Release: 1.3.19 current release | Release Date: August 17, 2020

SQLAlchemy 1.3 Documentation

Configuring Relationships

See also

This section describes specifics about how the Declarative system interacts with SQLAlchemy ORM relationship constructs. For general information about setting up relationships between mappings, see Object Relational Tutorial and Basic Relationship Patterns.

Relationships to other classes are done in the usual way, with the added feature that the class specified to relationship() may be a string name. The “class registry” associated with Base is used at mapper compilation time to resolve the name into the actual class object, which is expected to have been defined once the mapper configuration is used:

class User(Base):
    __tablename__ = 'users'

    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    name = Column(String(50))
    addresses = relationship("Address", backref="user")

class Address(Base):
    __tablename__ = 'addresses'

    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    email = Column(String(50))
    user_id = Column(Integer, ForeignKey('users.id'))

Column constructs, since they are just that, are immediately usable, as below where we define a primary join condition on the Address class using them:

class Address(Base):
    __tablename__ = 'addresses'

    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    email = Column(String(50))
    user_id = Column(Integer, ForeignKey('users.id'))
    user = relationship(User, primaryjoin=user_id == User.id)

Evaluation of relationship arguments

In addition to the main argument for relationship(), other arguments which depend upon the columns present on an as-yet undefined class may also be specified as strings. For most of these arguments except that of the main argument, these strings are evaluated as Python expressions using Python’s built-in eval() function.

The full namespace available within this evaluation includes all classes mapped for this declarative base, as well as the contents of the sqlalchemy package, including expression functions like desc() and expression.func:

class User(Base):
    # ....
    addresses = relationship("Address",
                         order_by="desc(Address.email)",
                         primaryjoin="Address.user_id==User.id")

Warning

The strings accepted by the following parameters:

Are evaluated as Python code expressions using eval(). DO NOT PASS UNTRUSTED INPUT TO THESE ARGUMENTS.

In addition, prior to version 1.3.16 of SQLAlchemy, the main “argument” to relationship() is also evaluated as Python code. DO NOT PASS UNTRUSTED INPUT TO THIS ARGUMENT.

Changed in version 1.3.16: The string evaluation of the main “argument” no longer accepts an open ended Python expression, instead only accepting a string class name or dotted package-qualified name.

For the case where more than one module contains a class of the same name, string class names can also be specified as module-qualified paths within any of these string expressions:

class User(Base):
    # ....
    addresses = relationship("myapp.model.address.Address",
                         order_by="desc(myapp.model.address.Address.email)",
                         primaryjoin="myapp.model.address.Address.user_id=="
                                        "myapp.model.user.User.id")

The qualified path can be any partial path that removes ambiguity between the names. For example, to disambiguate between myapp.model.address.Address and myapp.model.lookup.Address, we can specify address.Address or lookup.Address:

class User(Base):
    # ....
    addresses = relationship("address.Address",
                         order_by="desc(address.Address.email)",
                         primaryjoin="address.Address.user_id=="
                                        "User.id")

Two alternatives also exist to using string-based attributes. A lambda can also be used, which will be evaluated after all mappers have been configured:

class User(Base):
    # ...
    addresses = relationship(lambda: Address,
                         order_by=lambda: desc(Address.email),
                         primaryjoin=lambda: Address.user_id==User.id)

Or, the relationship can be added to the class explicitly after the classes are available:

User.addresses = relationship(Address,
                          primaryjoin=Address.user_id==User.id)

Configuring Many-to-Many Relationships

Many-to-many relationships are also declared in the same way with declarative as with traditional mappings. The secondary argument to relationship() is as usual passed a Table object, which is typically declared in the traditional way. The Table usually shares the MetaData object used by the declarative base:

keyword_author = Table(
    'keyword_author', Base.metadata,
    Column('author_id', Integer, ForeignKey('authors.id')),
    Column('keyword_id', Integer, ForeignKey('keywords.id'))
    )

class Author(Base):
    __tablename__ = 'authors'
    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    keywords = relationship("Keyword", secondary=keyword_author)

Like other relationship() arguments, a string is accepted as well, passing the string name of the table as defined in the Base.metadata.tables collection:

class Author(Base):
    __tablename__ = 'authors'
    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    keywords = relationship("Keyword", secondary="keyword_author")

As with traditional mapping, its generally not a good idea to use a Table as the “secondary” argument which is also mapped to a class, unless the relationship() is declared with viewonly=True. Otherwise, the unit-of-work system may attempt duplicate INSERT and DELETE statements against the underlying table.

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