Mongoose Nested Paths vs SubDocuments

Adam Drake
2 min readMar 13, 2021

I am currently working on a project and using mongodb with mongoose. I recently was implementing a new parameter into my schema on a project I was working on and I was faced with the decision about whether to use a ‘Nested Path’ or a ‘Subdocument’.

See the Mongoose documentation for more details.

I decided initially to go with the Nested Path because from what I read it didn’t seem to make much difference which you went with, at least for the parameter I was introducing. All it was going to be was an object with some further parameters to set ‘User Preferences’.

This is what I initially had:

User preferences set on the mongoose schema

This was fine and it was working and all my integration tests were passing.

The Problem I found

However, this way of writing allowed me to introduce a bug into my code. On my user register function I had:

User register function which introduced a bug

As you can see I set the preferences: true and my tests were still passing. How come?! It seemed the schema was ignoring what I wrote here and overrode it with the default schema architecture but I am honestly not sure.


I then updated the schema to use a subdocument:

User preferences using a subdocument approach

My tests started failing. Which was a relief because at least it made sense now! :)

I then updated my register function to:

Updated user register function that was now implemented correctly

And everything started passing. Therefore going forward I will use subdocuments as it seems more logical to me.

Would love to hear if anyone else was facing a similar decision and what was the deciding factor in the choice you made.



Adam Drake

I'm a Frontend Developer and I write about all things Frontend Related - Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. Based in Prague, CZ