This tutorial covers how to read form Dolt databases using three different interfaces, the command line interface (CLI), SQL, and Python (using Doltpy). In the installation tutorial we covered installing Dolt, which provides the CLI and SQL. We also covered installing Doltpy, which provides the Python tools for interacting with Dolt that we will use.

Clone an Example Database

Before looking at the different interfaces, let's grab a public database from DoltHub. Dolt implements Git-like clone operations, so it's easy enough:

$ dolt clone dolthub/ip-to-country && cd ip-to-country
23,716 of 23,716 chunks complete. 0 chunks being downloaded currently.

You now have a Dolt dataset locally in a directory ip-to-country that the clone command created. You should see the following:

$ ls -ltra
total 0
drwxr-xr-x 6 oscarbatori staff 192B May 3 17:20 ../
drwxr-xr-x 3 oscarbatori staff 96B May 3 17:20 ./
drwxr-xr-x 6 oscarbatori staff 192B May 3 17:21 .dolt/

We can immediately begin exploring this data by launching a SQL interpreter:

$ dolt sql
# Welcome to the DoltSQL shell.
# Statements must be terminated with ';'.
# "exit" or "quit" (or Ctrl-D) to exit.
ip_to_country> show tables;
| Table |
| IPv4ToCountry |
| IPv6ToCountry |
ip_to_country> describe IPv4tocountry;
| Field | Type | Null | Key | Default | Extra |
| IPFrom | BIGINT | NO | PRI | | |
| IpTo | BIGINT | NO | PRI | | |
| Registry | LONGTEXT | YES | | | |
| AssignedDate | BIGINT | YES | | | |
| CountryCode2Letter | LONGTEXT | YES | | | |
| CountryCode3Letter | LONGTEXT | YES | | | |
| Country | LONGTEXT | YES | | | |

You should now skip ahead to whichever API you want to use for reading data from Dolt.


Let's suppose we want to get a CSV with the counts of the IP mappings by country:

$ dolt sql -q 'select Country,count(*) from IPv4ToCountry group by Country order by count(*) desc' -r csv > results.csv
$ head results.csv
United States,56561
Russian Federation,10871
United Kingdom,8116

This example illustrates the core value of Dolt as a data distribution format: Dolt delivered a functioning SQL database with just a single command, and we were able to generate an analysis instantly.

We can expose this query interface via a SQL server in a familiar manner, that is a server process that compiles and executes SQL statements. We now cover how to stand up Dolt's SQL server.


In the previous section we acquired a Dolt database and used the Dolt CLI to execute some SQL against that database. Here we use a stock MySQL client to interact with Dolt. If you're using Homebrew it's easy enough to install:

$ brew install mysql-client
Updating Homebrew...
==> Auto-updated Homebrew!
==> Downloading
==> Downloading from
######################################################################## 100.0%

See the MySQL documentation for details on installation on other platforms.

To use a MySQL client, we need a server. We can use the CLI to fire up Dolt SQL Server:

$ dolt sql-server --log-level info
Starting server with Config HP="localhost:3306"|U="root"|P=""|T="30000"|R="false"|L="info"

Note that we have to run this command from directory that your Dolt database was initialized in (or moved to). The name of the database will be the name of the directory, mapped to legal database names. Let's go ahead and connect. We are using default username root and empty password, but both of these values can be configured:

$ mysql -h -u root
Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 21
Server version: 5.7.9-Vitess
Copyright (c) 2000, 2019, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation and/or its
affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective
Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.
mysql> show databases;
| Database |
| information_schema |
| ip_to_country |
2 rows in set (0.00 sec)
mysql> use ip_to_country;
Reading table information for completion of table and column names
You can turn off this feature to get a quicker startup with -A
Database changed
mysql> show tables;
| Table |
| IPv4ToCountry |
| IPv6ToCountry |
2 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Dolt SQL Server can make your Dolt database into a familiar MySQL-like database that can be connected to using existing tools.


Doltpy is a Python API for Dolt. If you haven't installed Doltpy, then refer to the installation tutorial for details, but if you're using pip it's simple:

$ pip install doltpy

The first thing we need is a reference to a doltpy.cli.Dolt object which wraps the Dolt database we cloned. That's easy enough:

from doltpy.cli import Dolt
dolt = Dolt('dolthub/ip-to-country')

Reading a table to a pandas.DataFrame object is straightforward:

from import read_pandas
df = read_pandas(dolt, 'IPv4ToCountry')

This produces the expected pandas.DataFrame, printed below using iPython:

>>> print(df)
IPFrom IpTo Registry AssignedDate CountryCode2Letter CountryCode3Letter Country
0 0 16777215 iana 410227200 ZZ ZZZ Reserved
1 16777216 16777471 apnic 1313020800 AU AUS Australia
2 16777472 16777727 apnic 1302739200 CN CHN China
3 16777728 16778239 apnic 1302739200 CN CHN China
4 16778240 16779263 apnic 1302566400 AU AUS Australia
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
212179 4211081216 4227858431 iana 410227200 ZZ ZZZ Reserved
212180 4227858432 4244635647 iana 410227200 ZZ ZZZ Reserved
212181 4244635648 4261412863 iana 410227200 ZZ ZZZ Reserved
212182 4261412864 4278190079 iana 410227200 ZZ ZZZ Reserved
212183 4278190080 4294967295 iana 410227200 ZZ ZZZ Reserved
[212184 rows x 7 columns]

We can execute SQL queries via Dolt if we would like to push our data preparation down into our database layer:

form import read_pandas_sql
query = '''
Country, count(*)
group by
order by
count(*) desc
read_pandas_sql(dolt, query)

The functionality available via the Dolt CLI and SQL interfaces can be accessed via Doltpy. This makes it easy to integrate Dolt into existing data engineering workflows using Python.


Dolt's SQL server can be connected to using any MySQL connector. In the case of R, this means we can use the RMySQL package to connect to the Dolt database and then use familiar R interfaces. Let's again clone the dataset of interest:

$ dolt clone dolthub/ip-to-country && cd ip-to-country
23,716 of 23,716 chunks complete. 0 chunks being downloaded currently.

Now we need to start the Dolt SQL Server instance:

$ dolt sql-server
Starting server with Config HP="localhost:3306"|U="root"|P=""|T="30000"|R="false"|L="info"

Let's jump into the R, first let's install the required package and load the DBI package:


We can no instantiate a connection object and start checking out the data:

con <- dbConnect(MySQL(),
dbname = 'ip_to_country',
host = '',
port = 3306,
user = 'root')
> dbListTables(con)
[1] "IPv4ToCountry" "IPv6ToCountry"

You can now proceed to do your data analysis using the familiar database interfaces provided by the DBI package without worrying too much about Dolt at all.


We examined four different interfaces for examining data stored in a Dolt database. In each case we obtained the data using the dolt clone command, which mimics the Git command that has made acquiring code so easy. The data that arrived via the command line could be immediately worked with via a SQL interface.

This illustrates the core value proposition of Dolt as a distribution format. Dolt provides seamless data distribution, and a familiar query interface, along with a server process for executing those queries.