What Scripting Language Does Elasticsearch Use?


Larry Thompson

Elasticsearch is a powerful search and analytics engine that is widely used for storing, searching, and analyzing large volumes of data. It is an open-source project built on top of Apache Lucene, which provides full-text search capabilities.

To interact with Elasticsearch, you can use various scripting languages. In this article, we will explore the scripting languages supported by Elasticsearch and how they can be used.

The Default Scripting Language

By default, Elasticsearch uses a scripting language called Painless. Painless is specifically designed to be secure and efficient while providing a simple syntax for writing scripts. It aims to strike a balance between ease of use and performance.

Why Painless?

Painless was introduced as the default scripting language in Elasticsearch 5.0 to replace the previously used Groovy language. Groovy had some security concerns due to its dynamic nature, which led to the development of a new scripting language with better security features.

One of the key advantages of Painless is its sandboxed execution environment, which ensures that untrusted scripts cannot access or modify sensitive resources on the host machine. This makes it safe to execute user-generated scripts within Elasticsearch.

Other Supported Languages

In addition to Painless, Elasticsearch also supports other scripting languages:

  • Groovy: Although no longer the default, you can still use Groovy as a scripting language in Elasticsearch if needed. However, it’s important to note that using Groovy introduces potential security risks due to its dynamic nature.
  • Java: You can write scripts in Java using Elasticsearch’s Script API.

    This gives you full access to the Java ecosystem but requires more effort compared to using Painless or Groovy.

  • Python: Elasticsearch provides a plugin called “lang-python” that enables you to write scripts in Python. This can be useful if you are more comfortable with Python or have existing scripts written in Python that you want to leverage.

Using Scripting Languages in Elasticsearch

Scripts can be used in various contexts within Elasticsearch, such as:

  • Querying: You can use scripting languages to customize search queries, filter results, or modify the scoring of search results.
  • Aggregations: Scripts allow you to perform custom calculations and transformations on aggregated data.
  • Ingest pipelines: Elasticsearch’s ingest feature allows you to preprocess documents before they are indexed. Scripts can be used within ingest pipelines to perform complex transformations on the incoming data.

The ability to use scripting languages gives you tremendous flexibility in manipulating data and tailoring Elasticsearch to your specific needs.


Elasticsearch uses Painless as its default scripting language due to its improved security features and performance. However, other scripting languages like Groovy, Java, and Python are also supported. Understanding the available scripting options allows you to harness the full power of Elasticsearch and extend its capabilities beyond its out-of-the-box functionality.

Elasticsearch’s support for multiple scripting languages empowers developers with different language preferences and requirements to effectively work with the search engine. Whether it’s using Painless for simplicity and security or leveraging more advanced languages like Java or Python, there is a solution for every use case when it comes to scripting in Elasticsearch.

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