types.Boolean,
        prop6:           Entity.types.Schema({ // Same as JSON, but enforces schema validation
          type: 'object',
          properties: {
            myKey: {type: 'string'},
          additionalProperties: false,
          required: ['myKey'],
      signEntities:      false,                // HMAC sign entities
      context: [                               // Required context keys
        'prop7'                                // Constant specified in setup()
      migrate: function(itemV1) {              // Migration function, if not v1
        return // transform item from version 1 to version 2

    This might be used like this:

    var Entity = require('azure-entities');
    // Create an abstract key-value pair
    var AbstractKeyValue = Entity.configure({
      version:     1,
      partitionKey:    Entity.keys.StringKey('key'),
      rowKey:          Entity.keys.ConstantKey('kv-pair'),
      properties: {
        key:           Entity.types.String,
        value:         Entity.types.JSON
    // Overwrite the previous definition AbstractKeyValue with a new version
    AbstractKeyValue = AbstractKeyValue.configure({
      version:         2,
      partitionKey:    Entity.keys.StringKey('key'),
      rowKey:          Entity.keys.ConstantKey('kv-pair'),
      properties: {
        key:           Entity.types.String,
        date:          Entity.types.Date
      migrate: function(item) {
        // Translate from version 1 to version 2
        return {
          key:      item.key,
          date:     new Date(item.value.StringDate)

    AbstractKeyValue is the resulting entity class.

    Property Types

    The example above shows a few entity types. The full list, all properties of Entity.types, is:

    • String
    • Number
    • Date
    • UUID
    • SlugId
    • Boolean
    • Blob -- binary blob
    • Text -- arbitrary text
    • JSON -- JSONable data
    • Schema(s) -- JSON matching the JSON schema s
    • SlugIdArray -- an array of slugids

    The following types are encrypted, and require additional arguments to the setup method, below.

    • EncryptedText
    • EncryptedBlob
    • EncryptedJSON
    • EncryptedSchema(s) -- JSON matching the JSON schema s

    Note that all entity types have a maximum stored size of 256k. Do not store values of unbounded size in a single row.

    Note that the arbitrary-sized property types, such as String and Blob, can result in an error with err.code === 'PropertyTooLarge' if the property is too large.


    The partitionKey and rowKey options are used to describe how the Azure partition and row keys are generated from the properties. The Azure documentation contains more information on the semantics of partition and row keys. The available types are:

    • StringKey(prop) -- use a single string property as the key
    • ConstantKey(const) -- use a constant value as the key
    • CompositeKey(...props) -- use a sequence of properties to create the key
    • HashKey(...props) -- use a hash of a sequence of properties to create the key

    StringKey is the simplest option, and indicates that one property should be treated as the key.

    ConstantKey is useful to "ignore" a key field for tables that do not have enough columns to represent both a partition and row key. It is typically used as a rowKey, with a StringKey as the partitionKey, effectively storing each row in a unique partition and allowing Azure to distribute partitions across servers as needed.

    CompositeKey and HashKey are similar, and combine multiple properties into a single key. CompositeKey uses string concatenation and thus could conceivably support prefix matching, althoug this is not implemented. HashKey hashes the input properties to a fixed length and is useful for large or unbounded properties.


    The library supports in-place schema migrations. When doing this, you must base it on the previous version, and you must increment version number by 1 and only 1.

    After a migration, it's your responsibility that partitionKey and rowKey will keep returning the same value, otherwise you cannot migrate entities on-the-fly, but must take your application off-line while you upgrade the data schema. Or start submitting data to an additional table, while you're migrating existing data in an off-line process.


    Notice that it is possible to require custom context properties to be injected with Entity.setup using the context option. This option takes a list of property names. These property names must then be specified with Entity.setup({context: {myProp: ...}}). This is a good way to inject configuration keys and constants for use in Entity instance methods.


    The setup method creates a new subclass of this (Entity or subclass thereof) that is ready for use, with the following options:

      credentials:       ...                 // see below
      tableName:         "AzureTableName",   // Azure table name
      agent:             https.Agent,        // Agent to use (default a global)
      signingKey:        "...",              // Key for HMAC signing entities
      cryptoKey:         "...",              // Key for encrypted properties
      drain:             base.stats.Influx,  // Statistics drain (optional)
      component:         '<name>',           // Component in stats (if drain)
      process:           'server',           // Process in stats (if drain)
      context:           {...}               // Extend prototype (optional)
      monitor:           new Monitor(..),    // Monitor instance (optional)
      operationReportChance: 0.0,            // Chance that an arbitrary transaction will be logged
      operationReportThreshold: 10 * 1000,   // Time in milliseconds over which a transaction will be logged

    In Entity.configure the context options is a list of property names, these properties must be specified in when Entity.setup is called. They will be used to extend the subclass prototype. This is typically used to inject configuration constants for use in Entity instance methods.

    Once you have configured properties, version, migration, keys, using Entity.configure, you can call Entity.setup on your new subclass. This will again create a new subclass that is ready for use, with azure credentials, etc. This new subclass cannot be configured further, nor can setup be called again.


    Credentials can be specified to this library in a variety of ways. Note that these match those of the fast-azure-storage library, except for inMemory.

    Raw Azure credentials

    Given an accountName and accompanying account key, configure access like this:

      // Azure connection details
      tableName: "AzureTableName",
      // Azure credentials
      credentials: {
        accountId: "...",
        accessKey: "...",
    SAS Function

    The underlying fast-azure-storage library allows use of SAS credentials, including dynamic generation of SAS credentials as needed. That support can be used transparently from this library:

      tableName: 'AzureTableName',
      credentials: {
        accountId: '...',
        sas: sas   // sas in querystring form: "se=...&sp=...&sig=..."


      tableName: 'AzureTableName',
      credentials: {
        accountId: '...',
        sas: function() {
          return new Promise(/* fetch SAS from somewhere */);
        minSASAuthExpiry:   15 * 60 * 1000 // time before refreshing the SAS

    To use an in-memory, testing-oriented table, use the special credential inMemory.

      tableName:       "AzureTableName"
      credentials: "inMemory",

    This testing implementation is largely true to Azure, but is intended only for testing, and only in combination with integration tests against Azure to reveal any unknown inconsistencies.


    The setup function takes an optional monitor argument, which if given should be an object with methods monitor.measure(name, value) and monitor.count(name) to measure a named value, and to count a named event, respectively. These methods will be used to measure the duration and number of calls to each Azure API method (getEntity, etc.), using names of the form <apiMethod>.<result> where result is error or success.

    The operationReportChance and operationReportThreshold options control the frequency of debug logging about API method timing, and may be removed from the library soon.

    Method Summary

    An entity class has the following "class methods", defined in the following sections:

    • MyEntity.ensureTable()
    • MyEntity.removeTable()
    • MyEntity.create({properties}, overwrite)
    • MyEntity.remove({properties}, ignoreIfNotExists)
    • MyEntity.load({properties}, ignoreIfNotExists)
    • MyEntity.scan({conditions}, {options})
    • MyEntity.query({conditions}, {options})

    An instance of this class, a row from the table, has the following methods, also defined below:

    • entity.modify(modifier)
    • entity.remove(ignoreChanges, ignoreIfNotExists)
    • entity.reload()

    Table Operations

    To ensure that the underlying Azure table actually exists, call ensureTable. This is an idempotent operation, and is often called in service start-up. If you've used taskcluster-auth to get credentials rather than azure credentials, do not use this as taskcluster-auth has already ensured the table exists for you.

    await MyEntity.ensureTable()

    To remove a table, call removeTable. Note that Azure does not allow re-creation of a table until some time after the remove operation returns.

    Row Operations


    The create method creates a new row. Its first argument gives the properties for the new row. If its second argument is true, it will overwrite any existing row with the same primary key.

    await MyEntity.create({
        prop1: "val1",
        prop2: "val2",
    }, true);

    The query method returns an instance, just like load, which can be used for further operations such as modify or remove.

    If the second argument is false and the row already exists, the method fails with an error with err.code === 'EntityAlreadyExists'.


    The modify method modifies a row, given a modifier. The modifier is a function that is called with a clone of the entity as this and first argument, it should apply modifications to this (or first argument). This function shouldn't have side-effects (or these should be contained), as the modifier may be called more than once, if the update operation fails.

    This method will apply modifier to a clone of the current data and attempt to save it. But if this fails because the entity have been updated by another process (the ETag is out of date), it'll reload the entity from the Azure table, invoke the modifier again, and try to save again. This model fits very well with the optimistic concurrency model used in Azure Table Storage.

    Note modifier is allowed to return a promise.

    await entity.modify(function() { = "new value";

    Or using first argument, when binding modifier or using ES6 arrow-functions:

    await entity.modify(function(entity) { = "new value";

    Note that the arbitrary-sized property types, such as String and Blob, can result in an error with err.code === 'PropertyTooLarge' on creation or modification if the property is too large.


    The remove method will remove a row. This can be called either as a class method (in which case the row is not loaded) or as an instance method. Both methods have ignoreIfNotExists as a second argument, and if true this will cause the method to return successfully if the row is not present. If false, the method will throw an error with err.code === 'ResourceNotFound'.

    await MyEntity.remove({id: myThingId})

    The instance method takes row.remove(ignoreChanges, ignoreIfNotExists), where ignoreChanges will ignore the case where the row has been updated since it was loaded.

    row = await MyEntity.load({id: myThingId})
    // ...



    The load method will turn a single existing entity, given enough properties to determine the row key and partition key. The method will throw an error if the row does not exist, unless its second argument is true.

    var entity = await MyEntity.load({id: myThingId});
    var maybe = await MyEntity.load({id: myThingId}, true);

    The error thrown when the entity does not exist has err.code === 'ResourceNotFound'.


    An existing row has a reload method which will load the properties from the table once more, and return true if anything has changed.

    var updated = entity.reload();


    The scan method will scan the entire table, filtering on properties and possibly accelerated with partitionKey and rowKey indexes.

    You can use this in two ways: with a handler or without a handler. In the latter case you'll get a list of up to 1000 entries and a continuation token to restart the scan from.

    To scan without a handler call Entity.scan(conditions, options) as illustrated below:

    data = await Entity.scan({
      prop1:              Entity.op.equal('val1'),  // Filter on prop1 === 'val1'
      prop2:              "val2",                   // Same as Entity.op.equal
      prop3:              Entity.op.lessThan(42)    // Filter on prop3 < 42
    }, {
      matchPartition:     'none',       // Require 'exact' or 'none' partitionKey
      matchRow:           'none',       // Require 'exact' or 'none' rowKey
      limit:              1000,         // Max number of entries
      continuation:       undefined     // Continuation token to scan from
    data.entries        // List of Entities
    data.continuation   // Continuation token, if defined

    To scan with a handler call Entity.scan(conditions, options) as follows:

    await MyEntity.scan({
      prop1:              Entity.op.equal('val1'),  // Filter on prop1 === 'val1'
      prop2:              "val2",                   // Same as Entity.op.equal
      prop3:              Entity.op.lessThan(42)    // Filter on prop3 < 42
    }, {
      continuation:       '...',        // Continuation token to continue from
      matchPartition:     'none',       // Require 'exact' or 'none' partitionKey
      matchRow:           'none',       // Require 'exact' or 'none' rowKey
      limit:              1000,         // Max number of parallel handler calls
      handler:            function(item) {
        return new Promise(...); // Do something with the item

    The available operations for conditions, all properties of Entity.op, are:

    • equal
    • notEqual
    • lessThan
    • lessThanOrEqual
    • greaterThan
    • greaterThanOrEqual

    Configuring match levels, the options matchPartition and matchRow can be used specify match levels. If left as 'none' (default), the scan will not use Partition- or Row-Key indexes for acceleration.

    If you specify matchRow: 'exact', conditions must contain enough equality constraints to build the expected row-key, which will then be used to accelerate the table scan.

    If the conditions doesn't specify enough equality constraints to build the exact row-key, and error will be thrown. This allows you to reason about expected performance.

    Continuation token, if using Entity.scan without a handler, you receive a continuation token in the continuation property of the return value. You can use this to continue the table scan. A continuation token is a a string that matches Entity.continuationTokenPattern. You can use this pattern to detect invalid continuation tokens from your users and offer a suitable error message.


    The query method is exactly the same as Entity.scan except matchPartition is set to to 'exact'. This means that conditions must provide enough constraints for constructions of the partition-key.

    This is provided as a special function, because Entity.scan shouldn't be used for on-the-fly queries, when matchPartition: 'none'. As Entity.scan will do a full table scan, which is only suitable in background workers.

    If you use Entity.query you don't run the risk of executing a full table scan. But depending on the size of your partitions it may still be a lengthy operation. Always query with care.


    This library can throw arbitrary errors from the underlying implementation libraries. The three well-defined errors can be identified as follows:

    • err.code === 'PropertyTooLarge' - a property of the entity exceeds the allowable space.
    • err.code === 'ResourceNotFound' - an entry with the given partitionKey / rowKey does not exist in the table
    • err.code === 'EntityAlreadyExists' - an entity with the same partitionKey / rowKey already exists


    To work on the azure-entities library itself, you will need an Azure account. Azure provides a "free tier", or you may contact the Taskcluster developers to get a testing credential for the Taskcluster account.

    If you are setting up your own account, you will need to create a storage account and create an access key for it.

    Set the environment variables AZURE_ACCOUNT_KEY and AZURE_ACCOUNT_ID appropriately before running the tests.

    To get started developing, install yarn and the newest major version of Node, and run yarn in the root of the repository to install dependencies. Then run yarn test to start the tests.




    npm i azure-entities

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