Reactive Scala Driver for MongoDB

Asynchronous & Non-Blocking

The ReactiveMongo Play JSON library provides a JSON serialization pack for ReactiveMongo, based on the Play Framework JSON library.


You can setup this serialization pack by adding the following dependency in your project/Build.scala (or build.sbt).

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  "org.reactivemongo" %% "reactivemongo-play-json" % "0.20.13-play27"

Maven Central Build Status Test coverage

If the dependency for the Play plugin (with the right version) is present, it already provides the JSON support and this JSON serialization pack must not be added as a separate dependency.

Then, the following code enables this JSON serialization pack.


API documentations: ReactiveMongo Play JSON API

If you want to use this JSON serialization outside of Play application, the dependency to the standalone Play JSON library must then be added: "" %% "play-json" % version.

Documents and values

There is one Play JSON class for most of the BSON types, from the play.api.libs.json package:

All these JSON types extend JsValue, thus any JSON value can be converted to an appropriate BSON value.

This serialization is based on the MongoDB Extension JSON syntax (e.g. { "$oid": "<id>" } for a Object ID):

BSONDocument JsObject
BSONArray JsArray
BSONBinary JsObject with a $binary JsString field containing the value in hexadecimal representation
BSONBoolean JsBoolean
BSONDBPointer No JSON type
BSONDateTime JsObject with a $date JsNumber field with the timestamp (milliseconds) as value
BSONDouble JsNumber or JsObject with $numberDouble value
BSONInteger JsNumber or JsObject with $numberInt value
BSONJavaScript JsObject with a $javascript JsString value representing the JavaScript code
BSONLong JsNumber or JsObject with $numberLong value
BSONMaxKey JsObject as constant { "$maxKey": 1 }
BSONMinKey JsObject as constant { "$minKey": 1 }
BSONNull No JSON type
BSONObjectID JsObject with a $oid JsString field with the stringified ID as value
BSONRegex JsObject with a $regex JsString field with the regular expression, and optionally an $options JsString field with the regex flags (e.g. "i" for case insensitive)
BSONString JsString
BSONSymbol JsObject with a $symbol JsString field with the symbol name as value
BSONTimestamp JsObject with a $timestamp nested object having a t and a i JsNumber fields
BSONUndefined JsObject of the form { "$undefined": true }

Furthermore, the whole library is articulated around the concept of Writes and Reads. These are typeclasses whose purpose is to serialize/deserialize objects of arbitrary types into/from JSON.

Using that, any type that can be serialized as JSON can be also be serialized as BSON.

A document is represented by JsObject, which is basically an immutable list of key-value pairs. Since it is the most used JSON type when working with MongoDB, the ReactiveMongo Play JSON library handles such JsObjects as seamless as possible. The encoding of such JSON object needs an instance of the typeclass OWrites (a Writes specialized for object).

The default JSON serialization can also be customized, using the functions BSONFormats.readAsBSONValue and BSONFormats.writeAsJsValue.

JSON collections

This library provides a specialized collection reference called JSONCollection that deals naturally with JsValue and JsObject. Thanks to it, you can fetch documents from MongoDB in the Play JSON format, transform them by removing and/or adding some properties, and send them to the client.

import scala.concurrent.{ ExecutionContext, Future }
import play.api.libs.json._

import reactivemongo.api.{ Cursor, ReadPreference }
import, collection._

def jsonFind(coll: JSONCollection)(implicit ec: ExecutionContext): Future[List[JsObject]] =
  coll.find(Json.obj()).sort(Json.obj("updated" -> -1)).
    collect[List](-1, Cursor.FailOnError[List[JsObject]]())

Even better, when a client sends a JSON document, you can validate it and transform it before saving it into a MongoDB collection (coast-to-coast approach).

JSON cursors

The support of Play JSON for ReactiveMongo provides some extensions of the result cursors, as .jsArray() to read underlying data as a JSON array.

import scala.concurrent.Future

import play.api.libs.json._
import play.api.libs.concurrent.Execution.Implicits.defaultContext

import reactivemongo.api.ReadPreference
  JSONCollection, JsCursor
}, JsCursor._

def jsAll(collection: JSONCollection): Future[JsArray] = {
  type ResultType = JsObject // any type which is provided a `Writes[T]`


In the previous example, the function jsAll will return a JSON array containing all the documents of the given collection (as JSON objects).


There are some helpers coming along with the JSON support.

import scala.concurrent.Future


// Import a list of JSON objects as documents into the JSON `collection`,
// and returns the insertion count.
def importJson(collection: JSONCollection, resource: String): Future[Int] =
  Helpers.bulkInsert(collection, getClass.getResourceAsStream(resource)).

As illustrated by the previous example, the function Helpers.bulkInsert provides a JSON import feature.

Run a raw command

The command API can be used with the JSON serialization to execution a JSON object as a raw command.

import scala.concurrent.{ ExecutionContext, Future }

import play.api.libs.json.{ JsObject, Json }


import reactivemongo.api.{ ReadPreference, FailoverStrategy }
import reactivemongo.api.commands.Command

def rawResult(db: reactivemongo.api.DefaultDB)(implicit ec: ExecutionContext): Future[JsObject] = {
  val commandDoc = Json.obj(
    "aggregate" -> "orders", // we aggregate on collection `orders`
    "pipeline" -> List(
      Json.obj("$match" -> Json.obj("status" -> "A")),
        "$group" -> Json.obj(
          "_id" -> "$cust_id",
          "total" -> Json.obj("$sum" -> "$amount"))),
      Json.obj("$sort" -> Json.obj("total" -> -1))
  val runner =, FailoverStrategy())

  runner.apply(db, runner.rawCommand(commandDoc)).


If the following error is raised;

No Json serializer as JsObject found for type play.api.libs.json.JsObject.
Try to implement an implicit OWrites or OFormat for this type.

It’s necessary to make sure the right imports are there.

// import the default BSON/JSON conversions

If the following error is raised;

Error:(X, Y) type mismatch;
  found   : reactivemongo.api.bson.collection.BSONCollection
  required: ... ...

It’s necessary to also make sure the right imports are there.


Next: Integration with Play Framework

Suggest changes