GINO Basics

This tutorial helps beginners to get started with the basic part of GINO. Target audiences of this tutorial should have basic knowledge of:

Knowledge of SQLAlchemy is not required.


Simply speaking, GINO helps you write and execute raw SQL in your asynchronous application. Instead of interacting RDBMS directly with raw SQL, you can access your data through friendly objective API.

You may not need GINO, or else to say asynchronous database connection, because it adds quite some complexity and risk to your stack, and it won’t make your code run faster, if not slower. Please read Why Asynchronous ORM? for more information.


To install GINO, run this command in your terminal:

$ pip install gino

This is the preferred method to install GINO, as it will always install the most recent stable release.

If you don’t have pip installed, this Python installation guide can guide you through the process.

Alternatively, if you are using Poetry to manage your project dependencies, you may want to run:

$ poetry add gino

Declare Models

First of all, we’ll need a Gino object, usually under the name of db as a global variable:

from gino import Gino

db = Gino()

db acts like a reference to the database, most database interactions will go through it.

“Model” is a basic concept in GINO, it is a Python class inherited from db.Model. Each Model subclass maps to one table in the database, while each object of the class represents one row in the table. This must feel familiar if ORM is not a strange word to you. Now let’s declare a model:

class User(db.Model):
    __tablename__ = 'users'

    id = db.Column(db.Integer(), primary_key=True)
    nickname = db.Column(db.Unicode(), default='noname')

By declaring this User class, we are actually defining a database table named users, with two columns id and nickname. Note that the fixed __tablename__ property is required. GINO suggests singular for model names, and plural for table names. Each db.Column property defines one column for the table, where its first parameter indicates the column type in database, while the rest is for other column attributes or constraints. You can find a mapping of database types to db types here in the SQLAlchemy documentation.


SQLAlchemy is a powerful ORM library for non-asynchronous programming in Python, on top of which GINO is built. SQLAlchemy supports many popular RDBMS including PostgreSQL and MySQL through different dialect implementation, so that the same Python code can be compiled into different SQL depending on the dialect you choose. GINO inherited this support too, but for now there is only one dialect for PostgreSQL through asyncpg.

If you need constraints or indexes covering multiple columns these are also defined using properties in model classes. The property names must be unique, but are otherwise not used. Example:

class Booking(db.Model):
    __tablename__ = 'bookings'

   day = db.Column(db.Date)
   booker = db.Column(db.String)
   room = db.Column(db.String)

   _pk = db.PrimaryKeyConstraint('day', 'booker', name='bookings_pkey')
   _idx1 = db.Index('bookings_idx_day_room', 'day', 'room', unique=True)
   _idx2 = db.Index('bookings_idx_booker_room', 'booker', 'room')

It is also possible to define model constraints and indexes outside the model class if that is preferred. For more details on constraints and indexes, see here in the SQLAlchemy documentation.

Due to implementation limitations it is currently not allowed to specify explicit constraints and indexes as direct attributes in classes that are meant to be subclassed. The same is true for constraints and indexes specified through the __table_args__ attribute. In order to e.g. define constraints in mixin classes, declared_attr() is required. Please feel free to read more about it in its API documentation.

Get Connected

The declaration only defined the mapping, it does not create the actual table in the database. To do that, we need to get connected first. Let’s create a PostgreSQL database for this tutorial:

$ createdb gino

Then we tell our db object to connect to this database:

import asyncio

async def main():
    await db.set_bind('postgresql://localhost/gino')


If this runs successfully, then you are connected to the newly created database. Here postgresql indicates the database dialect to use (the default driver is asyncpg, you can explicitly specify that with postgresql+asyncpg://, or simply asyncpg://), localhost is where the server is, and gino is the name of the database. Check here for more information about how to compose this database URL.


Under the hood set_bind() calls create_engine() and bind the engine to this db object. GINO engine is similar to SQLAlchemy engine, but not identical. Because GINO engine is asynchronous, while the other is not. Please refer to the API reference of GINO for more information.

Now that we are connected, let’s create the table in database (in the same main() method):

await db.gino.create_all()


It is db.gino.create_all, not db.create_all, because db is inherited from SQLAlchemy MetaData, and db.create_all is from SQLAlchemy using non-asynchronous methods, which doesn’t work with the bound GINO engine.

In practice create_all() is usually not an ideal solution. To manage database schema, tool like Alembic is recommended, please see how to Use Alembic.

If you want to explicitly disconnect from the database, you can do this:

await db.pop_bind().close()

Let’s review the code we have so far together in one piece before moving on:

import asyncio
from gino import Gino

db = Gino()

class User(db.Model):
    __tablename__ = 'users'

    id = db.Column(db.Integer(), primary_key=True)
    nickname = db.Column(db.Unicode(), default='noname')

async def main():
    await db.set_bind('postgresql://localhost/gino')
    await db.gino.create_all()

    # further code goes here

    await db.pop_bind().close()


CRUD Operations

In order to operate on the database, one of GINO’s core features is to Create, Retrieve, Update or Delete model objects, also known as the CRUD operations.


Let’s start by creating a User:

user = await User.create(nickname='fantix')
# This will cause GINO to execute this SQL with parameter 'fantix':
# INSERT INTO users (nickname) VALUES ($1) RETURNING, users.nickname

As mentioned previously, user object represents the newly created row in the database. You can get the value of each columns by the declared column properties on the object:

print(f'ID:       {}')           # 1
print(f'Nickname: {user.nickname}')     # fantix

It is also possible to create a model instance in-memory first, modify it, then finally create it in the database:

user = User(nickname='fantix')
user.nickname += ' (founder)'
await user.create()


To retrieve a model object from database by primary key, you can use the class method get() on the model class. Now let’s retrieve the same row:

user = await User.get(1)
# SQL (parameter: 1):
# SELECT, users.nickname FROM users WHERE = $1

Normal SQL queries are done through a class property query. For example, let’s retrieve all User objects from database as a list:

all_users = await db.all(User.query)
# SQL:
# SELECT, users.nickname FROM users

Alternatively, you can use the gino extension on query. This has exactly the same effect as above:

all_users = await User.query.gino.all()
# SQL:
# SELECT, users.nickname FROM users


User.query is actually a SQLAlchemy query, with its own non-asynchronous execution methods. GINO added this gino extension on all executable SQLAlchemy clause objects to conveniently execute them in the asynchronous way, so that it is even not needed to import the db reference for execution.

Now let’s add some filters. For example, find all users with ID lower than 10:

founding_users = await User.query.where( < 10).gino.all()
# SQL (parameter: 10):
# SELECT, users.nickname FROM users WHERE < $1

Read more here about writing queries, because the query object is exactly from SQLAlchemy core.


Once you get a model object, it is purely in memory and fully detached from the database. That means, if the row is externally updated, the object values remain unchanged. Likewise, changes made to the object won’t affect the database values.

Also, GINO keeps no track of model objects, therefore getting the same row twice returns two different object with identical values. Modifying one does not magically affect the other one.

Different than traditional ORMs, the GINO model objects are more like objective SQL results, rather than stateful ORM objects. In order to adapt for asynchronous programming, GINO is designed to be that simple. That’s also why GINO Is Not ORM.

Sometimes we want to get only one object, for example getting the user by name when logging in. There’s a shortcut for this scenario:

user = await User.query.where(User.nickname == 'fantix').gino.first()
# SQL (parameter: 'fantix'):
# SELECT, users.nickname FROM users WHERE users.nickname = $1

If there is no user named “fantix” in database, user will be None.

And sometimes we may want to get a single value from database, getting the name of user with ID 1 for example. Then we can use the select() class method:

name = await'nickname').where( == 1).gino.scalar()
# SQL (parameter: 1):
# SELECT users.nickname FROM users WHERE = $1
print(name)  # fantix

Or get the count of all users:

population = await db.func.count(
# SQL:
# SELECT count( AS count_1 FROM users
print(population)  # 17 for example


Then let’s try to make some modifications. In this example we’ll mixin some retrieve operations we just tried.

# create a new user
user = await User.create(nickname='fantix')

# get its name
name = await'nickname').where( ==
assert name == user.nickname  # they are both 'fantix' before the update

# modification here
await user.update(nickname='daisy').apply()
# SQL (parameters: 'daisy', 1):
# UPDATE users SET nickname=$1 WHERE = $2 RETURNING users.nickname
print(user.nickname)  # daisy

# get its name again
name = await'nickname').where( ==
print(name)  # daisy
assert name == user.nickname  # they are both 'daisy' after the update

So update() is the first GINO method we met so far on model instance level. It accepts multiple keyword arguments, whose keys are column names while values are the new value to update to. The following apply() call makes the update happen in database.


GINO explicitly split the in-memory update and SQL update into two methods: update() and apply(). update() will update the in-memory model object and return an UpdateRequest object which contains all the modifications. A following apply() on UpdateRequest object will apply these recorded modifications to database by executing a compiled SQL.


UpdateRequest object has another method named update() which works the same as the one on model object, just that it combines the new modifications together with the ones already recorded in current UpdateRequest object, and it returns the same UpdateRequest object. That means, you can chain the updates and end up with one apply(), or make use of the UpdateRequest object to combine several updates in a batch.

update() on model object affects only the row represented by the object. If you want to do update with wider condition, you can use the update() on model class level, with a bit difference:

await User.update.values(nickname='Founding Member ' + User.nickname).where( < 10).gino.status()
# SQL (parameter: 'Founding Member ', 10):
# UPDATE users SET nickname=($1 || users.nickname) WHERE < $2

name = await'nickname').where( == 1).gino.scalar()
print(name)  # Founding Member fantix

There is no UpdateRequest here, everything is again SQLAlchemy clause, its documentation here for your reference.


At last. Deleting is similar to updating, but way simpler.

user = await User.create(nickname='fantix')
await user.delete()
# SQL (parameter: 1):
# DELETE FROM users WHERE = $1
print(await User.get(  # None


Remember the model object is in memory? In the last print() statement, even though the row is already deleted in database, the object user still exists with its values untouched.

Or mass deletion (never forget the where clause, unless you want to truncate the whole table!!):

await User.delete.where( > 10).gino.status()
# SQL (parameter: 10):
# DELETE FROM users WHERE > $1

With basic CRUD, you can already make some amazing stuff with GINO. This tutorial ends here, please find out more in detail from the rest of this documentation, and have fun hacking!