Ratcl-like API with sqlite backend

if 0 { Brian Theado - 20May2006 - Implementation of ratcl-like "views" using the sqlite engine. I really like the ratcl API and I wanted to see how far I could take it with an sqlite backend. It seems to have turned out pretty well. I think I would choose this api over the default sqlite api. It's still very rough in some places.

It pales in comparison to all the things ratcl can do (and will be able to do), but it is still nice.

Every view is backed by an actual sqlite table. Derived views consist of sql queries. A pipeline of sql queries gets converted into nested subqueries.

The supported sql is similar to normal sql (http://www.sqlite.org/lang_select.html ), except the from clause should be omitted. The from clause is automatically added in:

 set v [vdef a b {1 2 3 4 5 6}] ;# Executes create table and 3 inserts
 view $v get  ;# Equivilent to "select * from $table"
 view $v select a+b as s | get  ;# select a+b as s from $table
 view $v select a+b as s where s > 5 | dump  ;# select a+b as s from $table where s > 5
 view $v select a,count(a) group by a | get ;# select a,count(a) from $table group by a 
 view $v select a,b | select a | get ;# select a from (select a,b from $table)

Pipeline commands exist for "where" and "order by" as shortcuts for "select *":

 view $v where a > 1 | dump ;# select * from $table where a > 1
 view $v order by b desc | dump ;# select * from $table order by b desc

Union, intersect, and except operate on multiple views

 set v2 [vdef a b {7 8 9 10}]
 view $v union $v2 | get

Join also operates on multiple views. Only a subset of the join syntax is functional. The "on" clause doesn't work because it requires knowing table names and the ratcl-like api hides table names. However, the "using" clause only identifies column names and will work:

 set v3 [vdef a c {1 7 3 8 9 10}]
 view $v join $v3 using (a) | dump  ;# select * from $t1 join (select * from $t2) using (a)

The sql that will be used for a given derived view can be inspected:

 view $v tosql

Resource management

The underlying sqlite table never gets cleaned up, so resources are not managed as nicely as for ratcl. However, derived views are simple Tcl lists and so are automatically "garbage collected".

vdef and freeze results in the creation of an sqlite table

The vdef command uses an in memory sqlite database to store the underlying tables. The vopen command can be used to create a view from an arbitrary sqlite database

Mutable views

Underived views are mutable from the start. Calling a mutable operation on a derived view will result in a "freeze" before applying the operation. Update, insert and delete are supported:

 view $v set a=55,b=56 where a=1 | dump ;# update $table set a=55,b=56 where a=1
 view $v delete where a=55 | dump ;# delete from $table where a=55
 view $v insert values (7,8) | dump ;# insert into $table values (7,8)

No subviews

Sqlite deals only with flat tables and so subviews aren't supported

Other operations: get, clone, dump, html, do, concat, first, last, info, open, freeze, each, rename, omitcols

Revisions: 23May2006 - Added rename and omitcols.

JMN 24May2006 - added 'colnames_test' which works on tables with no rows.. Haven't tested with 'arbitrary queries'

Brian Theado - Great tip--thanks! I didn't think to check the row array might set a value when there are no rows. I adapted colnames to use your trick and it works with the 'arbitary queries' I tried. Now freeze, clone, dump, and info names all work even with an empty view. I also removed your 'colnames_test'.


 source sqlite-3_3_5.kit  ;# sqlite.org offers this kit with Windows, linux and Mac binaries
 package require sqlite3

 # Adapted from ratcl's m_dump
 proc dump {v {maxrows 20}} {
  set data [view $v first $maxrows | get]
  set colnames [colnames $v]
  set numcols [llength $colnames]
  if {$numcols == 0} return
  set numrows [expr [llength $data] / $numcols]

  # Calculate column widths
  for {set col 0} {$col < $numcols} {incr col} {
    set w [string length [lindex $colnames $col]]
    for {set row 0} {$row < $numrows} {incr row} {
      set idx [expr ($row * $numrows) + $col]
      set cell [lindex $data $idx]
      if {[string length $cell] > $w} {set w [string length $cell]}
    if {$w > 50} {set w 50}
    append fmt "  " %-$w.${w}s
    append hdr "  " [format %-${w}s [lindex $colnames $col]]
    append bar "  " [string repeat - $w]

  # Add the header and a formatted version of each row to the output
  set r [list $hdr $bar]
  for {set row 0} {$row < $numrows} {incr row} {
    set cmd [list format $fmt]
    foreach cell [lrange $data [expr $row*$numcols] [expr ($row+1)*$numcols - 1]] {
      lappend cmd [regsub -all {[^ -~]} $cell .]
    lappend r [eval $cmd]

  # Add footer dots if the entire view was not displayed
  set fullrowcount [view $v select count(*) | get]
  if {$fullrowcount > $maxrows} {lappend r [string map {- .} $bar]}
  join $r \n

 # Adapted from ratcl's m_html
 proc html v {
  set names [colnames $v]
  set o <table>
  append o {<style type="text/css"><!--\
    table {border-spacing:0; border:1px solid #aaa; margin:0 0 2px 0}\
    th {background-color:#eee; font-weight:normal}\
    td {vertical-align:top}\
    th,td {padding:0 2px}\
    th.row,td.row {color:#aaa; font-size:75%}\
  append o \n <tr>
  foreach x $names { append o <th> $x </th> }
  append o </tr>\n
  view $v each c {
    append o <tr>
    foreach x $names {
        set z [string map {& &amp\; < &lt\; > &gt\;} $c($x)] 
        append o {<td align="right">}
        append o $z </td>
    append o </tr>\n
  append o </table>\n

 # TODO: should take optional db as input? And the table variable
 # should be a counter stored in a database table?
 proc vdef args {
    variable table
    if {![info exists table]} {
        sqlite [namespace current]::db :memory:
        set table 0
    } else {
        incr table

    # Adapted from ratcl's vdef
    set data [lindex $args end]
    set args [lrange $args 0 end-1]
    set d [llength $data]
    set c [llength $args]
    if {$d > 0} {
        if {$c == 0} { error "no args defined" }
        if {$d%$c != 0} { error "data is not an exact number of rows" }
        set n [expr {$d/$c}]
    } else {
        set n 0

    # Create the sqlite table and insert the data
    db eval "create table t$table ([join $args ,])"
    foreach $args $data { 
        set row {}
        foreach col $args {
            lappend row [set $col]
        db eval "insert into t$table values ([join $row ,])"

    # A basic view is just a list of the sqlite db and a table name
    return [list [namespace current]::db t$table]
 proc vopen {db table} {return [list $db $table]}
 proc freeze v {
    variable table
    set db [lindex $v 0]
    incr table
    $db eval "create table t$table as [createQuery $v]"
    return [list $db t$table]

 # Adapted from ratcl's m_do
 proc do {v cmds} {
  set r [list view $v]
  foreach x [split $cmds \n] {
    if {![regexp {^\s*#} $x]} { append r " | " $x }
  uplevel 1 $r

 # Retreive column names for the given view
 proc colnames v {
    view $v each r break
    return $r(*)
 proc renamecols {v colmap} {
    set cols [colnames $v]
    array set renames $colmap 
    set newcols {}
    foreach col $cols {
        if {[info exists renames($col)]} {
            lappend newcols [list $col $renames($col)]
        } else {
            lappend newcols $col
    set query "select [join $newcols ,]"

 proc omitcols {v omit} {
    set cols [colnames $v]
    set newcols {}
    foreach col $cols {
        if {[lsearch -exact $omit $col] == -1} {
            lappend newcols $col
    set query "select [join $newcols ,]"

 # TODO: vfun, save?
 # vfun - sqlite has a subcommand "function" that could accomplish something similar
 # insert - allow multiple rows by using the same format as for vdef?
 # commit - sqlite autocommits unless the sql is surrounded by begin/commit
 proc view {v args} {
    while {[llength $args]} {
        set n [lsearch -exact $args |]
        if {$n < 0} { set n [llength $args]; lappend args | }
        set cmdAndArgs [lreplace $args $n end]
        set db [lindex $v 0]
        set table [lindex $v 1]
        if {[llength $cmdAndArgs]} {
            switch [lindex $cmdAndArgs 0] {
                select - where - order -
                join - union - intersect - except -
                first - concat - last {
                    # Derived view operations--just add them to the list--
                    # they will be processed when createQuery is called
                    lappend v $cmdAndArgs
                rename {
                    lappend v [renamecols $v [lrange $cmdAndArgs 1 end]]
                omitcols {
                    lappend v [omitcols $v [lrange $cmdAndArgs 1 end]]
                clone {
                   set v [eval vdef [colnames $v] {{}}]
                get {set v [$db eval [createQuery $v]]}
                each {
                    set aname [lindex $cmdAndArgs 1]
                    set body [lindex $cmdAndArgs 2]
                    set v [uplevel [list $db eval [createQuery $v] $aname $body]]
                tosql {
                    set v [createQuery $v]
                do {set v [do $v [lindex $cmdAndArgs 1]]}
                freeze {set v [freeze $v]}
                open {
                    set v [vopen $db [lindex $cmdAndArgs 1]]
                info {
                    switch [lindex $cmdAndArgs 1] {
                        names {set v [colnames $v]}
                        db {set v $db}
                        table {set v $table}
                        default {error "'[lindex $cmdAndArgs 1]' should be one of names,db,table"}
                dump {
                  if {[llength $cmdAndArgs] == 2} {
                    set v [dump $v [lindex $cmdAndArgs 1]]
                  } else {
                    set v [dump $v]
                html {set v [html $v]}
                insert {
                    if {[llength $v] > 2} {set v [freeze $v]}
                    # Insert the "into table" part of the delete statement and execute
                    set sql [concat insert into $table [lrange $cmdAndArgs 1 end]]
                    $db eval $sql
                delete {
                    if {[llength $v] > 2} {set v [freeze $v]}
                    # Insert the "from table" part of the delete statement and execute
                    set sql [concat delete from $table [lrange $cmdAndArgs 1 end]]
                    $db eval $sql
                set {
                    if {[llength $v] > 2} {set v [freeze $v]}
                    # Insert the "table" part of the update statement and execute
                    set sql [concat update $table [lrange $cmdAndArgs 0 end]]
                    $db eval $sql
                default {
                    error "Invalid subcommand: '[lindex $cmdAndArgs 0]'"
        set args [lreplace $args 0 $n]
    return $v

 proc createQuery v {
    set db [lindex $v 0]
    set table [lindex $v 1]
    set query "select * from $table"  ;# return full table if commands are empty
    foreach cmd [lrange $v 2 end] {
        # Preprocess some special cases
        switch [lindex $cmd 0] {
            concat {
                set cmd [list {union all} [lindex $cmd 1]]
            first {
                set cmd [list limit [lindex $cmd 1]]
        switch [lindex $cmd 0] {
            select {
                # The select can have anything except for the from clause
                # Insert the from clause just before the first "where", "group",
                # or "order" clause or at the end if no clauses found
                if {![regsub {where|group|order} $cmd "from $table &" query]} {
                    set query [concat $cmd from $table]
            where - order - limit {
                set query [concat select * from $table $cmd]
            last {
                set limit [lindex $cmd 1]
                set totalrows [db eval [concat select count(*) from $table]]
                set offset [expr $totalrows - $limit]
                set query [concat select * from $table limit $limit offset $offset]
            join {
                # First argument is the view to join with, so just do an lreplace of that
                # arg with createQuery called on that arg
                set cmd [join [lreplace $cmd 1 1 ([createQuery [lindex $cmd 1]])] " "]
                set query [concat select * from $table $cmd]
            intersect - union - except - "union all" {
                # First argument is the view to join with, so just do an lreplace of that
                # arg with createQuery called on that arg
                set cmd [join [lreplace $cmd 1 1 [createQuery [lindex $cmd 1]]] " "]
                set query [concat select * from $table $cmd]
            default {error "invalid cmd [lindex $cmd 0]"}
        set table ($query)
    return $query
 if 0 { # tests
 set v [vdef a b {1 2 3 4 5 6}]
 puts [view $v get]
 puts [view $v select a+b | get]
 puts [view $v union [vdef a b {7 8 9 10} ] | get]
 puts [view $v select a,b,a-b | tosql]
 puts [view $v order by b desc | get]
 puts [view $v insert values (7,8) | get]
 puts [view $v set a=55 where a=1 | get]
 puts [view $v delete where a=55 | get]
 puts [view $v select a,b where a=5 order by b | dump]
 puts [view $v html]
 puts [view $v do {
    select a,b,a-b order by b desc
    first 1
 puts [view $v clone | insert values (1,2) | dump]
 puts [view $v open sqlite_master | dump]

jcw 04jun06 - This is pretty cool. But I think there's one more option which might offer even more flexibility: combining SQLite and Ratcl. Ratcl is currently undergoing a very exciting metamorphosis into a deeply Tcl-ish and very fast "view layer" for use on top of any data structure. This means that you can have it all: SQL databases, with Ratcl to conveniently expose the result sets returned by them - all it takes are a few lines to make such result sets available to Ratcl (see [L1 ] for a recent example). So while the above does look like an attractive way to wrap SQLite, you might want to look at what's happening on the Ratcl side of things right now...