PHP library for communication with Neo4j graph database over TCP socket with Bolt protocol specification

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v6.1.4 2023-11-16 17:19 UTC




PHP library for communication with graph database over TCP socket with Bolt protocol specification. Bolt protocol was created by Neo4j and documentation is available at This library is aimed to be low level, support all available versions and keep up with protocol messages architecture and specifications.

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Version support

We are trying to keep up and this library supports Bolt <= 5.4.


Keep up with PHP supported versions means we are at PHP^8.

If you need support for PHP < 7.4 you can use latest v3.x release and if you need support for PHP 7.4 you can use v5.x. Not all new features are implement backwards and this readme is updated to latest released version.


  • mbstring
  • sockets (optional) - Required when you use Socket connection class
  • openssl (optional) - Required when you use StreamSocket connection class with enabled SSL
  • phpunit (development)


You can use composer or download this repository from github and manually implement it.


Run the following command in your project to install the latest applicable version of the package:

composer require stefanak-michal/bolt



  1. Download source code from github
  2. Unpack
  3. Copy content of src directory into your project


Concept of usage is based on Bolt messages. Available protocol methods depends on Bolt version. Communication works in pipeline and you can chain multiple Bolt messages before fetching response from the server.

Main Bolt class serves as Factory design pattern and it returns instance of protocol class by requested Bolt version. Query execution and fetching response is split in two methods. First message run is for sending queries. Second message pull is for fetching response from last executed query on database. Response from database for Bolt message pull always contains n+1 rows because last entry is success message with meta informations.

More info about available Bolt messages:


// Create connection class and specify target host and port.
$conn = new \Bolt\connection\Socket('', 7687);
// Create new Bolt instance and provide connection object.
$bolt = new \Bolt\Bolt($conn);
// Set requested protocol versions
$bolt->setProtocolVersions(5.1, 5, 4.4);
// Build and get protocol version instance which creates connection and executes handshake.
$protocol = $bolt->build();
// Connect and login into database
$protocol->logon(['scheme' => 'basic', 'principal' => 'neo4j', 'credentials' => 'neo4j']);

// Pipeline two messages. One to execute query with parameters and second to pull records.
    ->run('RETURN $a AS num, $b AS str', ['a' => 123, 'b' => 'text'])
// Fetch waiting server responses for pipelined messages.
foreach ($protocol->getResponses() as $response) {
    // $response is instance of \Bolt\protocol\Response.
    // First response is SUCCESS message for RUN message.
    // Second response is RECORD message for PULL message.
    // Third response is SUCCESS message for PULL message.

Available methods

Bolt class

Method / Property Description Type Parameters Return
__construct Bolt constructor public IConnection $connection Bolt
setProtocolVersions Set allowed protocol versions for connection public int/float/string ...$v Bolt
setPackStreamVersion Set PackStream version public int $version = 1 Bolt
build Create protocol instance. Method creates connection, executes handshake and do a version request. public AProtocol
$debug Print binary communication (as hex) public static bool

Protocol class

Method / Property Description Parameters
hello Connect to database array $extra
logon Perform authentification array $auth
logoff Log out authentificated user
run Execute query. Response from database are meta informations. string $statement
array $parameters = []
array $extra = []
pull Pull result from executed query array $extra = []
discard Discard result waiting for pull array $extra = []
begin Start transaction array $extra = []
commit Commit transaction
rollback Rollback transaction
reset Send message to reset connection
telemetry int $api
getVersion Get used protocol version
getResponse Get waiting response from server
getResponses Get waiting responses from server
init @see hello
pullAll @see pull
discardAll @see discard

Many methods accept argument called $extra. This argument can contain any of key-value by Bolt specification. This argument was extended during Neo4j development which means the content of it changed. You should keep in mind what version you are working with when using this argument. You can read more about extra parameter in Bolt documentation where you can look into your version and bolt message.

Annotation of methods in protocol classes contains direct link to specific version and message from mentioned documentation website.


scheme principal credentials
basic username password
bearer token
kerberos token


Bolt from version 3 supports transactions and protocol contains these methods:

  • begin
  • commit
  • rollback

run executes query in auto-commit transaction if explicit transaction was not open.

Cypher query parameters

Neo4j PHP
Null null
Boolean boolean
Integer integer
Float float
Bytes Bytes class
String string
List array with consecutive numeric keys from 0
Dictionary object or array which is not considered as list
Structure Classes implementing IStructure by protocol version (docs)

List or dictionary can be also provided as instance of class implementing Bolt\packstream\IPackListGenerator or Bolt\PackStream\IPackDictionaryGenerator. This approach helps with memory management while working with big amount of data. To learn more you can check performance test or packer test.

Structures Node, Relationship, UnboundRelationship and Path cannot be used as parameter. They are available only as received data from database.

Server state is not available from server but we assume it. Library contains \Bolt\helpers\ServerState and you can get used instance of this class with $bolt->serverState or $protocol->serverState (after you call build()).


Directory src contains autoload file which accepts only Bolt library namespaces. Main Bolt namespace points to this directory. If you have installed this project with composer, you have to load vendor/autoload.php.

Server state

If assumed server state is different than expected, library does not throw exception. This logic is silent but you can change it and if you would like to implement own logic when assumed server state is different than expected you can assign callable into class property $serverState->expectedServerStateMismatchCallback.


Bolt class constructor accepts connection argument. This argument has to be instance of class which implements IConnection interface. Currently exists two predefined classes Socket and StreamSocket.

We provide two connection classes. Socket was created first and it has better memory usage. StreamSocket was made because of need to accept TLS.


This class use php extension sockets. More informations here:


This class uses php stream functions. Which is a part of php and there is no extensions needed. More informations here:

StreamSocket besides of implemented methods from interface has method to configure SSL. When you want to activate SSL you have to call method setSslContextOptions. This method accept array by php specification available here:

If you want to use it, you have to enable openssl php extension.

Neo4j Aura

Connecting to Aura requires encryption which is provided with SSL. To connect to Aura you have to use StreamSocket connection class and enable SSL.

$conn = new \Bolt\connection\StreamSocket('');
// enable SSL
    'verify_peer' => true
$bolt = new \Bolt\Bolt($conn);

Example on localhost database with self-signed certificate:

$conn = new \Bolt\connection\StreamSocket();
    'local_cert'=> 'd:\www\bolt\cert\public_cert.pem',
    'local_pk' => 'd:\www\bolt\cert\private_key.pem',
    'passphrase' => 'password',
    'allow_self_signed' => true,
    'verify_peer' => false,
    'verify_peer_name' => false
$bolt = new \Bolt\Bolt($conn);

You can also take a look at my article on how to implement SSL for Neo4j running on localhost at Neo4j and self signed certificate.


Connection class constructor contains $timeout argument. This timeout is for established socket connection. To set up timeout for establishing socket connection itself you have to set ini directive default_socket_timeout.

Setting up ini directive isn't part of connection class because function ini_set can be disabled on production environments for security reasons.

Another solutions

If you need simple class to cover basic functionality you can use: neo4j-bolt-wrapper

When you are in need of enterprise level take a look on: php-client

PDO implementation is available at pdo-bolt

More informations can be found at: