Parsing SQL with Python

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Question :

Parsing SQL with Python

I want to create a SQL interface on top of a non-relational data store. Non-relational data store, but it makes sense to access the data in a relational manner.

I am looking into using ANTLR to produce an AST that represents the SQL as a relational algebra expression. Then return data by evaluating/walking the tree.

I have never implemented a parser before, and I would therefore like some advice on how to best implement a SQL parser and evaluator.

  • Does the approach described above sound about right?
  • Are there other tools/libraries I should look into? Like PLY or Pyparsing.
  • Pointers to articles, books or source code that will help me is appreciated.


I implemented a simple SQL parser using pyparsing. Combined with Python code that implement the relational operations against my data store, this was fairly simple.

As I said in one of the comments, the point of the exercise was to make the data available to reporting engines. To do this, I probably will need to implement an ODBC driver. This is probably a lot of work.

Asked By: codeape


Answer #1:

I have looked into this issue quite extensively. Python-sqlparse is a non validating parser which is not really what you need. The examples in antlr need a lot of work to convert to a nice ast in python. The sql standard grammers are here, but it would be a full time job to convert them yourself and it is likely that you would only need a subset of them i.e no joins. You could try looking at the gadfly (a python sql database) as well, but I avoided it as they used their own parsing tool.

For my case, I only essentially needed a where clause. I tried booleneo (a boolean expression parser) written with pyparsing but ended up using pyparsing from scratch. The first link in the reddit post of Mark Rushakoff gives a sql example using it. Whoosh a full text search engine also uses it but I have not looked at the source to see how.

Pyparsing is very easy to use and you can very easily customize it to not be exactly the same as sql (most of the syntax you will not need). I did not like ply as it uses some magic using naming conventions.

In short give pyparsing a try, it will most likely be powerful enough to do what you need and the simple integration with python (with easy callbacks and error handling) will make the experience pretty painless.

Answered By: David Raznick

Answer #2:

This reddit post suggests Python-sqlparse as an existing implementation, among a couple other links.

Answered By: Mark Rushakoff

Answer #3:

TwoLaid’s Python SQL Parser works very well for my purposes. It’s written in C and needs to be compiled. It is robust. It parses out individual elements of each clause.

I’m using it to parse out queries column names to use in report headers. Here is an example.

import sqlparser

def get_query_columns(sql):
   '''Return a list of column headers from given sqls select clause'''

   columns = []

   parser = sqlparser.Parser()

   # Parser does not like new lines
   sql2 = sql.replace('n', ' ')

   # Check for syntax errors
   if parser.check_syntax(sql2) != 0:
      raise Exception('get_query_columns: SQL invalid.')

   stmt = parser.get_statement(0)
   root = stmt.get_root()
   qcolumns = root.__dict__['resultColumnList']
   for qcolumn in qcolumns.list:
      if qcolumn.aliasClause:
         alias = qcolumn.aliasClause.get_text()
         name = qcolumn.get_text()
         name = name.split('.')[-1] # remove table alias

   return columns

sql = '''
   replace(coalesce(a.b, 'x'), 'x', 'y') as jim,
   a.bla as sally  -- some comment
   table_a as a
   c > 20

print get_query_columns(sql)

# output: ['a', 'jim', 'sally']
Answered By: dlink

Answer #4:

Of course, it may be best to leverage python-sqlparse on Google Code

UPDATE: Now I see that this has been suggested – I concur that this is worthwhile:

Answered By: Barton

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