Schema Declaration

There are 3 ways to declare your database schema to be used with GINO. Because GINO is built on top of SQLAlchemy core, either way you are actually declaring SQLAlchemy Table.

GINO Engine

This is the minimized way to use GINO - using only GinoEngine (and GinoConnection too), everything else are vanilla SQLAlchemy core. This is useful when you have legacy code written in SQLAlchemy core, in need of porting to asyncio. For new code please use the other two.

For example, the table declaration is the same as SQLAlchemy core tutorial:

from sqlalchemy import Table, Column, Integer, String, MetaData, ForeignKey

metadata = MetaData()

users = Table(
    'users', metadata,

    Column('id', Integer, primary_key=True),
    Column('name', String),
    Column('fullname', String),

addresses = Table(
    'addresses', metadata,

    Column('id', Integer, primary_key=True),
    Column('user_id', None, ForeignKey('')),
    Column('email_address', String, nullable=False)


When using GINO Engine only, it is usually your own business to create the tables with either create_all() on a normal non-async SQLAlchemy engine, or using Alembic. However it is still possible to be done with GINO if it had to:

import gino
from gino.schema import GinoSchemaVisitor

async def main():
    engine = await gino.create_engine('postgresql://...')
    await GinoSchemaVisitor(metadata).create_all(engine)

Then, construct queries, in SQLAlchemy core too:

ins = users.insert().values(name='jack', fullname='Jack Jones')

So far, everything is still in SQLAlchemy. Now let’s get connected and execute the insert:

async def main():
    engine = await gino.create_engine('postgresql://localhost/gino')
    conn = await engine.acquire()
    await conn.status(ins)
    print(await conn.all(
    # Outputs: [(1, 'jack', 'Jack Jones')]

Here create_engine() creates a GinoEngine, then acquire() checks out a GinoConnection, and status() executes the insert and returns the status text. This works similarly as SQLAlchemy execute() - they take the same parameters but return a bit differently. There are also other similar query APIs:

  • all() returns a list of RowProxy

  • first() returns one RowProxy, or None

  • one() returns one RowProxy

  • one_or_none() returns one RowProxy, or None

  • scalar() returns a single value, or None

  • iterate() returns an asynchronous iterator which yields RowProxy

Please go to their API for more information.


In previous scenario, GinoEngine must not be set to metadata.bind because it is not a regular SQLAlchemy Engine thus it won’t work correctly. For this, GINO provides a subclass of MetaData as Gino, usually instantiated globally under the name of db. It can be used as a normal MetaData still offering some conveniences:

  • It delegates most public types you can access on sqlalchemy

  • It works with both normal SQLAlchemy engine and asynchronous GINO engine

  • It exposes all query APIs on GinoConnection level

  • It injects two gino extensions on SQLAlchemy query clauses and schema items, allowing short inline execution like

  • It is also the entry for the third scenario, see later

Then we can achieve previous scenario with less code like this:

from gino import Gino

db = Gino()

users = db.Table(
    'users', db,

    db.Column('id', db.Integer, primary_key=True),
    db.Column('name', db.String),
    db.Column('fullname', db.String),

addresses = db.Table(
    'addresses', db,

    db.Column('id', db.Integer, primary_key=True),
    db.Column('user_id', None, db.ForeignKey('')),
    db.Column('email_address', db.String, nullable=False)

async def main():
    async with db.with_bind('postgresql://localhost/gino'):
        await db.gino.create_all()
        await users.insert().values(
            fullname='Jack Jones',
        # Outputs: [(1, 'jack', 'Jack Jones')]

Similar to SQLAlchemy core and ORM, this is GINO core. All tables and queries are still made of SQLAlchemy whose rules still apply, but sqlalchemy seems never imported. This is useful when ORM is unwanted.


asyncpgsa does the same thing, but in a conceptually reversed way - instead of having asyncpg work for SQLAlchemy, it made SQLAlchemy work for asyncpg (GINO used to be in that way too because GINO is inspired by asyncpgsa). Either way works fine, it’s just a matter of taste of whose API style to use, SQLAlchemy or asyncpg.


If you want to further reduce the length of code, and taking a bit risk of implicity, welcome to the ORM world. Even though GINO made itself not quite a traditional ORM by being simple and explict to safely work with asyncio, common ORM concepts are still valid - a table is a model class, a row is a model instance. Still the same example rewritten in GINO ORM:

from gino import Gino

db = Gino()

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

    id = db.Column(db.Integer, primary_key=True)
    name = db.Column(db.String)
    fullname = db.Column(db.String)

class Address(db.Model):
    __tablename__ = 'addresses'

    id = db.Column(db.Integer, primary_key=True)
    user_id = db.Column(None, db.ForeignKey(''))
    email_address = db.Column(db.String, nullable=False)

async def main():
    async with db.with_bind('postgresql://localhost/gino'):
        await db.gino.create_all()
        await User.create(name='jack', fullname='Jack Jones')
        print(await User.query.gino.all())
        # Outputs: [<User object at 0x10a8ba860>]


The __tablename__ is a mandatory field to define a concrete model.

As you can see, the declaration is pretty much the same as before. Underlying they are identical, declaring two tables in db. The class style is just more declarative. Instead of, you can now access the column by The implicitly created Table is available at User.__table__ and Address.__table__. You can use anything that works in GINO core here.


Column names can be different as a class property and database column. For example, name can be declared as nickname = db.Column('name', db.Unicode(), default='noname'). In this example, User.nickname is used to access the column, while in database, the column name is name.

What’s worth mentioning is where raw SQL statements are used, or TableClause is involved, like User.insert(), the original name is required to be used, because in this case, GINO has no knowledge about the mappings.


db.Model is a dynamically created parent class for your models. It is associated with the db on initialization, therefore the table is put in the very db when you declare your model class.

Things become different when it comes to CRUD. You can use model level methods to directly create() a model instance, instead of inserting a new row. Or delete() a model instance without needing to specify the where clause manually. Query returns model instances instead of RowProxy, and row values are directly available as attributes on model instances. See also: CRUD.

After all, GinoEngine is always in use. Next let’s dig more into it.