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Model and View support for bottle framework, currently supports mongoDB. The ViewModel provides a high level db schema and interface to a database as well as an interface from the db to views. Current version works with bottle framework and pymongo however a previous version supported sqlalchemy and other frameworks could be supported.

Project description


ViewModels are wrappers for the data ‘model’, that include details of the data useful in generating views. An ORM ( The current implementation is with mongoDB for the bottle framework. Generally the concept is to allow information and flexibly independent of the constraints of the underlying db. This provides for the model and also supports the view code, so simplifies both model and view code.


Interface to provide access to database and abstraction

To access a collection in a simply Mongo through pymongo could not be much simpler. Similarly with other However this does not provide: - abstraction between code and database - types beyond those covered in the BSON type set - joins, and joins with ‘lazy’ execution - a record of schema in use - support for a web maintenance interface to the database - web interface supports security and templates for full application

All these advantages are provided by using ViewModel. However there are times when none of these justifies an additional layer. The more complex the collection, the greater the amount of code, generally the greater the value of using ViewObject

Abstraction between code and database

Databases migrate. The Salt database started with direct SQL, then SQLAlchemy, then mongodb. Abstraction assists with migrations. The current Salt system uses Mongo and directly using the pymongo interface is can be perfect for simple access. A rewrite would be needed to change the db but the code is so small it is not a large barrier for small simple cases. But more complex cases are another matter!

Repository for all information relating to data: schema and beyond

A single repository for all information about data. Information on both storage as well as information used for display, all in one place.

Data descriptions can be simple tables/collections or views which comprise multiple tables which are effectively joined.

The data description provided by viewmodel library, can include extended types described at a layer of abstraction separate from the storage specification, allowing the application layer free of the mechanics.

ViewModel was first created for SQL based applications, but then evolved to also work with NoSQL mongoDB applications.

NoSql collections (or tables) can effectively be irregular with different fields present potentially in every entry. While with SQL,just examining a row can give a reasonable view of that schema, but this can be less clear from NoSql. Even with SQL, the schema recorded is restricted to what the database engine requires, and lacks richer descriptions of the data and rules not implemented by the database, but a repository for a schema becomes even more essential with NoSQL.

Increasing range of types available to applications

ViewModel provides mapping between the data in the database and the data seen by the application. Far more descriptive types and move complex types can be used by the application with the mapping between these types and the underlying storage format handle by the ViewModel



The original Salt project development worked with SQL at a time when the SQLAlchemy project was still in early stages. So Salt developed its own layer to abstract to the database in 2007 around the same time as SQLAlchemy was developed. Both the salt ‘DataModel’ and SQLAlchemy libraries developed specific advantages, but as a popular open sourced project, SQLAlchemy became the more mature product. In 2015 the Salt project chose to replace the internal ‘DataModel’ library with the SQLAlchemy, due to wider use and greater development of the open source project, but then found several key features of ‘DataModel’ were missing from SQLAlchemy. The solution was a new library ‘ViewModel’, which acted as an abstraction layer between SQLAlchemy and the application. The name ‘ViewModel’ came from the fact that the main elements present in ‘DataModel’ that were missing from SQLAlchemy were data extended data schema information that were also useful in providing data description to views.

The next step brought the current ‘ViewModel’, by transforming that library to become an interface between pymongo and the application.

Data tables/collections and data views

The ViewModel package focuses on preparing data for views. How is the data in a table/collection to be viewed? For example, consider a ‘Products’ table or collection, where products may be viewed: - individually by product code, - as a list of products by product group, or by brand - as a list through a custom search

These become the views of the data from the database. It is never relevant to actually retrieve the entire table/collection for the products as if processing the entire table, each document will be processed in sequence. In contrast, there may be other table/collections with either a single or small fixed number of rows/collections the entire table/collection may constitute a view.

Further, product could have a join to a ‘pack sizes’ table/collection and for some views these are also part of the view.

The main concept is that each table has a set of relevant views of the table/collection for various uses. The viewmodel specifies not just the schema of the table/collection, but the actual views of the table/collection.


Simple example

This example is given in advance the instructions or details on how the components of the example work. The idea is: read the example to gain an overview, then see more details to understand more and return to this example.

The simple database

The consider a database with a table of students. Rows or Documents have

  • an id
  • a name
  • a course
  • year number within course

Code to describe table find an entry

The code follows:

from ViewModel import ViewModel, IdField, TxtField, IntField
import pymongo

database = pymongo.MongoClient(dbserver).get_database("example")

class StudentView(ViewModel):
    viewName_ = "Students"
    #models_ = #<database>.Students
    id = IdField()
    name = TxtField()
    course = IntField()
    #  .... field definitions may  continue

student = StudentView({},models = database.Students)
# could have used 'models_' within class to avoid needing 'model' parameter
# {} empty dictionary to ensure an empty view, not needed if the database
# does not even exist yet, as with a new database, initial view will always
# be an empty view

if len(student) > 0:
    print("oh no, we already have data somehow!")

students.insert_() #add an empty entry to our view

with student:  #use with so changes written at end of 'with' = 'Fred'

#ok.... now we have a 'Student' table with one entry

Code to read and update our entry

A key concept is that while the class for the view describes a table, set of tables or joined tables (or collections in Mongo speak), an instance of a ViewModel is the set of data, or a window of the tables. Instancing the view actually reads from the data base in simplest cases, although in more complex cases the data may be read from the database when accessed, the view instance logically includes all data from a ‘read’ operation:

#same class definition and imports as above

student = StudentView({'name': 'Fred'},model = database.Students)
# would save if we could have 'models_' in class definition!

if not student.course:
    with student:
        student.course_year = 2
        student.course = 'Computing'

Multiple Entry Views

So far our view has only one entry. Instance of our view is a window viewing part of the database. This window, can be a single row/collection or a logical group of entries(from rows/collections), and for small tables, may even be the entire table/collection. The code that follows adds another entry, so the sample has more than one entry, then works with a multi entry view:

StudentView.models_ = database.Students
#modify class, add 'models_' as an attribute,
#this saves specifying 'models_' each time instancing StudentView

student = StudentView()
#no dictionary, this gives an empty view (not multi entry yet)

with student:  #adding a second student = 'Jane'
    student.course = "Computing"
    student.course_year = 2

#now our multi entry view for all year 2 Students
students = StudentView({'course_year':2})

for student in students:

Note how multi entry view instances can be treated as lists. In fact, single entry views can also be treated as a list, however for convenience view properties for single entry views also allow direct access as one entry. For a single entry view ‘student’: == student[0].name

Example Summary

The example bypasses the power of ViewModels in order to a simple introduction. A key concept is that classes describe a table ( or collection or set/join of tables). An instance of a ViewModel is one set specific subset, a set of data from a table (or set/join of multiple tables).

Describing a table/collection with ViewFields

When creating a class derived from a ViewModel, add class attributes which are ‘ViewFields’ for each field in the table or collection.

The example ( ‘Simple example’_. ) uses several types of view fields. However each ‘ViewField’ can contain information well beyond the type of data. An alternative name, a short and long description, formatting and other display defaults, value constraints and many other settings.

In the example, only the ‘value’ attribute of the “name” ViewField is accessed. ‘’ does not access the ViewField, but instead returns “value” attribute of the “name” ViewField. To access the actual ViewField (or IntField, TextField etc) and have access to these other attributes use ‘student[“name”]’. thus: == student["name"].value

Using ‘ViewField’ derived classes

All ‘fields’ are sub-classed from ViewField, and represent individual data types. Each field contains the following properties:

  • name: set explicitly, or defaulting to the property name
  • label: set explicitly but defaulting to the name
  • hint: defaults to ‘’ for display
  • value: returns value when field is an attribute of a row object

‘ViewModel’ interface

The ‘ViewModel’ provides a base class defines a database table/collection, and each instance of a ViewModel. Note all system properties and methods start of end with underscore to avoid name collision with database field names.

ViewModel Interface Methods

  • insert_()
  • labelsList_()
  • update_()
  • <iterate> for row in <ViewModel instance>
  • <index> <ViewModel instance>[row]

ViewModel Interface Properties

  • viewName_
  • models_
  • dbModels_

ViewModel details

‘insert_()’ method adds a empty new row (ViewRow instance) to the current ViewModel instance. At the next ‘update_()’, an actual database document/row will be created, provided some values have been set in the new row.

‘labelsList_()’ returns a list of the labels from the rows of the current ViewModel instance.

‘update_()’ is called automatically at end of a ‘with <ViewModel instance>’ statement (python keyword ‘with’), or can be called directly, to update the actual database with values changed by assignments through ‘<ViewModel Instance>.<fieldname> = statements.

‘viewName_’ is simply a title for the view for display purposes.

‘models_’ is a list of the names of tables, or actual database tables objects used by the view

‘dbModels_’ is a dictionary of database table objects used by the view, with the model names as keys.

Note: all ‘ViewModel’ instances with one row implements all of the ViewRow interface in addition to the methods and properties discussed. ‘ViewModel’ instances with more than one row will raise errors if the ‘ViewRow’ interface as it is ambiguous which row/document to use.

‘ViewRow’: The Row Interface

ViewRow objects and ViewModel objects both implement the ‘ViewRow’ interface.

Where a ViewModel contains one logical row, the operations can be performed on the ViewModel, which also supports this interface for single row instances.

ViewRow Interface methods

  • <iterate>: for field in <ViewRow instance>
  • loop_(case=<case>): for field in a <ViewRow instance>
  • <index>: <ViewRow instance>[<field name>]
  • <attribute> <ViewRow instance>.field_name

ViewRow Interface Properties

  • fields_
  • view_
  • label_
  • idx_

ViewRow details

‘for <field> in <ViewRow instance>:’ provides for using a ‘for loop’ to iterate over the fields in a row of a viewfield.

Note that this iteration can be for building a view, and as such the iteration allows for selecting which fields are included in the view. When fields are declared (see ‘ViewField’ interface), they can set a ‘case’ where they are applicable for views. For example, this can be in a view, on an edit panel, or the field is for calculation purposes and part of the model, but not revealed in a view.

<ViewRow instance>[<field name>] or indexing, retrieves the instance of the ViewField named. For example:

student['name'].value = 'Jane'

‘fields_’ returns A ‘ViewRow’ is a logical entry in a ViewModel. Consider the example ( ‘Simple example’_. ). The line of code: = 'Fred'

Is using the ViewRow set attribute interface to set the ‘value’ of the ‘name’ field within the ‘row’ created by the insert_() method.

In this example, because the ‘student’ ViewModel has only one row, then.

This interface allows retrieving and setting data ‘fields’ or ViewField entries by name as object attributes. All internal attributes of ViewRow have either a trailing underscore to avoid name collisions with field names of the database, or a leading underscore to indicate that these attributes should not be accessed externally of the ViewRow or ViewModel.

Provided database fields have no leading or trailing underscore, they will not collide with the names of internal workings of these classes.

joins & data relationships

The term ‘relational database’ comes from the concept that data contained in separate tables (or collections) is related.

Data Relationship types

Many to one

These are classic ‘dry’. Several records (or rows or documents) in a table will use the same information. For example, and address with a city. Since there are far more addresses than cities, when reading an address, obtaining all the ‘city’ information (name, city code, state) from a separate city table will mean that information for each city is not repeated for each address with the same city. From the perspective of the address, the relationship is ‘one-to-one’ because for each address there is only one city. The ‘many-to-one’ is that many addresses may reference each city.

If our view is based on a single address, then retrieving the ‘join’ of the information for the address together with the information for the city still leaves a single ‘row’ in the resulting view.

In database design, to implement a ‘many to one’, each entry from the many table, contains a key to the city table. Read an address, the use the ‘key to the city’ to read data from the city table.

One To Many

>From a technical perspective, this is simply the same as ‘Many to One’, but viewed from the opposite perspective. But there is devil in the detail, and having the opposite perspective has implications that can mean the correct implementation is very different. Looking at the previous cities and addresses, the ‘one to many’ view from the city perspective is to consider all addresses with the city.

If our view is based on a single city, then retrieving the ‘join’ would result in rows for each address. So while the one-to-many is the many-to-one from the opposite perspective, the view changes entirely and in nature depending on which perspective.

In database design, the cross reference key is still the ‘key to the city’ within the address table. Read the city key (as ‘our city key’). Then using the key field find all addresses with their ‘key to the city’ value matching the key in ‘our city key’.

Many To Choice

This is a real world application of the ‘Many to one’ join, where the table of possible ‘ones’ effective represents one of a finite set of choices which may be chosen from a ‘drop down list box’. ViewModel has a specific Field Type, the ‘EnumForeignField’. Note that to display choices for editing the entire table of choices is required. There is no strict formulae as to when the number of choices or total data of the choices table is too large, but generally the system must have the capacity to consider having the entire table in memory acceptable.

Many to Many

Consider now database with not just addresses and cities, but also people. Each person might have a relationship to several addresses. But rather than this being a ‘One to Many’ relationship, like the Cities -> Addresses, where viewed from the other perspective, Addresses->Cities, for each address there would be only one city, this time for each address there may be multiple people.

In database design, this usually represents more of a challenge. If we start with people, we cannot look for addresses with a ‘person key’ field that matches since our person, since each address will need to match potentially several (or many) people. The matching person cannot be stored as a single value in our table. With SQL and even sometimes with NoSQL, the solution is to have a separate table of relationships. If we read this table for all entries matching our person we can find an entry for each relationship to an address for that person. This solves the problem because we can have more relationships than we have either people or addresses, so one entry per table will not work without a special table that can have an entry for each relationship.

NoSQL like Mongo provides another alternative, which is keeping a list of relationships inside one (or even both) of the tables. Since an entry in the table can be a list, we could keep a list of addresses in the people table. Read a person and we have a list of addresses. Read an address and we can read all people with our address in their address list. The principle is still the same, but there is this implementation choice.

Relationship Specific Data

In some cases, there can be data specific to a relationship. Consider the following people, addresses and then relationships:

People:  Bob, Tom, Alice
Addresses: RedHouse, Office1, Office2, GreenHouse
    Bob: RedHouse is 'home', Office1 is 'work'
    Alice: RedHouse is 'home' and 'office'
    Tom: GreenHouse is Home, RedHouse is 'work1' and Office2 'work2'

The relationships between the people can each have their own labels, just as the relationships between people can. In fact each relationship can have a label from each perspective. Consider people relationships where Bob could be ‘husband’ to Alice, but the same relationship from the other perspective could be ‘wife’.

So for Bob we may have to have not only added ‘RedHouse’ and created a relationship, we also have to manage a label for the relationship.

‘ViewField’ interface

Getting and Setting ‘Row Member’ values

To be added

Building HTML Forms

To be added

Updating from HTML forms

To be added

How it works

The rows structure

The actual data is kept in a view list called ‘dbRows_’, which reflects the actual data being held in the underlying database. For each row of the view, there is one entry in dbRows_.

The list elements of ‘dbRows_’

each entry is of type ‘objdict’ and the elements of the objdict were originally the values of the fields in the view, but a new layer has been added, so that ‘objdict’ entries at the top level represent the data from a single source. from:

[ {'name':'Jane','course':'computing'}]

[ {'students': {'name':'Jane','course':'computing'}}]

The two tiered structure, keyed by the ‘table/collection’ which is the data source, better provides for data from multiple sources.

Data is not added directly to these rows, but through the ‘viewmodel_row’ wrappers. So if a viewmodel row has a view_field (say ‘last_name’) which is not present in the row, setting last name would add a new field to the appropriate ObjDict within the row, but also an an entry to an additional ‘changes’ copy of the row, which hold new values not yet committed to the database.

The ‘rows’ and ‘changes’ are the bridges between what is in the database files, and what is held in memory.

Project details

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