Multiple Databases with Binds

SQLAlchemy can connect to more than one database at a time. It refers to different engines as “binds”. Flask-SQLAlchemy simplifies how binds work by associating each engine with a short string, a “bind key”, and then associating each model and table with a bind key. The session will choose what engine to use for a query based on the bind key of the thing being queried. If no bind key is given, the default engine is used.

Configuring Binds

The default bind is still configured by setting SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI, and SQLALCHEMY_ENGINE_OPTIONS for any engine options. Additional binds are given in SQLALCHEMY_BINDS, a dict mapping bind keys to engine URLs. To specify engine options for a bind, the value can be a dict of engine options with the "url" key, instead of only a URL string.

SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI = "postgresql:///main"
    "meta": "sqlite:////path/to/meta.db",
    "auth": {
        "url": "mysql://localhost/users",
        "pool_recycle": 3600,

Defining Models and Tables with Binds

Flask-SQLAlchemy will create a metadata and engine for each configured bind. Models and tables with a bind key will be registered with the corresponding metadata, and the session will query them using the corresponding engine.

To set the bind for a model, set the __bind_key__ class attribute. Not setting a bind key is equivalent to setting it to None, the default key.

class User(db.Model):
    __bind_key__ = "auth"
    id = db.Column(db.Integer, primary_key=True)

Models that inherit from this model will share the same bind key, or can override it.

To set the bind for a table, pass the bind_key keyword argument.

user_table = db.Table(
    db.Column("id", db.Integer, primary_key=True),

Ultimately, the session looks up the bind key on the metadata associated with the model or table. That association happens during creation. Therefore, changing the bind key after creating a model or table will have no effect.

Accessing Metadata and Engines

You may need to inspect the metadata or engine for a bind. Note that you should execute queries through the session, not directly on the engine.

The default engine is SQLAlchemy.engine, and the default metadata is SQLAlchemy.metadata. SQLAlchemy.engines and SQLAlchemy.metadatas are dicts mapping all bind keys.

Creating and Dropping Tables

The create_all() and drop_all() methods operate on all binds by default. The bind_key argument to these methods can be a string or None to operate on a single bind, or a list of strings or None to operate on a subset of binds. Because these methods access the engines, they must be called inside an application context.

# create tables for all binds

# create tables for the default and "auth" binds
db.create_all(bind_key=[None, "auth"])

# create tables for the "meta" bind

# drop tables for the default bind