MongoDB pretty() Example

Hello readers, in this tutorial, we will see a Mongo database quick tip to print the result sets with proper formatting in the Mongo interactive shell.

1. Introduction

If you have installed the MongoDB application (version 3.6) on Windows or Ubuntu operating system and you wish to learn the pretty() method then follow the below steps. It is very simple, but before moving further let’s take a look at the Mongo database and its characteristics.

1.1 What is MongoDB?

  • MongoDB is a high-performance NoSQL database where each database has collections which in turn has documents. Each document has a different number of fields, size, content, and is stored in a JSON-like format (i.e. Binary JSON (BSN))
  • The documents in MongoDB doesn’t need to have a schema defined beforehand. Instead, the fields (i.e. records) can be created on the go
  • Data model available within the MongoDB allows developers to represent the hierarchical relationships, store arrays, and other more complex structures easily
  • This NoSQL solution often comes with embedding, auto-sharding, and onboard replication for better scalability and high availability

1.1.1 Why MongoDB?

  • As a NoSQL type database, MongoDB stores the data in the form of a document. Thus, MongoDB offers more flexibility
  • This database supports search by field-name, range queries, and the regular expressions. It often provides queries to return the particular fields inside the documents
  • MongoDB offers indexes to improve the search performance within the NoSQL database
  • To offer horizontal scalability, MongoDB uses sharding by splitting the data across the many MongoDB occurrences
  • Replication: MongoDB can give high availability with the replica sets

1.2 What is a Cursor in MongoDB?

In Mongo world, a cursor is an object that allows developers to iterate through the documents of a Mongo collection. The behavior of cursor allows an automatic iteration across the results of the query; however, developers can explicitly go through the items returned in the cursor object. The below diagram lists 4 documents where the Mongo cursor will point to the first document and then iterate through all the other documents of a collection.

Fig. 1: Pictorial representation of a Cursor in Mongo collection
Fig. 1: Pictorial representation of a Cursor in Mongo collection

1.2.1 Why Cursor in MongoDB?

Cursor offers:

  • A true snapshot of a system i.e. it returns the data in batches and increases the database performance
  • It saves system memory by allowing batch inserts and updates
  • Intelligibility and Clarity on the ad-hoc and complex queries of the sequential nature having large result sets and low consistency requirements
  • Openness to work on small batches of data as developers don’t need to wait for the processing and download of the complete record-set

2. MongoDB pretty() Example

In this tutorial, we will learn how to handle the cursor.pretty() method provided by the Mongo database.

2.1 pretty() method in the Mongo database

In the Mongo universe, the pretty() method specifies the cursor object to display the Mongo query results in an easy-to-read attractive format. The cursor.pretty() method has the following prototype form:

Mongo database ‘pretty()’ Syntax

> db.collection_name.find(<query_string>).pretty()


  • The query_string is an optional input argument that retrieves the documents from a collection on the basis of a specified choice criteria

Do remember:

  • The cursor.pretty() method beautify the JSON documents or the collections within in the Mongo shell
  • This method is not the default preference of the Mongo shell. Developers can turn it as default by adding the below code snippet to the .mongorc.js file. The Mongo query will display the updated results after the instance restart
    echo DBQuery.prototype._prettyShell = true >> <Path_to_the_file>\.mongorc.js

2.2 Practical usage

Let’s understand the implementation of this method with the help of the sample snippets.

2.2.1 Start MongoDB

Start a standalone mongod instance as shown below.

Fig. 2: Start Mongo instance
Fig. 2: Start Mongo instance

2.2.2 Connect to the Mongo Instance

Connect with the mongo shell to make a connection with the MongoDB instance on the port 27017 as shown below.

Fig. 3: Connect to Mongo database
Fig. 3: Connect to Mongo database

2.2.3 Create Mongo database and collection

To begin with the implementation, we will need to create a sample database and collection. The below script creates a database called warehouse with a collection of products. Open the Mongo terminal and execute the script.

Database & Collection creation script

> use warehouse

> db.products.insertMany( [
	{ "_id" : 5, "item" : "mango", "type" : "cortland", "cost" : 1.29, "warranty" : 1, "available" : false },
	{ "_id" : 9, "item" : "mango", "type" : "fuji", "cost" : 1.99, "warranty" : 1, "available" : false },
	{ "_id" : 7, "item" : "mango", "type" : "honey crisp", "cost" : 1.99, "warranty" : 1, "available" : true },
	{ "_id" : 10, "item" : "mango", "type" : "jonagold", "cost" : 1.29, "warranty" : 1, "available" : false },
	{ "_id" : 1, "item" : "mango", "type" : "jonathan", "cost" : 1.29, "warranty" : 1, "available" : false },
	{ "_id" : 6, "item" : "mango", "type" : "mcintosh", "cost" : 1.29, "warranty" : 1, "available" : false  },
	{ "_id" : 8, "item" : "orange", "type" : "cara", "cost" : 2.99, "warranty" : 3, "available" : true },
	{ "_id" : 4, "item" : "orange", "type" : "navel", "cost" : 1.39, "warranty" : 1, "available" : true },
	{ "_id" : 3, "item" : "orange", "type" : "satsuma", "cost" : 1.99, "warranty" : 1, "available" : false  },
	{ "_id" : 2, "item" : "orange", "type" : "valencia", "cost" : 0.99, "warranty" : 1, "available" : true }
] )

The script gives the below output.

Fig. 4: Database & Collection creation
Fig. 4: Database & Collection creation

2.2.4 Check Mongo database and collection

If the script works well, the database and the collection will be shown in the Mongo Workbench. Using the db.collection_name.find() command the documents of a collection will be shown as below.

Fig. 5: Mongo database & collection
Fig. 5: Mongo database & collection

2.2.5 Implementation of ‘pretty()’ method

Now, go back to the Mongo shell and use the pretty() method to understand it’s practical implementation in the Mongo world. The below example specifies the pretty() method to display the results in a formatted way that is easy for the humans to parse.

Query 1

> db.products.find().pretty()

The Query 1 snippet will return the following Mongo documents as shown in Fig. 6.

Fig. 6: Mongo database pretty() method
Fig. 6: Mongo database pretty() method

Let’s say developers want to return the documents by specifying a query string. They can do this by simply appending the query_string in the find() method. The following Mongo database command can be used.

Query 2

> db.products.find( { "item" : "orange" } ).pretty()

The Query 2 snippet will return the Mongo documents from the products collection that matches the specified choice criteria as shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7: Mongo database pretty() method with a Search query
Fig. 7: Mongo database pretty() method with a Search query

That’s all for this post. Happy Learning!!

3. Conclusion

In this tutorial, we learned about the pretty() method of the Mongo database. Developers can download the sample commands in the Downloads section.

4. Download the Eclipse Project

This was an example of the pretty() method available in the Mongo database.

You can download the full source code of this example here: CodeSnippet

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4 years ago

Thank you for sharing this information with us. After reading this article I realised How little I know about Mongodb. I like the details information you gave us about the mongodba. Thanks for sharing.

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