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Automatically Generate RESTful Endpoints From Your Flask-SQLAlchemy Models

I'm a bit obsessed with easily creating REST APIs using Flask. I've tried all sorts of things, always trying to find the way that required the least amount of effort from the end user. Yesterday, I think I got as close as I'm going to get.

Enter flask-sandboy, a Flask extension for automatically giving your Flask-SQLAlchemy models RESTful HTTP endpoints. "sandboy" is sandman's little brother, hence the name. They do similar things but are used for different purposes.

Tell me more...

When would you use flask-sandboy? Say you already have a Flask application with a good number of models. Your front-end UI is great, but now you'd like to offer a RESTful API as well. Rather than going through all your models and creating new view classes (which would be very time consuming), just use flask-sandboy.

Using flask-sandboy only requires two lines of code (and one of them is an import)

A sample runserver.py file for such an app may look like this:

from flask import Flask
from models import Machine, Cloud, db

app = Flask(__name__)
app.config['SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI'] = 'sqlite:///db.sqlite3'
db.init_app(app)
with app.app_context():
    db.create_all()
app.run(debug=True)

And here is that same app with RESTful endpoints automatically created and managed by Flask-Sandboy

from flask import Flask
from flask.ext.sandboy import Sandboy

from models import Machine, Cloud, db

app = Flask(__name__)
app.config['SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI'] = 'sqlite:///db.sqlite3'
db.init_app(app)
with app.app_context():
    db.create_all()
sandboy = Sandboy(app, db, [Cloud, Machine])
app.run(debug=True)

Simply by instantiating a Sandboy instance and giving it a list of classes, you get a series of well thought-out RESTful HTTP endpoints. It very well could serve as your project's entire REST API.

What's included

Of course, you don't just get a series of RESTful HTTP endpoints that return proper status codes, you get request verification and pagination as well.

Request verification

flask-sandboy automatically checks each request containing JSON data and makes sure all required fields are present. If one is missing, it sends the proper response code and includes the details about the missing field in the response. It's pretty useful for preventing data corruption and as a front-line defense to the database integrity checks.

Pagination

Pagination of results comes for free as well. Simply add /<model_name>?page=2 to your request, and you'll get the second page with twenty results. In the near future, you'll also get proper Link headers with pointers to the "previous page" and "next page" URLs.

Can I really use this?

Yes! flask-sandboy has 100% test coverage (as of right now). And it's only going to get better/more stable as time goes by. The best part, of course, is you never need to do any work to REST-ify your models (aside from those two lines). Any upgrades will just work and shouldn't require any work on your side.

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