Python Database API Specification 2.0¶
pyfirebirdsql is the Python Database API 2.0 compliant driver for Firebird. The Reference / Usage Guide is therefore divided into three parts:
- Python Database API 2.0 specification
- pyfirebirdsql Compliance to Python DB 2.0 API specification.
- pyfirebirdsql features beyond Python DB 2.0 API specification.
If you’re familiar to Python DB 2.0 API specification, you may skip directly to the next topic.
This is a local copy of the specification. The online source copy is available at http://www.python.org/topics/database/DatabaseAPI-2.0.html
This API has been defined to encourage similarity between the Python modules that are used to access databases. By doing this, we hope to achieve a consistency leading to more easily understood modules, code that is generally more portable across databases, and a broader reach of database connectivity from Python.
The interface specification consists of several sections:
- Module Interface
- Connection Objects
- Cursor Objects
- Type Objects and Constructors
- Implementation Hints
- Major Changes from 1.0 to 2.0
Comments and questions about this specification may be directed to the SIG for Database Interfacing with Python.
This document describes the Python Database API Specification 2.0. The previous version 1.0 version is still available as reference. Package writers are encouraged to use this version of the specification as basis for new interfaces.
Access to the database is made available through connection objects. The module must provide the following constructor for these:
Constructor for creating a connection to the database. Returns a Connection Object . It takes a number of parameters which are database dependent. 
These module globals must be defined:
String constant stating the supported DB API level. Currently only the strings ‘1.0’ and ‘2.0’ are allowed. If not given, a Database API 1.0 level interface should be assumed.
Integer constant stating the level of thread safety the interface supports. Possible values are:
- 0 = Threads may not share the module.
- 1 = Threads may share the module, but not connections.
- 2 = Threads may share the module and connections.
- 3 = Threads may share the module, connections and cursors. Sharing in the above context means that two threads may use a resource without wrapping it using a mutex semaphore to implement resource locking.
Note that you cannot always make external resources thread safe by managing access using a mutex: the resource may rely on global variables or other external sources that are beyond your control.
String constant stating the type of parameter marker formatting expected by the interface. Possible values are :
- ‘qmark’ = Question mark style, e.g. ‘…WHERE name=?’
- ‘numeric’ = Numeric, positional style, e.g. ‘…WHERE name=:1’
- ‘named’ = Named style, e.g. ‘…WHERE name=:name’
- ‘format’ = ANSI C printf format codes, e.g. ‘…WHERE name=%s’
- ‘pyformat’ = Python extended format codes, e.g. ‘…WHERE name=%(name)s’
The module should make all error information available through these exceptions or subclasses thereof:
Exception raised for important warnings like data truncations while inserting, etc. It must be a subclass of the Python StandardError (defined in the module exceptions).
Exception that is the base class of all other error exceptions. You can use this to catch all errors with one single ‘except’ statement. Warnings are not considered errors and thus should not use this class as base. It must be a subclass of the Python StandardError (defined in the module exceptions).
Exception raised for errors that are related to the database interface rather than the database itself. It must be a subclass of Error.
Exception raised for errors that are related to the database. It must be a subclass of Error.
Exception raised for errors that are due to problems with the processed data like division by zero, numeric value out of range, etc. It must be a subclass of DatabaseError.
Exception raised for errors that are related to the database’s operation and not necessarily under the control of the programmer, e.g. an unexpected disconnect occurs, the data source name is not found, a transaction could not be processed, a memory allocation error occurred during processing, etc. It must be a subclass of DatabaseError.
Exception raised when the relational integrity of the database is affected, e.g. a foreign key check fails. It must be a subclass of DatabaseError.
Exception raised when the database encounters an internal error, e.g. the cursor is not valid anymore, the transaction is out of sync, etc. It must be a subclass of DatabaseError.
Exception raised for programming errors, e.g. table not found or already exists, syntax error in the SQL statement, wrong number of parameters specified, etc. It must be a subclass of DatabaseError.
Exception raised in case a method or database API was used which is not supported by the database, e.g. requesting a .rollback() on a connection that does not support transaction or has transactions turned off. It must be a subclass of DatabaseError.
This is the exception inheritance layout:
Note: The values of these exceptions are not defined. They should give
the user a fairly good idea of what went wrong though.
Connections Objects should respond to the following methods:
Close the connection now (rather than whenever __del__ is called). The connection will be unusable from this point forward; an Error (or subclass) exception will be raised if any operation is attempted with the connection. The same applies to all cursor objects trying to use the connection.
Commit any pending transaction to the database. Note that if the database supports an auto-commit feature, this must be initially off. An interface method may be provided to turn it back on. Database modules that do not support transactions should implement this method with void functionality.
This method is optional since not all databases provide transaction support.  In case a database does provide transactions this method causes the the database to roll back to the start of any pending transaction. Closing a connection without committing the changes first will cause an implicit rollback to be performed.
These objects represent a database cursor, which is used to manage the context of a fetch operation. Cursor Objects should respond to the following methods and attributes:
This read-only attribute is a sequence of 7-item sequences. Each of these sequences contains information describing one result column: (name, type_code, display_size, internal_size, precision, scale, null_ok). This attribute will be None for operations that do not return rows or if the cursor has not had an operation invoked via the executeXXX() method yet. The type_code can be interpreted by comparing it to the Type Objects specified in the section below.
This read-only attribute specifies the number of rows that the last executeXXX() produced (for DQL statements like select) or affected (for DML statements like update or insert ). The attribute is -1 in case no executeXXX() has been performed on the cursor or the rowcount of the last operation is not determinable by the interface. 
This method is optional since not all databases provide stored procedures.  Call a stored database procedure with the given name. The sequence of parameters must contain one entry for each argument that the procedure expects. The result of the call is returned as modified copy of the input sequence. Input parameters are left untouched, output and input/output parameters replaced with possibly new values. The procedure may also provide a result set as output. This must then be made available through the standard fetchXXX() methods.
Close the cursor now (rather than whenever __del__ is called). The cursor will be unusable from this point forward; an Error (or subclass) exception will be raised if any operation is attempted with the cursor.
Prepare and execute a database operation (query or command). Parameters may be provided as sequence or mapping and will be bound to variables in the operation. Variables are specified in a database-specific notation (see the module’s paramstyle attribute for details).  A reference to the operation will be retained by the cursor. If the same operation object is passed in again, then the cursor can optimize its behavior. This is most effective for algorithms where the same operation is used, but different parameters are bound to it (many times). For maximum efficiency when reusing an operation, it is best to use the setinputsizes() method to specify the parameter types and sizes ahead of time. It is legal for a parameter to not match the predefined information; the implementation should compensate, possibly with a loss of efficiency. The parameters may also be specified as list of tuples to e.g. insert multiple rows in a single operation, but this kind of usage is depreciated: executemany() should be used instead. Return values are not defined.
Prepare a database operation (query or command) and then execute it against all parameter sequences or mappings found in the sequence seq_of_parameters. Modules are free to implement this method using multiple calls to the execute() method or by using array operations to have the database process the sequence as a whole in one call. The same comments as for execute() also apply accordingly to this method. Return values are not defined.
Fetch the next row of a query result set, returning a single sequence, or None when no more data is available.  An Error (or subclass) exception is raised if the previous call to executeXXX() did not produce any result set or no call was issued yet.
Fetch the next set of rows of a query result, returning a sequence of sequences (e.g. a list of tuples). An empty sequence is returned when no more rows are available. The number of rows to fetch per call is specified by the parameter. If it is not given, the cursor’s arraysize determines the number of rows to be fetched. The method should try to fetch as many rows as indicated by the size parameter. If this is not possible due to the specified number of rows not being available, fewer rows may be returned. An Error (or subclass) exception is raised if the previous call to executeXXX() did not produce any result set or no call was issued yet. Note there are performance considerations involved with the size parameter. For optimal performance, it is usually best to use the arraysize attribute. If the size parameter is used, then it is best for it to retain the same value from one fetchmany() call to the next.
Fetch all (remaining) rows of a query result, returning them as a sequence of sequences (e.g. a list of tuples). Note that the cursor’s arraysize attribute can affect the performance of this operation. An Error (or subclass) exception is raised if the previous call to executeXXX() did not produce any result set or no call was issued yet.
This method is optional since not all databases support multiple result sets.  This method will make the cursor skip to the next available set, discarding any remaining rows from the current set. If there are no more sets, the method returns None. Otherwise, it returns a true value and subsequent calls to the fetch methods will return rows from the next result set. An Error (or subclass) exception is raised if the previous call to executeXXX() did not produce any result set or no call was issued yet.
This can be used before a call to executeXXX() to predefine memory areas for the operation’s parameters. sizes is specified as a sequence – one item for each input parameter. The item should be a Type Object that corresponds to the input that will be used, or it should be an integer specifying the maximum length of a string parameter. If the item is None, then no predefined memory area will be reserved for that column (this is useful to avoid predefined areas for large inputs). This method would be used before the executeXXX() method is invoked. Implementations are free to have this method do nothing and users are free to not use it.
Set a column buffer size for fetches of large columns (e.g. LONGs, BLOBs, etc.). The column is specified as an index into the result sequence. Not specifying the column will set the default size for all large columns in the cursor. This method would be used before the executeXXX() method is invoked. Implementations are free to have this method do nothing and users are free to not use it.
Type Objects and Constructors¶
Many databases need to have the input in a particular format for binding to an operation’s input parameters. For example, if an input is destined for a DATE column, then it must be bound to the database in a particular string format. Similar problems exist for “Row ID” columns or large binary items (e.g. blobs or RAW columns). This presents problems for Python since the parameters to the executeXXX() method are untyped. When the database module sees a Python string object, it doesn’t know if it should be bound as a simple CHAR column, as a raw BINARY item, or as a DATE. To overcome this problem, a module must provide the constructors defined below to create objects that can hold special values. When passed to the cursor methods, the module can then detect the proper type of the input parameter and bind it accordingly. A Cursor Object’s description attribute returns information about each of the result columns of a query. The type_code must compare equal to one of Type Objects defined below. Type Objects may be equal to more than one type code (e.g. DATETIME could be equal to the type codes for date, time and timestamp columns; see the Implementation Hints below for details). The module exports the following constructors and singletons:
Date(year, month, day)¶
This function constructs an object holding a date value.
Time(hour, minute, second)¶
This function constructs an object holding a time value.
Timestamp(year, month, day, hour, minute, second)¶
This function constructs an object holding a time stamp value.
This function constructs an object holding a date value from the given ticks value (number of seconds since the epoch; see the documentation of the standard Python time module for details).
This function constructs an object holding a time value from the given ticks value (number of seconds since the epoch; see the documentation of the standard Python time module for details).
This function constructs an object holding a time stamp value from the given ticks value (number of seconds since the epoch; see the documentation of the standard Python time module for details).
This function constructs an object capable of holding a binary (long) string value.
This type object is used to describe columns in a database that are string-based (e.g. CHAR).
This type object is used to describe (long) binary columns in a database (e.g. LONG, RAW, BLOBs).
This type object is used to describe numeric columns in a database.
This type object is used to describe date/time columns in a database.
This type object is used to describe the “Row ID” column in a database.
SQL NULL values are represented by the Python None singleton on input and output. Note: Usage of Unix ticks for database interfacing can cause troubles because of the limited date range they cover.
- The preferred object types for the date/time objects are those defined in the mxDateTime package. It provides all necessary constructors and methods both at Python and C level.
- The preferred object type for Binary objects are the buffer types available in standard Python starting with version 1.5.2. Please see the Python documentation for details. For information about the the C interface have a look at Include/bufferobject.h and Objects/bufferobject.c in the Python source distribution.
- Here is a sample implementation of the Unix ticks based constructors for date/time delegating work to the generic constructors:
- This Python class allows implementing the above type objects even though the description type code field yields multiple values for on type object:
self.values = values
if other in self.values:
if other < self.values:
The resulting type object compares equal to all values passed to the
- Here is a snippet of Python code that implements the exception hierarchy defined above:
In C you can use the `PyErr_NewException(fullname, base, NULL)` API to
create the exception objects.
Major Changes from Version 1.0 to Version 2.0¶
The Python Database API 2.0 introduces a few major changes compared to the 1.0 version. Because some of these changes will cause existing DB API 1.0 based scripts to break, the major version number was adjusted to reflect this change. These are the most important changes from 1.0 to 2.0:
- The need for a separate dbi module was dropped and the functionality merged into the module interface itself.
- New constructors and Type Objects were added for date/time values, the RAW Type Object was renamed to BINARY. The resulting set should cover all basic data types commonly found in modern SQL databases.
- New constants (apilevel, threadlevel, paramstyle) and methods (executemany, nextset) were added to provide better database bindings.
- The semantics of .callproc() needed to call stored procedures are now clearly defined.
- The definition of the .execute() return value changed. Previously, the return value was based on the SQL statement type (which was hard to implement right) – it is undefined now; use the more flexible .rowcount attribute instead. Modules are free to return the old style return values, but these are no longer mandated by the specification and should be considered database interface dependent.
- Class based exceptions were incorporated into the specification. Module implementors are free to extend the exception layout defined in this specification by subclassing the defined exception classes.
Although the version 2.0 specification clarifies a lot of questions that were left open in the 1.0 version, there are still some remaining issues:
- Define a useful return value for .nextset() for the case where a new result set is available.
- Create a fixed point numeric type for use as loss-less monetary and decimal interchange format.
|As a guideline the connection constructor parameters should be implemented as keyword parameters for more intuitive use and follow this order of parameters: dsn = Data source name as string user = User name as string (optional) password = Password as string (optional) host = Hostname (optional) database = Database name (optional) E.g. a connect could look like this: connect(dsn=’myhost:MYDB’,user=’guido’,password=‘234$?’)
|Module implementors should prefer ‘numeric’, ‘named’ or ‘pyformat’ over the other formats because these offer more clarity and flexibility.
|(1, 2, 3) If the database does not support the functionality required by the method, the interface should throw an exception in case the method is used. The preferred approach is to not implement the method and thus have Python generate an AttributeError in case the method is requested. This allows the programmer to check for database capabilities using the standard hasattr() function. For some dynamically configured interfaces it may not be appropriate to require dynamically making the method available. These interfaces should then raise a NotSupportedError to indicate the non-ability to perform the roll back when the method is invoked.
|A database interface may choose to support named cursors by allowing a string argument to the method. This feature is not part of the specification, since it complicates semantics of the .fetchXXX() methods.
|The module will use the __getitem__ method of the parameters object to map either positions (integers) or names (strings) to parameter values. This allows for both sequences and mappings to be used as input. The term “bound” refers to the process of binding an input value to a database execution buffer. In practical terms, this means that the input value is directly used as a value in the operation. The client should not be required to “escape” the value so that it can be used – the value should be equal to the actual database value.
|Note that the interface may implement row fetching using arrays and other optimizations. It is not guaranteed that a call to this method will only move the associated cursor forward by one row.
|The rowcount attribute may be coded in a way that updates its value dynamically. This can be useful for databases that return useable rowcount values only after the first call to a .fetchXXX() method.