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Model Data for Atomic Operations

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Although MongoDB supports multi-document transactions starting in version 4.0, for many scenarios, the denormalized data model, as discussed on this page, will continue to be optimal for your data and use cases.

Pattern

In MongoDB, a write operation on a single document is atomic. For fields that must be updated together, embedding the fields within the same document ensures that the fields can be updated atomically.

For example, consider a situation where you need to maintain information on books, including the number of copies available for checkout as well as the current checkout information.

The available copies of the book and the checkout information should be in sync. As such, embedding the available field and the checkout field within the same document ensures that you can update the two fields atomically.

{
    _id: 123456789,
    title: "MongoDB: The Definitive Guide",
    author: [ "Kristina Chodorow", "Mike Dirolf" ],
    published_date: ISODate("2010-09-24"),
    pages: 216,
    language: "English",
    publisher_id: "oreilly",
    available: 3,
    checkout: [ { by: "joe", date: ISODate("2012-10-15") } ]
}

Then to update with new checkout information, you can use the db.collection.updateOne() method to atomically update both the available field and the checkout field:

db.books.updateOne (
   { _id: 123456789, available: { $gt: 0 } },
   {
     $inc: { available: -1 },
     $push: { checkout: { by: "abc", date: new Date() } }
   }
)

The operation returns a document that contains information on the status of the operation:

{ "acknowledged" : true, "matchedCount" : 1, "modifiedCount" : 1 }

The matchedCount field shows that 1 document matched the update condition, and modifiedCount shows that the operation updated 1 document.

If no document matched the update condition, then matchedCount and modifiedCount would be 0 and would indicate that you could not check out the book.