Read about SQLite 3 types. ASPW always maintains the correct type for values, and never converts them to something else. Note however that SQLite may convert types based on column affinity as described. ASPW requires that all values supplied are one of the corresponding Python/SQLite types (or a subclass).


  • None in Python is NULL in SQLite

  • Python int is INTEGER in SQLite. The value represented must fit within a 64 bit signed quantity (long long at the C level) or an overflow exception is generated.

  • Python’s float type is used for REAL in SQLite. (At the C level they are both 8 byte quantities and there is no loss of precision).

  • The str (unicode) type is used.

  • The bytes type is used, although you can use anything meeting the buffer protocol


All SQLite strings are Unicode. The actual binary representations can be UTF8, or UTF16 in either byte order. ASPW uses the UTF8 interface to SQLite which results in the binary string representation in your database defaulting to UTF8 as well. All this is totally transparent to your Python code.

Everywhere strings are used (eg as database values, SQL statements, bindings names, user defined functions) you use Unicode strings as the Python str type.

When returning text values from SQLite, ASPW always uses the Python unicode class.

If you don’t know much about Unicode then read Joel’s article. SQLite does not include conversion from random non-Unicode encodings to or from Unicode. (It does include conversion between 8 bit and 16 bit Unicode encodings).

If you don’t want to use Unicode and instead want a simple bytes in are the same bytes out then you should only use blobs.

If you want to do manipulation of unicode text such as upper/lower casing or sorting then you need to know about locales. This is because the exact same sequence of characters sort, upper case, lower case etc differently depending on where you are. As an example Turkic languages have multiple letter i, German has ß which behaves like ss, various accents sort differently in different European countries. Fortunately there is a library you can ask to do the right locale specific thing ICU. A default SQLite compilation only deals with the 26 letter Roman alphabet. If you enable ICU with SQLite then you get good stuff. See the Building section on how to enable ICU for SQLite with APSW. Note that Python does not currently include ICU support and hence sorting, upper/lower casing etc are limited and do not take locales into account.

In summary, never confuse bytes with strings (which C sadly treats as the same thing). Either always use bytes (and SQLite blobs) for everything or use strings (and SQLite strings) for everything. If you take the latter approach and have to deal with external input/output then you must know what encodings are being used and it is best to convert to Unicode as early as possible on input and late as possible on output.