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insert – create a new object in a database

[ with with-spec [ ,  ... ] ]
insert expression [ insert-shape ]
[ unless conflict
    [ on property-expr [ else alternative ] ]
] ;

insert inserts a new object into a database.

When evaluating an insert statement, expression is used solely to determine the type of the inserted object and is not evaluated in any other way.

If a value for a required link is evaluated to an empty set, an error is raised.

It is possible to insert multiple objects by putting the insert into a for statement.

See Usage of for statement for more details.


Alias declarations.

The with clause allows specifying module aliases as well as expression aliases that can be referenced by the update statement. See With block for more information.


An arbitrary expression returning a set of objects to be updated.

insert expression
[ "{" link := insert-value-expr [, ...]  "}" ]
unless conflict [ on property-expr ]

Handler of conflicts.

This clause allows to handle specific conflicts arising during execution of insert without producing an error. If the conflict arises due to exclusive constraints on the properties specified by property-expr, then instead of failing with an error the insert statement produces an empty set (or an alternative result).

The exclusive constraint on <property-expr> cannot be defined on a parent type.

The specified property-expr may be either a reference to a property (or link) or a tuple of references to properties (or links). Although versions prior to 2.10 do not support unless conflict on multi properties, 2.10 adds support for these.

A caveat, however, is that unless conflict will not prevent conflicts caused between multiple DML operations in the same query; inserting two conflicting objects (through use of for or simply with two insert statements) will cause a constraint error.


insert User { email := '' }
unless conflict on .email
insert User { first := 'Jason', last := 'Momoa' }
unless conflict on (.first, .last)
else alternative

Alternative result in case of conflict.

This clause can only appear after unless conflict clause. Any valid expression can be specified as the alternative. When a conflict arises, the result of the insert becomes the alternative expression (instead of the default {}).

In order to refer to the conflicting object in the alternative expression, the name used in the insert must be used (see example below).

The result of an insert statement used as an expression is a singleton set containing the inserted object.

Here’s a simple example of an insert statement creating a new user:

with module example
insert User {
    name := 'Bob Johnson'

insert is not only a statement, but also an expression and as such is has a value of the set of objects that has been created.

with module example
insert Issue {
    number := '100',
    body := 'Fix errors in insert',
    owner := (
        select User filter = 'Bob Johnson'

It is possible to create nested objects in a single insert statement as an atomic operation.

with module example
insert Issue {
    number := '101',
    body := 'Nested insert',
    owner := (
        insert User {
            name := 'Nested User'

The above statement will create a new Issue as well as a new User as the owner of the Issue. It will also return the new Issue linked to the new User if the statement is used as an expression.

It is also possible to create new objects based on some existing data either provided as an explicit list (possibly automatically generated by some tool) or a query. A for statement is the basis for this use-case and insert is simply the expression in the union clause.

# example of a bulk insert of users based on explicitly provided
# data
with module example
for x in {'Alice', 'Bob', 'Carol', 'Dave'}
union (insert User {
    name := x

# example of a bulk insert of issues based on a query
    module example,
    Elvis := (select User filter .name = 'Elvis'),
    Open := (select Status filter .name = 'Open')

for Q in (select User filter .name ilike 'A%')

union (insert Issue {
    name := + ' access problem',
    body := 'This user was affected by recent system glitch',
    owner := Elvis,
    status := Open

There’s an important use-case where it is necessary to either insert a new object or update an existing one identified with some key. This is what the unless conflict clause allows:

with module people
select (
    insert Person {
        name := "Łukasz Langa", is_admin := true
    unless conflict on .name
    else (
        update Person
        set { is_admin := true }
) {

Statements in EdgeQL represent an atomic interaction with the database. From the point of view of a statement all side-effects (such as database updates) happen after the statement is executed. So as far as each statement is concerned, it is some purely functional expression evaluated on some specific input (database state).