"Relation Query Language" tutorial

Let's learn RQL by practice...


RQL has a syntax and principle inspirated from the SQL query language, though it's at a higher level in order to be more intuitive and suitable to easily make advanced queries on a schema based database.

  • the main idea in RQL is that we'are following relations between entities
  • attributes are a special case of relations
  • RQL has been inspirated from SQL but is at a higher level
  • a knowledge of the application'schema is necessary to build rql queries

To use RQL, you'll have to know the basis of the language as well as a good knowledge of the application'schema. You can always view it using the "schema" link in user's dropdown menu (on the top-right of the screen) or by clicking here.

Some bits of theory

Variables et types

Entities and attributes'value to follow and / or select are represented by the query by variables which must be written upper-case.

Possible types for each variable are deducted from the schema according to constraints in the query.

You can explicitly constrain a variable's type using the special relation "is".

Base types

  • String (literal: between double or simple quotes)
  • Int, Float (using '.' as separator)
  • Date, Datetime, Time (literal: string YYYY/MM/DD[ hh:mm] or TODAY and NOW keywords)
  • Boolean (keywords TRUE et FALSE)
  • keyword NULL


  • Logical operators : AND, OR, ,

  • Mathematical operators: +, -, *, /

  • Comparisons operators: =, <, <=, >=, >, ~=, LIKE, IN

    • = is the default comparison operator

    • LIKE / ~= permits use of the special character % in a string to tell the string must begin or end with a prefix or suffix (as SQL LIKE operator)

      Any X WHERE X name ~= 'Th%'
      Any X WHERE X name LIKE '%lt'
    • IN permits to give a list of possible values

      Any X WHERE X name IN ('chauvat', 'fayolle', 'di mascio', 'thenault')

Grammaire des requêtes de recherche

[DISTINCT] <entity type> V1(, V2)*
[GROUPBY V1(, V2)*]  [ORDERBY <orderterms>]
[WHERE <restriction>]
[LIMIT <value>] [OFFSET <value>]
entity type:

Type of the selected variable(s). You'll usually use Any type to not specify any type.

List of relations to follow, in the form

V1 relation V2|<constant value>


Define a selection order : variable or column number, followed by the sort method (ASC, DESC), with ASC as default when not specified

notice about grouped query (e.g using a GROUPBY clause): every selected variable should be either grouped or used in an aggregat function.

Example schema

In this document, we will suppose the application's schema is the one described here. Available entity types are :

name      (String, required)
birthday (Date)
name   (String)
diem (Date)
type (String)

And relations between those entities:

Person  works_for    Company
Person  evaluated_by Note
Company evaluated_by Note


Every entities'type have the following meta-data:

  • eid (Int), a unique identifier
  • creation_date (Datetime), date on which the entity has been created
  • modification_date (Datetime), lastest date on which the entity has been modified
  • created_by (CWUser), relation to the user which has created this entity
  • owned_by (CWUser), relation to the user()s considered as owner of this entity, the entity's creator by default
  • is (Eetype), special relation to specify a variable type.

A user's entity has the following schema:

login        (String) not null
password  (Password)
firstname (String)
surname   (String)

Basis queries

  1. Every persons

    Person X


    Any X WHERE X is Person
  2. The company named Logilab

    Company S WHERE S name 'Logilab'
  3. Every entities with a "name" attribute whose value starts with 'Log'

    Any S WHERE S name LIKE 'Log%'


    Any S WHERE S name ~= 'Log%'

    This query may return Person or Company entities.

  4. Every persons working for the Logilab company

    Person P WHERE P works_for S, S name "Logilab"


    Person P WHERE P works_for S AND S name "Logilab"
  5. Company named Caesium ou Logilab

    Company S WHERE S name IN ('Logilab','Caesium')


    Company S WHERE S name 'Logilab' OR S name 'Caesium'
  6. Every company but ones named Caesium ou Logilab

    Company S WHERE NOT S name IN ('Logilab','Caesium')


    Company S WHERE NOT S name 'Logilab' AND NOT S name 'Caesium'
  7. Entities evaluated by the note with eid 43

    Any X WHERE X evaluated_by N, N eid 43
  8. Every persons order by birthday from the youngest to the oldest

    Person X ORDERBY D DESC WHERE X birthday D

    Notice you've to define a variable using the birthday relation to use it in the sort term.

  9. Number of persons working for each known company

    Any S, COUNT(X) GROUPBY S WHERE X works_for S

    Notice you've that since you're writing a grouped query on S, X have to be either grouped as well or used in an aggregat function (as in this example).


  1. Person with no name specified (i.e NULL)

    Person P WHERE P name NULL
  2. Person which are not working for any company

    Person P WHERE NOT p works_for S
  3. Every company where person named toto isn't working

    Company S WHERE NOT P works_for S , P name 'toto'
  4. Every entity which have been modified between today and yesterday

    Any X WHERE X modification_date <= TODAY, X modification_date >= TODAY - 1
  5. Every note without type, to be done in the next 7 days, ordered by date

    Any N, D where N is Note, N type NULL, N diem D, N diem >= TODAY,
    N diem < today + 7 ORDERBY D
  6. Person with an homonym (without duplicate)

    DISTINCT Person X,Y where X name NX, Y name NX

    or even better (e.g. without both (Xeid, Yeid) and (Yeid, Xeid) in the results)

    Person X,Y where X name NX, Y name NX, X eid XE, Y eid > XE