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$slice (projection)

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$slice

The $slice projection operator specifies the number of elements in an array to return in the query result.

Note
Disambiguation

For information on limiting the size of an array during an update with $push, see the $slice modifier instead.

For aggregation operator, see $slice aggregation operator instead.

The $slice has one of the following syntax forms:

db.collection.find(
<query>,
{ <arrayField>: { $slice: <number> } }
);

or

db.collection.find(
<query>,
{ <arrayField>: { $slice: [ <number>, <number> ] } }
);
Value
Description
$slice: <number>

Specifies the number of elements to return in the <arrayField>. For <number>:

  • Specify a positive number n to return the first n elements.
  • Specify a negative number n to return the last n elements.

If the <number> is greater than the number of array elements, the query returns all array elements.

$slice: [ <number to skip>, <number to return> ]

Specifies the number of elements to return in the <arrayField> after skipping the specified number of elements starting from the first element. You must specify both elements.

For the <number to skip>:

  • Specify a positive number n to skip n elements from the start of the array; i.e. 0th index position. Based on a zero-based array index, 1 indicates the starting position of the 2nd element, etc. If n is greater than the number of array elements, the query returns an empty array for the <arrayField>.
  • Specify a negative number n to skip backward n elements from the start of the array; i.e. 0th index position Based on a zero-based array index (i.e. the first element is at index 0), -1 indicates the starting position of the last element, etc. If the absolute value of the negative number is greater than the number of array elements, the starting position is the start of the array.

For the <number to return>, you must specify a positive number n to return the next n elements, starting after skipping the specified number.

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, the $slice projection of an array in an nested document no longer returns the other fields in the nested document when the projection is part of an inclusion projection.

For example, consider a collection inventory with documents that contain a size field:

{ item: "socks", qty: 100, details: { colors: [ "blue", "red" ], sizes: [ "S", "M", "L"] } }

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, the following operation projects the _id field (by default), the qty field, and the details field with just the specified slice of the colors array:

db.inventory.find( { }, { qty: 1, "details.colors": { $slice: 1 } } )

That is, the operation returns the following document:

{ "_id" : ObjectId("5ee92a6ec644acb6d13eedb1"), "qty" : 100, "details" : { "colors" : [ "blue" ] } }

If the $slice projection is part of an exclusion projection, the operation continues to return the other fields in the nested document. That is, the following projection is an exclusion projection. The projection excludes the _id field and the elements in the colors array that fall outside the specified slice and returns all other fields.

db.inventory.find( { }, { _id: 0, "details.colors": { $slice: 1 } } )
{ "item" : "socks", "qty" : 100, "details" : { "colors" : [ "blue" ], "sizes" : [ "S", "M", "L" ] } }

The $slice projection by itself is considered an exclusion.

In previous versions, the $slice projection also include the other fields in the nested document regardless of whether the projection is an inclusion or an exclusion.

db.collection.find() operations on views do not support $slice projection operator.

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, find and findAndModify projection cannot include $slice projection expression as part of a $ projection expression.

For example, starting in MongoDB 4.4, the following operation is invalid:

db.inventory.find( { "instock.qty": { $gt: 25 } }, { "instock.$": { $slice: 1 } } ) // Invalid starting in 4.4

MongoDB already has a restriction where top-level field names cannot start with the dollar sign ($).

In previous versions, MongoDB returns the first element (instock.$) in the instock array that matches the query condition; i.e. the positional projection "instock.$" takes precedence and the $slice:1 is a no-op. The "instock.$": { $slice: 1 } does not exclude any other document field.

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, find and findAndModify projection cannot contain both a $slice of an array and a field embedded in the array.

For example, consider a collection inventory that contains an array field instock:

{ ..., instock: [ { warehouse: "A", qty: 35 }, { warehouse: "B", qty: 15 }, { warehouse: "C", qty: 35 } ], ... }

Starting in MongoDB 4.4, the following operation fails with a Path collision error:

db.inventory.find( {}, { "instock": { $slice: 1 }, "instock.warehouse": 0 } ) // Invalid starting in 4.4

In previous versions, the projection applies both projections and returns the first element ($slice: 1) in the instock array but suppresses the warehouse field in the projected element. Starting in MongoDB 4.4, to achieve the same result, use the db.collection.aggregate() method with two separate $project stages.

Tip
See also:

Create an example collection posts with the following documents:

db.posts.insertMany([
{
_id: 1,
title: "Bagels are not croissants.",
comments: [ { comment: "0. true" }, { comment: "1. croissants aren't bagels."} ]
},
{
_id: 2,
title: "Coffee please.",
comments: [ { comment: "0. fooey" }, { comment: "1. tea please" }, { comment: "2. iced coffee" }, { comment: "3. cappuccino" }, { comment: "4. whatever" } ]
}
])

The following operation uses the $slice projection operator on the comments array to return the array with its first three elements. If the array has less than three elements, all elements in the array are returned.

db.posts.find( {}, { comments: { $slice: 3 } } )

The operation returns the following documents:

{
"_id" : 1,
"title" : "Bagels are not croissants.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "0. true" }, { "comment" : "1. croissants aren't bagels." } ]
}
{
"_id" : 2,
"title" : "Coffee please.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "0. fooey" }, { "comment" : "1. tea please" }, { "comment" : "2. iced coffee" } ]
}

The following operation uses the $slice projection operator on the comments array to return the array with its last three elements. If the array has less than three elements, all elements in the array are returned.

db.posts.find( {}, { comments: { $slice: -3 } } )

The operation returns the following documents:

{
"_id" : 1,
"title" : "Bagels are not croissants.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "0. true" }, { "comment" : "1. croissants aren't bagels." } ]
}
{
"_id" : 2,
"title" : "Coffee please.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "2. iced coffee" }, { "comment" : "3. cappuccino" }, { "comment" : "4. whatever" } ]
}

The following operation uses the $slice projection operator on the comments array to:

  • Skip the first element such that the second element is the starting point.
  • Then, return three elements from the starting point.

If the array has less than three elements after the skip, all remaining elements are returned.

db.posts.find( {}, { comments: { $slice: [ 1, 3 ] } } )

The operation returns the following documents:

{
"_id" : 1,
"title" : "Bagels are not croissants.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "1. croissants aren't bagels." } ]
}
{
"_id" : 2,
"title" : "Coffee please.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "1. tea please" }, { "comment" : "2. iced coffee" }, { "comment" : "3. cappuccino" } ]
}

The following operation uses the $slice projection operator on the comments array to

  • Skip backwards from the first element such that the last element is the starting point.
  • Then, return three elements from the starting point.

If the array has less than three elements after the skip, all remaining elements in the array are returned.

db.posts.find( {}, { comments: { $slice: [ -1, 3 ] } } )

The operation returns the following documents:

{
"_id" : 1,
"title" : "Bagels are not croissants.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "1. croissants aren't bagels." } ]
}
{
"_id" : 2,
"title" : "Coffee please.",
"comments" : [ { "comment" : "4. whatever" } ]
}
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