Release: 1.1.2 | Release Date: October 17, 2016

SQLAlchemy 1.1 Documentation


The SQLAlchemy SQL Toolkit and Object Relational Mapper is a comprehensive set of tools for working with databases and Python. It has several distinct areas of functionality which can be used individually or combined together. Its major components are illustrated below, with component dependencies organized into layers:


Above, the two most significant front-facing portions of SQLAlchemy are the Object Relational Mapper and the SQL Expression Language. SQL Expressions can be used independently of the ORM. When using the ORM, the SQL Expression language remains part of the public facing API as it is used within object-relational configurations and queries.

Documentation Overview

The documentation is separated into three sections: SQLAlchemy ORM, SQLAlchemy Core, and Dialects.

In SQLAlchemy ORM, the Object Relational Mapper is introduced and fully described. New users should begin with the Object Relational Tutorial. If you want to work with higher-level SQL which is constructed automatically for you, as well as management of Python objects, proceed to this tutorial.

In SQLAlchemy Core, the breadth of SQLAlchemy’s SQL and database integration and description services are documented, the core of which is the SQL Expression language. The SQL Expression Language is a toolkit all its own, independent of the ORM package, which can be used to construct manipulable SQL expressions which can be programmatically constructed, modified, and executed, returning cursor-like result sets. In contrast to the ORM’s domain-centric mode of usage, the expression language provides a schema-centric usage paradigm. New users should begin here with SQL Expression Language Tutorial. SQLAlchemy engine, connection, and pooling services are also described in SQLAlchemy Core.

In Dialects, reference documentation for all provided database and DBAPI backends is provided.

Code Examples

Working code examples, mostly regarding the ORM, are included in the SQLAlchemy distribution. A description of all the included example applications is at ORM Examples.

There is also a wide variety of examples involving both core SQLAlchemy constructs as well as the ORM on the wiki. See Theatrum Chemicum.

Installation Guide

Supported Platforms

SQLAlchemy has been tested against the following platforms:

  • cPython since version 2.6, through the 2.xx series
  • cPython version 3, throughout all 3.xx series
  • Pypy 2.1 or greater

Changed in version 0.9: Python 2.6 is now the minimum Python version supported.

Platforms that don’t currently have support include Jython and IronPython. Jython has been supported in the past and may be supported in future releases as well, depending on the state of Jython itself.

Supported Installation Methods

SQLAlchemy installation is via standard Python methodologies that are based on setuptools, either by referring to directly or by using pip or other setuptools-compatible approaches.

Changed in version 1.1: setuptools is now required by the file; plain distutils installs are no longer supported.

Install via pip

When pip is available, the distribution can be downloaded from Pypi and installed in one step:

pip install SQLAlchemy

This command will download the latest released version of SQLAlchemy from the Python Cheese Shop and install it to your system.

In order to install the latest prerelease version, such as 1.1.0b1, pip requires that the --pre flag be used:

pip install --pre SQLAlchemy

Where above, if the most recent version is a prerelease, it will be installed instead of the latest released version.

Installing using

Otherwise, you can install from the distribution using the script:

python install

Installing the C Extensions

SQLAlchemy includes C extensions which provide an extra speed boost for dealing with result sets. The extensions are supported on both the 2.xx and 3.xx series of cPython. will automatically build the extensions if an appropriate platform is detected. If the build of the C extensions fails due to a missing compiler or other issue, the setup process will output a warning message and re-run the build without the C extensions upon completion, reporting final status.

To run the build/install without even attempting to compile the C extensions, the DISABLE_SQLALCHEMY_CEXT environment variable may be specified. The use case for this is either for special testing circumstances, or in the rare case of compatibility/build issues not overcome by the usual “rebuild” mechanism:

export DISABLE_SQLALCHEMY_CEXT=1; python install

Changed in version 1.1: The legacy --without-cextensions flag has been removed from the installer as it relies on deprecated features of setuptools.

Installing on Python 3

SQLAlchemy runs directly on Python 2 or Python 3, and can be installed in either environment without any adjustments or code conversion.

Installing a Database API

SQLAlchemy is designed to operate with a DBAPI implementation built for a particular database, and includes support for the most popular databases. The individual database sections in Dialects enumerate the available DBAPIs for each database, including external links.

Checking the Installed SQLAlchemy Version

This documentation covers SQLAlchemy version 1.1. If you’re working on a system that already has SQLAlchemy installed, check the version from your Python prompt like this:

>>> import sqlalchemy
>>> sqlalchemy.__version__ # doctest: +SKIP

1.0 to 1.1 Migration

Notes on what’s changed from 1.0 to 1.1 is available here at What’s New in SQLAlchemy 1.1?.

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