I have a filepath for a sqlite database. I want to open an sql client buffer. I would like to know the best way to open that database from elisp. So far I can see that sql-sqlite will open it but it requires an interaction.

I'm calling (sql-sqlite "/path/to/some/database") and it then prompts me in the minibuffer to confirm the path before opening the database. I can see from the docs that this is an interactive function. Is there a non-interactive way to do this?

  • You are calling it non-interactively, if you're evaluating an elisp form (sql-sqlite "/path/to/some/database"). Being an interactive function just means its also a command which can be called interactively (E.g. via M-x or a key binding).
    – phils
    Jun 6, 2020 at 7:10
  • As C-h f shows you, the signature for sql-sqlite is (sql-sqlite &optional BUFFER). I very strongly suspect that "/path/to/some/database" is not a buffer name.
    – phils
    Jun 6, 2020 at 7:11
  • Yes, I'm convinced you are right. Is there another function that I should call instead?
    – gburnett
    Jun 6, 2020 at 7:13

1 Answer 1


It depends on what you're trying to implement. sql-sqlite is a function that you would use if you want to interactively send commands to a sqlite process. This is what you want if you're writing some code that uses SQL and you want a REPL where you can test your queries.

On the other hand if you're writing an emacs mode that stores data in a database then this isn't what you want. You want the emacsql package, or possibly closql. emacsql lets you execute arbitrary queries using an s-expression syntax. Some examples from the documentation:

(emacsql db [:create-table people ([name (id integer :unique) salary])])
(emacsql db [:insert :into people
             :values (["Jeff"  1000 60000.0] ["Susan" 1001 64000.0])])

closql is a higher-level ORM that stores class instances in database tables for you.

Since you didn't say what you're actually doing, we can only guess which is more appropriate.


Ah, since you do want a REPL, sql-sqlite is what you want. You may already know that you can tell it which database to open by setting the sql-database variable before calling it (or by adding a dynamic binding):

(let ((sql-database "~/temp/test.sql"))

However, I've just checked and it still prompts for the database file name. It uses the value you set as the default value for the prompt, which will save you time, but a quick look through the code shows that there's no easy way to disable the prompt. If it were a different kind of database it would also prompt you for other details such as username and password. You could add advice to the function sql-get-login-ext so that it skips the prompt if there already is a value, but that might not be a good idea.

  • I would like to interactively send commands to a sqlite process. I have amended my question slightly.
    – gburnett
    Jun 6, 2020 at 8:00

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