Managing your Database

This document describes how to perform typical database-related tasks with peewee. Throughout this document we will use the following example models:

from peewee import *

class User(Model):
    username = CharField(unique=True)

class Tweet(Model):
    user = ForeignKeyField(User, related_name='tweets')
    message = TextField()
    created_date = DateTimeField(
    is_published = BooleanField(default=True)

Creating a database connection and tables

While it is not necessary to explicitly connect to the database before using it, managing connections explicitly is a good practice. This way if the connection fails, the exception can be caught during the connect step, rather than some arbitrary time later when a query is executed. Furthermore, if you’re using a connection pool, it is actually necessary to call connect() and close() to ensure connections are recycled correctly.

For web-apps you will typically open a connection when a request is started and close it when the response is delivered:

database = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db')

def before_request_handler():

def after_request_handler():


For examples of configuring connection hooks for several popular web frameworks, see the Adding Request Hooks section.


For advanced connection management techniques, see the advanced connection management section.

To use this database with your models, set the database attribute on an inner Meta class:

class MyModel(Model):
    some_field = CharField()

    class Meta:
        database = database

Best practice: define a base model class that points at the database object you wish to use, and then all your models will extend it:

database = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db')

class BaseModel(Model):
    class Meta:
        database = database

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()

class Tweet(BaseModel):
    user = ForeignKeyField(User, related_name='tweets')
    message = TextField()
    # etc, etc


Remember to specify a database on your model classes, otherwise peewee will fall back to a default sqlite database named “peewee.db”.

Vendor-specific Parameters

Some database drivers accept special parameters when being initialized. Rather than try to accommodate all these parameters, Peewee will pass back unrecognized parameters directly to the database driver.

For instance, with Postgresql it is common to need to specify the host, user and password when creating your connection. These are not standard Peewee Database parameters, so they will be passed directly back to psycopg2 when creating connections:

db = PostgresqlDatabase(
    'database_name',  # Required by Peewee.
    user='postgres',  # Will be passed directly to psycopg2.
    password='secret',  # Ditto.
    host='',  # Ditto.

As another example, the pymysql driver accepts a charset parameter which is not a standard Peewee Database parameter. To set this value, simply pass in charset alongside your other values:

db = MySQLDatabase('database_name', user='www-data', charset='utf8mb4')

Consult your database driver’s documentation for the available parameters:

Using Postgresql

To connect to a Postgresql database, we will use PostgresqlDatabase. The first parameter is always the name of the database, and after that you can specify arbitrary psycopg2 parameters.

psql_db = PostgresqlDatabase('my_database', user='postgres')

class BaseModel(Model):
    """A base model that will use our Postgresql database"""
    class Meta:
        database = psql_db

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()

The Playhouse, extensions to Peewee contains a Postgresql extension module which provides many postgres-specific features such as:

If you would like to use these awesome features, use the PostgresqlExtDatabase from the playhouse.postgres_ext module:

from playhouse.postgres_ext import PostgresqlExtDatabase

psql_db = PostgresqlExtDatabase('my_database', user='postgres')

Using SQLite

To connect to a SQLite database, we will use SqliteDatabase. The first parameter is the filename containing the database, or the string :memory: to create an in-memory database. After the database filename, you can specify arbitrary sqlite3 parameters.

sqlite_db = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db')

class BaseModel(Model):
    """A base model that will use our Sqlite database."""
    class Meta:
        database = sqlite_db

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()
    # etc, etc

The Playhouse, extensions to Peewee contains a SQLite extension module which provides many SQLite-specific features such as:

If you would like to use these awesome features, use the SqliteExtDatabase from the playhouse.sqlite_ext module:

from playhouse.sqlite_ext import SqliteExtDatabase

sqlite_db = SqliteExtDatabase('my_app.db', journal_mode='WAL')

PRAGMA statements

New in version 2.6.4.

SQLite allows run-time configuration of a number of parameters through PRAGMA statements (documentation). These statements are typically run against a new database connection. To run one or more PRAGMA statements against new connections, you can specify them as a list or tuple of 2-tuples containing the pragma name and value:

db = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db', pragmas=(
    ('journal_mode', 'WAL'),
    ('cache_size', 10000),
    ('mmap_size', 1024 * 1024 * 32),

SQLite and Autocommit

Changed in version 2.4.5.

In version 2.4.5, the default isolation level for SQLite databases is None, which equates to autocommit. The reason for this change has to do with some idiosyncracies of pysqlite (or the standard library sqlite3).

If you are using your database in autocommit mode (the default) then you should not need to make any changes to your code.

If you are using autocommit=False, you will need to explicitly call begin() before executing queries.


This does not apply to code executed within transaction() or atomic().


If you are using peewee with autocommit disabled, you must explicitly call begin(), otherwise statements will be executed in autocommit mode.

Example code:

# Define a database with autocommit turned off.
db = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db', autocommit=False)

# You must call begin()

# If using a transaction, then no changes are necessary.
with db.transaction():

# If using a function decorated by transaction, no changes are necessary.
def create_user(username):

APSW, an Advanced SQLite Driver

Peewee also comes with an alternate SQLite database that uses apsw, an advanced sqlite driver, an advanced Python SQLite driver. More information on APSW can be obtained on the APSW project website. APSW provides special features like:

  • Virtual tables, virtual file-systems, Blob I/O, backups and file control.
  • Connections can be shared across threads without any additional locking.
  • Transactions are managed explicitly by your code.
  • Unicode is handled correctly.
  • APSW is faster that the standard library sqlite3 module.
  • Exposes pretty much the entire SQLite C API to your Python app.

If you would like to use APSW, use the APSWDatabase from the apsw_ext module:

from playhouse.apsw_ext import APSWDatabase

apsw_db = APSWDatabase('my_app.db')

Using BerkeleyDB

The playhouse contains a special extension module for using a BerkeleyDB database. BerkeleyDB can be compiled with a SQLite-compatible API, then the python SQLite driver can be compiled to use the Berkeley version of SQLite.

You can find up-to-date step by step instructions on my blog for compling the BerkeleyDB + SQLite library, then building a statically-linked pysqlite that uses the custom sqlite library.

To connect to a BerkeleyDB database, we will use BerkeleyDatabase. Like SqliteDatabase, the first parameter is the filename containing the database or the string :memory: to create an in-memory database.

from playhouse.berkeleydb import BerkeleyDatabase

berkeley_db = BerkeleyDatabase('my_app.db')

class BaseModel(Model):
    """A base model that will use our BDB database."""
    class Meta:
        database = berkeley_db

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()
    # etc, etc

Using MySQL

To connect to a MySQL database, we will use MySQLDatabase. After the database name, you can specify arbitrary connection parameters that will be passed back to the driver (either MySQLdb or pymysql).

mysql_db = MySQLDatabase('my_database')

class BaseModel(Model):
    """A base model that will use our MySQL database"""
    class Meta:
        database = mysql_db

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()
    # etc, etc

Error 2006: MySQL server has gone away

This particular error can occur when MySQL kills an idle database connection. This typically happens with web apps that do not explicitly manage database connections. What happens is your application starts, a connection is opened to handle the first query that executes, and, since that connection is never closed, it remains open, waiting for more queries.

To fix this, make sure you are explicitly connecting to the database when you need to execute queries, and close your connection when you are done. In a web-application, this typically means you will open a connection when a request comes in, and close the connection when you return a response.

See the Adding Request Hooks for more information.

If you would like to automatically reconnect and retry queries that fail due to an OperationalError, peewee provides a Database mixin RetryOperationalError that will handle reconnecting and retrying the query automatically. For more information see Automatic Reconnect.

Connecting using a Database URL

The playhouse module Database URL provides a helper connect() function that accepts a database URL and returns a Database instance.

Example code:

import os

from peewee import *
from playhouse.db_url import connect

# Connect to the database URL defined in the environment, falling
# back to a local Sqlite database if no database URL is specified.
db = connect(os.environ.get('DATABASE') or 'sqlite:///default.db')

class BaseModel(Model):
    class Meta:
        database = db

Example database URLs:

  • sqlite:///my_database.db will create a SqliteDatabase instance for the file my_database.db in the current directory.
  • sqlite:///:memory: will create an in-memory SqliteDatabase instance.
  • postgresql://postgres:my_password@localhost:5432/my_database will create a PostgresqlDatabase instance. A username and password are provided, as well as the host and port to connect to.
  • mysql://user:passwd@ip:port/my_db will create a MySQLDatabase instance for the local MySQL database my_db.
  • More examples in the db_url documentation.

Multi-threaded applications

peewee stores the connection state in a thread local, so each thread gets its own separate connection. If you prefer to manage the connections yourself, you can disable this behavior by initializing your database with threadlocals=False.

Run-time database configuration

Sometimes the database connection settings are not known until run-time, when these values may be loaded from a configuration file or the environment. In these cases, you can defer the initialization of the database by specifying None as the database_name.

database = SqliteDatabase(None)  # Un-initialized database.

class SomeModel(Model):
    class Meta:
        database = database

If you try to connect or issue any queries while your database is uninitialized you will get an exception:

>>> database.connect()
Exception: Error, database not properly initialized before opening connection

To initialize your database, call the init() method with the database name and any additional keyword arguments:

database_name = raw_input('What is the name of the db? ')
database.init(database_name, host='localhost', user='postgres')

For even more control over initializing your database, see the next section, Dynamically defining a database.

Dynamically defining a database

For even more control over how your database is defined/initialized, you can use the Proxy helper. Proxy objects act as a placeholder, and then at run-time you can swap it out for a different object. In the example below, we will swap out the database depending on how the app is configured:

database_proxy = Proxy()  # Create a proxy for our db.

class BaseModel(Model):
    class Meta:
        database = database_proxy  # Use proxy for our DB.

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()

# Based on configuration, use a different database.
if app.config['DEBUG']:
    database = SqliteDatabase('local.db')
elif app.config['TESTING']:
    database = SqliteDatabase(':memory:')
    database = PostgresqlDatabase('mega_production_db')

# Configure our proxy to use the db we specified in config.


Only use this method if your actual database driver varies at run-time. For instance, if your tests and local dev environment run on SQLite, but your deployed app uses PostgreSQL, you can use the Proxy to swap out engines at run-time.

However, if it is only connection values that vary at run-time, such as the path to the database file, or the database host, you should instead use Database.init(). See Run-time database configuration for more details.

Connection Pooling

Connection pooling is provided by the pool module, included in the Playhouse, extensions to Peewee extensions library. The pool supports:

  • Timeout after which connections will be recycled.
  • Upper bound on the number of open connections.

The connection pool module comes with support for Postgres and MySQL (though adding support for other databases is trivial).

from playhouse.pool import PooledPostgresqlExtDatabase

db = PooledPostgresqlExtDatabase(

class BaseModel(Model):
    class Meta:
        database = db

The following pooled database classes are available:

For an in-depth discussion of peewee’s connection pool, see the Connection pool section of the Playhouse, extensions to Peewee documentation.

Read Slaves

Peewee can automatically run SELECT queries against one or more read replicas. The read_slave module, included in the Playhouse, extensions to Peewee extensions library, contains a Model subclass which provides this behavior.

Here is how you might use the ReadSlaveModel:

from peewee import *
from playhouse.read_slave import ReadSlaveModel

# Declare a master and two read-replicas.
master = PostgresqlDatabase('master')
replica_1 = PostgresqlDatabase('replica', host='')
replica_2 = PostgresqlDatabase('replica', host='')

class BaseModel(ReadSlaveModel):
    class Meta:
        database = master
        read_slaves = (replica_1, replica_2)

class User(BaseModel):
    username = CharField()

Now when you execute writes (or deletes), they will be run on the master, while all read-only queries will be executed against one of the replicas. Queries are dispatched among the read slaves in round-robin fashion.

Schema migrations

Currently peewee does not have support for automatic schema migrations, but you can use the Schema Migrations module to create simple migration scripts. The schema migrations module works with SQLite, MySQL and Postgres, and will even allow you to do things like drop or rename columns in SQLite!

Here is an example of how you might write a migration script:

from playhouse.migrate import *

my_db = SqliteDatabase('my_database.db')
migrator = SqliteMigrator(my_db)

title_field = CharField(default='')
status_field = IntegerField(null=True)

with my_db.transaction():
        migrator.add_column('some_table', 'title', title_field),
        migrator.add_column('some_table', 'status', status_field),
        migrator.drop_column('some_table', 'old_column'),

Check the Schema Migrations documentation for more details.

Generating Models from Existing Databases

If you’d like to generate peewee model definitions for an existing database, you can try out the database introspection tool pwiz, a model generator that comes with peewee. pwiz is capable of introspecting Postgresql, MySQL and SQLite databases.

Introspecting a Postgresql database:

python -m pwiz --engine=postgresql my_postgresql_database

Introspecting a SQLite database:

python -m pwiz --engine=sqlite test.db

pwiz will generate:

  • Database connection object
  • A BaseModel class to use with the database
  • Model classes for each table in the database.

The generated code is written to stdout, and can easily be redirected to a file:

python -m pwiz -e postgresql my_postgresql_db >


pwiz generally works quite well with even large and complex database schemas, but in some cases it will not be able to introspect a column. You may need to go through the generated code to add indexes, fix unrecognized column types, and resolve any circular references that were found.

Adding Request Hooks

When building web-applications, it is very important that you manage your database connections correctly. In this section I will describe how to add hooks to your web app to ensure the database connection is handled properly.

These steps will ensure that regardless of whether you’re using a simple SQLite database, or a pool of multiple Postgres connections, peewee will handle the connections correctly.


Flask and peewee are a great combo and my go-to for projects of any size. Flask provides two hooks which we will use to open and close our db connection. We’ll open the connection when a request is received, then close it when the response is returned.

from flask import Flask
from peewee import *

database = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db')
app = Flask(__name__)

# This hook ensures that a connection is opened to handle any queries
# generated by the request.
def _db_connect():

# This hook ensures that the connection is closed when we've finished
# processing the request.
def _db_close(exc):
    if not database.is_closed():


While it’s less common to see peewee used with Django, it is actually very easy to use the two. To manage your peewee database connections with Django, the easiest way in my opinion is to add a middleware to your app. The middleware should be the very first in the list of middlewares, to ensure it runs first when a request is handled, and last when the response is returned.

If you have a django project named my_blog and your peewee database is defined in the module my_blog.db, you might add the following middleware class:

from my_blog.db import database  # Import the peewee database instance.

class PeeweeConnectionMiddleware(object):
    def process_request(self, request):

    def process_response(self, request, response):
        if not database.is_closed():
        return response

To ensure this middleware gets executed, add it to your settings module:

    # Our custom middleware appears first in the list.

    # These are the default Django 1.7 middlewares. Yours may differ,
    # but the important this is that our Peewee middleware comes first.

# ... other Django settings ...


I haven’t used bottle myself, but looking at the documentation I believe the following code should ensure the database connections are properly managed:

from bottle import hook  #, route, etc, etc.
from peewee import *

db = SqliteDatabase('my-bottle-app.db')

def _connect_db():

def _close_db():
    if not db.is_closed():

# Rest of your bottle app goes here.

See application processors.

db = SqliteDatabase('my_webpy_app.db')

def connection_processor(handler):
        return handler()
        if not db.is_closed():



It looks like Tornado’s RequestHandler class implements two hooks which can be used to open and close connections when a request is handled.

from tornado.web import RequestHandler

db = SqliteDatabase('my_db.db')

class PeeweeRequestHandler(RequestHandler):
    def prepare(self):
        return super(PeeweeRequestHandler, self).prepare()

    def on_finish(self):
        if not db.is_closed():
        return super(PeeweeRequestHandler, self).on_finish()

In your app, instead of extending the default RequestHandler, now you can extend PeeweeRequestHandler.

Note that this does not address how to use peewee asynchronously with Tornado or another event loop.


The connection handling code can be placed in a middleware.

def peewee_middleware(request, following):
        response = following(request)
        if not db.is_closed():
    return response

app = WSGIApplication(middleware=[
    lambda x: peewee_middleware,
    # ... other middlewares ...

Thanks to GitHub user @tuukkamustonen for submitting this code.


The connection handling code can be placed in a middleware component.

import falcon
from peewee import *

database = SqliteDatabase('my_app.db')

class PeeweeConnectionMiddleware(object):
    def process_request(self, req, resp):

    def process_response(self, req, resp, resource):
        if not database.is_closed():

application = falcon.API(middleware=[
    # ... other middlewares ...


Set up a Request factory that handles database connection lifetime as follows:

from pyramid.request import Request

db = SqliteDatabase('pyramidapp.db')

class MyRequest(Request):
    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        super().__init__(*args, **kwargs)

    def finish(self, request):
        if not db.is_closed():

In your application main() make sure MyRequest is used as request_factory:

def main(global_settings, **settings):
    config = Configurator(settings=settings, ...)


See Publish/Subscribe pattern.

def _db_connect():

def _db_close():
    if not db.is_closed():

cherrypy.engine.subscribe('before_request', _db_connect)
cherrypy.engine.subscribe('after_request', _db_close)

Other frameworks

Don’t see your framework here? Please open a GitHub ticket and I’ll see about adding a section, or better yet, submit a documentation pull-request.

Additional connection initialization

Peewee does a few basic things depending on your database to initialize a connection. For SQLite this means registering custom user-defined functions, for Postgresql this means registering unicode support.

You may find it necessary to add additional initialization when a new connection is opened, however. For example you may want to tell SQLite to enforce all foreign key constraints (off by default). To do this, you can subclass the database and override the initialize_connection() method.

This method contains no implementation on the base database classes, so you do not need to call super() with it.

Example turning on SQLite foreign keys:

class SqliteFKDatabase(SqliteDatabase):
    def initialize_connection(self, conn):
        self.execute_sql('PRAGMA foreign_keys=ON;')

Advanced Connection Management

Managing your database connections is as simple as calling connect() when you need to open a connection, and close() when you are finished. In a web-app, you would typically connect when you receive a request, and close the connection when you return a response. Because connection state is stored in a thread-local, you do not need to worry about juggling connection objects – peewee will handle it for you.

In some situations, however, you may want to manage your connections more explicitly. Since peewee stores the active connection in a threadlocal, this typically would mean that there could only ever be one connection open per thread. For most applications this is desirable, but if you would like to manually manage multiple connections you can create an ExecutionContext.

Execution contexts allow finer-grained control over managing multiple connections to the database. When an execution context is initialized (either as a context manager or as a decorated function), a separate connection will be used for the duration of the wrapped block. You can also choose whether to wrap the block in a transaction.

Execution context examples:

with db.execution_context() as ctx:
    # A new connection will be opened or, if using a connection pool,
    # pulled from the pool of available connections. Additionally, a
    # transaction will be started.
    user = User.create(username='charlie')

# When the block ends, the transaction will be committed and the connection
# will be closed (or returned to the pool).

def do_something(foo, bar):
    # When this function is called, a separate connection is made and will
    # be closed when the function returns.

If you are using the peewee connection pool, then the new connections used by the ExecutionContext will be pulled from the pool of available connections and recycled appropriately.

Using multiple databases

With peewee you can use as many databases as you want. Each model can define it’s database by specifying a Meta.database. What if you want to use the same model with multiple databases, though? Depending on your use-case, peewee provides several options.

If you have a Master/Slave setup and want all writes to go to the master, but reads can go to any number of replicated copies, check out the Read Slave extension.

For finer-grained control, check out the Using context manager / decorator. This allows you to specify the database to use with a given list of models for the duration of the wrapped block.

Here is an example of how you might use the Using context manager:

master = PostgresqlDatabase('master')
read_replica = PostgresqlDatabase('replica')

class Data(Model):
    value = IntegerField()

    class Meta:
        database = master

# By default all queries go to the master, since that is what
# is defined on our model.
for i in range(10):

# But what if we want to explicitly use the read replica?
with Using(read_replica, [Data]):
    # Query is executed against the read replica.
    Data.get(Data.value == 5)

    # Since we did not specify this model in the list of overrides
    # it will use whatever database it was defined with.
    SomeOtherModel.get(SomeOtherModel.field == 3)


For simple master/slave configurations, check out the Read Slaves extension. This extension ensures writes are sent to the master database and reads occur from any of the listed read replicas.

Database Errors

The Python DB-API 2.0 spec describes several types of exceptions. Because most database drivers have their own implementations of these exceptions, Peewee simplifies things by providing its own wrappers around any implementation-specific exception classes. That way, you don’t need to worry about importing any special exception classes, you can just use the ones from peewee:

  • DatabaseError
  • DataError
  • IntegrityError
  • InterfaceError
  • InternalError
  • NotSupportedError
  • OperationalError
  • ProgrammingError


All of these error classes extend PeeweeException.

Automatic Reconnect

Peewee provides very basic support for automatic reconnecting in the Shortcuts module, through the use of the RetryOperationalError mixin. This mixin will automatically reconnect to the database and retry any queries that fail with an OperationalError. The query that failed will be retried only once, and if it fails twice an exception will be raised.


from peewee import *
from playhouse.shortcuts import RetryOperationalError

class MyRetryDB(RetryOperationalError, MySQLDatabase):

db = MyRetryDB('my_app')

Logging queries

All queries are logged to the peewee namespace using the standard library logging module. Queries are logged using the DEBUG level. If you’re interested in doing something with the queries, you can simply register a handler.

# Print all queries to stderr.
import logging
logger = logging.getLogger('peewee')

Generating skeleton code

For writing quick scripts, peewee comes with a helper script pskel which generates database connection and model boilerplate code. If you find yourself frequently writing small programs, pskel can really save you time.

To generate a script, you can simply run:

pskel User Tweet SomeModel AnotherModel >

pskel will generate code to connect to an in-memory SQLite database, as well as blank model definitions for the model names specified on the command line.

Here is a more complete example, which will use the PostgresqlExtDatabase with query logging enabled:

pskel -l -e postgres_ext -d my_database User Tweet >

You can now fill in the model definitions and get to hacking!

Adding a new Database Driver

Peewee comes with built-in support for Postgres, MySQL and SQLite. These databases are very popular and run the gamut from fast, embeddable databases to heavyweight servers suitable for large-scale deployments. That being said, there are a ton of cool databases out there and adding support for your database-of-choice should be really easy, provided the driver supports the DB-API 2.0 spec.

The db-api 2.0 spec should be familiar to you if you’ve used the standard library sqlite3 driver, psycopg2 or the like. Peewee currently relies on a handful of parts:

  • Connection.commit
  • Connection.execute
  • Connection.rollback
  • Cursor.description
  • Cursor.fetchone

These methods are generally wrapped up in higher-level abstractions and exposed by the Database, so even if your driver doesn’t do these exactly you can still get a lot of mileage out of peewee. An example is the apsw sqlite driver in the “playhouse” module.

The first thing is to provide a subclass of Database that will open a connection.

from peewee import Database
import foodb  # Our fictional DB-API 2.0 driver.

class FooDatabase(Database):
    def _connect(self, database, **kwargs):
        return foodb.connect(database, **kwargs)

The Database provides a higher-level API and is responsible for executing queries, creating tables and indexes, and introspecting the database to get lists of tables. The above implementation is the absolute minimum needed, though some features will not work – for best results you will want to additionally add a method for extracting a list of tables and indexes for a table from the database. We’ll pretend that FooDB is a lot like MySQL and has special “SHOW” statements:

class FooDatabase(Database):
    def _connect(self, database, **kwargs):
        return foodb.connect(database, **kwargs)

    def get_tables(self):
        res = self.execute('SHOW TABLES;')
        return [r[0] for r in res.fetchall()]

Other things the database handles that are not covered here include:

  • last_insert_id() and rows_affected()
  • interpolation and quote_char
  • op_overrides for mapping operations such as “LIKE/ILIKE” to their database equivalent

Refer to the Database API reference or the source code. for details.


If your driver conforms to the DB-API 2.0 spec, there shouldn’t be much work needed to get up and running.

Our new database can be used just like any of the other database subclasses:

from peewee import *
from foodb_ext import FooDatabase

db = FooDatabase('my_database', user='foo', password='secret')

class BaseModel(Model):
    class Meta:
        database = db

class Blog(BaseModel):
    title = CharField()
    contents = TextField()
    pub_date = DateTimeField()