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Moderately simple schema upgrades for SQLAlchemy.

Project description


Typical use:

import sqlalchemy
import stucco_evolution

engine = sqlalchemy.create_engine(...)

with engine.begin() as connection:
    stucco_evolution.create_or_upgrade_packages(connection, 'mypackage')

stucco_evolution creates or upgrades the database schema for itself, ‘mypackage’, and the dependencies of ‘mypackage’, in a transaction, in the correct, topologically-sorted order.


stucco_evolution’s distinguishing feature is that it can be used to publish related database schemas as separate packages instead of having to manage them monolithically. By keeping track of dependencies between schemas, tables for e.g. User / Group models are automatically created or upgraded before the more application-specific tables. The intent is to enable greater reuse of database code.

stucco_evolution extends repoze.evolution for SQLAlchemy. It provides a simple way to implement schema migrations within a single package as a collection of numbered Python scripts, and it provides a way for packages to depend on each other’s schema as a directed acyclic graph, creating and upgrading each schema’s tables in topological dependency order.

stucco_evolution passes a SQLAlchemy connection to a package of numbered scripts in order, remembers the versions of installed schema, and sorts a collection of evolve packages by dependency order. It delegates writing the actual ALTER TABLE statements to another library or your brain. It delegates schema downgrades to a proper database backup.

stucco_evolution was written as support code for a web application, then extracted from that code, extended, and published. It is now intendend to manage the database schema for itself and other stucco_* packages to be released someday. I hope you will find it useful for your own packages, too. However, this software is provided “as is” and without any express or implied warranties, including, without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantibility and fitness for a particular purpose.


If your package is called mypackage, you can add an evolution module which must be called evolve. This module will contain scripts to create and migrate your schema from one version to the next:

cd mypackage
mkdir evolve
touch evolve/

evolve/ must contain three constants:

NAME = 'mypackage' # stucco_evolution imports 'mypackage' + '.evolve'

evolve/ should always create the most current VERSION of your schema. It should be idempotent:

def create(connection):
    import mypackage.models

(If you have Paste Script installed you can type paster create -t stucco_evolution [mypackage] to create an evolution module in [mypackage]/evolve. Since Paste Script’s package name substitution is not perfect, check mypackage/evolve/ to make sure NAME + ‘.evolve’ can be imported.)

Now you are ready to create your versioned schema:

import sqlalchemy
import stucco_evolution

engine = sqlalchemy.create_engine(...)

with engine.begin() as connection: # engine.begin() since SQLAlchemy 0.7.6
    stucco_evolution.create_or_upgrade_packages(connection, 'mypackage')

In this pattern, stucco_evolution tries to create the schema for mypackage and all its dependencies, in topological order, if they are not currently tracked in the stucco_evolution table. will only ever be called once for a particular package, so the evolution scripts must be responsible for creating new tables added in a particular VERSION of the schema.

Eventually mypackage will need a new VERSION. To do this, you must increment VERSION to N and add evolve/ to the evolution module.


NAME = 'mypackage'


def evolve(connection):
    connection.execute("CREATE TABLE foo (bar INTEGER)")
    connection.execute("ALTER TABLE baz ADD COLUMN quux INTEGER")

The next time you call create_or_upgrade(…), stucco_evolution will notice mymodule is already tracked in the stucco_evolution table but its database version less than mymodule.evolve.VERSION. To rectify, stucco_evolution calls each greater than the database version in order to bring the database up to date.

In case of dependencies, stucco_evolution will try to create or bring each dependency package fully up-to-date before trying to upgrade its dependent packages. Dependency support is an experimental feature.

Omitted features

There is no provision for downgrade scripts. I used to write them myself but I never used them. Instead, back up your database and test against a temporary testing database.

There is no DDL abstraction library. Feel free to use any one you like, or just write the ALTER TABLE statements yourself.

Robust upgrade scripts

If you are arrogant enough to release your package as a dependency to another package or if it will be widely installed, you need to make sure your upgrade scripts are robust. The most important rule:

  • New code must never change the output of old evolution scripts.

The simplest way to do this is to issue all DDL as text and never import your package in evolve scripts or call SQLAlchemy’s create_all() except in the create script. You could also try copying and pasting your model into each evolve script, as suggested by sqlalchemy-migrate, so SQLAlchemy can generate the DDL. You could keep backups of each version of the schema and write tests that restore each backup and upgrade to the latest version to make sure this remains possible for all prior versions.


  • create_many() checks whether schema has been installed


  • fix manifest to properly include paster template

  • remove unnecessary argparse dependency


  • add paster create -t stucco_evolution mypackage to create an evolution module in mypackage/evolve/…


  • Backwards-incompatible change. A SQLAlchemy connection is now required everywhere a session was previously expected. This is necessary for transactional DDL (the ability to roll back a migration that throws an exception.)


  • Add create_or_upgrade_packages(session, ‘packagename’) convenience function


  • Backwards-incompatible API changes

  • Improve documentation

  • Detect circular dependencies between evolution modules

  • Regain 100% statement coverage (however, unit tests depend on several unreleased packages)


  • Add multi-package schema evolution support with DAG-ordered dependencies


  • Rename to stucco_evolution

  • stucco_evolution’s own upgrade() will now deletage all stucco_evolution.Base.metadata.create_all(session) to the scripts. This avoids ‘DROP TABLE’ statements when an upgrade includes table renames.


  • Improved packageability ( specified)

  • SQLAlchemyEvolutionManager no longer calls session.commit(); this is your responsibility after the migration has completed.


  • 100% statement coverage


  • Initial version

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