Jul 03, 2023

Ibis 6.0 Preview: Supercharge Oracle Workflows with the Power of Python

Kae Suarez

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TL;DR Oracle backend support is coming to Ibis. Delivering the power of the Python ecosystem to this database titan will unlock flexible integrations for data science and machine learning workflows. Read on to preview the advantages — and get a home run of a demo.

Python for Data Science

Python is the language for data science and machine learning. From Polars to Dask and from PyTorch to Keras, today’s popular tools are made for Python. Users benefit because a strong data software ecosystem ensures that a tool will exist for their use case, and doing it all in Python keeps the programming quick, legible, and easily maintainable in many cases. This ecosystem increases the value of Python as a language of choice, and having tools for so many use cases ensures that productivity is high regardless of field.

However, data is often found in non-Python systems, for plenty of reasons: maximizing performance, Python not being around at the time of creation, a demand for SQL over Python to maintain compatibility, and so on. This is where Ibis comes in. By connecting to 18+ engines, ranging from MS SQL to Snowflake, Ibis offers the Python ecosystem — and its own powerful API for analytics — to a variety of applications. Soon, it’ll support another one, and you may recognize it.

Oracle Database Support in Ibis

Oracle powers countless enterprises, from FedEx to AT&T and GE. Presumably, billions of dollars are managed through these systems, and for good reason: it’s powerful, well-maintained, and has a long history. It keeps up with the times, too — it’s easier than ever to deploy Oracle Databases in the cloud.

With Ibis’s 6.0 release, you can now leverage all that power using Python — no SQL required. Oracle users will be able to access the power of Ibis’s API for data analytics, paired with the Python data ecosystem to enable quick and easy creation of new workflows and use cases. Not only does this bring the raw power of the ecosystem, but it also ensures that Python developers can access the power of Oracle Database while staying in their language of choice — enabling them to focus on logic instead of syntax, optimizing their productivity.

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TL;DR The Oracle backend support is experimental, and uses the oracledb thin client driver, tested against Oracle Database 23. Other versions are not presently tested in CI, and your mileage may vary.

Since Oracle support in Ibis is an upcoming feature, the build is not on PyPi or conda-forge. If you want to get a sneak peek on your own, install a development build using the instructions in the Ibis documentation. If you just want to see how it looks in practice, read on!

For this example, we’ll use a container hosted locally developed by Gerald Venzl. This is a fantastic resource for testing out Oracle Database and is even used in the Ibis CI for the Oracle backend. Furthermore, we’ll use the database preloaded with the baseball data used in the Ibis CI — reading data into the database via Ibis is not currently recommended, as Oracle Database has constraints on how data ingest works that make preloading preferable.

First, as with every backend, we import Ibis, set it to interactive mode, then connect with our credentials:

import ibis
ibis.options.interactive = True
con = ibis.oracle.connect(<credentials>)

Then, it’s just like any other use of Ibis, this time powered by Oracle Database. We’ll find which tables we have:


['functional_alltypes', 'win', 'diamonds', 'batting', 'awards_players']

Let’s go ahead and get the awards_players table, and see what awards there are.

t = con.tables["awards_players"]

 playerID   awardID                     yearID  lgID    tie     notes  
 string     string                      int64   string  string  string 
 sislege01  Most Valuable Player          1922  AL      NULL    NULL   
 hornsro01  Triple Crown                  1922  NL      NULL    NULL   
 pippwa01   Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    1B     
 collied01  Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    2B     
 duganjo01  Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    3B     
 perkicy01  Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    C      
 heilmha01  Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    OF     
 ruthba01   Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    OF     
 speaktr01  Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    OF     
 uhlege01   Baseball Magazine All-Star    1923  AL      NULL    P1     

Now, just to do something with the data, let’s see how many times the “Baseball Magazine All-Star” award appears.

t.count(t.awardID == "Baseball Magazine All-Star")


It’s simple, definitely, but it’s also quick and Pythonic, which is the point. Ibis is the entire interface — once you’re connected, you get Ibis’s interface with Oracle Database’s capabilities.

Onwards to Ibis 6.0

This is just one of many exciting additions to look forward to in Ibis 6.0, and opens new horizons for countless users. We look forward to showing off what you can do with Oracle and Ibis as soon as 6.0 is released. If you want to keep track of what’s coming next with Ibis, be sure to watch their Github at https://github.com/ibis-project/ibis, and check out the 6.0 milestones!

Ibis is just one of the always-growing open source projects that we support at Voltron Data. To get more resources, check out our Ibis page or explore our Product page to see how we help enterprises design and build composable data systems.

Photo by Brett Jordan