What Is Lua Scripting in Redis?


Scott Campbell

Lua scripting is an integral part of Redis, a powerful in-memory data structure store. It allows users to extend Redis functionality by providing a way to execute custom scripts directly on the server. These scripts are written in the Lua programming language and can be executed atomically.

Lua scripting in Redis offers several benefits. Firstly, it allows for complex operations to be performed with minimal network overhead. By executing scripts on the server, multiple commands can be combined into a single atomic operation, reducing the number of round-trips needed and improving overall performance.

Redis Lua Scripting Basics

To start using Lua scripting in Redis, you need to invoke the `EVAL` command followed by the Lua script itself. The script is passed as a string argument along with any required parameters. The general syntax of the `EVAL` command is as follows:

EVAL script numkeys key [key ..] arg [arg .]

Here, `script` represents the Lua script itself, `numkeys` specifies the number of keys accessed by the script, and `key` represents these keys. Any additional arguments required by the script can be passed after the keys.

Suppose we have a simple Lua script that increments a counter stored in Redis:

local current = redis.call('GET', KEYS[1])
local updated = tonumber(current) + 1
redis.call('SET', KEYS[1], updated)
return updated

To execute this script using Redis’ Lua scripting support, we would use the following command:

EVAL "local current = redis.call('GET', KEYS[1])\nlocal updated = tonumber(current) + 1\nredis.call('SET', KEYS[1], updated)\nreturn updated" 1 counter

In this example, we pass `”local current = redis.call(‘SET’, KEYS[1], updated)\nreturn updated”` as the script argument, and `1` as the number of keys accessed (in this case, the key “counter”).

  • Scripting with Redis Keys
  • Redis Lua scripts can access and manipulate Redis keys. These keys are passed as arguments to the `EVAL` command, and within the script, they can be accessed using the `KEYS` array.

    For example, let’s consider a scenario where we have two keys: “username” and “email”. We can access these keys inside a Lua script as follows:

    local username = redis.call('GET', KEYS[1])
    local email = redis.call('GET', KEYS[2])

    Here, `KEYS[1]` refers to the first key (“username”) and `KEYS[2]` refers to the second key (“email”).

    It is important to note that Redis keys within a Lua script are treated as read-only. Attempting to modify or delete a key will result in an error.

  • Executing Redis Commands
  • Inside a Lua script, you can execute Redis commands using the `redis.call()` function. This function takes the command name as its first argument and any additional arguments required by that command.

    For example, to set a value in Redis using Lua scripting, we can use the following code:

    redis.call('SET', 'key', 'value')

    Here, we call the `SET` command with two arguments: the key (“key”) and its corresponding value (“value”).

    Similarly, other Redis commands like GET, INCRBY, LPUSH, etc., can be executed using `redis.call()` within the Lua script.

  • Scripting with Redis Transactions
  • Lua scripting in Redis supports transactions. By wrapping a sequence of commands within a Lua script, you can ensure the atomic execution of these commands.

    To start a transaction in Lua scripting, you can use the `redis.call(‘MULTI’)` command. After that, you can execute multiple Redis commands as part of the transaction. Finally, to commit the transaction and execute all the commands atomically, use `redis.call(‘EXEC’)`.

    For example:

    redis.call('SET', 'key1', 'value1')
    redis.call('SET', 'key2', 'value2')
    local results = redis.call('EXEC')

    In this example, both `SET` commands will be executed atomically as part of a single transaction.


    Redis Lua scripting is a powerful tool that allows for advanced operations to be performed within Redis itself. By providing atomicity and reducing network overhead, it improves performance and simplifies complex operations.

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