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Spider a CouchDB server, emit events with discovered information

Comprehensive event-driven CouchDB exploration

Probe CouchDB is a Javascript library which digs into every corner of a CouchDB server and fire events when it finds interesting things: users, configs, databases, design documents, etc.

Probe CouchDB is available as an NPM module.

$ npm install probe_couchdb

You can also install it globally (npm install -g) to get a simple probe_couchdb command-line tool.

Is it any good?



Probe CouchDB is an event emitter. Give it a URL and tell it to start.

var probe_couchdb = require("probe_couchdb");
var url = "";
var couch = new probe_couchdb.CouchDB(url);

Next, handle any events you are interested in.

couch.on('db', function(db) {
  console.log('Found a database: ' + db.url);
  db.on('metadata', function(data) {
    console.log( + ' has ' + data.doc_count + ' docs, using ' + (data.disk_size/1024) + 'KB on disk');

Options and Defaults

Probe CouchDB is defaultable. Customize its major behaviors by setting its default options:

// Stock behavior 
var probe_couchdb = require("probe_couchdb");
// Modified behavior 
var proxied_probe = probe_couchdb.defaults({ http_proxy: "http://localhost:8080/" })
  , probe_verbose = probe_couchdb.defaults({ log_level: "debug" })
  , skips_users   = probe_couchdb.defaults({ do_users : false   })
  , skips_designs = probe_couchdb.defaults({ do_ddocs : false   })
  , skips_dbs     = probe_couchdb.defaults({ do_dbs   : false   });
// Combined behavior 
var my_probe = probe_couchdb.defaults({ http_proxy: "http://localhost:8080"
                                      , log_level : "debug"
                                      , url       : "http://admin:secret@localhost:5984"
// Inherited behavior 
var three_dbs = my_probe.defaults({ only_dbs:["foo", "bar", "baz"] })
  , B_dbs     = my_probe.defaults({ only_dbs: /^b/                 });

## API Overview

This is the object hierarchy: CouchDBDatabaseDesign document

  • A CouchDB explores the main server, including zero or more db events, containing a Database probe.
  • A Database explores a database, including zero or more ddoc events, containing a design document probe.
  • A Design document explores a design document.

Common Events

All events pass one parameter to your callback unless otherwise noted.

  • start | The probe is beginning its work; 0 callback arguments
  • end | The probe has finished its work; 0 callback arguments
  • error | An Error object indicating a problem. Databases re-emit all design document errors, and CouchDBs re-emit all database errors.

Common properties

  • url | The url to this resource (either a couch, a database, or a design doc)
  • log | A log4js logger. Databases inherit the log from CouchDBs, design documents inherit the log from databases.

Common methods

  • request(options, callback) | A request wrapper. Headers for JSON are set, and the response body is JSON-parsed automatically.
  • known(event, callback) | Register a callback guaranteed to run, even if the event already happened (see Known section below)

CouchDB Probes

You create these using the API.


  • couchdb | The server "Welcome" message (/ response)
  • session | The session with this server (/_session response). Check .userCtx to see your login and roles.
  • config | The server configuration (/_config response). If you are not the admin, this will be null.
  • users | Object with all user documents (from the _users database). Keys are the document IDs, values are the documents. Always includes a null key with the anonymous user.
  • pingquery | The result of pinging the CouchDB query server, if the plugin is installed. 2 callback arguments: the language, e.g. "coffeescript"; and ping result, e.g. {"ok":true} or {"error":"bad_ping", "reason":"no_match"}.
  • db | A Database probe. If you care about that database, subscribe to its events!

These events are used internally and less useful:

  • dbs | An array of databases on this server
  • end_dbs | Indicates that all databases have been processed
  • end_pings | Indicates that pinging all query servers is done


  • only_dbs | Either an array, to probe only specific databases, or a function(db_name) which returns whether to probe that database.
  • max_users | Emit an error if the server has more users than this number.


  • start() | Start probing the server
  • anonymous_user() | Helper function to produce an anonymous userCtx: {"name":null, "roles":[]}

Database Probes

CouchDB probes pass database probes to your callback on the db event.


  • metadata | The database metadata (/db response), or null if you haven't read permission
  • security | The security object (/db/_security response), or null if you haven't read permission
  • ddoc | A design document probe. If you care about that design document, subscribe to its events!

These events are used internally and less useful:

  • ddoc_ids | An array of design document IDs
  • end_ddocs | Indicates that all design documents have been processed


  • couch | The database's parent CouchDB probe
  • name | The database's name


all_docs(options, callback) | Run an _all_docs query. The options object (if given) is querystring parameters, e.g. {"include_docs":true, startkey:["name", "S"]}

Design Document Probes

Database probes pass design document probes to your callback on the ddoc event.


  • body | The design document, as a Javascript object
  • info | The design document metadata info (/db/_design/ddoc/_info response)
  • language | A string representing the language this design document uses. This is whatever the .language field in the document is. Usually this is "javascript", or else undefined if it was not specified
  • view | 2 callback arguments: the view name (e.g. "by_name"), and then the view object (e.g. {"map":"function(doc) { ... }"}
  • code_error | Indicates that a Javascript view has a error in its source code (either syntax, or nonstandard function signature); 4 callback arguments:
    1. The error object
    2. The name of the view in question, e.g. "by_name"
    3. The name of the function in question, e.g. "map" or "reduce"
    4. The function source code, e.g. "function(doc) { ... }"

These events are used internally and less useful:

end_views | Indicates that all views have been processed


  • db | The design document's parent database probe
  • id | The design document's ID, e.g. "_design/example"


No methods.

Correct event order

Often you want to know multiple things about the server. But normal EventEmitter .on() calls will not work. For example, to determine your own user document:

// XXX: Bad code! What if the session event fires before the users event? 
couch.on('users', function(users) {
  couch.on('session', function(session) {
    var my_id = 'org.couchdb.user:' +;
    var my_doc = users[my_id];
    console.log("My user doc: " + JSON.stringify(my_doc));

If the event has not yet fired, .known() works just like .on(). But if the event has fired already, .known() will immediately run your callback with the event data. In other words, using .known() you don't have to worry about event order.

// Good code. 
couch.known('users', function(users) {
  couch.known('session', function(session) {
    var my_id = 'org.couchdb.user:' +;
    var my_doc = users[my_id];
    console.log("My user doc: " + JSON.stringify(my_doc));