Pure-Python engine

The pure-Python engine consists of one module, pydblite.py. To use it, import the class Base from this module:

from pydblite import Base

Create or open a database

Create a database instance, passing it a path in the file system

db = Base('test.pdl')

For a new database, define the field names

db.create('name', 'age', 'size')

You don’t have to define the field types. Any value will be accepted as long as it can be serialized by the cPickle module:

  • strings
  • Unicode strings
  • integers
  • floats
  • dates and datetimes (instances of the date and datetime classes in the datetime module)
  • user-defined classes

db.exists() indicates if the base exists.

if the base exists, open it

if db.exists():

You can pass a parameter “mode” to the create() method, to specify what you want to do if the base already exists in the file system

  • mode = “open” : db.create('name', 'age', 'size', mode="open") opens the database and ignores the field definition
  • mode = “override” : db.create('name', 'age', 'size', mode="override") erases the existing base and creates a new one with the field definition
  • if mode is not specified and the base already exists, an IOError is raised

Insert, update, delete a record

insert a new record

by keywords

db.insert(name='homer', age=23, size=1.84)

If some fields are missing, they are initialized with the value None

by positional arguments

db.insert('homer', 23, 1.84)

The arguments must be provided in the same order as in the create() method

save the changes on disk


If you don’t commit the changes, the insertion, deletion and update operations will not be saved on disk. As long as changes are not commited, use open() to restore the values as they are currently on disk (this is equivalent to rollback in transactional databases)

delete a record


or, if you know the record identifier

del db[rec_id]

to delete a list of records


where list_of_records can be any iterable (list, tuple, set, etc) yielding records

to update a record

db.update(record, age=24)
  • besides the fields passed to the create() method, an internal field called __id__ is added. It is an integer which is guaranteed to be unique and unchanged for each record in the base, so that it can be used as the record identifier
  • another internal field called __version__ is also managed by the database engine. It is an integer which is set to 0 when the record is created, then incremented by 1 each time the record is updated. This is used to detect concurrency control, for instance in a web application where 2 users select the same record and want to update it at the same time


The instance of Base is a Python iterator

to iterate on all the records

for r in db:

Direct access

A record can be accessed by its identifier

record = db[rec_id]

returns the record such that record['__id__'] == rec_id

Simple selections

  • db(key1=val1, key2=val2) returns the list of records where the keys take the given values
  • db(key) >= val returns an iterator on all records where the value of the field key is greater than or equal to val.


for rec in (db("age") > 30):
     print rec["name"]

such “rich comparison” operations can be combined with & (AND) and | (OR)

for rec in (db("age") > 30) & (db("country") == "France"):
    print rec["name"]

List comprehension

The selection of records can use Python list comprehension syntax

recs = [r for r in db if 30 > r['age'] >= 18 and r['size'] < 2]

Returns the records in the base where the age is between 18 and 30, and size is below 2 meters. The record is a dictionary, where the key is the field name and value is the field value

Python generator expression syntax can also be used

for r in (r for r in db if r['name'] in ('homer', 'marge')):

iterates on the records where the name is one of ‘homer’ or ‘marge’


To speed up selections, an index can be created on a field using create_index('field')


When an index is created, the database instance has an attribute (here _age : note the heading underscore, to avoid name conflicts with internal names). This attribute is a dictionary-like object, where keys are the values taken by the field, and values are the records whose field values are egal to the key :

records = db._age[23] returns the list of records with age == 23

If no record has this value, lookup by this value returns an empty list

The index supports iteration on the field values, and the keys() method returns all existing values for the field

Other attributes and methods

  • add_field('new_field'[,default=v]): adds a new field to an existing base. default is an optional default value ; set to None if not specified
  • drop_field('field'): drops an existing field
  • db.path: the path of the database in the file system
  • db.name: the database name : the basename of the path, stripped of its extension
  • db.fields: the list of the fields (does not include the internal fields __id__ and __version__)
  • len(db) : number of records in the base