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The text2vec-transformers module enables Weaviate to obtain vectors locally from text using a transformers-based model.

text2vec-transformers encapsulates models in Docker containers, which allows independent scaling on GPU-enabled hardware while keeping Weaviate on CPU-only hardware, as Weaviate is CPU-optimized.

Key notes:

  • This module is not available on Weaviate Cloud Services (WCS).
  • Enabling this module will enable the nearText search operator.
  • Models encapsulated in Docker containers.
  • Pre-built BERT, DilstBERT, RoBERTa, DilstilROBERTa, etc. models available.
  • Can also use any publicly available model from the Hugging Face model hub.
Significant GPU/CPU speed differences

Transformer models run much faster with GPUs, even for inference (10x+ speeds typically).

Without a GPU, import or nearText queries may become bottlenecks in production if using text2vec-transformers.

If this is the case, we recommend:

Weaviate instance configuration

Not applicable to WCS

This module is not available on Weaviate Cloud Services.

Docker Compose file

To use text2vec-transformers, you must enable it in your Docker Compose file (e.g. docker-compose.yml).

Use the configuration tool

While you can do so manually, we recommend using the Weaviate configuration tool to generate the Docker Compose file.



  • ENABLE_MODULES (Required): The modules to enable. Include text2vec-transformers to enable the module.
  • DEFAULT_VECTORIZER_MODULE (Optional): The default vectorizer module. You can set this to text2vec-transformers to make it the default for all classes.
  • TRANSFORMERS_INFERENCE_API (Required): The URL of the inference container.

Inference container:

  • image (Required): The image name of the inference container.
  • ENABLE_CUDA (Optional): Set to 1 to enable GPU usage. Default is 0 (CPU only).


This configuration enables text2vec-transformers, sets it as the default vectorizer, and sets the parameters for the Transformers Docker container, including setting it to use sentence-transformers-multi-qa-MiniLM-L6-cos-v1 image and to disable CUDA acceleration.

version: '3.4'
image: semitechnologies/weaviate:1.21.4
restart: on-failure:0
- "8080:8080"
ENABLE_MODULES: text2vec-transformers
DEFAULT_VECTORIZER_MODULE: text2vec-transformers
TRANSFORMERS_INFERENCE_API: http://t2v-transformers:8080
image: semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-multi-qa-MiniLM-L6-cos-v1
ENABLE_CUDA: 0 # set to 1 to enable
Have you enabled CUDA?

This module will benefit greatly from GPU usage. Make sure to enable CUDA if you have a compatible GPU available (ENABLE_CUDA=1).

Alternative: Run a separate container

As an alternative, you can run the inference container independently from Weaviate. To do so, you can:

  • Enable text2vec-transformers in your Docker Compose file,
  • Omit t2v-transformers parameters,
  • Run the inference container separately, e.g. using Docker, and
  • Set TRANSFORMERS_INFERENCE_API to the URL of the inference container.

For example, choose any of our pre-built transformers models and spin it up - for example using:

docker run -itp "8000:8080" semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-multi-qa-MiniLM-L6-cos-v1

Then, for example if Weaviate is running outside of Docker, set TRANSFORMERS_INFERENCE_API="http://localhost:8000". Alternatively if Weaviate is part of the same Docker network, e.g. because they are part of the same docker-compose.yml file, you can use Docker networking/DNS, such as TRANSFORMERS_INFERENCE_API=http://t2v-transformers:8080.

Class configuration

You can configure how the module will behave in each class through the Weaviate schema.

Vectorization settings

You can set vectorizer behavior using the moduleConfig section under each class and property:


  • vectorizer - what module to use to vectorize the data.
  • vectorizeClassName – whether to vectorize the class name. Default: true.
  • poolingStrategy – the pooling strategy to use. Default: masked_mean. Allowed values: masked_mean or cls. (Read more on this topic.)


  • skip – whether to skip vectorizing the property altogether. Default: false
  • vectorizePropertyName – whether to vectorize the property name. Default: true


"classes": [
"class": "Document",
"description": "A class called document",
"vectorizer": "text2vec-transformers",
"moduleConfig": {
"text2vec-transformers": {
"vectorizeClassName": "false"
"properties": [
"name": "content",
"dataType": [
"description": "Content that will be vectorized",
"moduleConfig": {
"text2vec-transformers": {
"skip": false,
"vectorizePropertyName": false

Model selection

To select a model, please point text2vec-transformers to the appropriate Docker container.

You can use one of our pre-built Docker images, or build your own (with just a few lines of code).

This allows you to use any suitable model from the Hugging Face model hub or your own custom model.

Option 1: Pre-built images

We have built images from publicly available models that in our opinion are well suited for semantic search. You can use any of the following:

Model NameImage Name
distilbert-base-uncased (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:distilbert-base-uncased
sentence-transformers/paraphrase-multilingual-MiniLM-L12-v2 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-paraphrase-multilingual-MiniLM-L12-v2
sentence-transformers/multi-qa-MiniLM-L6-cos-v1 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-multi-qa-MiniLM-L6-cos-v1
sentence-transformers/multi-qa-mpnet-base-cos-v1 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-multi-qa-mpnet-base-cos-v1
sentence-transformers/all-mpnet-base-v2 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-all-mpnet-base-v2
sentence-transformers/all-MiniLM-L12-v2 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-all-MiniLM-L12-v2
sentence-transformers/paraphrase-multilingual-mpnet-base-v2 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-paraphrase-multilingual-mpnet-base-v2
sentence-transformers/all-MiniLM-L6-v2 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-all-MiniLM-L6-v2
sentence-transformers/multi-qa-distilbert-cos-v1 (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-multi-qa-distilbert-cos-v1
sentence-transformers/gtr-t5-base (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-gtr-t5-base
sentence-transformers/gtr-t5-large (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-gtr-t5-large
google/flan-t5-base (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:google-flan-t5-base
google/flan-t5-large (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:google-flan-t5-large
DPR Models
facebook/dpr-ctx_encoder-single-nq-base (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:facebook-dpr-ctx_encoder-single-nq-base
facebook/dpr-question_encoder-single-nq-base (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:facebook-dpr-question_encoder-single-nq-base
vblagoje/dpr-ctx_encoder-single-lfqa-wiki (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:vblagoje-dpr-ctx_encoder-single-lfqa-wiki
vblagoje/dpr-question_encoder-single-lfqa-wiki (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:vblagoje-dpr-question_encoder-single-lfqa-wiki
Bar-Ilan University NLP Lab Models
biu-nlp/abstract-sim-sentence (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:biu-nlp-abstract-sim-sentence
biu-nlp/abstract-sim-query (Info)semitechnologies/transformers-inference:biu-nlp-abstract-sim-query

If your preferred model is missing, please open an issue to include it or build a custom image as outlined below.

How to set the version

You can explicitly set the version through a suffix.

  • Use -1.0.0 to pin to a specific version. E.g. semitechnologies/transformers-inference:distilbert-base-uncased-1.0.0 will always use the version with git tag 1.0.0 of the distilbert-base-uncased repository.
  • You can explicitly set -latest to always use the latest version, however this is the default behavior.

Option 2: A Hugging Face model

You can build a Docker image to use any public model from the Hugging Face model hub with a two-line Dockerfile. In the following example, we are going to build a custom image for the distilroberta-base model.

Step 1: Create a Dockerfile

Create a new Dockerfile. We will name it distilroberta.Dockerfile. Add the following lines to it:

FROM semitechnologies/transformers-inference:custom
RUN MODEL_NAME=distilroberta-base ./

Step 2: Build and tag your Dockerfile.

We will tag our Dockerfile as distilroberta-inference:

docker build -f distilroberta.Dockerfile -t distilroberta-inference .

Step 3: Use the image

You can now push your image to your favorite registry or reference it locally in your Weaviate docker-compose.yml using the Docker tag distilroberta-inference.

Option 3: A private or local model

You can build a Docker image which supports any model which is compatible with Hugging Face's AutoModel and AutoTokenzier.

In the following example, we are going to build a custom image for a non-public model which we have locally stored at ./my-model.

Create a new Dockerfile (you do not need to clone this repository, any folder on your machine is fine), we will name it my-model.Dockerfile. Add the following lines to it:

FROM semitechnologies/transformers-inference:custom
COPY ./my-model /app/models/model

The above will make sure that your model end ups in the image at /app/models/model. This path is important, so that the application can find the model.

Now you just need to build and tag your Dockerfile, we will tag it as my-model-inference:

docker build -f my-model.Dockerfile -t my-model-inference .

That's it! You can now push your image to your favorite registry or reference it locally in your Weaviate docker-compose.yml using the Docker tag my-model-inference.

To debug and test if your inference container is working correctly, you can send queries to the vectorizer module's inference container directly, so you can see exactly what vectors it would produce for which input.

To do so – you need to expose the inference container in your Docker Compose file – add something like this:

- "9090:8080"

to your text2vec-transformers.

Then you can send REST requests to it directly, e.g.:

curl localhost:9090/vectors -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{"text": "foo bar"}'

and it will print the created vector directly.

Usage example

import weaviate

client = weaviate.Client("http://localhost:8080")

nearText = {
"concepts": ["fashion"],
"distance": 0.6, # prior to v1.14 use "certainty" instead of "distance"
"moveAwayFrom": {
"concepts": ["finance"],
"force": 0.45
"moveTo": {
"concepts": ["haute couture"],
"force": 0.85

result = (
.get("Publication", "name")
.with_additional(["certainty OR distance"]) # note that certainty is only supported if distance==cosine


Model license(s)

The text2vec-transformers module is compatible with various models, each with their own license. For detailed information, please review the license of the model you are using in the Hugging Face Model Hub.

It is your responsibility to evaluate whether the terms of its license(s), if any, are appropriate for your intended use.

More resources

For additional information, try these sources.

  1. Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Weaviate Community Forum
  3. Knowledge base of old issues
  4. Stackoverflow
  5. Weaviate slack channel