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Configuring Datastore Indexes

App Engine uses indexes in Datastore for every query your application makes. These indexes are updated whenever an entity changes, so the results can be returned quickly when the app makes a query. To do this, Datastore needs to know in advance which queries the application will make. You specify which indexes your app needs in a configuration file. The local development server can automatically generate the index configuration file as you test your app.

This guides provides instructions for creating your indexes and managing them. For more background information, see Datastore Indexes.

Creating Datastore indexes

Every Datastore query made by an application needs a corresponding index. Indexes for simple queries, such as queries over a single property, are created automatically. Indexes for complex queries must be defined in a configuration file named index.yaml. This file is deployed with your application to create the indexes in Datastore.

The following is an example of an index.yaml file:


- kind: Cat
  ancestor: no
  - name: name
  - name: age
    direction: desc

- kind: Cat
  - name: name
    direction: asc
  - name: whiskers
    direction: desc

- kind: Store
  ancestor: yes
  - name: business
    direction: asc
  - name: owner
    direction: asc

Creating indexes using the development server

The development web server ( automatically adds items to this file when the application tries to execute a query that needs an index that does not have an appropriate entry in the configuration file.

In the development server, if you exercise every query that your app will make, the development server will generate a complete list of entries in the index.yaml file.

When the development web server adds a generated index definition to index.yaml, it does so below the following line, inserting it if necessary:


The development web server considers all index definitions below this line to be automatic, and it might update existing definitions below this line as the application makes queries.

Creating indexes manually

You can manually add indexes to the index.yaml file or you can edit existing entries. For manually controlled queries, you must add them above the line that is commented with AUTOGENERATED.

All index definitions above this line are considered to be under manual control, and are not updated by the development web server. The development server will only make changes below the line, and will only do so if the complete index.yaml file does not describe an index that accounts for a query executed by the application. To take control of an automatic index definition, move it above this line.

See the index.yaml reference for syntax information.

Updating indexes

You upload your index.yaml configuration file to Datastore with the gcloud command. If the index.yaml file defines any indexes that don't exist in Datastore, those new indexes are built.

It can take a while for Datastore to create all the indexes and therefore, those indexes won't be immediately available to App Engine. If your app is already configured to receive traffic, then exceptions can occur for queries that require an index that is still in the process of being built.

To avoid exceptions, you must allow time for all the indexes to build. For more information and examples about creating indexes, see Deploying a Python 2 App.

To upload your index configuration to Datastore, run the following command from the directory where your index.yaml is located:

gcloud datastore indexes create index.yaml

For information, see the gcloud datastore reference.

You can use the Cloud Console, to check the status of your indexes.

Deleting unused indexes

When you change or remove an index from index.yaml, the original index is not automatically deleted from Datastore. This gives you the opportunity to leave an older version of the app running while new indexes are being built, or to revert to the older version immediately if a problem is discovered with a newer version.

When you are sure that the old indexes remaining in Datastore are no longer needed, you can run the following command to delete any index that is not defined in your index.yaml file:

gcloud datastore indexes cleanup index.yaml

For information, see the gcloud datastore reference.