What is ODBC Part 3 of 3

published on

3 min, 473 words

For more information see part one and part two

Setting Up

Just like any other piece of software we can make use of debuggers to step through our application code and see what is happening with ODBC. To do this with Python you should be running a version with debug symbols included. You can do this via:

git clone git@github.com:python/cpython.git
mkdir debug
cd debug
../configure --with-pydebug
make test

Additionally you will want to clone pyodbc so that we can make use of symbols.

git clone git@github.com:mkleehammer/pyodbc.git
CFLAGS='-Wall -O0 -g' python setup.py build

Finally you'll need some code and a database to interact with. If you want I have an example repo which uses docker to start Postgres and/or MSSQL. It also contains some python example code and pyodbc in the repo for debugging.

One final note, if you wish to explore code all the way into the driver manager and/or driver you will need a debug version of each. For Mac and Linux you can do this with unixodbc found here or here and specify debug with make similar to CPython above. For a debug driver build checkout Postgres psqlodbc.

Stepping through

I'm writing this on OSX, but the concepts are the same regardless of platform. On OSX you can use LLDB or GDB (I used LLDB as a learning exercise), on Linux GDB is probably your go to and on Windows you can use WinGDB or the debugger built into Visual Studio for C/C++.

From the command line start your debugger, or if using GDB/LLDB call your tool with the -f flag specifying you want to load a file and call Python with your debugger so the Python interpreter will run the file inside your debugger.

lldb -f python -- -m pdb main.py

From here you can execute the application, use normal step, thread and frame functions to inspect the stack at different steps or get additional dump file information. Some breakpoints I found interesting can be set with:

breakpoint set --file connection.cpp --line 232
breakpoint set --file connection.cpp --line 52
breakpoint set --file cursor.cpp --line 1100
breakpoint set --file getdata.cpp --line 776


In case it is helpful you can find an lldb to gdb map here.


If you have experience with ODBC internals, want to correct something I've written or just want to reach out feel free to follow up via email or on .

I also have a repo with the material I used for a presentation on this at the Louisville DerbyPy meetup in March of 2019.