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The examples below will be updated with your app ID.


Writing data

Instant uses a Firebase-inspired interface for mutations. We call our mutation language InstaML


We use the update action to create entities.

db.transact([tx.goals[id()].update({ title: 'eat' })]);

This creates a new goal with the following properties:

  • It's identified by a randomly generated id via the id() function.
  • It has an attribute title with value eat.

Similar to NoSQL, you don't need to use the same schema for each entity in a namespace. After creating the previous goal you can run the following:

    priority: 'none',
    isSecret: true,
    value: 10,
    aList: [1, 2, 3],
    anObject: { foo: 'bar' },

You can store strings, numbers, booleans, arrays, and objects as values. You can also generate values via functions. Below is an example for picking a random goal title.

    title: ['eat', 'sleep', 'hack', 'repeat'][Math.floor(Math.random() * 4)],

The update action is also used for updating entities. Suppose we had created the following goal

const eatId = id();
  tx.goals[eatId].update({ priority: 'top', lastTimeEaten: 'Yesterday' }),

We eat some food and decide to update the goal. We can do that like so:

db.transact([tx.goals[eatId].update({ lastTimeEaten: 'Today' })]);

This will only update the value of the lastTimeEaten attribute for entity eat.


When you use update, you overwrite the entire entity. This is fine for updating values of strings, numbers, and booleans. But if you use update to overwrite json objects you may encounter two problems:

  1. You lose any data you didn't specify.
  2. You risk clobbering over changes made by other clients.

To make working with deeply-nested, document-style JSON values a breeze, we created merge. Similar to lodash's merge function, merge allows you to specify the slice of data you want to update.

// We have a 4x4 tile clicking game with different colors
// and we want to update a specific cell in the game
// from blue to red
const game = {
  '0-0': 'red',
  '0-1': 'blue',
  '0-2': 'green',
  '0-3': 'green',
  '1-0': 'green',
  '1-1': 'red',
  '1-2': 'blue',
  '1-3': 'green',
  '2-0': 'green',
  '2-1': 'green',
  '2-2': 'red',
  '2-3': 'blue',
  '3-0': 'blue',
  '3-1': 'blue',
  '3-2': 'green',
  '3-3': 'red',

const boardId = '83c059e2-ed47-42e5-bdd9-6de88d26c521';
const row = 0;
const col = 1;
const myColor = 'red';

// ✅✅ Use `merge`
// With `merge` we can specify the exact cell we want to update
// and only send that data to the server. This way we don't risk
// overwriting other changes made by other clients.
    state: {
      [`${row}-${col}`]: myColor,

merge only merges objects. Calling merge on arrays, numbers, or booleans will overwrite the values.

// Initial state:  {num: 1, arr: [1, 2, 3], bool: true, text: 'hello', obj: {a: 1, b: 2}}
const randomId = '83c059e2-ed47-42e5-bdd9-6de88d26c521';
  tx.keys[randomId].merge({ state: { num: 2 } }), // will overwrite num from 1 -> 2
  tx.keys[randomId].merge({ state: { arr: [4] }), // will overwrite arr from [1, 2, 3] -> [4]
  tx.keys[randomId].merge({ state: { bool: false } }), // will overwrite bool from true -> false
  tx.keys[randomId].merge({ state: { text: 'world' } }), // will overwrite text from 'hello' -> 'world'
  tx.keys[randomId].merge({ state: { obj: { c: 3 } } }), // will merge obj from {a: 1, b: 2} -> {a: 1, b: 2, c: 3}

Sometimes you may want to remove keys from a nested object. You can do so by calling merge with a key set to null or undefined. This will remove the corresponding property from the object.

// Initial state: { obj: { a: 1, b: 2 } }
const randomId = '83c059e2-ed47-42e5-bdd9-6de88d26c521';
  tx.keys[randomId].merge({ state: { obj: { a: null } } }), // will delete key `a` from `state.obj`
// End state: { obj: { b: 2 } }
// `state.obj.a` has been removed


The delete action is used for deleting entities.


You can generate an array of delete txs to delete all entities in a namespace

const { isLoading, error, data } = db.useQuery({goals: {}}
const { goals } = data;
db.transact(goals.map(g => tx.goals[g.id].delete()));

Calling delete on an entity also deletes its associations. So no need to worry about cleaning up previously created links.

link is used to create associations.

Suppose we create a goal and a todo.

  tx.todos[workoutId].update({ title: 'Go on a run' }),
  tx.goals[healthId].update({ title: 'Get fit!' }),

We can associate healthId with workoutId like so:

db.transact([tx.goals[healthId].link({ todos: workoutId })]);

We could have done all this in one transact too via chaining transaction chunks.

  tx.todos[workoutId].update({ title: 'Go on a run' }),
  tx.goals[healthId].update({ title: 'Get fit!' }).link({ todos: workoutId }),

You can specify multiple ids in one link as well:

  tx.todos[workoutId].update({ title: 'Go on a run' }),
  tx.todos[proteinId].update({ title: 'Drink protein' }),
  tx.todos[sleepId].update({ title: 'Go to bed early' }),
    .update({ title: 'Get fit!' })
    .link({ todos: [workoutId, proteinId, sleepId] }),

Links are bi-directional. Say we link healthId to workoutId

db.transact([tx.goals[healthId].link({ todos: workoutId })]);

We can query associations in both directions

const { isLoading, error, data } = db.useQuery({
  goals: { todos: {} },
  todos: { goals: {} },

const { goals, todos } = data;
console.log('goals with nested todos', goals);
console.log('todos with nested goals', todos);

Links can be removed via unlink.

db.transact([tx.goals[healthId].unlink({ todos: workoutId })]);

This removes links in both directions. Unlinking can be done in either direction so unlinking workoutId from healthId would have the same effect.

db.transact([tx.todos[workoutId].unlink({ goals: healthId })]);

We can unlink multiple ids too:

  tx.goals[healthId].unlink({ todos: [workoutId, proteinId, sleepId] }),
  tx.goals[workId].unlink({ todos: [standupId, reviewPRsId, focusId] }),


If your entity has a unique attribute, you can use lookup in place of the id to perform updates.

import { lookup } from '@instantdb/core';

  tx.users[lookup('email', 'max@example.com')].update({ name: 'Max' }),

The lookup function takes the attribute as its first argument and the unique attribute value as its second argument.

When it is used in a transaction, the updates will be applied to the entity that has the unique value. If no entity has the value, then a new entity with a random id will be created with the value.

It can be used with update, delete, merge, link, and unlink.

When used with links, it can also be used in place of the linked entity's id.

  tx.users[lookup('email', 'max@example.com')].link({
    posts: lookup('number', 15),


tx is a proxy object which creates transaction chunks to be commited via db.transact. It follows the format

  • NAMESPACE_LABEL refers to the namespace to commit (e.g. goals, todos)
  • GLOBAL_UNIQUE_IDENTIFER is the id to look up in the namespace. This id must be a uuid and unique across all namespaces. You can use the id() function to generate a uuid for convenience.
  • ACTION is one of update, delete, link, unlink
  • ACTION_SPECIFIC_DATA depends on the action
    • update takes in an object of information to commit
    • delete is the only aciton that doesn't take in any data,
    • link and unlink takes an object of label-entity pairs to create/delete associations

More features to come!

Similar to InstaQL, We're actively building more features for InstaML. We love getting requests for new features!