Quickstart: Create a graph database in Azure Cosmos DB using PHP and the Azure portal

This quickstart shows how to use PHP and the Azure Cosmos DB Gremlin API to build a console app by cloning an example from GitHub. This quickstart also walks you through the creation of an Azure Cosmos DB account by using the web-based Azure portal.

Azure Cosmos DB is Microsoft's globally distributed multi-model database service. You can quickly create and query document, table, key-value, and graph databases, all of which benefit from the global distribution and horizontal scale capabilities at the core of Azure Cosmos DB.


If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin. Alternatively, you can Try Azure Cosmos DB for free without an Azure subscription, free of charge and commitments.

In addition:

Create a database account

Before you can create a graph database, you need to create a Gremlin (Graph) database account with Azure Cosmos DB.

  1. In a new browser window, sign in to the Azure portal.

  2. In the left menu, select Create a resource.

    Create a resource in the Azure portal

  3. On the New page, select Databases > Azure Cosmos DB.

    The Azure portal Databases pane


    If you don't see Azure Cosmos DB in the list, just type it in the search box at the top of the page, and press Enter key.

  4. On the Create Azure Cosmos DB Account page, enter the settings for the new Azure Cosmos DB account.

    Setting Value Description
    Subscription Your subscription Select the Azure subscription that you want to use for this Azure Cosmos DB account.
    Resource Group Create new

    Then enter the same name as Account Name
    Select Create new. Then enter a new resource group name for your account. For simplicity, use the same name as your Azure Cosmos DB account name.
    Account Name Enter a unique name Enter a unique name to identify your Azure Cosmos DB account. Your account URI will be gremlin.azure.com appended to your unique account name.

    The account name can use only lowercase letters, numbers, and hyphens (-), and must be between 3 and 31 characters long.
    API Gremlin (graph) The API determines the type of account to create. Azure Cosmos DB provides five APIs: Core (SQL) for document databases, Gremlin for graph databases, MongoDB for document databases, Azure Table, and Cassandra. You must create a separate account for each API.

    Select Gremlin (graph), because in this quickstart you are creating a table that works with the Gremlin API.

    Learn more about the Gremlin API.
    Location Select the region closest to your users Select a geographic location to host your Azure Cosmos DB account. Use the location that's closest to your users to give them the fastest access to the data.

    Select Review+Create. You can skip the Network and Tags section.

    The new account page for Azure Cosmos DB

  5. The account creation takes a few minutes. Wait for the portal to display the Congratulations! Your Azure Cosmos DB account was created page.

    Azure Cosmos DB account created page

Add a graph

You can now use the Data Explorer tool in the Azure portal to create a graph database.

  1. Select Data Explorer > New Graph.

    The Add Graph area is displayed on the far right, you may need to scroll right to see it.

    The Azure portal Data Explorer, Add Graph page

  2. In the Add graph page, enter the settings for the new graph.

    Setting Suggested value Description
    Database ID sample-database Enter sample-database as the name for the new database. Database names must be between 1 and 255 characters, and cannot contain / \ # ? or a trailing space.
    Throughput 400 RUs Change the throughput to 400 request units per second (RU/s). If you want to reduce latency, you can scale up the throughput later.
    Graph ID sample-graph Enter sample-graph as the name for your new collection. Graph names have the same character requirements as database IDs.
    Partition Key /pk All Cosmos DB accounts need a partition key to horizontally scale. Learn how to select an appropriate partition key in the Graph Data Partitioning article.
  3. Once the form is filled out, select OK.

Clone the sample application

Now let's switch to working with code. Let's clone a Gremlin API app from GitHub, set the connection string, and run it. You'll see how easy it is to work with data programmatically.

  1. Open a command prompt, create a new folder named git-samples, then close the command prompt.

    md "C:\git-samples"
  2. Open a git terminal window, such as git bash, and use the cd command to change to a folder to install the sample app.

    cd "C:\git-samples"
  3. Run the following command to clone the sample repository. This command creates a copy of the sample app on your computer.

    git clone https://github.com/Azure-Samples/azure-cosmos-db-graph-php-getting-started.git

Review the code

This step is optional. If you're interested in learning how the database resources are created in the code, you can review the following snippets. The snippets are all taken from the connect.php file in the C:\git-samples\azure-cosmos-db-graph-php-getting-started\ folder. Otherwise, you can skip ahead to Update your connection string.

  • The Gremlin connection is initialized in the beginning of the connect.php file using the $db object.

    $db = new Connection([
        'host' => '<your_server_address>.graphs.azure.com',
        'username' => '/dbs/<db>/colls/<coll>',
        'password' => 'your_primary_key'
        ,'port' => '443'
        // Required parameter
        ,'ssl' => TRUE
  • A series of Gremlin steps are executed using the $db->send($query); method.

    $query = "g.V().drop()";
    $result = $db->send($query);
    $errors = array_filter($result);

Update your connection information

Now go back to the Azure portal to get your connection information and copy it into the app. These settings enable your app to communicate with your hosted database.

  1. In the Azure portal, click Keys.

    Copy the first portion of the URI value.

    View and copy an access key in the Azure portal, Keys page

  2. Open the connect.php file and in line 8 paste the URI value over your_server_address.

    The connection object initialization should now look similar to the following code:

    $db = new Connection([
        'host' => 'testgraphacct.gremlin.cosmosdb.azure.com',
        'username' => '/dbs/<db>/colls/<coll>',
        'password' => 'your_primary_key'
        ,'port' => '443'
        // Required parameter
        ,'ssl' => TRUE
  3. Change username parameter in the Connection object with your database and graph name. If you used the recommended values of sample-database and sample-graph, it should look like the following code:

    'username' => '/dbs/sample-database/colls/sample-graph'

    The entire Connection object should look like the following code snippet at this time:

    $db = new Connection([
        'host' => 'testgraphacct.gremlin.cosmosdb.azure.com',
        'username' => '/dbs/sample-database/colls/sample-graph',
        'password' => 'your_primary_key',
        'port' => '443'
        // Required parameter
        ,'ssl' => TRUE
  4. In the Azure portal, use the copy button to copy the PRIMARY KEY and paste it over your_primary_key in the password parameter.

    The Connection object initialization should now look like the following code:

    $db = new Connection([
        'host' => 'testgraphacct.graphs.azure.com',
        'username' => '/dbs/sample-database/colls/sample-graph',
        'password' => '2Ggkr662ifxz2Mg==',
        'port' => '443'
        // Required parameter
        ,'ssl' => TRUE
  5. Save the connect.php file.

Run the console app

  1. In the git terminal window, cd to the azure-cosmos-db-graph-php-getting-started folder.

    cd "C:\git-samples\azure-cosmos-db-graph-php-getting-started"
  2. In the git terminal window, use the following command to install the required PHP dependencies.

    composer install
  3. In the git terminal window, use the following command to start the PHP application.

    php connect.php

    The terminal window displays the vertices being added to the graph.

    If you experience timeout errors, check that you updated the connection information correctly in Update your connection information, and also try running the last command again.

    Once the program stops, press Enter, then switch back to the Azure portal in your internet browser.

Review and add sample data

You can now go back to Data Explorer and see the vertices added to the graph, and add additional data points.

  1. Click Data Explorer, expand sample-graph, click Graph, and then click Apply Filter.

    Create new documents in Data Explorer in the Azure portal

  2. In the Results list, notice the new users added to the graph. Select ben and notice that they're connected to robin. You can move the vertices around by dragging and dropping, zoom in and out by scrolling the wheel of your mouse, and expand the size of the graph with the double-arrow.

    New vertices in the graph in Data Explorer in the Azure portal

  3. Let's add a few new users. Click the New Vertex button to add data to your graph.

    Create new documents in Data Explorer in the Azure portal

  4. Enter a label of person.

  5. Click Add property to add each of the following properties. Notice that you can create unique properties for each person in your graph. Only the id key is required.

    Key Value Notes
    id ashley The unique identifier for the vertex. If you don't specify an id, one is generated for you.
    gender female
    tech java


    In this quickstart you create a non-partitioned collection. However, if you create a partitioned collection by specifying a partition key during the collection creation, then you need to include the partition key as a key in each new vertex.

  6. Click OK. You may need to expand your screen to see OK on the bottom of the screen.

  7. Click New Vertex again and add an additional new user.

  8. Enter a label of person.

  9. Click Add property to add each of the following properties:

    Key Value Notes
    id rakesh The unique identifier for the vertex. If you don't specify an id, one is generated for you.
    gender male
    school MIT
  10. Click OK.

  11. Click the Apply Filter button with the default g.V() filter to display all the values in the graph. All of the users now show in the Results list.

    As you add more data, you can use filters to limit your results. By default, Data Explorer uses g.V() to retrieve all vertices in a graph. You can change it to a different graph query, such as g.V().count(), to return a count of all the vertices in the graph in JSON format. If you changed the filter, change the filter back to g.V() and click Apply Filter to display all the results again.

  12. Now you can connect rakesh and ashley. Ensure ashley is selected in the Results list, then click the edit button next to Targets on lower right side. You may need to widen your window to see the Properties area.

    Change the target of a vertex in a graph

  13. In the Target box type rakesh, and in the Edge label box type knows, and then click the check.

    Add a connection between ashley and rakesh in Data Explorer

  14. Now select rakesh from the results list and see that ashley and rakesh are connected.

    Two vertices connected in Data Explorer

    That completes the resource creation part of this quickstart. You can continue to add vertexes to your graph, modify the existing vertexes, or change the queries. Now let's review the metrics Azure Cosmos DB provides, and then clean up the resources.

Review SLAs in the Azure portal

The Azure portal monitors your Cosmos DB account throughput, storage, availability, latency, and consistency. Charts for metrics associated with an Azure Cosmos DB Service Level Agreement (SLA) show the SLA value compared to actual performance. This suite of metrics makes monitoring your SLAs transparent.

To review metrics and SLAs:

  1. Select Metrics in your Cosmos DB account's navigation menu.

  2. Select a tab such as Latency, and select a timeframe on the right. Compare the Actual and SLA lines on the charts.

    Azure Cosmos DB metrics suite

  3. Review the metrics on the other tabs.

Clean up resources

When you're done with your app and Azure Cosmos DB account, you can delete the Azure resources you created so you don't incur more charges. To delete the resources:

  1. In the Azure portal Search bar, search for and select Resource groups.

  2. From the list, select the resource group you created for this quickstart.

    Select the resource group to delete

  3. On the resource group Overview page, select Delete resource group.

    Delete the resource group

  4. In the next window, enter the name of the resource group to delete, and then select Delete.

Next steps

In this quickstart, you've learned how to create an Azure Cosmos DB account, create a graph using the Data Explorer, and run an app. You can now build more complex queries and implement powerful graph traversal logic using Gremlin.