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Safari | Python Developer's Handbook -> Summary





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Summary

This chapter shows all the database options that Python has available. The simplest solution to handle databases in Python is to use plain text files. A tiny variation of this method is to store the information in binary format.

The next solution is to use the indexing mechanism provided by the dbm-like modules (such as dbm, gdbm, and dbhash). DBM stands for Database Manager, and it has its own storing implementation. This format specifies a simple, disk-based storage facility that handles data in a way equivalent to dictionaries. The objects are manipulated by using unique key strings.

These are database modules that are part of the standard Python distribution, and each one of them is an interface to a specific library.

Also included in the standard Python distribution is the anydbm module, which is a generic interface to all the dbm-like modules. It uses whichever modules are installed.

The dbhash module provides a function that offers a dbm-style interface to access the BSD database library.

The whichdb module provides a function that guesses which dbm module (dbm, gdbm, or dbhash) should be used to open a specific database.

The dumbdbm module is a simple, portable, and slow dbm-style database implemented entirely in pure Python.

Also, a group of other modules provide persistent storage of arbitrary Python objects. Whenever you need to save objects whose value is not a simple string (such as None, integer, long integer, float, complex, tuple, list, dictionary, code object, and so on), you need to serialize the object before sending it to a file.

Included in the standard Python distribution, the pickle module can convert Python objects to and from a string representation.

The cPickle module is a faster implementation of the pickle module.

The copy_reg module extends the capabilities of the pickle and cpickle modules by registering support functions.

The marshal module is an alternate method to implement Python object serialization.

The shelve module offers persistent object storage capability to Python by using dictionary objects. Both keys and values can use any data type, as long as the pickle module can handle it.

ODBC is a standard interface, created by Microsoft, that provides access to almost every database. Python's official ODBC module is included in the PythonWin distribution, which is very stable, by the way. However, it is no longer going to be improved. This odbc module works along with the dbi module.

Besides this odbc module, we have other technologies (such as mxODBC, calldll, and unixODBC) that make the task of opening ODBC connections easier. Although ODBC seems to be the standard in the market, ADO offers significant benefits. ADO is a rich and fully featured object model.

In order to correctly manipulate data, the use of SQL is essential. SQL consists of a list of powerful and flexible commands that are used to manipulate information collected in tables, by operating and controlling sets of records at a time. The main SQL commands are: SELECT, INSERT, DELETE, and UPDATE.

PostgreSQL, MySQL, GadFly, and Metakit are some of the SQL database mechanisms that run on Python.

Many third-party database extension modules are available for Python, such as the native Python interfaces to MySQL, Oracle, and Sybase database systems.

The quest to provide a standard way to interface to database systems drove a group of people to develop a Python Database API. The Python DB API is maintained by the Database Special Interest Group (DB-SIG). GadFly, mxODBC, MySQL, odbc, and many other modules have already adopted this API. This API has been defined to encourage similarity between the Python Modules that are used to access databases.


Last updated on 1/30/2002
Python Developer's Handbook, © 2002 Sams Publishing

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2002, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

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