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Plugin Development - Custom Entities



Your plugin might need to store more than its configuration in the database. In that case, Kong provides you with an abstraction on top of its primary datastores which allows you to store custom entities.

As explained in the previous chapter, Kong interacts with the model layer through classes we refer to as "DAOs", and available on a singleton often refered to as the "DAO Factory". This chapter will explain how to to provide an abstraction for your own entities.

Create a migration file

Once you have defined your model, you must create your migration modules which will be executed by Kong to create the table in which your records of your entity will be stored. A migration file simply holds an array of migrations, and returns them.

Since Kong 0.8.0, both Cassandra and PostgreSQL are supported, which requires that your plugin implements its migrations for both databases.

Each migration must bear a unique name, and up and down fields. Such fields can either be strings of SQL/CQL queries for simple migrations, or actual Lua code to execute for complex ones. The up field will be executed when Kong migrates forward. It must bring your database's schema to the latest state required by your plugin. The down field must execute the necessary actions to revert your schema to its previous state, before up was ran.

One of the main benefits of this approach is should you need to release a new version of your plugin that modifies a model, you can simply add new migrations to the array before releasing your plugin. Another benefit is that it is also possible to revert such migrations.

As described in the file structure chapter, your migrations modules must be named:


Here is an example of how one would define a migration file to store API keys:

-- cassandra.lua
return {
    name = "2015-07-31-172400_init_keyauth",
    up =  [[
      CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS keyauth_credentials(
        id uuid,
        consumer_id uuid,
        key text,
        created_at timestamp,
        PRIMARY KEY (id)

      CREATE INDEX IF NOT EXISTS ON keyauth_credentials(key);
      CREATE INDEX IF NOT EXISTS keyauth_consumer_id ON keyauth_credentials(consumer_id);
    down = [[
      DROP TABLE keyauth_credentials;
-- postgres.lua
return {
    name = "2015-07-31-172400_init_keyauth",
    up = [[
      CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS keyauth_credentials(
        id uuid,
        consumer_id uuid REFERENCES consumers (id) ON DELETE CASCADE,
        key text UNIQUE,
        created_at timestamp without time zone default (CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(0) at time zone 'utc'),
        PRIMARY KEY (id)

      DO $$
        IF (SELECT to_regclass('public.keyauth_key_idx')) IS NULL THEN
          CREATE INDEX keyauth_key_idx ON keyauth_credentials(key);
        END IF;
        IF (SELECT to_regclass('public.keyauth_consumer_idx')) IS NULL THEN
          CREATE INDEX keyauth_consumer_idx ON keyauth_credentials(consumer_id);
        END IF;
    down = [[
      DROP TABLE keyauth_credentials;
  • name: Must be a unique string. The format does not matter but can help you debug issues while developing your plugin, so make sure to name it in a relevant way.
  • up: Executed when Kong migrates forward.
  • down: Executed when Kong migrates backward.

While Postgres does, Cassandra does not support constraints such as "NOT NULL", "UNIQUE" or "FOREIGN KEY", but Kong provides you with such features when you define your model's schema. bear in mind that this schema will be the same for both PostgreSQL and Cassandra, hence, you might trade-off a pure SQL schema for one that works with Cassandra too.

Retrieve your custom DAO from the Dao Factory

To make the DAO Factory load your custom DAO(s), you will simply need to define your entity's schema (just like the schemas describing your plugin configuration). This schema contains a few more values since it must describes which table the entity relates to in the datastore, constraints on its fields such as foreign keys, non-null constraints and such.

This schema is to be defined in a module named:


Once that module returns your entity's schema, and assuming your plugin is loaded by Kong (see the custom_plugins property in kong.yml), the DAO Factory will use it to instanciate a DAO object (see kong.dao).

Here is an example of how one would define a schema to store API keys in a his or her database:

-- daos.lua
local SCHEMA = {
  primary_key = {"id"},
  table = "keyauth_credentials", -- the actual table in the database
  fields = {
    id = {type = "id", dao_insert_value = true}, -- a value to be inserted by the DAO itself (think of serial ID and the uniqueness of such required here)
    created_at = {type = "timestamp", immutable = true, dao_insert_value = true}, -- also interted by the DAO itself
    consumer_id = {type = "id", required = true, foreign = "consumers:id"}, -- a foreign key to a Consumer's id
    key = {type = "string", required = false, unique = true} -- a unique API key

return {keyauth_credentials = SCHEMA} -- this plugin only results in one custom DAO, named `keyauth_credentials`

Since your plugin might have to deal with multiple custom DAOs (in the case when you want to store several entities), this module is bound to return a key/value table where keys are the name on which the custom DAO will be available in the DAO Factory.

You will have noticed a few new properties in the schema definition (compared to your schema.lua file):

Property name Lua type Description
primary_key Integer indexed table An array of each part of your column family's primary key. It also supports composite keys, even if all Kong entities currently use a simple id for usability of the Admin API. If your primary key is composite, only include what makes your partition key.
fields.*.dao_insert_value Boolean If true, specifies that this field is to be automatically populated by the DAO (in the base_dao implementation) depending on it's type. A property of type id will be a generated uuid, and timestamp a timestamp with second-precision.
fields.*.queryable Boolean If true, specifies that Cassandra maintains an index on the specified column. This allows for querying the column family filtered by this column.
fields.*.foreign String Specifies that this column is a foreign key to another entity's column. The format is: dao_name:column_name. This makes it up for Cassandra not supporting foreign keys. When the parent row will be deleted, Kong will also delete rows containing the parent's column value.

Your DAO will now be loaded by the DAO Factory and available as one of its properties:

local singletons = require "kong.singletons"
local dao_factory = singletons.dao

local keys_dao = dao_factory.keyauth_credentials

local key_credential, err = keys_dao:insert({
  consumer_id =,
  key = "abcd"

The DAO name (keyauth_credentials) with which it is accessible from the DAO Factory depends on the key with which you exported your DAO in the returned table of daos.lua.

Caching custom entities

Sometimes custom entities are required on every request/response, which in turn triggers a query on the datastore every time. This is very inefficient because querying the datastore adds latency and slows the request/response down, and the resulting increased load on the datastore could affect the datastore performance itself and, in turn, other Kong nodes.

When a custom entity is required on every request/response it is good practice to cache it in-memory by leveraging the in-memory cache API that Kong provides.

The next chapter will focus on caching custom entities, and invalidating them when they change in the datastore: Caching custom entities.

Next: Caching custom entities ›

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