We have created a function for establishing a database connection with connect_db but by itself that’s not particularly useful. Creating and closing database connections all the time is very inefficient, so we want to keep it around for longer. Because database connections encapsulate a transaction we also need to make sure that only one request at the time uses the connection. So how can we elegantly do that with Flask?
This is where the application context comes into play. So let’s start there.
Flask provides us with two contexts: the application context and the request context. For the time being all you have to know is that there are special variables that use these. For instance the request variable is the request object associated with the current request, whereas g is a general purpose variable associated with the current application context. We will go into the details of this a bit later.
For the time being all you have to know is that you can store information safely on the g object.
So when do you put it on there? To do that you can make a helper function. The first time the function is called it will create a database connection for the current context and successive calls will return the already established connection:
def get_db(): """Opens a new database connection if there is none yet for the current application context. """ if not hasattr(g, 'sqlite_db'): g.sqlite_db = connect_db() return g.sqlite_db
So now we know how to connect, but how do we properly disconnect? For that flask provides us with the teardown_appcontext() decorator. It’s executed every time the application context tears down:
@app.teardown_appcontext def close_db(error): """Closes the database again at the end of the request.""" if hasattr(g, 'sqlite_db'): g.sqlite_db.close()
Functions marked with teardown_appcontext() are called every time the app context tears down. So what does this mean? Essentially the app context is created before the request comes in and is destroyed (teared down) whenever the request finishes. A teardown can happen because of two reasons: either everything went well (the error parameter will be None) or an exception happend in which case the error is passed to the teardown function.
Curious about what these contexts mean? Have a look at the The Application Context documentation to learn more.
Continue to Step 4: Creating The Database.
Where do I put this code?
If you’ve been following along in this tutorial, you might be wondering where to put the code from this step and the next. A logical place is to group these module-level functions together, and put your new get_db and close_db functions below your existing connect_db function (following the tutorial line-by-line).
If you need a moment to find your bearings, take a look at how the example source is organized. In Flask, you can put all of your application code into a single Python module. You don’t have to, and if your app grows larger, it’s a good idea not to.