Does SQLAlchemy have an equivalent of Django’s get_or_create?

Does SQLAlchemy have an equivalent of Django’s get_or_create?

I want to get an object from the database if it already exists (based on provided parameters) or create it if it does not.
Django's get_or_create (or source) does this.  Is there an equivalent shortcut in SQLAlchemy?
I'm currently writing it out explicitly like this:
def get_or_create_instrument(session, serial_number):
    instrument = session.query(Instrument).filter_by(serial_number=serial_number).first()
    if instrument:
        return instrument
    else:
        instrument = Instrument(serial_number)
        session.add(instrument)
        return instrument

Solutions/Answers:

Answer 1:

That’s basically the way to do it, there is no shortcut readily available AFAIK.

You could generalize it ofcourse:

def get_or_create(session, model, defaults=None, **kwargs):
    instance = session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).first()
    if instance:
        return instance, False
    else:
        params = dict((k, v) for k, v in kwargs.iteritems() if not isinstance(v, ClauseElement))
        params.update(defaults or {})
        instance = model(**params)
        session.add(instance)
        return instance, True

Answer 2:

Following the solution of @WoLpH, this is the code that worked for me (simple version):

def get_or_create(session, model, **kwargs):
    instance = session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).first()
    if instance:
        return instance
    else:
        instance = model(**kwargs)
        session.add(instance)
        session.commit()
        return instance

With this, I’m able to get_or_create any object of my model.

Suppose my model object is :

class Country(Base):
    __tablename__ = 'countries'
    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    name = Column(String, unique=True)

To get or create my object I write :

myCountry = get_or_create(session, Country, name=countryName)

Answer 3:

I’ve been playing with this problem and have ended up with a fairly robust solution:

def get_one_or_create(session,
                      model,
                      create_method='',
                      create_method_kwargs=None,
                      **kwargs):
    try:
        return session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).one(), False
    except NoResultFound:
        kwargs.update(create_method_kwargs or {})
        created = getattr(model, create_method, model)(**kwargs)
        try:
            session.add(created)
            session.flush()
            return created, True
        except IntegrityError:
            session.rollback()
            return session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).one(), False

I just wrote a fairly expansive blog post on all the details, but a few quite ideas of why I used this.

  1. It unpacks to a tuple that tells you if the object existed or not. This can often be useful in your workflow.

  2. The function gives the ability to work with @classmethod decorated creator functions (and attributes specific to them).

  3. The solution protects against Race Conditions when you have more than one process connected to the datastore.

EDIT: I’ve changed session.commit() to session.flush() as explained in this blog post. Note that these decisions are specific to the datastore used (Postgres in this case).

EDIT 2: I’ve updated using a {} as a default value in the function as this is typical Python gotcha. Thanks for the comment, Nigel! If your curious about this gotcha, check out this StackOverflow question and this blog post.

Answer 4:

A modified version of erik’s excellent answer

def get_one_or_create(session,
                      model,
                      create_method='',
                      create_method_kwargs=None,
                      **kwargs):
    try:
        return session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).one(), True
    except NoResultFound:
        kwargs.update(create_method_kwargs or {})
        try:
            with session.begin_nested():
                created = getattr(model, create_method, model)(**kwargs)
                session.add(created)
            return created, False
        except IntegrityError:
            return session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).one(), True
  • Use a nested transaction to only roll back the addition of the new item instead of rolling back everything (See this answer to use nested transactions with SQLite)
  • Move create_method. If the created object has relations and it is assigned members through those relations, it is automatically added to the session. E.g. create a book, which has user_id and user as corresponding relationship, then doing book.user=<user object> inside of create_method will add book to the session. This means that create_method must be inside with to benefit from an eventual rollback. Note that begin_nested automatically triggers a flush.

Note that if using MySQL, the transaction isolation level must be set to READ COMMITTED rather than REPEATABLE READ for this to work. Django’s get_or_create (and here) uses the same stratagem, see also the Django documentation.

Answer 5:

This SQLALchemy recipe does the job nice and elegant.

The first thing to do is to define a function that is given a Session to work with, and associates a dictionary with the Session() which keeps track of current unique keys.

def _unique(session, cls, hashfunc, queryfunc, constructor, arg, kw):
    cache = getattr(session, '_unique_cache', None)
    if cache is None:
        session._unique_cache = cache = {}

    key = (cls, hashfunc(*arg, **kw))
    if key in cache:
        return cache[key]
    else:
        with session.no_autoflush:
            q = session.query(cls)
            q = queryfunc(q, *arg, **kw)
            obj = q.first()
            if not obj:
                obj = constructor(*arg, **kw)
                session.add(obj)
        cache[key] = obj
        return obj

An example of utilizing this function would be in a mixin:

class UniqueMixin(object):
    @classmethod
    def unique_hash(cls, *arg, **kw):
        raise NotImplementedError()

    @classmethod
    def unique_filter(cls, query, *arg, **kw):
        raise NotImplementedError()

    @classmethod
    def as_unique(cls, session, *arg, **kw):
        return _unique(
                    session,
                    cls,
                    cls.unique_hash,
                    cls.unique_filter,
                    cls,
                    arg, kw
            )

And finally creating the unique get_or_create model:

from sqlalchemy import Column, Integer, String, create_engine
from sqlalchemy.orm import sessionmaker
from sqlalchemy.ext.declarative import declarative_base

Base = declarative_base()

engine = create_engine('sqlite://', echo=True)

Session = sessionmaker(bind=engine)

class Widget(UniqueMixin, Base):
    __tablename__ = 'widget'

    id = Column(Integer, primary_key=True)
    name = Column(String, unique=True, nullable=False)

    @classmethod
    def unique_hash(cls, name):
        return name

    @classmethod
    def unique_filter(cls, query, name):
        return query.filter(Widget.name == name)

Base.metadata.create_all(engine)

session = Session()

w1, w2, w3 = Widget.as_unique(session, name='w1'), \
                Widget.as_unique(session, name='w2'), \
                Widget.as_unique(session, name='w3')
w1b = Widget.as_unique(session, name='w1')

assert w1 is w1b
assert w2 is not w3
assert w2 is not w1

session.commit()

The recipe goes deeper into the idea and provides different approaches but I’ve used this one with great success.

Answer 6:

The closest semantically is probably:

def get_or_create(model, **kwargs):
    """SqlAlchemy implementation of Django's get_or_create.
    """
    session = Session()
    instance = session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).first()
    if instance:
        return instance, False
    else:
        instance = model(**kwargs)
        session.add(instance)
        session.commit()
        return instance, True

not sure how kosher it is to rely on a globally defined Session in sqlalchemy, but the Django version doesn’t take a connection so…

The tuple returned contains the instance and a boolean indicating if the instance was created (i.e. it’s False if we read the instance from the db).

Django’s get_or_create is often used to make sure that global data is available, so I’m committing at the earliest point possible.

Answer 7:

Depending on the isolation level you adopted, none of the above solutions would work.
The best solution I have found is a RAW SQL in the following form:

INSERT INTO table(f1, f2, unique_f3) 
SELECT 'v1', 'v2', 'v3' 
WHERE NOT EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM table WHERE f3 = 'v3')

This is transactionally safe whatever the isolation level and the degree of parallelism are.

Beware: in order to make it efficient, it would be wise to have an INDEX for the unique column.

Answer 8:

I slightly simplified @Kevin. solution to avoid wrapping the whole function in an if/else statement. This way there’s only one return, which I find cleaner:

def get_or_create(session, model, **kwargs):
    instance = session.query(model).filter_by(**kwargs).first()

    if not instance:
        instance = model(**kwargs)
        session.add(instance)

    return instance

References