NonGNU-devel ELPA - sqlite3


Direct access to the core SQLite3 API
sqlite3- (.sig), 2023-Nov-24, 140 KiB
Y. N. Lo <>
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To install this package from Emacs, use package-install or list-packages.

Full description

1. SQLite3 API for Emacs 25+

1.1. Introduction

sqlite3 is a dynamic module for GNU Emacs 25+ that provides direct access to the core SQLite3 C API from Emacs Lisp.

(require 'sqlite3)

(setq dbh (sqlite3-open "person.sqlite3" sqlite-open-readwrite sqlite-open-create))
(sqlite3-exec dbh "create table temp (name text, age integer)")
(setq stmt (sqlite3-prepare dbh "insert into temp values (?,?)"))
(cl-loop for i from 1 to 10 do
	 (sqlite3-bind-multi stmt (format "name%d" i) i)
	  ;; execute the SQL
	 (sqlite3-step stmt)
	 ;; call reset if you want to bind the SQL to a new set of variables
	 (sqlite3-reset stmt))
(sqlite3-finalize stmt)

(setq stmt (sqlite3-prepare dbh "select * from temp"))
(while (= sqlite-row (sqlite3-step stmt))
  (cl-destructuring-bind (name age) (sqlite3-fetch stmt)
    (message "name: %s, age: %d" name age)))
(sqlite3-finalize stmt)
(sqlite3-close dbh)

While this module provides only 14 functions (vs 200+ in the C API), it should satisfy most users' needs.

The current version is v0.18.

This is an alpha release so it might crash your Emacs. Save your work before you try it out!

1.2. Table of Contents

1.3. Requirements

  • Emacs 25.1 or above, compiled with module support (./configure --with-modules). Emacs 27.1 supports dynamic modules by default unless you explicitly disable it.
  • SQLite3 v3.16.0 or above. Older versions might work but I have not personally tested those.
  • A C99 compiler

It's been tested on macOS (Catalina), CentOS 7 and MS-Windows 11.

1.4. Installation & Removal

1.4.1. Melpa

The package is available on Melpa (thanks to @tarsius).

The first time you (require 'sqlite3), you will be asked to confirm the compilation of the dynamic module:

sqlite3-api module must be built.  Do so now?

The module is built using the `make all` command by default. To customize the build process, you can override this behavior by setting the `SQLITE3_API_BUILD_COMMAND` environment variable.

1.4.2. Elpa
$ git co
$ cd emacs-sqlite3-api
$ make module

A tar archive called sqlite3-X.Y.tar will be created. Do a M-x package-install-file in Emacs to install that tar archive and you're all set.

For Mac users:

$ make HOMEBREW=1

to build the module against sqlite3 installed by Homebrew.

If you have sqlite3 installed in a nonstandard location:

$ make INC=/path/to/sqlite3/include LIB="-L/path/to/sqlite3/lib -lsqlite3"
1.4.3. Manual Installation
$ git co
$ cd emacs-sqlite3-api
$ make
$ cp sqlite3.el /your/elisp/load-path/
1.4.4. Removal

If you installed manually, just remove sqlite3.el and from your load path. Otherwise, do M-x package-delete to remove the sqlite3 package.

1.4.5. Note on Package Update

Emacs 25 and 26: If you are updating from an older version, you'll need to restart Emacs for the new module to take effect. That's because unload-feature doesn't work for dynamic modules.

Emacs 27.1: I can't find it in etc/NEWS, but it seems Emacs 27.1 does support unloading of dynamic modules. To unload sqlite3 properly:

(unload-feature 'sqlite3)
(unload-feature 'sqlite3-api)

1.5. Testing

The tests can be run with the Eldev build tool

# from source
eldev test
# or as a compiled package
eldev -p test

See Eldev documentation for more information.

1.6. API

To load the package, put the following in your .emacs:

(require 'sqlite3)

An application will typically use sqlite3_open() to create a single database connection during initialization.

To run an SQL statement, the application follows these steps:

  1. Create a prepared statement using sqlite3_prepare().
  2. Evaluate the prepared statement by calling sqlite3_step() one or more times.
  3. For queries, extract results by calling sqlite3_column() in between two calls to sqlite3_step().
  4. Destroy the prepared statement using sqlite3_finalize().
  5. Close the database using sqlite3_close().

SQlite3 constants, defined in sqlite3.h, are things such as numeric result codes from various interfaces (ex: SQLITE_OK) or flags passed into functions to control behavior (ex: SQLITE_OPEN_READONLY).

In elisp they are in lowercase and words are separated by "-" instead of "_". For example, SQLITE_OK would be sqlite-ok. is always a good source of information, especially An Introduction to the SQLite C/C++ Interface and C/C++ API Reference.

1.6.1. sqlite3-open
(sqlite3-open "/path/to/data-file" flag1 flag2 ...)

Open the database file and return a database handle.

This function calls sqlite3_open_v2() internally and raises db-error in case of error.

flag1, flag2…. will be ORed together.

1.6.2. sqlite3-close
(sqlite3-close database-handle)

Close the database file.

1.6.3. sqlite3-prepare
(sqlite3-prepare database-handle sql-statement)

Compile the supplied SQL statement and return a statement handle.

This function calls sqlite3_prepare_v2() internally and raises 'sql-error in case of error.

1.6.4. sqlite3-finalize
(sqlite3-finalize statement-handle1 statement-handle2 ...)

Destroy prepared statements.

1.6.5. sqlite3-step
(sqlite3-step statement-handle)

Execute a prepared SQL statement. Some of the return codes are:

sqlite-done - the statement has finished executing successfully.

sqlite-row - if the SQL statement being executed returns any data, then sqlite-row is returned each time a new row of data is ready for processing by the caller.

1.6.6. sqlite3-changes
(sqlite3-changes database-handle)

Return the number of rows modified (for update/delete/insert statements)

1.6.7. sqlite3-reset
(sqlite3-reset statement-handle)

Reset a prepared statement. Call this function if you want to re-bind the statement to new variables, or to re-execute the prepared statement from the start.

1.6.8. sqlite3-last-insert-rowid
(sqlite3-last-insert-rowid database-handle)

Retrieve the last inserted rowid (64 bit).

Notes: Beware that Emacs only supports integers up to 61 bits.

1.6.9. sqlite3-get-autocommit
(sqlite3-get-autocommit database-handle)

Return 1 / 0 if auto-commit mode is ON / OFF.

1.6.10. sqlite3-exec
(sqlite3-exec database-handle sql-statements &optional callback)

The Swiss Army Knife of the API, you can execute multiple SQL statements (separated by ";") in a row with just one call.

The callback function, if supplied, is invoked for each row and should accept 3 parameters:

  1. the first parameter is the number of columns in the current row;
  2. the second parameter is the actual data (as a list strings or nil in case of NULL);
  3. the third one is a list of column names.

To signal an error condition inside the callback, return nil. sqlite3_exec() will stop the execution and raise db-error.

Raises db-error in case of error.

An example of a callback:

(defun print-row (ncols data names)
  (cl-loop for i from 0 to (1- ncols) do
	   (message "[Column %d/%d]%s=%s" (1+ i) ncols (elt names i) (elt data i)))
  (message "--------------------")

(sqlite3-exec dbh "select * from table_a; select * from table b"

More examples:

;; Update/delete/insert
(sqlite3-exec dbh "delete from table") ;; delete returns no rows

;; Retrieve the metadata of columns in a table
(sqlite3-exec dbh "pragma table_info(table)" #'print-row)
1.6.11. sqlite3-bind-*
(sqlite3-bind-text statement-handle column-no value)
(sqlite3-bind-int64 statement-handle column-no value)
(sqlite3-bind-double statement-handle column-no value)
(sqlite3-bind-null statement-handle column-no)

The above four functions bind values to a compiled SQL statements.

Please note that column number starts from 1, not 0!

(sqlite3-bind-parameter-count statement-handle)

The above functions returns the number of SQL parameters of a prepared statement.

1.6.12. sqlite3-bind-multi
(sqlite3-bind-multi statement-handle &rest params)

sqlite3-bind-multi binds multiple parameters to a prepared SQL statement. It is not part of the official API but is provided for convenience.


(sqlite3-bind-multi stmt 1234 "a" 1.555 nil) ;; nil for NULL
1.6.13. sqlite3-column-*

These column functions are used to retrieve the current row of the result set.

(sqlite3-column-count statement-handle)

Return number of columns in a result set. #+END_SRCe1 (sqlite3-column-type statement-handle column-no) #+END_SRC Return the type (sqlite-integer, sqlite-float, sqlite3-text or sqlite-null) of the specified column.

Note: Column number starts from 0.

(sqlite3-column-text statement-handle column-no)
(sqlite3-column-int64 statement-handle column-no)
(sqlite3-column-double statement-handle column-no)

The above functions retrieve data of the specified column.

(sqlite3-column-name statement-handle column-no)

This function returns the column name of the specified column.

Note: You can call sqlite3-column-xxx on a column even if sqlite3-column-type returns sqlite-yyy: the SQLite3 engine will perform the necessary type conversion.


(setq stmt (sqlite3-prepare dbh "select * from temp"))
(while (= sqlite-row (sqlite3-step stmt))
	(let ((name (sqlite3-column-text stmt 0))
	      (age (sqlite3-column-int64 stmt 1)))
      (message "name: %s, age: %d" name age)))
1.6.14. sqlite3-fetch
(sqlite3-fetch statement-handle) ;; returns a list such as (123 56 "Peter Smith" nil)

sqlite3-fetch is not part of the official API but provided for convenience. It retrieves the current row as a list without having to deal with sqlite3-column-* explicitly.

1.6.15. sqlite3-fetch-alist
(sqlite3-fetch-alist statement-handle)

sqlite3-fetch-alist is not part of the official API but provided for convenience. It retrieves the current row as an alist in the form of (("col_name1" . value1) ("col_name2" . value2) ..)

1.7. Transaction Support

Use sqlite3-exec to start, commit and rollback a transaction:

(sqlite3-exec dbh "begin")
(sqlite3-exec dbh "commit")
(sqlite3-exec dbh "rollback")

See Error Handling below on how to use the condition-case form to handle rollback.

1.8. Error Handling

Currently two error symbols are defined in sqlite3.el:

  1. sql-error is raised by sqlite3-prepare
  2. db-error is raised by sqlite3-open and sqlite3-exec
(condition-case db-err
      (sqlite3-exec dbh "begin")
      (sqlite3-exec dbh "update temp set a = 1 where b = 2")
      (sqlite3-exec dbh "commit"))
   (message "Symbol:%s, Message:%s, Error Code:%d" (elt db-err 0) (elt db-err 1) (elt db-err 2))
   (sqlite3-exec dbh "rollback")))

db-err is a list containing the error symbol (db-error or sql-error), an error message and finally an error code returned from the corresponding SQLite C API.

1.9. Note on Garbage Collection

Since Emacs's garbage collection is non-deterministic, it would be a good idea to manually free database/statement handles once they are not needed.

1.10. Known Problems

  • SQLite3 supports 64 bit integers but Emacs integers are only 61 bits.

For integers > 61 bits you can retrieve them as text as a workaround.

  • BLOB and TEXT columns with embedded NULLs are not supported.

1.11. License

The code is licensed under the GNU GPL v3.

1.12. Contributors

  • Jonas Bernoulli - Melpa package
  • @reflektoin
  • @yasuhirokimura
  • @ikappaki - added GitHub CI Actions (0aa2b03)

1.13. Changelog

v0.18 - 2023-11-24

  • Module is now loaded after compilation.
  • GitHub CI Actions added

v0.17 - 2023-03-15

  • Added 28.2 to regression tests

v0.16 - 2022-05-01

  • Fixed a bug in sqlite3-bind-multi

v0.15 - 2020-09-16

  • Fixed a bug in sqlite3-bind-multi under Emacs 27.1

v0.14 - 2020-07-08

  • Added sqlite3.el (melpa)

v0.13 - 2020-04-20

  • Rewrote README in .org format

v0.12 - 2019-05-12

  • sqlite3-fetch-alist added
  • Fixed a compilation problem on macOS Mojave

v0.11 - 2017-09-14

  • sqlite3-finalize now accepts multiple handles.

v0.1 - 2017-09-04

  • Emacs Lisp code removed. The package is now pure C.

v0.0 - 2017-08-29

  • Fixed a memory leak in sql_api_exec()
  • Changed sqlite3_close() to sqlite3_close_v2() in sqlite_api_close()
  • Better error handling: Error code is returned along with error message

1.14. Useful Links for Writing Dynamic Modules

Old versions

sqlite3- KiB
sqlite3- KiB