How to Create and Drop Tables in SQL Alchemy

Quick and easy step by step approach to creating and dropping tables in SQL Alchemy 1.1 and 1.2.  All done with a few lines of code.

The following assumptions are made:

  1. You have iPython installed (pip install ipython #if you don’t have it)
  2. You have sqlAlchemy installed (pip install sqlalchemy)
  3. You have psycopg2 installs (pip install psycopg2)
  4. You have a Postgres connection you can connect to
  5. Your Postgres users has the ability to create and drop tables

Perfect, let’s get started

First, I want to begin looking at my existing database structure. I opened up pgAdminIII.  In Postgres, I have 2 databases, postgres and production.  I am interested in connecting and working in the production database.  In the production database, I have 2 schemas, public and python.  I will be working in the python schema in this example.  If you have any questions up to this point, please comment.

database environment for sqlAlchemy (Postgres)

Open your terminal (OS X, Linux) or your command line (Windows)

Type ‘ipython’ to open iPython then, execute the following lines of code.  Anything after the hashtag (#) is optional, as that is a comment regarding the line of code

from sqlalchemy import * # imports all needed modules from sqlalchemy

engine = create_engine('postgresql://python:python@') # connection properties stored

metadata = MetaData() # stores the 'production' database's metadata

users = Table('users', metadata,
 Column('user_id', Integer),
 Column('first_name', String(150)),
 Column('last_name', String(150)),
 Column('email', String(255)),
 ) # defines the 'users' table structure in the 'python' schema of our connection to the 'production' db

users.create(engine) # creates the users table

Let’s take a look at the table we created in pgAdmin

As  you an see, the table users has been created with the exact same structure you defined in your code.

What if you want to drop the table you created via sqlAlchemy? Easy peasy, just execute the following statement

users.drop(engine) # drops the Now, let say you want to drop the table you created.  You simply execute the following script:users table

Go back to your pgAdmin, refresh your schema, and confirm that it is gone!

Below is the entire code output in the iPython terminal.

sqlAlchemy Example

sqlAlchemy creating and dropping tables

This exercise was executed in a Ubuntu Linux virtualenv. =)

Thank you for reading!

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Getting Started with virtualenv

Why should you care about using virtualenv?  Basically it provides you with a development environment for your various python projects.  Not all python projects will call for the same libraries and being able to solely keep track of the needed libraries within a specific environment can make life easier by:

  • Reducing the # of dependencies that need to be maintained in a single environment
  • Reduce the risk of breaking program dependencies of versioned libraries
  • Replicate the needed environment in other machines without re-installing every single library that you may have done once upon a time

Here are some simple steps to get started with virtualenv on a brand new machine (should apply to both linux and os x)

On a new installation of Linux (or OS X instance)
1.) sudo apt-get install pip #install pip so you can install virtualenv
2.) sudo pip install virtualenv #install virtualenv so you can have controlled python environments

3.) virtualenv new_project  #create a project directory and execute this command where new_project = your project name for e.g.

4.) source new_project/bin/activate #to start your virtual environment
5.) pip install psycopg2 #install any python library in your new python virtual environment


6.) pip install jupyter #installs jupyter notebooks! (which can be kicked off on your browser)




7.) deactivate #when you are done working in your virtual environment, deactivate


From here, you can return to step 4 when you want to work on your project again. Or go to step 3 if you want to start a new project.

To capture your python virtual environment components, do the following:
pip freeze > requirements.txt

This way, if you need to recreate your environment, you can use the file by typing:
pip install -r requirements.txt

For more info, go here:

Before I go, if you are wondering how to start jupyter in your web browser within your new virtualenv, via the command line execute the following:

source my_project/bin/activate #assuming you exited from your virtualenv

jupyter-notebook #your web browser should open after this



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dlopen(Library not loaded: libssl.dylib) – fail to import psycopg2 in virtualenv

This is my scenario, I set up virtualenv on my MacBook (love that virtualenv btw).  I installed Jupyter in one of my Virtual Environments (pip install jupyter).  While running Jupyter, I attempted to import psycopg2 (I had previously installed this module in another virtualenv by the way). Then I received an error like the one below:

 “dlopen(Library not loaded: libssl.dylib)”

Fixing this is simple.  Copy the following files in to your /usr/local/lib folder

  • libssl.1.0.0.dylib
  • libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib

I found these files in my Postgres installation (/Library/PostgreSQL/9.5/lib), navigated there and then ran the following command

sudo cp libssl.1.0.0.dylib libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib /usr/local/lib/

After that, I am able to import psycopg2 on Jupyter running in my virtualenv with no problem!

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Bayes Thereom – broken down

To arrive at an understanding of Bayes Theorem, we begin with the

Definition of a conditional probability

P(A|B) = translates to “The probability of A happening, given that event B has occurred”.

P(A|B) can be rewritten like

P(A | B) = P(A ∩ B)




Also, P(A ∩ B) = P(A | B) × P(B) (i.e. the probability of A and B).

And because P(A ∩ B) = can also be expressed as P(B ∩ A)

We can say  P(B ∩ A) = P(B | A) × P(A)

Therefore, we can also express “the probability of A happening given event B” as

P(A | B) = P(B | A) × P(A)




We can further expand the probability of B by writing it as

P(B) = P(A) × P(B | A) + P(Al) × P(B | Al )

(in normal language, the probability of B is equal to the probability of A multiplied by the probability of A given B, plus the probability of the complement of A multiplied by the probability of the complement of A given B)


Thus resulting in the Law of Total Probability.  

This law enables us to find the total probability of a particular event based on conditional probabilities.  Also, our new expression can be substituted into our formula for “the probability of A happening given event B” as the denominator to give us Bayes Theorem.

Bayes Theorem provides a means of finding reverse conditional probabilities when you don’t know every probability up front.


Bayes Theorem

P(A | B) =                     P(A) × P(B | A)


                      P(A) × P(B | A) + P(Al) × P(B | Al)

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tPostgresqlOutput_3 org.postgresql.util.PSQLException: ERROR: length for type varchar must be at least 1

There are several reasons why you may receive this error when using Talend Open Studio, but the one I recently encountered was user error.  When I created my schema, I had placed my varchar length values under the “Precision” column instead of “Length” column.  This was the cause of my error.

Misplaced varchar lengths in Talend Open Studio schema

I prefer these errors over product bugs!



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Listing out Built in Functions in Python

To retrieve a list of Built in Functions in Python, type:  dir(__builtins__)

You will get the following list


To understand what each function does, you can type help(fuction_name) to get more details on that function.  Example: help(NameError)



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List of Built in Functions in Python

To get a list of built in functions in Python, type the following:

It will result in a list like the one below



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