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A distributed database with a collaboration model

TerminusDB is designed to be a distributed database with a collaboration model devised to rhyme with the ideas behind Git. It is essentially meant to be Git for data.

TerminusDB CLI for Push / Pull / Clone

The building blocks of the collaboration model are:

  • Revision Control: We have commits for every update
  • Diff: Differences between commits can be interpreted as patches between states.
  • Push/Pull/Clone: We can communicate diffs between nodes using push/pull/clone.


The simplest way to see how the TerminusDB CLI can be used is to clone a resource from TerminusX. This is analogous to creating a repository on GitHub.

First, we log into TerminusX, create a new data product, and make sure we have an access token to the team we created for the data product. Then copy the URL to clone from the data product info page.

Supposing I make a data product called example in the team Terminators, we could then issue the following command using the TerminusDB CLI:

					./terminusdb clone 'https://cloud-dev.terminusdb.com/Terminators/example' --token='XYZ'

Once completed, you’ll have a local copy of the ‘example’ database!

					./terminusdb list
└── admin/example
    └── main

Now we can put something interesting in our database. First, let’s create the following schema.

For a file schema.json:

					{ "@id" : "Person",
  "@type" : "Class",
  "name" : "xsd:string",
  "occupation" : "xsd:string",
  "friends" : { "@type" : "Set",
                "@class" : "Person" }
					./terminusdb doc insert admin/example --graph_type=schema --message='adding base schema' < schema.json

Now that we have the schema we can go ahead and submit a document. Let’s start with something simple.

					./terminusdb doc insert admin/example --message='adding Gavin' --data='{"@type" : "Person","name" : "Gavin", "occupation" : "Coder"}'

Now let’s take a look at our history:

					./terminusdb log

Date: 2022-04-25T11:02:07+00:00
Author: admin
Message: adding Gavin

Date: 2022-04-25T11:01:59+00:00
Author: admin
Message: adding base schema

Great! We’ve created a schema and inserted a document. Now that we have some new data, we can have a go at pushing.


First, let’s see what kinds of switches we have with push:

					./terminusdb push

terminusdb push DB_SPEC

Push a branch.

--help           -h  boolean=false  print help for the `push` command
--branch         -b  atom=main      set the origin branch for push
--remote-branch  -e  atom=_         set the branch on the remote for push
--remote         -r  atom=origin    the name of the remote to use
--prefixes       -x  boolean=false  send prefixes for database
--token          -t  atom=_         machine access token
--user           -u  atom=_         the user on the remote
--password       -p  atom=_         the password on the remote

Here we see that we can define a remote for the push command. Since we cloned the database, origin will already be the correct remote. We can see this by typing:

					./terminusdb remote get-url admin/example

Remote origin associated with url https://cloud.terminusdb.com/Terminators/Terminators/example

Because of this, our push command just needs our authentication token (the one we used to clone).

					./terminusdb push admin/example --token='...'

admin/example pushed: new("71030a31c7057e6cd9cb9e354ede032717023aa6")

Great! We now have our data on the TerminusX!

Managing Change

We can now go into the server and create a new Person, called Jane, through the document UI in TerminusX. Once this is done, we can then do the following:

					./terminusdb pull admin/example --token='...'
admin/example pulled: status{'api:fetch_status':true,'api:pull_status':"api:pull_fast_forwarded"}

Now we can dump the documents and see what is in there:

					./terminusdb doc get admin/example
{"@id":"Person/23d01a9462711b84029147fd0a92611174023de946e00bdc2fb79b44e25e48f5", "@type":"Person", "name":"Gavin", "occupation":"Coder"}
{"@id":"Person/c2a53dec09e9805593b978ecca7f73cecb18cddae70645e7037d202d2a9fd185", "@type":"Person", "friends": ["Person/23d01a9462711b84029147fd0a92611174023de946e00bdc2fb79b44e25e48f5" ], "name":"Jane", "occupation":"Nuclear Physicist"}

Look at that! We’ve synced our changes.

And if we look at the log…

					./terminusdb log admin/example

Date: 2022-04-25T11:52:18+00:00
Author: gavin@terminusdb.com
Message: Adding a new instance of type Person

Date: 2022-04-25T11:48:42+00:00
Author: admin
Message: adding Gavin

Date: 2022-04-25T11:48:36+00:00
Author: admin
Message: adding base schema


The CLI allows us to directly modify a store, whether the server is running or not. This is possible due to the immutable data storage approach taken in TerminusDB and is a pretty cool feature of immutability.

We can also sync these stores and keep a history of edits made remotely.

In a future article, I’ll show how we can use pull with diverging histories, for when some edits have taken place that resulted in conflicts.

Happy terminating!

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