Before digging deeper into rule systax, let's look at how you can inspect the database server to view the data and craft proper rules.

Connecting to MongoDB

First, connect to your MongoDB database server using the tool of your choice. We'll assume the use of the default mongo shell client but you can use any client you want.

Open a terminal and start the mongo shell client, then select the default validator database:

use validator

Refer to the MongoDB Shell client documentation page for more information on how to use the tool.

List the different collections

MongoDB stores data in collections, hence the term collection-name that you have seen in previous sections regarding snapshots. To list all collections in the database you can use:

show collections

This will list all the collections in the database.

Showing data in a collection

To show data from a collection you can run a simple statement:


Replace the <collection-name> with one of the collection names you got from the previous listing.

This will output a lot of information. (or maybe nothing at all if you haven't run any tests yet)

When you look at the data from the collection, you should see a rather complete and complex JSON document that would look something like this:

    "_id" : ObjectId("5cb483ef7554c1573a4d3402"),
    "checksum" : "cac2c001358b0c67247bb34bc21235bf",
    "collection" : "security_groups",
    "json" : {
        "ResponseMetadata" : {
            "HTTPHeaders" : {
                "content-length" : "1042",
                "content-type" : "text/xml;charset=UTF-8",
                "date" : "Mon, 15 Apr 2019 13:15:27 GMT",
                "server" : "AmazonEC2"
            "HTTPStatusCode" : 200,
            "RequestId" : "e0806089-4215-479c-99b3-87f5a52bb273",
            "RetryAttempts" : 0
        "SecurityGroups" : [
                "Description" : "prancer-tutorial-sg",
                "GroupName" : "prancer-tutorial-sg",
                "IpPermissions" : [ ],
                "OwnerId" : "667095293603",
                "GroupId" : "sg-0125a7610cd1dd391",
                "IpPermissionsEgress" : [
                        "IpProtocol" : "-1",
                        "IpRanges" : [
                                "CidrIp" : ""
                        "Ipv6Ranges" : [ ],
                        "PrefixListIds" : [ ],
                        "UserIdGroupPairs" : [ ]
                "VpcId" : "vpc-050b8b70e3593efd2"
    "node" : {
        "collection" : "security_groups",
        "id" : {
            "GroupNames" : [
        "snapshotId" : 2,
        "type" : "security_groups"
    "path" : "",
    "queryuser" : "",
    "reference" : "",
    "snapshotId" : 2,
    "source" : "awsStructure",
    "structure" : "aws",
    "timestamp" : NumberLong("1555334127715")

This document is what Prancer stores on each validation run for each snapshot.

In each document, you can find a property called json. The content of this property is what is made available to you when you refer to a snapshot from a rule. For example:

{2}.SecurityGroups[0].Description = 'Some description'

Is the equivalent of:

{"ResponseMetadata":{"HTTPHeaders":{"content-length":"1042","content-type":"text/xml;charset=UTF-8","date":"Mon, 15 Apr 2019 13:15:27 GMT","server":"AmazonEC2"},"HTTPStatusCode":200,"RequestId":"e0806089-4215-479c-99b3-87f5a52bb273","RetryAttempts":0},"SecurityGroups":[{"Description":"prancer-tutorial-sg","GroupName":"prancer-tutorial-sg","IpPermissions":[],"OwnerId":"667095293603","GroupId":"sg-0125a7610cd1dd391","IpPermissionsEgress":[{"IpProtocol":"-1","IpRanges":[{"CidrIp":""}],"Ipv6Ranges":[],"PrefixListIds":[],"UserIdGroupPairs":[]}],"VpcId":"vpc-050b8b70e3593efd2"}]}.SecurityGroups[0].Description = 'Some description'

or in a simpler form:

{"Description":"prancer-tutorial-sg","GroupName":"prancer-tutorial-sg","IpPermissions":[],"OwnerId":"667095293603","GroupId":"sg-0125a7610cd1dd391","IpPermissionsEgress":[{"IpProtocol":"-1","IpRanges":[{"CidrIp":""}],"Ipv6Ranges":[],"PrefixListIds":[],"UserIdGroupPairs":[]}],"VpcId":"vpc-050b8b70e3593efd2"}.Description = 'Some description'

and in the simplest form possible:

'prancer-tutorial-sg' = 'Some description'

Which would result in a False result and fail the test.

Writing complex queries

Because your MongoDB database will get fat pretty fast, it is important to learn how to properly query it. We will not go into a lot of details here, you can consult the Mongo Query Document documentation page to know more.

Here are a few approaches to finding the proper data in your database.

To query for all snapshot data of a specific snapshot definition you could issue the next statement:


If you want only the latest item you can use the _id field's automatic datation using:


There are many different ways you can use the mongo shell to inspect your data. Keep in mind that the Mongo Query Document documentation page is your best friend in this case.