Version 2.5 is a legacy release, and these documents are no longer being maintained.

Populate search index

AtoM maintains an Elasticsearch search index to provide fast, full-text search results with faceting.

Occasionaly it is necessary to repopulate the Elasticsearch index from the primary database, especially after operations that affect many records, e.g.

Populating the search index requires running a Symfony command line task, which is located in the root directory of the application. By default, running this task will delete the current index, then repopulate and optimize the index - though an option exists that will allow you to update the index in place, without first deleting the existing index. Depending on the number of records in your installation, this task can take a while to run - for production sites, we recommend running this task after regular business hours.

To run the task without any of the available options, enter the following in the command-line interface, in the root AtoM directory:

php symfony search:populate

You can also run php symfony help search:populate to see the available options for this command-line task:

An image of the description and options for the search:populate task

The --application and --env options should not be used - AtoM requires the uses of the pre-set defaults for Symfony to be able to execute the task.

The --slug option can be used to specify a specifc resource to be re-indexed. If the target resource is hierarchical (i.e. an archival description with lower-level children), the descendant records will also be indexed. If you don’t want lower-level records to be indexed when using this option, you can also use the --ignore-descendants option - in this case, any lower-level records below the target resource will not be re-indexed as part of the process.


  • When used the --slug option will ignore any parameters set by the --exclude types option
  • The --ignore-descendants option will only work when used in conjunction with the --slug option

The --exclude-types option can be used if you do not want to re-index certain record types. When this option is used, the existing index is not completely flushed - the current part of the index for the excluded types will be maintained, while other entities will be flushed and re-indexed. This can be useful if, for example, you have many archival descriptions (which would take a long time to re-index), but only need to re-index your authority records and/or other entities - you could then use the command with --exclude-types="informationobject and the existing index for descriptions would be maintained.

Below is a list of the types that can be excluded using this option:

You can exclude multiple types at once, by separating them with commas - don’t leave spaces between the commas. For example, to re-index your site but skip indexing terms (such as subject and place access points), authority records, and archival descriptions, you could enter the command like so:

php symfony search:populate --exclude-types="term,actor,informationobject"

The command will indicate at the beginning which types are being re-indexed, and then will output the results of indexing the remaining entities:

An image of the console output when excluding actors, terms, and information objects during a search index repopulation

You can also use the --show-types option to display the available index types prior to indexing. When run, the task will display a list of available types in your AtoM instance:

An image of the console output when showing available record types

Pressing enter will continue and run the search:populate task (with no types), or alternatively, you can exit the task by entering CTRL+C and then re-enter your parameters, using --exclude-types as needed.

Finally, the --update option can be used to update the index in place, without first deleting the existing index. The process may take slightly longer, but it can be useful for indexing on production sites, as there is no downtime for end users - without this option, no records will display in the search/browse results until indexing has completed.

Example use:

php symfony search:populate --update


The update option has been added in release 2.5.4 and later - it is not available in earlier 2.5 releases.

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