Escaping Characters in a Solr Query / Solr URL

We’re using our own Solr library at Derdubor at the moment, but we’ve only been using it for indexing content. The query part was never standardized in our common library as we usually used an alternative output format, but during the last days that has changed. We now have a parser for the default XML outputter and we’re also supporting facets and field queries (or constraints as they’re abstracted as in our library).

This means that we’re feeding content into the query that may contain foreign characters, in particular those who have special meaning in a Solr query. You can find the complete list of characters that need to be escaped in a SOLR or Lucene query in the Lucene manual.

To escape the characters we use this very simple and stupid PHP method:

  1.     static public function escapeSolrValue($string)
  2.     {
  3.         $match = array('\\', '+', '-', '&', '|', '!', '(', ')', '{', '}', '[', ']', '^', '~', '*', '?', ':', '"', ';', ' ');
  4.         $replace = array('\\\\', '\\+', '\\-', '\\&', '\\|', '\\!', '\\(', '\\)', '\\{', '\\}', '\\[', '\\]', '\\^', '\\~', '\\*', '\\?', '\\:', '\\"', '\\;', '\\ ');
  5.         $string = str_replace($match, $replace, $string);
  7.         return $string;
  8.     }

We used a regular expression first, but the sheer amount of backslashes made it a regular .. hell … to read. So to make it easier for the persons maintaining this in the future, we went the easy to read / easy to maintain road for this one.

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13 Responses to “Escaping Characters in a Solr Query / Solr URL”

  1. Shalin Shekhar Mangar Says:

    You can verify this function against Solr’s Java client ClientUtils.escapeQueryChars. See

  2. Mats Says:

    Good point. I’ve used SolrJ quite a bit before, but I never thought about validating it against the same behaviour. SolrJ also escapes ” and ; which were missing from my list. I’ve added them now.

    Thanks for the update!

  3. Avoid Escaping Spaces in the Query String in a Solr Query | Mats Lindh Says:

    [...] up on the previous post about escaping values in a Solr query string, it’s important to note that you should not escape spaces in the query itself. The reason for [...]

  4. Satish Says:

    ClientUtils class is escaping the space also. For example:

    Input: hello there
    Expected: hello there
    Actual: hello\ there

    This is giving problem as the final string will become as hello\+there when sent over HTTP.


  5. binit Says:

    Very helpful post.
    @Shalin Shekhar Mangar Clientutils was good food too ;)

  6. Alex Says:

    This also gives bad errors for date facets

    For example ..

    Your method turns the query into this…

    Making SOLR do this in the error log!

    INFO: [] webapp=/test path=/select params={\:b\*&\+7DAY&wt=json&\-02\-05T13\:36\:21\+00\:00Z&rows=25} hits=0 status=400 QTime=1
    07-Dec-2011 13:37:29 org.apache.solr.common.SolrException log
    SEVERE: org.apache.solr.common.SolrException: date facet ‘end’ is not a valid Date string: 2012\-02\-05T13\:37\:29\ 00\:00Z

  7. Magento – Apache Solr Integration – Part IV (Ajax Search Form) | Webs Horn Blog Says:

    [...] our request, escaping any Solr special characters. For this, I use a function taken from this post A lot of this code is for the pager. I’m not going to explain that here, but it’s not [...]

  8. antguider Says:

    In URL You can escape the special characters by giving ‘/’ before that.
    Example: q = solr/-Indexing // Here ‘-’ is special character.

    You can see more Detail Information here,

  9. Spodnet Says:

    There’s an escape function in Apache_Solr_Service if you are using that to connect with in php

    $string = Apache_Solr_Service::escape($string);

    for phrases:

    $phrase = Apache_Solr_Service::escapePhrase($phrase);

    or a bit of convenience, this will create the phrase and escape it:

    $phrase = Apache_Solr_Service::phrase($string);

  10. Welcome: Opensource Connections Says:

    [...] programmer Mats Lindh has solved this pretty well, using str_replace. str_replace is a convenient, general-purpose string replacement function that [...]

  11. Doug Turnbull Says:

    Hey Mats!

    Thanks for sharing your solution. I’ve blogged about a solution to this same problem in Python that I recently faced. It’s slightly harder because python doesn’t really give you a direct equivalent to str_replace.

  12. Dotan Cohen Says:

    Shalin Shekhar Mangar posted a great link to Solr’s own ClientUtils.escapeQueryChars function. The link has moved to here:

    For convenience, the function is here:
    * See: {@link org.apache.lucene.queryparser.classic queryparser syntax}
    * for more information on Escaping Special Characters
    public static String escapeQueryChars(String s) {
    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
    for (int i = 0; i < s.length(); i++) {
    char c = s.charAt(i);
    // These characters are part of the query syntax and must be escaped
    if (c == '\\' || c == '+' || c == '-' || c == '!' || c == '(' || c == ')' || c == ':'
    || c == '^' || c == '[' || c == ']' || c == '\"' || c == '{' || c == '}' || c == '~'
    || c == '*' || c == '?' || c == '|' || c == '&' || c == ';' || c == '/'
    || Character.isWhitespace(c)) {
    return sb.toString();

  13. Magento – Apache Solr Integration – Part IV (Ajax Search Form) | App Codifier Blog Says:

    […] our request, escaping any Solr special characters. For this, I use a function taken from this post A lot of this code is for the pager. I’m not going to explain that here, but it’s not […]

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