I’d really like to be able to print out valid SQL for my application, including values, rather than bind parameters, but it’s not obvious how to do this in SQLAlchemy (by design, I’m fairly sure).

Has anyone solved this problem in a general way?

In the vast majority of cases, the “stringification” of a SQLAlchemy statement or query is as simple as:


This applies both to an ORM Query as well as any select() or other statement.

Note: the following detailed answer is being maintained on the sqlalchemy documentation.

To get the statement as compiled to a specific dialect or engine, if the statement itself is not already bound to one you can pass this in to compile():


or without an engine:

from sqlalchemy.dialects import postgresql

When given an ORM Query object, in order to get at the compile() method we only need access the .statement accessor first:

statement = query.statement

with regards to the original stipulation that bound parameters are to be “inlined” into the final string, the challenge here is that SQLAlchemy normally is not tasked with this, as this is handled appropriately by the Python DBAPI, not to mention bypassing bound parameters is probably the most widely exploited security holes in modern web applications. SQLAlchemy has limited ability to do this stringification in certain circumstances such as that of emitting DDL. In order to access this functionality one can use the ‘literal_binds’ flag, passed to compile_kwargs:

from sqlalchemy.sql import table, column, select

t = table('t', column('x'))

s = select([t]).where(t.c.x == 5)

print(s.compile(compile_kwargs={"literal_binds": True}))

the above approach has the caveats that it is only supported for basic
types, such as ints and strings, and furthermore if a bindparam
without a pre-set value is used directly, it won’t be able to
stringify that either.

To support inline literal rendering for types not supported, implement
a TypeDecorator for the target type which includes a
TypeDecorator.process_literal_param method:

from sqlalchemy import TypeDecorator, Integer

class MyFancyType(TypeDecorator):
    impl = Integer

    def process_literal_param(self, value, dialect):
        return "my_fancy_formatting(%s)" % value

from sqlalchemy import Table, Column, MetaData

tab = Table('mytable', MetaData(), Column('x', MyFancyType()))

    tab.select().where(tab.c.x > 5).compile(
        compile_kwargs={"literal_binds": True})

producing output like:

SELECT mytable.x
FROM mytable
WHERE mytable.x > my_fancy_formatting(5)

Given that what you want makes sense only when debugging, you could start SQLAlchemy with echo=True, to log all SQL queries. For example:

engine = create_engine(
    "mysql://scott:[email protected]/dbname",

This can also be modified for just a single request:

echo=False – if True, the Engine will log all statements as well as a repr() of their parameter lists to the engines logger, which defaults to sys.stdout. The echo attribute of Engine can be modified at any time to turn logging on and off. If set to the string "debug", result rows will be printed to the standard output as well. This flag ultimately controls a Python logger; see Configuring Logging for information on how to configure logging directly.

Source: SQLAlchemy Engine Configuration

If used with Flask, you can simply set

app.config["SQLALCHEMY_ECHO"] = True

to get the same behaviour.

This works in python 2 and 3 and is a bit cleaner than before, but requires SA>=1.0.

from sqlalchemy.engine.default import DefaultDialect
from sqlalchemy.sql.sqltypes import String, DateTime, NullType

# python2/3 compatible.
PY3 = str is not bytes
text = str if PY3 else unicode
int_type = int if PY3 else (int, long)
str_type = str if PY3 else (str, unicode)

class StringLiteral(String):
    """Teach SA how to literalize various things."""
    def literal_processor(self, dialect):
        super_processor = super(StringLiteral, self).literal_processor(dialect)

        def process(value):
            if isinstance(value, int_type):
                return text(value)
            if not isinstance(value, str_type):
                value = text(value)
            result = super_processor(value)
            if isinstance(result, bytes):
                result = result.decode(dialect.encoding)
            return result
        return process

class LiteralDialect(DefaultDialect):
    colspecs = {
        # prevent various encoding explosions
        String: StringLiteral,
        # teach SA about how to literalize a datetime
        DateTime: StringLiteral,
        # don't format py2 long integers to NULL
        NullType: StringLiteral,

def literalquery(statement):
    """NOTE: This is entirely insecure. DO NOT execute the resulting strings."""
    import sqlalchemy.orm
    if isinstance(statement, sqlalchemy.orm.Query):
        statement = statement.statement
    return statement.compile(
        compile_kwargs={'literal_binds': True},


# coding: UTF-8
from datetime import datetime
from decimal import Decimal

from literalquery import literalquery

def test():
    from sqlalchemy.sql import table, column, select

    mytable = table('mytable', column('mycol'))
    values = (
        u'snowman: ☃',
        b'UTF-8 snowman: \xe2\x98\x83',
        10 ** 20,  # a long integer

    statement = select([mytable]).where(mytable.c.mycol.in_(values)).limit(1)

if __name__ == '__main__':

Gives this output: (tested in python 2.7 and 3.4)

SELECT mytable.mycol
FROM mytable
WHERE mytable.mycol IN (5, 'snowman: ☃', 'UTF-8 snowman: ☃',
      '2015-06-24 18:09:29.042517', 3.14159, 100000000000000000000)

We can use compile method for this purpose. From the docs:

from sqlalchemy.sql import text
from sqlalchemy.dialects import postgresql

stmt = text("SELECT * FROM users WHERE users.name BETWEEN :x AND :y")
stmt = stmt.bindparams(x="m", y="z")

print(stmt.compile(dialect=postgresql.dialect(),compile_kwargs={"literal_binds": True}))


SELECT * FROM users WHERE users.name BETWEEN 'm' AND 'z'

Warning from docs:

Never use this technique with string content received from untrusted
input, such as from web forms or other user-input applications.
SQLAlchemy’s facilities to coerce Python values into direct SQL string
values are not secure against untrusted input and do not validate the
type of data being passed. Always use bound parameters when
programmatically invoking non-DDL SQL statements against a relational

So building on @zzzeek’s comments on @bukzor’s code I came up with this to easily get a “pretty-printable” query:

def prettyprintable(statement, dialect=None, reindent=True):
    """Generate an SQL expression string with bound parameters rendered inline
    for the given SQLAlchemy statement. The function can also receive a
    `sqlalchemy.orm.Query` object instead of statement.

    WARNING: Should only be used for debugging. Inlining parameters is not
             safe when handling user created data.
    import sqlparse
    import sqlalchemy.orm
    if isinstance(statement, sqlalchemy.orm.Query):
        if dialect is None:
            dialect = statement.session.get_bind().dialect
        statement = statement.statement
    compiled = statement.compile(dialect=dialect,
                                 compile_kwargs={'literal_binds': True})
    return sqlparse.format(str(compiled), reindent=reindent)

I personally have a hard time reading code which is not indented so I’ve used sqlparse to reindent the SQL. It can be installed with pip install sqlparse.

This code is based on brilliant existing answer from @bukzor. I just added custom render for datetime.datetime type into Oracle’s TO_DATE().

Feel free to update code to suit your database:

import decimal
import datetime

def printquery(statement, bind=None):
    print a query, with values filled in
    for debugging purposes *only*
    for security, you should always separate queries from their values
    please also note that this function is quite slow
    import sqlalchemy.orm
    if isinstance(statement, sqlalchemy.orm.Query):
        if bind is None:
            bind = statement.session.get_bind(
        statement = statement.statement
    elif bind is None:
        bind = statement.bind 

    dialect = bind.dialect
    compiler = statement._compiler(dialect)
    class LiteralCompiler(compiler.__class__):
        def visit_bindparam(
                self, bindparam, within_columns_clause=False, 
                literal_binds=False, **kwargs
            return super(LiteralCompiler, self).render_literal_bindparam(
                    bindparam, within_columns_clause=within_columns_clause,
                    literal_binds=literal_binds, **kwargs
        def render_literal_value(self, value, type_):
            """Render the value of a bind parameter as a quoted literal.

            This is used for statement sections that do not accept bind paramters
            on the target driver/database.

            This should be implemented by subclasses using the quoting services
            of the DBAPI.

            if isinstance(value, basestring):
                value = value.replace("'", "''")
                return "'%s'" % value
            elif value is None:
                return "NULL"
            elif isinstance(value, (float, int, long)):
                return repr(value)
            elif isinstance(value, decimal.Decimal):
                return str(value)
            elif isinstance(value, datetime.datetime):
                return "TO_DATE('%s','YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS')" % value.strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S")

                raise NotImplementedError(
                            "Don't know how to literal-quote value %r" % value)            

    compiler = LiteralCompiler(dialect, statement)
    print compiler.process(statement)

I would like to point out that the solutions given above do not “just work” with non-trivial queries. One issue I came across were more complicated types, such as pgsql ARRAYs causing issues. I did find a solution that for me, did just work even with pgsql ARRAYs:

borrowed from:

The linked code seems to be based on an older version of SQLAlchemy. You’ll get an error saying that the attribute _mapper_zero_or_none doesn’t exist. Here’s an updated version that will work with a newer version, you simply replace _mapper_zero_or_none with bind. Additionally, this has support for pgsql arrays:

# adapted from:
# https://gist.github.com/gsakkis/4572159
from datetime import date, timedelta
from datetime import datetime

from sqlalchemy.orm import Query

except NameError:
    basestring = str

def render_query(statement, dialect=None):
    Generate an SQL expression string with bound parameters rendered inline
    for the given SQLAlchemy statement.
    WARNING: This method of escaping is insecure, incomplete, and for debugging
    purposes only. Executing SQL statements with inline-rendered user values is
    extremely insecure.
    Based on http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5631078/sqlalchemy-print-the-actual-query
    if isinstance(statement, Query):
        if dialect is None:
            dialect = statement.session.bind.dialect
        statement = statement.statement
    elif dialect is None:
        dialect = statement.bind.dialect

    class LiteralCompiler(dialect.statement_compiler):

        def visit_bindparam(self, bindparam, within_columns_clause=False,
                            literal_binds=False, **kwargs):
            return self.render_literal_value(bindparam.value, bindparam.type)

        def render_array_value(self, val, item_type):
            if isinstance(val, list):
                return "{%s}" % ",".join([self.render_array_value(x, item_type) for x in val])
            return self.render_literal_value(val, item_type)

        def render_literal_value(self, value, type_):
            if isinstance(value, long):
                return str(value)
            elif isinstance(value, (basestring, date, datetime, timedelta)):
                return "'%s'" % str(value).replace("'", "''")
            elif isinstance(value, list):
                return "'{%s}'" % (",".join([self.render_array_value(x, type_.item_type) for x in value]))
            return super(LiteralCompiler, self).render_literal_value(value, type_)

    return LiteralCompiler(dialect, statement).process(statement)

Tested to two levels of nested arrays.

Just a simple colored example with ORM’s Query and pygments.

import sqlparse
from pygments import highlight
from pygments.formatters.terminal import TerminalFormatter
from pygments.lexers import SqlLexer
from sqlalchemy import create_engine
from sqlalchemy.orm import Query

engine = create_engine("sqlite+pysqlite:///db.sqlite", echo=True, future=True)

def format_sql(query: Query):
    compiled = query.statement.compile(
         engine, compile_kwargs={"literal_binds": True})
    parsed = sqlparse.format(str(compiled), reindent=True, keyword_case="upper")
    print(highlight(parsed, SqlLexer(), TerminalFormatter()))

Or version without sqlparse (without sqlparse there are less new lines in output)

def format_sql(query: Query):
    compiled = query.statement.compile(
        engine, compile_kwargs={"literal_binds": True})
    print(highlight(str(compiled), SqlLexer(), TerminalFormatter()))

To log SQL queries using Python logging instead of the echo=True flag:

import logging


per the documentation.