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ODBC Support for Python and Node.js

The open source modules described in this chapter provide language-specific ODBC interfaces for Python and Node.js:

Support for pyodbc Python ODBC Bridge

pyodbc is an open source Python module which implements the DB API 2.0 specification (PEP 249 -- Python Database API Specification v2.0), leveraging ODBC to access the underlying database. InterSystems supports use of pyodbc as a way to access the database from Python using the relational paradigm. This module can also be used with earlier versions of InterSystems IRIS. For general information, see the pyodbc GitHub site.


There are several sites with installation information, both for Windows and for Linux and related operating systems:

The installation process is simple:

  • Install Python 2 or 3 (which supports Unicode) via the Python download:

  • From a console with Python in the path:

       pip install pyodbc

MacOS X Installation

MacOS X installation is similar to UNIX® platforms (see Python Releases for Mac OS X):

  • install homebrew

  • install unixODBC

  • run pip install:

       pip install --upgrade --global-option=build_ext 
       --global-option="-I/usr/local/include"  --global-option="-L/usr/local/lib" 
       --allow-external pyodbc --allow-unverified pyodbc pyodbc

Test Program

The following test program demonstrates using pyodbc to access an InterSystems IRIS database. See “Structure of the ODBC Initialization File” for an example listing the connection keywords supported by the InterSystems ODBC driver.
import pyodbc 
import time

input("Hit any key to start")

dsn = 'IRIS Samples'
server = '' 
database = 'USER' 
username = '_SYSTEM' 
password = 'SYS' 
#cnxn = pyodbc.connect('DRIVER={InterSystems ODBC35};SERVER='+server+'; 
#   PORT='+port+'; DATABASE='+database+';UID='+username+';PWD='+ password)
cnxn = pyodbc.connect('DSN='+dsn+';')
#value = PyLong_FromUnsignedLongLong(lowptr)
#print("%#5.8x"% (value))

print ("Connection high pointer: ")
print (format(highptr, '02x'))
print ("Connection high pointer: ")
print("%#5.8x"% (highptr))
print ("Connection low pointer: ")
print("%#5.8x"% (lowptr))
cursor = cnxn.cursor()
start= time.clock()

#Sample select query
cursor.execute("SELECT * from User.Person") 
row = cursor.fetchone() 
#while row: 
#    print(row) 
#    row = cursor.fetchone()

end= time.clock()
print ("Total elapsed time: ")
print (end-start)
input("Hit any key to end")

The following changes avoid returning Unicode data specifically and just directly return UTF-8 data.

   cnxn.setdecoding(pyodbc.SQL_CHAR, encoding='raw')
   cnxn.setencoding(str, encoding='raw')

This uses the narrow driver, which avoids driver managers using UCS-2 or UCS-4 Unicode and the complications of providing a driver that matches how a particular driver manager was built. For other Unicode options, see the Unicode section of the pyodbc Wiki.

Support for Node.js Relational Access

The node-odbc open source Node.js module enables ODBC database access for Node.js client applications. According to the node-odbc site (, the module is intended to be “an asynchronous/synchronous interface for node.js to unixODBC and its supported drivers” but it also works in Windows with the Windows driver manager. InterSystems IRIS supports node-odbc on both platforms.


  • InterSystems ODBC driver

    This is installed by default when you install InterSystems IRIS.

  • Node.js and npm

    Make sure Node.js version 8 or later is installed. npm is typically installed with Node.js.

  • node-odbc

    The node-odbc package is available using npm, or it can be installed locally from Github. Refer to the Github node-odbc site ( for more information.

    The following packages are required to build node-odbc:

    • node-gyp

      node-odbc is delivered as source and is built by npm commands using node-gyp. If you use npm to install node-odbc you may also get node-gyp installed. If not, refer to the node-gyp site ( for information about how to install it.

      Depending on the OS or Linux distribution, it may be necessary to install development tools that are required by node-gyp to build the node-odbc module. No attempt is made here to document the tools required or how to install them. Refer to node-gyp and node-odbc installation instructions for more information.

    • Python and related development tools

      Python is a requirement for node-gyp. At the time of this writing, node-gyp depends on Python 2.7 but that could change in the future as new versions of node-gyp become available.

  • unixODBC (Linux/UNIX only)

    The unixODBC driver manager is required to use node-odbc on Linux, and is provided as a standard part of most Linux distributions. If not already installed on your system, see the installation instructions for your distribution. It is also available for download from the unixODBC site (

Installation and Setup

  • Make sure all dependencies are installed:

    • Node.js and npm ( — Make sure Node.js version 8 or later is installed. npm is also required and typically installed with Node.js. Decide whether to install node modules using npm locally or globally. First step for local installation is to define a project folder, go to that folder and run 'npm init' (see the example in the following section).

    • node-gyp ( — This package is required to build node-odbc. It makes sense to install node-gyp globally, but a local installation will work. In either case, node-gyp will also require Python 2.7.

    • node-odbc ( — Install on your system using instructions included on the linked page. This should probably be installed locally since it needs to be rebuilt for IRIS ODBC.

  • Remove UNICODE support and rebuild node-odbc. Edit ./node_modules/odbc/binding.gyp to comment out 'UNICODE' in the 'defines' array. Save the modified binding.gyp and then in the project folder execute 'npm rebuild'.

  • Make sure the appropriate InterSystems ODBC DSNs are defined. On Windows, you can use the Data Source Administrator (see “Defining an ODBC Data Source on Windows”). On non-Windows platforms, define the ODBCINI environment variable to the location of the desired odbc.ini file (see “Defining an ODBC Data Source on UNIX®”). It is also possible to define this in JavaScript before loading the node-odbc module.

Sample Installation and Setup on Ubuntu

This sample assumes that Node.js and npm have been installed on your system. If you use npm to install node-odbc you may also get node-gyp installed. The node-gyp module and its dependencies are required before you can build node-odbc.

Set up a project folder with npm init

It is okay to just take the defaults for the npm init options.

  ~$ mkdir my_odbc
  ~$ cd my_odbc
  ~/my_odbc$ npm init

  This utility will walk you through creating a package.json file.
  It only covers the most common items, and tries to guess sensible defaults.

  See `npm help json` for definitive documentation on these fields and exactly what they do.

  Use `npm install <pkg>` afterwards to install a package and   save it as a dependency in the package.json file.

  Press ^C at any time to quit.
  package name: (my_odbc) 
  version: (1.0.0) 
  entry point: (index.js) 
  test command: 
  git repository: 
  license: (ISC) 
  About to write to /home/your_home/my_odbc/package.json:

  "name": "my_odbc",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC"

  Is this OK? (yes)
Install node-gyp (if not already installed globally)
  ~/my_odbc$ npm ls node-gypnpm ls node-gyp
  my_odbc@1.0.0 /home/your_home/my_odbc
  └── (empty)

  ~/my_odbc$ npm install node-gyp --save

  npm notice created a lockfile as package-lock.json. You should commit this file.
  npm WARN my_odbc@1.0.0 No description
  npm WARN my_odbc@1.0.0 No repository field.

  + node-gyp@3.8.0
  added 97 packages from 67 contributors and audited 183 packages in 6.749s
  found 0 vulnerabilities

Install node-odbc
  /my_odbc$ npm install odbc

  > odbc@1.4.5 install /home/your_home/my_odbc/node_modules/odbc
  > node-gyp configure build

  make: Entering directory '/home/your_home/my_odbc/node_modules/odbc/build'
  CXX(target) Release/
  SOLINK_MODULE(target) Release/
  COPY Release/odbc_bindings.node
  make: Leaving directory '/home/your_home/my_odbc/node_modules/odbc/build'
  npm WARN my_odbc@1.0.0 No description
  npm WARN my_odbc@1.0.0 No repository field.

  + odbc@1.4.5
  added 4 packages from 10 contributors and audited 187 packages in 6.187s
  found 0 vulnerabilities


The above may generate a large number of warnings but they can be ignored so long as the package was added successfully.

Remove UNICODE support and rebuild node-odbc

Edit ./node_modules/odbc/binding.gyp to remove UNICODE support:

  $/my_odbc$ nano ./node_modules/odbc/binding.gyp

Make sure the defines section looks like this:

  'defines' : [

Now rebuild node-odbc:

  ~/my_odbc$ npm rebuild

Again, this command may generate a number of warnings that can be ignored. Review to make sure that no errors were encountered and the new module was successfully linked.

Set up the sample program

You can use the following Javascript code to test the ODBC connection. This step requires a running InterSystems IRIS Server and a properly defined DSN.

// update this line to reference the location of irisodbc.ini on your system
  process.env.ODBCINI = process.env.ODBCINI || '/opt/isc/iris/inat/mgr/irisodbc.ini';

  var db = require("odbc")();

  let cn = 'DSN=';

  if (process.platform == "win32") {
    // Windows
    cn += 'Sampleodbc;';
  } else if (process.platform == "darwin") {
    // Mac OS
    cn += 'Userunixodbc;';
  } else if (process.platform == "linux") {
    cn += 'Userunixodbc;';
  console.log(cn);, function (err) {
    if (err) {
      return console.log(err);
    console.log('I am connected')    ;

    db.query('select * from sample.person where id<3',  function cb(err, data) {
      if (err) {
      } else {
    db.close(function () { });

This code assumes that the Sample.Person class is defined and compiled in the namespace specified by the DSN and that it has data with ID values less than 3.

Run the sample
  ~/my_odbc$ node index.js
  ~/my_odbc$ node sample.js

  I am connected
  [ { ID: 1,
    Age: 3,
    DOB: '2015-09-28',
    FavoriteColors: '',
    Name: 'Ulman,George L.',
    SSN: '293-31-5406',
    Spouse: 0,
    Home_City: 'Newton',
    Home_State: 'MI',
    Home_Street: '6958 Main Avenue',
    Home_Zip: '20649',
    Office_City: 'Xavier',
    Office_State: 'NY',
    Office_Street: '7313 Madison Avenue',
    Office_Zip: '73226' },
  { ID: 2,
    Age: 16,
    DOB: '2002-04-07',
    FavoriteColors: 'Green',
    Name: 'Pascal,Vincent A.',
    SSN: '973-94-3185',
    Spouse: 0,
    Home_City: 'Xavier',
    Home_State: 'ND',
    Home_Street: '3788 Madison Drive',
    Home_Zip: '80569',
    Office_City: 'Washington',
    Office_State: 'SC',
    Office_Street: '1206 Second Place',
    Office_Zip: '37389' } ]