sqlalchemy.orm.exc.FlushError on subclass

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Luna Lucadou

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Sep 6, 2023, 1:56:50 PM9/6/23
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The project I am working on is split up into several modules. Previously, each module had its own ORM classes.
However, due to several bugs arising from forgetting to update each module's ORM classes in lock step when adding new functionality, we have decided it would be best to extract the ORM classes which interact with our DB into their own module and make that available to the other modules via pip.

One of these modules, which monitors for changes in an upstream DB and applies them to ours, has some methods which are not present in the other modules and which cannot be easily extracted out due to its dependencies on upstream DB functionality.

As such, in this module, we must subclass the ORM models which interact with our DB:

#...
@dataclass(init=False, eq=True, unsafe_hash=True)
class Person(Base):
    __tablename__ = "person"

    id: Mapped[int] = mapped_column(primary_key=True)
    first_name: Mapped[str]
    last_name: Mapped[str]
    email_address: Mapped[str]
    office_address: Mapped[str]
    office_phone_number: Mapped[str]


    # ...

#...
from apimodels.db.person import Person as PersonBase
# ...
class API_Person(PersonBase):
    __tablename__ = "person"
    __table_args__ = {"keep_existing": True}

    def get_pvi(self):
        # ...

    def get_historical_pvis(self) -> list[str]:
        # ...

    def __eq__(self):
        # ...

    def __hash__(self):
        # ...

    @staticmethod
    def from_upstream_hub_person(
        uh_person: Optional[UH_Person],
    ) -> Optional["API_Person"]:
        # ...


Of note is that this subclass does not add any new attributes or modify existing ones, it merely adds some helper methods related to identifying primary key changes in the upstream DB. (This is also why we override the eq and hash methods provided by dataclasses - incoming changesets have to be matched against existing records, even when primary keys change upstream.)

This is effectively single-table inheritance, but it is not a good fit for polymorphic_identity since it is not a distinct class, merely adding module-specific helper methods, and if I am reading the documentation correctly, using polymorphic_identity would mean any records touched by the API_Person subclass (which is all of them) would no longer be usable by other modules, which do not extend any of the models.

From what I have read, it seems like the keep_existing param should be of use here, but neither it nor extend_existing set to True help with the errors I am seeing when attempting to interact with this subclass in any way:

sqlalchemy.orm.exc.FlushError: Attempting to flush an item of type <class 'model.api_db.api_person.API_Person'> as a member of collection "Identifier.person". Expected an object of type <class 'apimodels.db.person.Person'> or a polymorphic subclass of this type. If <class 'model.api_db.api_person.API_Person'> is a subclass of <class 'apimodels.db.person.Person'>, configure mapper "Mapper[Person(person)]" to load this subtype polymorphically, or set enable_typechecks=False to allow any subtype to be accepted for flush.

I did try setting enable_typechecks to False, but this results in a different error when attempting to use getattr on the subclass:

AttributeError: 'Person' object has no attribute 'meta'

Is there a better way of doing this?

Mike Bayer

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Sep 6, 2023, 2:24:04 PM9/6/23
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if you can't correct this model to apply the persistence details to the concrete class you wish to persist and query, then you'd do the suggested "enable_typechecks=False".  There is no attribute in SQLAlchemy named "meta" and no stack trace is given here so I dont know to what that refers.

Overall I'm not sure how this API_Person class is useful because you can't query for them.     I would think that if you cant change the original model then you'd have this API_Person as a series of helper functions that accept a Person as their argument.
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Luna Lucadou

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Sep 14, 2023, 12:07:33 PM9/14/23
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Thanks. We went with the helper class route, and it seems to be working much better than attempting to use inheritance in a manner that seems unsupported.
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