API Access and Search

API Access and Search

API Access

When you run Kosh, your data is first parsed and indexed by Elasticsearch (opens in a new tab). After your data has been processed, two APIs (both REST and GraphQL) are deployed which provide access to it.

You can inspect the API endpoints through Swagger (opens in a new tab) for the REST API and GraphiQL (opens in a new tab) for the GraphQL API.


For each data module, Kosh creates two endpoints: entries and ids.

entries lets you query items based on a search string. It returns all items (and their properties) that match your query. You will find an in-depth look at how search works below.

ids returns the items matching the requested IDs.

After deploying Kosh locally, you can access each data module's contents at the following address, swapping [your_index_name_here] for the real index name of that module:


That link will also lead you to the Swagger UI where you can experiment with queries and check which parameters are required. Data is served as JSON.


GraphQL offers only one endpoint but two query fields: entries and ids.

As described above, they provide you with the means to either search items based on an arbitrary search string or to pull out specific items based on their ID.

After deploying Kosh locally, you can access each data module through GraphQL by using the following endpoint:


There, you can also use the GraphiQL "playground" to experiment with queries, with the added benefit of error highlighting and auto-completion.


The most important functionality of a digital dictionary is to provide an efficient search system. Therefore, at the core of the Kosh system is Elasticsearch, an open-source search engine that is fast and designed to scale with little effort.


Regardless of the API you are using, the basic structure of your search query and the data you get in return are the same. The difference between both APIs is that in GraphQL, you have to specify which fields should be returned.

Besides the fields that you have explicitly configured to be indexed, Kosh indexes, per default, the whole XML entry. XML tags and attributes are not indexed.

This approach enables you to use full-text search across the entire content of the entry, which also comes in handy when the structure of the data has not yet been finalized, but you already want to search through it while working to improve it.

Query Structure

Querying for entries, the search string is matched against the content of a specific field or property of each lexical item. There are several search strategies which may be used that we call query types (see below for a full list).

Required fields:

  • the field you want to query (field),
  • your query string (query),
  • the query type (query_type)

Optional fields are:

  • the number of entries you want returned (size, the default is 20)

Query Types

Kosh offers the following subset of Elasticsearch query types:

Query TypeExplanation
termReturns documents that contain an exact term in a provided field.
matchReturns documents that match a provided text, number, date or boolean value.
fuzzyReturns documents that contain terms similar to the search term. Similarity, or fuzziness, is measured using a Levenshtein edit distance.
wildcardReturns documents that contain terms matching a wildcard pattern.
regexpReturns documents that contain terms matching a regular expression.
prefixReturns documents that contain a specific prefix in a provided field.
match_phraseReturns documents that contain an exact phrase.

From the Elasticsearch Documentation:

Query Example

In this section, we want to look at a specific example of how to query data using both the REST and GraphQL API endpoints.

Say you want to query the Basque dictionary Hiztegi Batua, which we provide as part of the Kosh sample data. If you want to get all the entries in that dictionary with lemmas ending in eko, you could use the following queries.


A REST version of the query would look like this:

https://kosh.uni-koeln.de/api/hiztegibatua/restful/entries?field=lemma&query=*eko&query_type=wildcard (opens in a new tab)

The parameters used:

field = lemma
query = *eko
query_type = wildcard


While REST returns the entire dictionary entry, GraphQL only supplies what you explicitly ask for. To return only the lemmas:

  entries(queryType: wildcard, query: "*eko", field: lemma) {

For testing, copy & paste the query snippet and execute it here: https://kosh.uni-koeln.de/api/hiztegibatua/graphql (opens in a new tab)