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Mongoose context ref is a mongoose plugin, which adds a simple context or parent like relation between a model's document and variable model parent document.

It adds the fields:

  context_id: ObjectId,
  context_type: String

It also adds pre 'save' and 'remove' hooks, updating the context's reference to the child document (currently at the child document's pluralized lowercase model name) and validating the context_id for existence.


Install with

npm install mongoose-context-ref

Comments to multiple types of models

var mongoose = require('mongoose'),
    context  = require('mongoose-context-ref');
var PostSchema = new mongoose.Schema({
  comments: [mongoose.Schema.ObjectId] // A post may be a comment thread 
var Post = mongoose.model('Post', PostSchema);
var CommentSchema = new mongoose.Schema({
  text: String,
  comments: [mongoose.Schema.ObjectId] // A comment may be a comment thread 
var Comment = mongoose.model('Comment', CommentSchema);

This way, when a comment is created, it may reference to either a post or another comment.

When it's saved, this reference will be validated, and the referenced document will have the newly created comment's id pushed into its comments Array.

Also, when its context is modified (either the context_type or context_id), the references will be updated. In this case, the old context's reference will be removed, and a new reference will be added to the new parent.

Analogously, when it's removed, its reference will be removed from its context's comments Array.


By default, if a context_types array is passed, mongoose-context-ref adds virtuals for all contexts, which update the context fields and work as one would expect:

var mongoose = require('mongoose'),
    context  = require('mongoose-context-ref');
var CommentSchema = new mongoose.Schema({
  text: String,
  comments: [mongoose.Schema.ObjectId]
CommentSchema.plugin(context, { context_types: ['Post', 'Comment'] })
var Comment = mongoose.model('Comment', CommentSchema);
var comment = new Comment(); = new mongoose.Types.ObjectId(); // => ObjectId("532280b6fed4c6f00d0dce60") 
// this sets: 
comment.context_type // => 'Post' 
comment.context_id   // => ObjectId("532280b6fed4c6f00d0dce60") 
comment.comment = new mongoose.Types.ObjectId(); // => ObjectId("532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce61"); 
// this sets 
comment.context_type // => 'Comment' 
comment.context_id   // => ObjectId("532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce61") 
// .... you get the point 
// ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
// also: 
var comment2 = new Comment({
  context_type: 'Post',
  context_id: '532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce63'
});    // => ObjectId("532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce63") 
comment2.comment // => undefined 


By default, mongoose-context-ref overwrites the .toJSON method, with a version which serializes the document, by merging its context_type and context_id fields. This may be turned off by setting serialize option to false.

var comment = new Comment({
  post: '532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce63'
// => { post: ObjectId("532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce63"), _id: ObjectId(... 
// => { context_type: 'Post', context_id: ObjectId(... 


mongoose-context-ref adds a withContext static method to its target Schemas. This method, provides an overloaded .find method, which is able to parse out serialized contexts into their context_type && context_id representations.

  post: '532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce63'

This will return a mongoose.Query object, equivalent to calling:

  context_type: 'Post',
  context_id: '532280fcfed4c6f00d0dce63'

Note that all the case serialization, and context_type validation logic, still applies when it's parsing contexts. It won't, for instance, detect camel case fields, if the plugin was added with snake case, and it will ignore invalid context types.


As per mongoose plugins' convention, the plugin is added to a Model with:

// [...] 
var context = require('../lib/mongoose-context-ref');
ModelSchema.plugin(context, options)
// [...] 

Where options may have the fields:

  • required - whether /context_(id|type)/ are required fields (defaults to false)
  • context_types - either an Array of the valid context_type values (defaulting to all existing modelNames) or a validator Function, which will be passed directly as the context_type path's mongoose validator.
  • virtuals - if set to false disables the virtuals feature (defaults to true)
  • refUpdate - if set to false disables the reference updating feature. (defaults to true)
  • camel_case - if set to true this will make serialization, reference paths and virtual properties use camel case, instead of snake case.
  • serialize - if set to false disables the serialization feature
  • query - if set to false disables the query feature


Tests may be run with: grunt test.


Copyright (c) 2014 Pedro Tacla Yamada. Licensed under the MIT license. Please refer to the LICENSE file for more info.