mongoDB : export based on objectIDs’ timestamp

I needed to export a set of data from a mongoDB collection based on their objectIDs’ (_id) timestamp using mongoexport. The mongoexport documentation is everything but helpful on the subject so I had to find a workaround to answer this simple question : “export  all documents inserted yesterday on this collection in a CSV format”.

Relevant mongoexport options

  •  –host : specify the mongoDB host
  • –username / –pasword : if you’re using authentication on your server
  • -d : database to use
  • -c : collection to use
  • –fields : fields you want to export (omit for all)
  • –query : the actual query selecting the result set you want to export
  • –csv : export in a CSV format

The date range query workaround

So the hard part is to actually ask mongoexport to only return the documents in the desired time frame using an objectID compliant query. I overcame this problem using a simple but efficient python script generating the query for me.


# using pymongo-2.2
from bson.objectid import ObjectId
import datetime

now =
yesterday = now - datetime.timedelta(days=1)
start_date = datetime.datetime(yesterday.year, yesterday.month,, 0, 0, 0)
end_date = datetime.datetime(now.year, now.month,, 0, 0, 0)
oid_start = ObjectId.from_datetime(start_date)
oid_stop = ObjectId.from_datetime(end_date)

print '{ "_id" : { "$gte" : { "$oid": "%s" }, "$lt" : { "$oid": "%s" } } }' % ( str(oid_start), str(oid_stop) )

This script just prints out a command line compliant representation of the objectIDs for yesterday and today. So this query will select exactly what I wanted : all yesterday’s objectIDs. Example :

{ “_id” : { “$gte” : { “$oid”: “4fd535000000000000000000” } , “$lt” : { “$oid”: “4fd686800000000000000000” } } }

Using mongoexport

We then can simply use mongoexport from the shell by issuing (I left the optional parameters out) :

$ mongoexport -h localhost -d myDatabase -c theCollection --query "$(python" --csv

Et voilà !

I guess there must be a cleaner way to do it out there, but I was unable to find it in my limited search time frame, so comment this post if you have a better solution please !

2 thoughts on “mongoDB : export based on objectIDs’ timestamp”

  1. JavaScript Way:

    // make date
    date = new Date(‘2012/06/15’);
    // Convert date object to hex seconds since Unix epoch
    hexSeconds = Math.floor(date/1000).toString(16);
    // Create an ObjectId with that hex timestamp
    ObjectId(hexSeconds + “0000000000000000”);

    Use ObjectId value for make your query as { _id: { ‘$gte’: } }

    Whereas, python’s script is more friendly 🙂

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