Blog by Piotr Banaszkiewicz

Serialize SQLAlchemy query results to JSON

Consider you have following model and you want to create super—duper RESTful interface to it.

from application.database import db

class BlogPost(db.Model):
    id = db.Column(db.Integer, primary_key=True)
    title = db.Column(db.String(50))
    content = db.Column(db.Text)

And here’s one of your views, which returns all the available blog posts:

from flask import jsonify
from application.models import BlogPost

def blog_posts():
    return jsonify(posts=list(BlogPost.query.all()))

But unfortunately SQLAlchemy results cannot be serialized to JSON. What to do?


Recently a great Python project for serialization surfaced: Marshmallow. It is ORM / framework agnostic, so with very little effort should work with your SQLAlchemy project!

You can spend some time and extend SQLAlchemy’s pickle serializer extension (it’s awkward to extend what’s already extended, but nevermind), however there’s a quicker way. Just make your model class inherit from this base class as well:

from collections import OrderedDict

class DictSerializable(object):
    def _asdict(self):
        result = OrderedDict()
        for key in self.__mapper__.c.keys():
            result[key] = getattr(self, key)
        return result

simplejson looks for _asdict() method when iterating through objects to be serialized. We can cheat and return our model and its fields as an ordered dictionary, which is then easily parsed to JSON.

This might not be the quickest method, but certainly is the easiest one.