Command line tasks

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Sometimes, you'll want to do something to your Apostrophe site's content via the command line. And there are plenty of built-in command line tasks for this purpose. You ran one the day you created your site:

node app apostrophe-users:add admin admin

But how do we create our own command line tasks? Let's take a look.

Complete, working example

See the apostrophe-samples project for a complete, working example of command line tasks in a project. Take a look in the lib/modules/products/index.js file. This is a module that extends apostrophe-pieces. Below we'll describe what these tasks do.

A task to list products: using apostrophe cursors in a task

Here's a task that lists all the public, published product pieces on the site, with their URLs:

// in lib/modules/products/index.js, inside `construct`
// You can see this code in context in the apostrophe-samples project!

self.addTask('list', 'Lists public, published products and their URLs', (apos, argv) => {

  // We need a `req` object, but we're in a task. So
  // ask the tasks module for an "anon" req that can
  // do only what the public can do. We could also call
  // `apos.tasks.getReq()`, which lets us do anything (admin).

  const req = apos.tasks.getAnonReq();

  // Let's use apostrophe cursors, so that we only get public,
  // published products, and the _url property is dynamically set.

  return self.find(req).toArray().then(products => {
    products.forEach(product => {
      console.log(product.title + ': ' + product._url);

  // We don't need to "catch" here because the task runner will
  // catch and display any error that rejects the promise


This task returns a promise. You can also write tasks that accept a callback, as seen in the next example. It's up to you.

This code uses Apostrophe cursors to fetch information like a member of the public would. It doesn't see anything unpublished or in the trash, and it can see the _url property of each product, which is set for us dynamically when we fetch products with a cursor.

For more information, see Apostrophe cursors and Apostrophe's model layer: working with the database.

Running our task

To run the task, type:

node app products:list

To list all the tasks available, type:

node app help

Obtaining a req object for a task

Lots of Apostrophe APIs require a req object, but we're not handling an Express request. How do we get a req inside a task?

As seen above, our code can ask the apostrophe-tasks module for a req object like this:


This req object is anonymous: it can only do what the public can do.

If your task needs to call self.insert and self.update, call self.apos.tasks.getReq() instead. This gives you an "admin" req object that can do anything an administrator can do on the site.

A task to cut prices: fast tasks with the migration API and MongoDB

We can also write tasks that use Apostrophe's migration API to iterate over every document that matches a query. And, we can use MongoDB's APIs directly to gain access to features like MongoDB's $set. Here's how we do it:

// This time we are using the migrations API, which only supports
// callbacks (so far), so we'll accept a callback to our task function

self.addTask('discount', 'Lowers prices by the specified percentage.', (apos, argv, callback) => {

  // Let's use the migrations and mongodb APIs to do this very quickly.
  // Note this will impact every product, even those in the trash, and
  // ignore permissions (unpublished products, etc)
  return apos.migrations.eachDoc({ type: 'product' }, (product, callback) => {
    if (!product.price) {
      // Don't overflow the stack - let node invoke the callback
      // after this function returns
      return setImmediate(callback);
    if (!parseFloat(argv._[1])) {
      // Use a plain string as the error to avoid a stack trace since
      // this is just a user error.
      return callback('You must specify a discount percentage, such as 10. Do not use a % sign.');
    product.price = product.price - (product.price * argv._[1] / 100);
      _id: product._id
    }, {
      $set: {
        price: product.price
    }, callback);
    // Don't forget to pass the callback after the iterator function!
    // Otherwise it'll do the work, then just hang
  }, callback);

When should I use the migrations API? When you are absolutely sure you want to iterate over everything, including the trash... and when you need to operate quickly on thousands of objects without running out of memory.

In this example, we could have used cursors and the update method of the products module instead. This code is faster, but it ignores permissions and lowers prices on products that are currently in the trash. We could adjust our query to account for that, but that takes extra work. So the best choice depends on your use case.

Where can I learn more about using the MongoDB API directly? See accessing the database directly and, of course, the MongoDB documentation for NodeJS.

Next: Accessing the database directly →