Skip to content

Set Expressions

OneTable set expressions are a powerful way to express DynamoDB update expressions. DynamoDB ExpressionAttributeNames and Values are one of the least fun parts of DynamoDB. OneTable makes this much easier via the use of templated set clauses to express complex update expressions.

A set clause may be used with the update API to specify an Update expression. OneTable will parse the set clause and extract the names and values to use with the DynamoDB API.

For example:

const schema = {
    version: '0.0.1',
    indexes: {
        primary: {hash: 'pk', sort: 'sk'},
    models: {
        User: {
            pk: { type: String, value: '${_type}#' },
            sk: { type: String, value: '${_type}#${email}' },
            email: { type: String, required: true },
            addresses: { type: Array, default: [] }
    } as const,

//  Create a user without an address
let users = await User.create({email: ''}

//  Set the first address
let user = await User.update({email: ''}, {
    set: {'address[0]': '1212 Cherry Tree Lane'},

//  Append further addresses
user = await User.update({email:}, {
    set: {addresses: 'list_append(addresses, @{newAddress})'},
    substitutions: {
        newAddress: ['25 Mayfair cresent']

OneTable will extract property names defined inside ${} braces, variable substitutions in @{} braces and values inside {} braces and will automatically define your update expression and the required ExpressionAttributeNames and ExpressionAttributeValues.

If a value inside {} is a number, it will be typed as a number for DynamoDB. To force a value to be treated as a string, wrap it in quotes, for example: {"42"}.

Note: the property name is an unmapped schema property name and not a mapped attribute name.

The use of @{} substitutions is required when using list_append.

See also Where Clauses for using Filter Expressions with similar syntax.

See the AWS Update Expression Reference for more details.