Transaction manager

Akhet’s SQALchemy configuration includes the pyramid_tm transaction manager. This is a feature which TurboGears has long had but Pylons has not. The transaction manager provides an automatic commit or rollback at the end of the request processing, depending on whether an error has occurred.

(TurboGears uses a different transaction manager “repoze.tm2” which does essentially the same thing but requires a middleware. pyramid_tm does not have a middleware.)

How it works

After the view returns a response, a subscriber callback will automatically commit all database changes in the Session unless an uncaught exception has occurred, in which case it will roll back the changes. It will also roll back the changes if the HTTP status is 4xx or 5xx. Finally, it clears the Session for the next request.

You can still commit and roll back explicitly in your view, but you’ll have to use the transaction module instead of calling the Session methods directly:

import transaction
# Or:

You may want to do this if you want to commit a lot of data a little bit at a time.

You can also poison the transaction to prevent any database writes during this request, including those performed by other parts of the application or middleware. To do this, call:


Of course, this doesn’t affect changes that have already been committed.

The implementation is a combination of three packages that work together. transaction is a generic transaction manager. zope.sqlalchemy applies this to SQLAlchemy by exposing a ZopeTransactionExtension, which is a SQLAlchemy session extension (a class that enhances the session’s behavior). pyramid_tm takes care of issuing the commit or rollback at the end of the request processing.

SQLAHelper maintains a ZopeTransactionExtension in the sqlahelper._zte variable. It automatically configures the Session to use that extension.

You can customize the circumstances under which an automatic rollback occurs by defining a “commit veto” function. This is described in the pyramid_tm documentation.

Disabling the transaction manager

If you don’t want managed transactions:

  1. Delete the config.include("pyramid_tm") line in the main function.

  2. Reconfigure the Session to not use the transaction extension:


If you disable the manager, you’ll have to call Session.commit() or Session.rollback() yourself in your views. You’ll also have to configure the application to remove the session at the end of the request. This would be in an event subscriber but I’m not sure which one.

Caveat: adding your own session extensions

If you modify the extension session option in any way you’ll lose the transaction extension unless you re-add it. The extension lives in the semi-private _zte variable in the library. Here’s the proper way to add your own extension while keeping the transaction extension:

Session = sqlahelper.get_session()
Session.configure(extension=[MyWonderfulExtension(), sqlahelper._zte])

Bypassing the transaction manager without disabling it

In special circumstances you may want to do a particular database write while allowing the transaction manager to roll back all other writes. For instance, if you have a separate access log database and you want to log all responses, even failures. In that case you can create a second SQLAlchemy session using sqlalchemy.orm.sessionmaker – one that does not use the transaction extension – and use that session with that engine to insert and commit the log record.