Amazon CloudSearch
Developer Guide (API Version 2013-01-01)

Constructing Compound Queries in Amazon CloudSearch

You can use the structured query parser to combine match expressions using Boolean and, or, and not operators. To select the structured query parser, you include q.parser=structured in your query. The structured query operators are specified as prefix operators. The syntax is:



  • (not boost=N EXPRESSION)

For example, the following query matches all movies in the sample data set that contain star in the title, and either Harrison Ford or William Shatner appear in the actors field, but Zachary Quinto does not.

(and title:'star' (or actors:'Harrison Ford' actors:'William Shatner')(not actors:'Zachary Quinto'))

When using the structured query operators, you specify the name of the operator, options for the operator, and then the match expression being operated on, (OPERATOR OPTIONS EXPRESSION). The match expression can be a simple text string, or a subclause of your compound query. Any options must be specified before the terms. For example, (and (not field=genres 'Sci-Fi')(or (term field=title boost=2 'star')(term field=plot 'star'))).

Parentheses control the order of evaluation of the expressions. When an expression is enclosed in parentheses, that expression is evaluated first, and then the resulting value is used in the evaluation of the remainder of the compound query.


You must URL-encode special characters in the query string. For example, you must encode the = operator in a structured query as %3D: (term+field%3Dtitle+'star'). Amazon CloudSearch returns an InvalidQueryString error if special characters are not URL-encoded. For a complete reference of URL-encodings, see the W3C HTML URL Encoding Reference.

For example, the following query searches the title field for the phrase star wars and excludes matches that have a value less than 2000 in the year field.

(and (phrase field='title' 'star wars') (not (range field=year {,2000})))

To submit this search request, you need to encode the query string and specify the structured query parser with the q.parser parameter.'title'+'star wars')+(not+(range+field%3Dyear+{,2000})))&q.parser=structured

The structured query syntax enables you to combine searches against multiple fields. If you don't specify a field to search, all text and text-array fields are searched. For example, the following query searches all text and text-array fields for the term star, and excludes documents that contain Zachary Quinto in the actors field.

(and 'star' (not actors:'Zachary Quinto'))

You can specify a boost value to increase the importance of one expression in a compound query in relation to the others. The boost value increases the scores of the matching documents. For example, the following query boosts matches for the term star if they occur in the title field rather than the description field.

(and (range field=year [2013,}) (or (term field=title boost=2 'star') (term field=plot 'star'))

Boost values must be greater than zero.

In addition to and, or, and not, the Amazon CloudSearch structured search syntax supports several specialized operators:

  • matchall—Matches every document in the domain. Syntax: matchall.

  • near—Supports sloppy phrase queries. The distance value specifies the maximum number of words that can separate the words in the phrase; for example, (near field='plot' distance=4 'naval mutiny demonstration'). Use the near operator to enable matching when the specified terms are in close proximity, but not adjacent. For more information about sloppy phrase searches, see Searching for Phrases. Syntax: (near field=FIELD distance=N boost=N 'STRING').

  • phrase—Searches for a phrase in text or text-array fields; for example, (phrase field="title" 'teenage mutant ninja'). Supports boosting documents that match the expression. For more information about phrase searches, see Searching for Phrases. Syntax: (phrase field=FIELD boost=N 'STRING').

  • prefix—Searches a text, text-array, literal, or literal-array field for the specified prefix followed by zero or more characters; for example, (prefix field='title' 'wait'). Supports boosting documents that match the expression. For more information about prefix searches, see Searching for Prefixes.Syntax: (prefix field=FIELD boost=N 'STRING').

  • range—Searches for a range of values in a numeric field; for example: (range field=year [2000,2013]). For more information about range searches, see Searching for a Range of Values. Syntax: (range field=FIELD boost=N RANGE).

  • term—Searches for an individual term or value in any field; for example: (and (term field=title 'star')(term field=year 1977)). Syntax: (term field=FIELD boost=N 'STRING'|VALUE).

For more information about searching particular types of data, see the following sections. For more information about the structured search syntax, see Structured Search Syntax.