Giraph can use the Rexster REST API to load and store graphs from graph databases like Neo4j, OrientDB and others to perform a computation. Graph databases that are supported by Blueprints are also available via Rexster. Additionally, a subset of the input graph can be injected by means of Gremlin scripts. This page is intended to get you started with the Giraph API for Rexster I/O.

Quick Start For Inpatients

Since not everyone is interested in the whole story, here you can find some easy steps to get quickly started using the Rexster I/O API. We are assuming you already have a working Hadoop/Giraph setup. If it is not so, start here and then come back. This is important since the OutputFormat example is based on the same example provided by the Quick Start guide.
Below you can find a single script to prepare the environment and a small example to use the OutputFormat. The only step required to make the example work is to adjust the configuration variables to your environment settings. For more details, read the rest of the document :)
The script below also assumes that Hadoop is up and running based on the Quick Start guide and the tiny_graph.txt input graph is in-place in the input directory.
# Configuration
export REXSTER_VERSION=2.4.0
export HADOOP_VERSION=1.0.2
export GIRAPH_DIR=/path/to/giraph
export REXSTER_DIR=/path/to/rexster
export HADOOP_DIR=/path/to/hadoop

# Constants
export GIRAPH_REXSTER=${GIRAPH_DIR}/giraph-rexster/giraph-rexster-io
export GIRAPH_CORE=${GIRAPH_DIR}/giraph-core
export GIRAPH_EXAMPLES=${GIRAPH_DIR}/giraph-examples
export GIRAPH_KIBBLE=${GIRAPH_DIR}/giraph-rexster/giraph-kibble

export GIRAPH_REXSTER_JAR=${GIRAPH_REXSTER}/target/giraph-rexster-io-${GIRAPH_VERSION}.jar
export GIRAPH_CORE_JAR=${GIRAPH_CORE}/target/giraph-${GIRAPH_VERSION}-for-hadoop-${HADOOP_VERSION}-jar-with-dependencies.jar
export GIRAPH_EXAMPLES_JAR=${GIRAPH_EXAMPLES}/target/giraph-examples-${GIRAPH_VERSION}-for-hadoop-${HADOOP_VERSION}-jar-with-dependencies.jar
export GIRAPH_KIBBLE_JAR=${GIRAPH_KIBBLE}/target/giraph-kibble-${GIRAPH_VERSION}.jar


# Main
# prepare rexster
mkdir ${REXSTER_DIR}
wget http://tinkerpop.com/downloads/rexster/rexster-server-${REXSTER_VERSION}.zip
unzip rexster-server-${REXSTER_VERSION}.zip

# copy the compiled kibble, prepare the rexster configuration, and start rexster
lines=$(wc -l ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.xml | cut -d" " -f1)
head -n +$(( lines - 2 )) ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.xml >\
echo "        <graph>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "            <graph-name>giraphgraph</graph-name>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "            <graph-location>/tmp/giraphgraph</graph-location>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "            <graph-type>tinkergraph</graph-type>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "            <graph-storage>graphson</graph-storage>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "            <extensions>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "                <allows>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "                    <allow>tp:gremlin</allow>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "                    <allow>tp:giraph</allow>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "                </allows>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "            </extensions>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "        </graph>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "    </graphs>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
echo "</rexster>" >> ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml
${REXSTER_DIR}/bin/rexster.sh -s -c ${REXSTER_DIR}/config/rexster.giraph.xml 

# start a Giraph Job
su - hduser
${HADOOP_DIR}/bin/hadoop jar ${GIRAPH_EXAMPLES_JAR} org.apache.giraph.GiraphRunner \
  -Dgiraph.rexster.output.graph=giraphgraph \
  -Dgiraph.rexster.hostname= \
  org.apache.giraph.examples.SimpleShortestPathsComputation \
  -vif org.apache.giraph.io.formats.JsonLongDoubleFloatDoubleVertexInputFormat \
  -vip input/ \
  -vof org.apache.giraph.rexster.io.formats.RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexOutputFormat \
  -eof org.apache.giraph.rexster.io.formats.RexsterLongDoubleFloatEdgeOutputFormat \
  -w 1


The Rexster I/O Format is composed by three main components, namely the Rexster Input Format and the Rexster Output Format which are part of the Giraph code. Both components are split into Vertex and Edge interfaces. Additionally, the architecture provides the Giraph Kibble, which is a Rexster extension to provide the needed facilities to load and store the data from and to the graph databases. The figure below shows the architecture in a high level fashion.


Because of how the Basic Rexster API is organized, the Giraph API requires the user to specify both an Vertex and a Edge format in both the input and the output format. Even though such a step is required, the user does not have to deal with the Rexster connection, which can be easily configured using the Giraph options provided.
In the next sections, you will be guided in the peculiarities of the API, starting from the configurations. Afterwards, we will provide you with a short descriptionof how to prepare Rexster to be used with Giraph. Finally, we will walk you through Input and the Output format APIs and we will conclude presenting some cavet related to the system.

Configuration Options

The configuration options which can be specified by the user of the Rexster input format are the following. The configurations are group in three different categories. General Configurations, Input Format Configurations, and Output Format Configurations.

General Configurations

label type default value description
giraph.rexster.hostname string Rexster hostname which provides the REST API - required
giraph.rexster.port integer 8182 Rexster port where to contact the REST API.
giraph.rexster.ssl boolean false Rexster flag to set the connection over SSL instaed of clear-text.
giraph.rexster.username string Rexster username to access the REST API.
giraph.rexster.password string Rexster password to access the REST API.

Input Format Configurations

label type default value description
giraph.rexster.input.graph graphdb string Rexster input graph.
giraph.rexster.input.vertex integer 1000 Rexster number of estimated vertices in the graph to be loaded.
giraph.rexster.input.edge integer 1000 Rexster number of estimated vertices in the graph to be loaded.
giraph.input.rexster.vertices.gremlinScript string If the database is Gremlin enabled, the script will be used to retrieve the vertices from the Rexster exposed database.
giraph.input.rexster.edges.gremlinScript string If the database is Gremlin enabled, the script will be used to retrieve the edges from the Rexster exposed database.

Output Format Configurations

label type default value description
giraph.rexster.output.graph graphdb string Rexster output graph.
giraph.rexster.output.vlabel string _vid Rexster Vertex ID label for the JSON format.
giraph.rexster.output.backoffDelay integer 5 Rexster back-off delay in milliseconds which is multiplied to an exponentially increasing counter. Needed to deal with deadlocks and consistency raised by the graph database
giraph.rexster.output.backoffRetry integer 20 Rexster output format wait timeout (seconds). This is used to wake up the thread to call progress very x seconds if not progress from the ZooKeeper is detected.
giraph.rexster.output.timeout integer 10 Rexster output format wait timeout (seconds). This is used to wake up the thread to call progress very x seconds if not progress from the ZooKeeper is detected.
giraph.rexster.output.vertex.txsize integer 1000 Rexster Output format transaction size. This parameter defines how many vertexes are sent for each transaction.
giraph.rexster.output.edge.txsize integer 1000 Rexster Output format transaction size. This parameter defines how many edges are sent for each transaction.

Prepare The Environment

In this section we will briefly explain how to prepare a Rexster server for your computation. For additional information about Rexster and the configuration of the server, you can take a look at the Rexster Wiki.
As it is visible in the quick start above, to start a new Rexster server, it is extremely easy. First of all, you need to download one of the versions available on the Tinkerpop repository. We suggest you to get the most recent version, as we will explain later when talking about cavet. So, the first step is to download rexster and unzip it.
$ wget http://tinkerpop.com/downloads/rexster/rexster-server-2.4.0.zip
$ unzip rexster-server-2.4.0.zip
At this point, it is important to perpare the database you are going to use, allowing the Giraph Kibble to be available for the database. This is done by adding the entry <allow>tp:giraph</allow>" for the desired graph under the <extension> tag scope. Moreover, you will need to copy the Giraph Kibble into the ext/ directory of rexster.

$ cp /path/to/giraph/giraph-rexster/giraph-kibble/target/giraph-kibble-${hadoop.version}.jar rexster-server-2.4.0/ext/
At this point, just enter the rexster directory and start the server.
$ cd rexster-server-2.4.0
$ ./bin/rexster.sh -s
This command will automatically locate the configuration file in the config/ directory and will automatically provide you with some initial database. To test the server is properly working, open a browser and type the following URL.
This will provide you with a JSON listing the available loaded graphs.

Example explained: Input Format

The first part of the API that we are presenting is the Rexster Input Format. This API allows a Giraph computation to load the graph from one database exposed by an existing

Vertex Input Format

As anticipated earlier, the input API provides two required abstract classes, namely RexsterVertexInputFormat and RexsterEdgeInputFormat. This is required, since the Giraph Kibble provides two different URIs to load the vertices and the edges.
NB: you need to make also sure that the rexster hostname is provided to Giraph, since this is a mandatory parameter.
The two classes below are directly extracted from the Giraph source code repository and exemplify how to implement custom RexsterVertexInputFormat and RexsterEdgeInputFormat.
public class RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexInputFormat
  extends RexsterVertexInputFormat<LongWritable, DoubleWritable,
          FloatWritable> {

  public RexsterVertexReader createVertexReader(
    InputSplit split, TaskAttemptContext context) throws IOException {

    return new RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexReader();

   * Rexster vertex reader
  protected class RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexReader
    extends RexsterVertexReader {

    protected Vertex<LongWritable, DoubleWritable, FloatWritable> parseVertex(
      JSONObject jsonVertex) throws JSONException {

      /* create the actual vertex */
      Vertex<LongWritable, DoubleWritable, FloatWritable> vertex =

      Long id;
      try {
        id = jsonVertex.getLong("_id");
      } catch (JSONException ex) {
        /* OrientDB compatibility; try to transform it as long */
        String idString = jsonVertex.getString("_id");
        String[] splits = idString.split(":");
        id = Long.parseLong(splits[1]);
      vertex.initialize(new LongWritable(id), new DoubleWritable(0));
      return vertex;

Edge Input Format

public class RexsterLongFloatEdgeInputFormat
  extends RexsterEdgeInputFormat<LongWritable, FloatWritable> {

  public RexsterEdgeReader createEdgeReader(
      InputSplit split, TaskAttemptContext context) throws IOException {

    return new RexsterLongFloatEdgeReader();

  protected class RexsterLongFloatEdgeReader extends RexsterEdgeReader {

    /** source vertex of the edge */
    private LongWritable sourceId;

    public LongWritable getCurrentSourceId()
      throws IOException, InterruptedException {

      return this.sourceId;

    protected Edge<LongWritable, FloatWritable> parseEdge(JSONObject jsonEdge)
      throws JSONException {

      Long value = jsonEdge.getLong("weight");
      Long dest;
      try {
        dest = jsonEdge.getLong("_outV");
      } catch (JSONException ex) {
        /* OrientDB compatibility; try to transform it as long */
        String idString = jsonEdge.getString("_outV");
        String[] splits = idString.split(":");
        dest = Long.parseLong(splits[1]);
      Edge<LongWritable, FloatWritable> edge =
        EdgeFactory.create(new LongWritable(dest), new FloatWritable(value));

      Long sid;
      try {
        sid = jsonEdge.getLong("_inV");
      } catch (JSONException ex) {
        /* OrientDB compatibility; try to transform it as long */
        String sidString = jsonEdge.getString("_inV");
        String[] splits = sidString.split(":");
        sid = Long.parseLong(splits[1]);
      this.sourceId = new LongWritable(sid);
      return edge;


To use these classes, it is simple and does not require any particular effort. To provide you with an example, below you can find the Hadoop command issued to start a Shortest Path computation by loading the graph from Rexster.
hadoop jar /path/to/giraph/giraph-examples/target/giraph-examples-*-jar-with-dependencies.jar \
  org.apache.giraph.GiraphRunner \
  -libjars /path/to/giraph/giraph-rexster/giraph-rexster-io/target/giraph-rexster-io*-jar-with-dependencies.jar \
  org.apache.giraph.examples.SimpleShortestPathsComputation \
  -vif org.apache.giraph.rexster.io.formats.RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexInputFormat \
  -eif org.apache.giraph.rexster.io.formats.RexsterLongFloatEdgeInputFormat \
  -vof org.apache.giraph.io.formats.JsonLongDoubleFloatDoubleVertexOutputFormat \
  -op output \
  -w 1

Example explained: Output Format

Vertex Output Format

Also in this case, the output API provides two required classes, namely RexsterVertexOutputFormat and RexsterEdgeOutputFormat. Also in this case, both are required, due to the way the Giraph Kibble provides manages the sotring of the edges.
NB: to deal with databases deadlocks and consistency issues, the Kibble uses the Exponetial Backoff strategy to complete the transation. Make sure that the parameters for the time daley and number of retry, suit your needs. Moreover, to reduce the quantiti of memory used by rexster, the size of each transaction is also provided. Make sure that also this parameter suits your environment.
Differently from the Input format present above, in this case you can directly make us of the RexsterVertexOutputFormat and RexsterEdgeOutputFormat classes without the need to implement your own. However, in some cases it is still reasonable to user your own.
The two classes below are directly extracted from the Giraph source code repository and exemplify how to implement custom RexsterVertexOutputFormat and RexsterEdgeOutputFormat.
public class RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexOutputFormat
  extends RexsterVertexOutputFormat<LongWritable, DoubleWritable,
          FloatWritable> {

  public RexsterVertexWriter createVertexWriter(
      TaskAttemptContext context) throws IOException,
      InterruptedException {

    return new RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexWriter();

   * Rexster vertex writer.
  protected class RexsterLongDoubleFloatVertexWriter
    extends RexsterVertexWriter {

    /** current vertex ID */
    private LongWritable vertexId;

    protected JSONObject getVertex(
      Vertex<LongWritable, DoubleWritable, FloatWritable> vertex)
      throws JSONException {

      vertexId = vertex.getId();

      double value = vertex.getValue().get();
      JSONObject jsonVertex = new JSONObject();
      jsonVertex.accumulate("value", value);

      return jsonVertex;

    protected LongWritable getVertexId() {
      return vertexId;

Edge Output Format

public class RexsterLongDoubleFloatEdgeOutputFormat
  extends RexsterEdgeOutputFormat<LongWritable, DoubleWritable,
          FloatWritable> {

  public RexsterEdgeWriter createEdgeWriter(
      TaskAttemptContext context) throws IOException,
      InterruptedException {

    return new RexsterLongDoubleFloatEdgeWriter();

   * Rexster edge writer.
  protected class RexsterLongDoubleFloatEdgeWriter
    extends RexsterEdgeWriter {

    protected JSONObject getEdge(LongWritable srcId, DoubleWritable srcValue,
      Edge<LongWritable, FloatWritable> edge) throws JSONException {

      long outId = srcId.get();
      long inId = edge.getTargetVertexId().get();
      float value = edge.getValue().get();
      JSONObject jsonEdge = new JSONObject();
      jsonEdge.accumulate("_outV", outId);
      jsonEdge.accumulate("_inV",  inId);
      jsonEdge.accumulate("value", value);

      return jsonEdge;


Also in this case, we provide you with an example of how to use these classes.
hadoop jar /path/to/giraph/giraph-examples/target/giraph-examples-*-jar-with-dependencies.jar \
  org.apache.giraph.GiraphRunner \
  -libjars /path/to/giraph/giraph-rexster/giraph-rexster-io/target/giraph-rexster-io*-jar-with-dependencies.jar \
  org.apache.giraph.examples.SimpleShortestPathsComputation \
  -vif org.apache.giraph.io.formats.JsonLongDoubleFloatDoubleVertexInputFormat \
  -vof org.apache.giraph.rexster.io.formats.RexsterVertexOutputFormat \
  -eof org.apache.giraph.rexster.io.formats.RexsterEdgeOutputFormat \
  -vip input/ \
  -w 1



One of the most important details that you must be aware of is that only using Rexster with a version equal or grater to 2.5.0 you will be able to work with OrietnDB. Unfortunately, the previous versions of Rexster include the buggy OrientDB API, which cause issues that are very difficult to handle. With newer versions of OrientDB, the API has been improved and the system works as expected.