The recoll module

connect(confdir=None, extra_dbs=None, writable = False)

The connect() function connects to one or several Recoll index(es) and returns a Db object.

This call initializes the recoll module, and it should always be performed before any other call or object creation.

  • confdir designates the main index configuration directory. The usual system-dependant defaults apply if the value is empty.

  • extra_dbs is a list of additional external indexes (Xapian directories). These will be queried, but supply no configuration values.

  • writable decides if we can index new data through this connection.


from recoll import recoll

# Opening the default db            
db = recoll.connect()

# Opening the default db and a pair of additional indexes            
db = recoll.connect(extra_dbs=["/home/me/.someconfdir/xapiandb", "/data/otherconf/xapiandb"])
The Db class

A Db object is created by a connect() call and holds a connection to a Recoll index.

Db.query(), Db.cursor()

These (synonym) methods return a blank Query object for this index.

Db.getdoc(udi, idxidx=0)

Retrieve a document given its unique document identifier, and its index if external indexes are in use. The main index is always index 0. The udi value could have been obtained from an earlier query as doc.rcludi, or would be known because the application is the indexer and generates the values.

Db.termMatch(match_type, expr, field='', maxlen=-1, casesens=False, diacsens=False, lang='english')

Expand an expression against the index term list. Performs the basic function from the GUI term explorer tool. match_type can be one of wildcard, regexp or stem. field, if set, restricts the matches to the contents of the specified metadata field. Returns a list of terms expanded from the input expression.

Db.setAbstractParams(maxchars, contextwords)

Set the parameters used to build snippets (sets of keywords in context text fragments). maxchars defines the maximum total size of the abstract. contextwords defines how many terms are shown around the keyword.


Closes the connection. You can't do anything with the Db object after this.

The Query class

A Query object (equivalent to a cursor in the Python DB API) is created by a Db.query() call. It is used to execute index searches.

Query.sortby(fieldname, ascending=True)

Set the sorting order for future searches to using fieldname, in ascending or descending order. Must be called before executing the search.

Query.execute(query_string, stemming=1, stemlang="english", fetchtext=False, collapseduplicates=False)

Start a search for query_string, a Recoll search language string. If the index stores the documents texts and fetchtext is True, the Doc objects in the query result will store the document extracted text in doc.text. Else, the doc.text fields will be empty. If collapseduplicates is true, only one of multiple identical documents (defined by having the same MD5 hash) will appear in the result list.

Query.executesd(SearchData, fetchtext=False, collapseduplicates=False)

Starts a search for the query defined by the SearchData object. See above for a description of the other parameters.


Fetch the next Doc objects from the current search result list, and return them as an array of the required size, which is by default the value of the arraysize data member.


Fetch the next Doc object from the current search result list. Generates a StopIteration exception if there are no results left.

Query.__iter__() and

So that things like for doc in query: will work. Example:

from recoll import recoll

db = recoll.connect()
q = db.query()
nres = q.execute("some query")
for doc in q:
    print("%s" % doc.title)

Close the query. The object is unusable after the call.

Query.scroll(value, mode='relative')

Adjust the position in the current result set. mode can be relative or absolute.


Retrieve the expanded query terms as a list of pairs. Meaningful only after executexx In each pair, the first entry is a list of user terms (of size one for simple terms, or more for group and phrase clauses), the second a list of query terms derived from the user terms and used in the Xapian Query.


Return the Xapian query description as a Unicode string. Meaningful only after executexx.

Query.highlight(text, ishtml = 0, methods = object)

Will insert <span "class=rclmatch">, and </span> tags around the match areas in the input text and return the modified text. ishtml can be set to indicate that the input text is HTML and that HTML special characters should not be escaped. methods, if set, should be an object having methods startMatch(i) and endMatch() which will be called for each match and should return a begin and end tag. Example:

class MyHighlighter:
    def startMatch(self, idx):
        return "<span style='color:red;background:yellow;'>"
    def endMatch(self):
        return "</span>"

Query.makedocabstract(doc, methods = object))

Create a snippets abstract for doc (a Doc object) by selecting text around the match terms. If methods is set, will also perform highlighting. See the highlight() method.

Query.getsnippets(doc, maxoccs = -1, ctxwords = -1, sortbypage=False, methods=object)

Return a list of extracts from the result document by selecting text around the match terms. Each entry in the result list is a triple: page number, term, text. By default, the most relevants snippets appear first in the list. Set sortbypage to sort by page number instead. If methods is set, the fragments will be highlighted (see the highlight() method). If maxoccs is set, it defines the maximum result list length. ctxwords allows adjusting the individual snippet context size.


(r/w). Default number of records processed by fetchmany().


Number of records returned by the last execute.


Next index to be fetched from results. Normally increments after each fetchone() call, but can be set/reset before the call to effect seeking (equivalent to using scroll()). Starts at 0.

The Doc class

A Doc object contains index data for a given document. The data is extracted from the index when searching, or set by the indexer program when updating. The Doc object has many attributes to be read or set by its user. It mostly matches the Rcl::Doc C++ object. Some of the attributes are predefined, but, especially when indexing, others can be set, the name of which will be processed as field names by the indexing configuration. Inputs can be specified as Unicode or strings. Outputs are Unicode objects. All dates are specified as Unix timestamps, printed as strings. Please refer to the rcldb/rcldoc.cpp C++ file for a full description of the predefined attributes. Here follows a short list.

  • url the document URL but see also getbinurl()

  • ipath the document ipath for embedded documents.

  • fbytes, dbytes the document file and text sizes.

  • fmtime, dmtime the document file and document times.

  • xdocid the document Xapian document ID. This is useful if you want to access the document through a direct Xapian operation.

  • mtype the document MIME type.

  • text holds the document processed text, if the index itself is configured to store it (true by default) and if the fetchtext query execute() option was true. See also the rclextract module for accessing document contents.

  • Other fields stored by default: author, filename, keywords, recipient

At query time, only the fields that are defined as stored either by default or in the fields configuration file will be meaningful in the Doc object.

get(key), [] operator

Retrieve the named document attribute. You can also use getattr(doc, key) or doc.key.

doc.key = value

Set the the named document attribute. You can also use setattr(doc, key, value).


Retrieve the URL in byte array format (no transcoding), for use as parameter to a system call. This is useful for the filesystem indexer file:// URLs which are stored unencoded, as binary data.


Set the URL in byte array format (no transcoding).


Return a dictionary of doc object keys/values


list of doc object keys (attribute names).

The SearchData class

A SearchData object allows building a query by combining clauses, for execution by Query.executesd(). It can be used in replacement of the query language approach. The interface is going to change a little, so no detailed doc for now...

addclause(type='and'|'or'|'excl'|'phrase'|'near'|'sub', qstring=string, slack=0, field='', stemming=1, subSearch=SearchData)