Middleware (also called pre and post hooks) are functions which are passed control during execution of asynchronous functions. Middleware is specified on the schema level and is useful for writing plugins.

Types of Middleware

Mongoose has 4 types of middleware: document middleware, model middleware, aggregate middleware, and query middleware. Document middleware is supported for the following document functions. In document middleware functions, this refers to the document.

Query middleware is supported for the following Model and Query functions. In query middleware functions, this refers to the query.

Aggregate middleware is for MyModel.aggregate(). Aggregate middleware executes when you call exec() on an aggregate object. In aggregate middleware, this refers to the aggregation object.

Model middleware is supported for the following model functions. In model middleware functions, this refers to the model.

All middleware types support pre and post hooks. How pre and post hooks work is described in more detail below.

Note: If you specify schema.pre('remove'), Mongoose will register this middleware for doc.remove() by default. If you want to your middleware to run on Query.remove() use schema.pre('remove', { query: true, document: false }, fn).

Note: The create() function fires save() hooks.


Pre middleware functions are executed one after another, when each middleware calls next.

var schema = new Schema(..);
schema.pre('save', function(next) {
  // do stuff

In mongoose 5.x, instead of calling next() manually, you can use a function that returns a promise. In particular, you can use async/await.

schema.pre('save', function() {
  return doStuff().
    then(() => doMoreStuff());

// Or, in Node.js >= 7.6.0:
schema.pre('save', async function() {
  await doStuff();
  await doMoreStuff();

If you use next(), the next() call does not stop the rest of the code in your middleware function from executing. Use the early return pattern to prevent the rest of your middleware function from running when you call next().

var schema = new Schema(..);
schema.pre('save', function(next) {
  if (foo()) {
    console.log('calling next!');
    // `return next();` will make sure the rest of this function doesn't run
    /*return*/ next();
  // Unless you comment out the `return` above, 'after next' will print
  console.log('after next');

Use Cases

Middleware are useful for atomizing model logic. Here are some other ideas:

  • complex validation
  • removing dependent documents (removing a user removes all his blogposts)
  • asynchronous defaults
  • asynchronous tasks that a certain action triggers

Errors in Pre Hooks

If any pre hook errors out, mongoose will not execute subsequent middleware or the hooked function. Mongoose will instead pass an error to the callback and/or reject the returned promise. There are several ways to report an error in middleware:

schema.pre('save', function(next) {
  const err = new Error('something went wrong');
  // If you call `next()` with an argument, that argument is assumed to be
  // an error.

schema.pre('save', function() {
  // You can also return a promise that rejects
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    reject(new Error('something went wrong'));

schema.pre('save', function() {
  // You can also throw a synchronous error
  throw new Error('something went wrong');

schema.pre('save', async function() {
  await Promise.resolve();
  // You can also throw an error in an `async` function
  throw new Error('something went wrong');

// later...

// Changes will not be persisted to MongoDB because a pre hook errored out
myDoc.save(function(err) {
  console.log(err.message); // something went wrong

Calling next() multiple times is a no-op. If you call next() with an error err1 and then throw an error err2, mongoose will report err1.

Post middleware

post middleware are executed after the hooked method and all of its pre middleware have completed.

schema.post('init', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been initialized from the db', doc._id);
schema.post('validate', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been validated (but not saved yet)', doc._id);
schema.post('save', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been saved', doc._id);
schema.post('remove', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been removed', doc._id);

Asynchronous Post Hooks

If your post hook function takes at least 2 parameters, mongoose will assume the second parameter is a next() function that you will call to trigger the next middleware in the sequence.

// Takes 2 parameters: this is an asynchronous post hook
schema.post('save', function(doc, next) {
  setTimeout(function() {
    // Kick off the second post hook
  }, 10);

// Will not execute until the first middleware calls `next()`
schema.post('save', function(doc, next) {

Save/Validate Hooks

The save() function triggers validate() hooks, because mongoose has a built-in pre('save') hook that calls validate(). This means that all pre('validate') and post('validate') hooks get called before any pre('save') hooks.

schema.pre('validate', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed first');
schema.post('validate', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed second');
schema.pre('save', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed third');
schema.post('save', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed fourth');

Naming Conflicts

Mongoose has both query and document hooks for remove().

schema.pre('remove', function() { console.log('Removing!'); });

// Prints "Removing!"

// Does **not** print "Removing!". Query middleware for `remove` is not
// executed by default.

You can pass options to Schema.pre() and Schema.post() to switch whether Mongoose calls your remove() hook for Document.remove() or Model.remove():

// Only document middleware
schema.pre('remove', { document: true }, function() {
  console.log('Removing doc!');

// Only query middleware. This will get called when you do `Model.remove()`
// but not `doc.remove()`.
schema.pre('remove', { query: true }, function() {

Notes on findAndUpdate() and Query Middleware

Pre and post save() hooks are not executed on update(), findOneAndUpdate(), etc. You can see a more detailed discussion why in this GitHub issue. Mongoose 4.0 introduced distinct hooks for these functions.

schema.pre('find', function() {
  console.log(this instanceof mongoose.Query); // true
  this.start = Date.now();

schema.post('find', function(result) {
  console.log(this instanceof mongoose.Query); // true
  // prints returned documents
  console.log('find() returned ' + JSON.stringify(result));
  // prints number of milliseconds the query took
  console.log('find() took ' + (Date.now() - this.start) + ' millis');

Query middleware differs from document middleware in a subtle but important way: in document middleware, this refers to the document being updated. In query middleware, mongoose doesn't necessarily have a reference to the document being updated, so this refers to the query object rather than the document being updated.

For instance, if you wanted to add an updatedAt timestamp to every update() call, you would use the following pre hook.

schema.pre('update', function() {
  this.update({},{ $set: { updatedAt: new Date() } });

Error Handling Middleware

New in 4.5.0

Middleware execution normally stops the first time a piece of middleware calls next() with an error. However, there is a special kind of post middleware called "error handling middleware" that executes specifically when an error occurs. Error handling middleware is useful for reporting errors and making error messages more readable.

Error handling middleware is defined as middleware that takes one extra parameter: the 'error' that occurred as the first parameter to the function. Error handling middleware can then transform the error however you want.

var schema = new Schema({
  name: {
    type: String,
    // Will trigger a MongoError with code 11000 when
    // you save a duplicate
    unique: true

// Handler **must** take 3 parameters: the error that occurred, the document
// in question, and the `next()` function
schema.post('save', function(error, doc, next) {
  if (error.name === 'MongoError' && error.code === 11000) {
    next(new Error('There was a duplicate key error'));
  } else {

// Will trigger the `post('save')` error handler
Person.create([{ name: 'Axl Rose' }, { name: 'Axl Rose' }]);

Error handling middleware also works with query middleware. You can also define a post update() hook that will catch MongoDB duplicate key errors.

// The same E11000 error can occur when you call `update()`
// This function **must** take 3 parameters. If you use the
// `passRawResult` function, this function **must** take 4
// parameters
schema.post('update', function(error, res, next) {
  if (error.name === 'MongoError' && error.code === 11000) {
    next(new Error('There was a duplicate key error'));
  } else {
    next(); // The `update()` call will still error out.

var people = [{ name: 'Axl Rose' }, { name: 'Slash' }];
Person.create(people, function(error) {
  Person.update({ name: 'Slash' }, { $set: { name: 'Axl Rose' } }, function(error) {
    // `error.message` will be "There was a duplicate key error"

Error handling middleware can transform an error, but it can't remove the error. Even if you call next() with no error as shown above, the function call will still error out.

Aggregation Hooks

You can also define hooks for the Model.aggregate() function. In aggregation middleware functions, this refers to the Mongoose Aggregate object. For example, suppose you're implementing soft deletes on a Customer model by adding an isDeleted property. To make sure aggregate() calls only look at customers that aren't soft deleted, you can use the below middleware to add a $match stage to the beginning of each aggregation pipeline.

customerSchema.pre('aggregate', function() {
  // Add a $match state to the beginning of each pipeline.
  this.pipeline().unshift({ $match: { isDeleted: { $ne: true } } });

The Aggregate#pipeline() function lets you access the MongoDB aggregation pipeline that Mongoose will send to the MongoDB server. It is useful for adding stages to the beginning of the pipeline from middleware.

Synchronous Hooks

Certain Mongoose hooks are synchronous, which means they do not support functions that return promises or receive a next() callback. Currently, only init hooks are synchronous, because the init() function is synchronous. Below is an example of using pre and post init hooks.

const schema = new Schema({ title: String, loadedAt: Date });

schema.pre('init', pojo => {
  assert.equal(pojo.constructor.name, 'Object'); // Plain object before init

const now = new Date();
schema.post('init', doc => {
  assert.ok(doc instanceof mongoose.Document); // Mongoose doc after init
  doc.loadedAt = now;

const Test = db.model('TestPostInitMiddleware', schema);

return Test.create({ title: 'Casino Royale' }).
  then(doc => Test.findById(doc)).
  then(doc => assert.equal(doc.loadedAt.valueOf(), now.valueOf()));

To report an error in an init hook, you must throw a synchronous error. Unlike all other middleware, init middleware does not handle promise rejections.

const schema = new Schema({ title: String });

const swallowedError = new Error('will not show');
// init hooks do **not** handle async errors or any sort of async behavior
schema.pre('init', () => Promise.reject(swallowedError));
schema.post('init', () => { throw Error('will show'); });

const Test = db.model('PostInitBook', schema);

return Test.create({ title: 'Casino Royale' }).
  then(doc => Test.findById(doc)).
  catch(error => assert.equal(error.message, 'will show'));

Next Up

Now that we've covered middleware, let's take a look at Mongoose's approach to faking JOINs with its query population helper.