Multi-DB transactions in Django

In this document, we will talk about Django transactions. We will explain why transactions are a problem in a multi-db scenario and propose a way to solve this problem.

Django transactions

Django has a useful library to handle database transactions called transcation. From this library, Synnefo uses two decorators: commit_on_success and commit_manually.

  • commit_on_success opens a transaction with the database on enter and commits any queued changes on successful exit. Should an exception occur midway, we can rest assured that there is nothing half-committed.
  • commit_manually opens a transaction with the database on enter but does not commit/rollback anything, unless explicitly told so using the commit()/rollback() functions.

Using these decorators as-is is fine when the Cyclades/Astakos nodes have to deal with one database. In the case of two or more databases however, the user needs to add the using argument in these decorators to define the database that will be used to open a transaction. Else, they use the ‘default’ database.


The most straight-forward solution is to add in all decorators a using argument with cyclades or astakos as database names, and enforce that all settings from now on will have these two entries.

The only issue with this approach is that the core problem, that is, how to chose between multiple databases in the application level, will be solved with two different ways. The one way is with the using argument in transactions, while the other one is with database routers.

Therefore, we propose a solution for the transaction problem that converges with database routers.

The solution is the following:

  • We will write wrappers for the commit_on_success and commit_manuall decorators. There will be one wrapper for Astakos and one for Cycades. * When called, these wrappers will decide which is the appropriate database to start a transaction. The decision will use a function that is also used by database routers (select_db), and determines which is the correct db for a model. This is the converging point between transactions and database routers.
  • Once the decision is made, the wrappers will return the original commit_on_success / commit_manually decorators, but with the chosen db as value of the using argument.

To sum up, the only changes we need to do is to add a in Astakos and Cyclades, write the wrappers and replace this import:

from django.db import transaction

with the Astakos/Cyclades file, in any code that uses the commit_on_success/commit_manually decorators.