2.2. Connecting to MongoDB

Connections in MongoEngine are registered globally and are identified with aliases. If no alias is provided during the connection, it will use “default” as alias.

To connect to a running instance of mongod, use the connect() function. The first argument is the name of the database to connect to:

from mongoengine import connect

By default, MongoEngine assumes that the mongod instance is running on localhost on port 27017.

If MongoDB is running elsewhere, you need to provide details on how to connect. There are two ways of doing this. Using a connection string in URI format (this is the preferred method) or individual attributes provided as keyword arguments.

2.2.1. Connect with URI string

When using a connection string in URI format you should specify the connection details as the host to connect(). In a web application context for instance, the URI is typically read from the config file:


If the database requires authentication, you can specify it in the URI. As each database can have its own users configured, you need to tell MongoDB where to look for the user you are working with, that’s what the ?authSource=admin bit of the MongoDB connection string is for:

# Connects to 'my_db' database by authenticating
# with given credentials against the 'admin' database (by default as authSource isn't provided)

# Equivalent to previous connection but explicitly states that
# it should use admin as the authentication source database

# Connects to 'my_db' database by authenticating
# with given credentials against that same database

The URI string can also be used to configure advanced parameters like ssl, replicaSet, etc. For more information or example about URI string, you can refer to the official doc:



URI containing SRV records (e.g “mongodb+srv://server.example.com/”) can be used as well

2.2.2. Connect with keyword attributes

The second option for specifying the connection details is to provide the information as keyword attributes to connect():

connect('my_db', host='', port=27017)

If the database requires authentication, username, password and authentication_source arguments should be provided:

connect('my_db', username='my_user', password='my_password', authentication_source='admin')

The set of attributes that connect() recognizes includes but is not limited to: host, port, read_preference, username, password, authentication_source, authentication_mechanism, replicaset, tls, etc. Most of the parameters accepted by pymongo.MongoClient can be used with connect() and will simply be forwarded when instantiating the pymongo.MongoClient.


Database, username and password from URI string overrides corresponding parameters in connect(), this should obviously be avoided:


will establish connection to production database using admin username and qwerty password.


Calling connect() without argument will establish a connection to the “test” database by default

2.2.3. Read Preferences

As stated above, Read preferences are supported through the connection but also via individual queries by passing the read_preference

from pymongo import ReadPreference


2.2.4. Multiple Databases

To use multiple databases you can use connect() and provide an alias name for the connection - if no alias is provided then “default” is used.

In the background this uses register_connection() to store the data and you can register all aliases up front if required. Documents defined in different database

Individual documents can be attached to different databases by providing a db_alias in their meta data. This allows DBRef objects to point across databases and collections. Below is an example schema, using 3 different databases to store data:

connect(alias='user-db-alias', db='user-db')
connect(alias='book-db-alias', db='book-db')
connect(alias='users-books-db-alias', db='users-books-db')

class User(Document):
    name = StringField()

    meta = {'db_alias': 'user-db-alias'}

class Book(Document):
    name = StringField()

    meta = {'db_alias': 'book-db-alias'}

class AuthorBooks(Document):
    author = ReferenceField(User)
    book = ReferenceField(Book)

    meta = {'db_alias': 'users-books-db-alias'} Disconnecting an existing connection

The function disconnect() can be used to disconnect a particular connection. This can be used to change a connection globally:

from mongoengine import connect, disconnect
connect('a_db', alias='db1')

class User(Document):
    name = StringField()
    meta = {'db_alias': 'db1'}


connect('another_db', alias='db1')


Calling disconnect() without argument will disconnect the “default” connection


Since connections gets registered globally, it is important to use the disconnect function from MongoEngine and not the disconnect() method of an existing connection (pymongo.MongoClient)


Document are caching the pymongo collection. using disconnect ensures that it gets cleaned as well

2.2.5. Context Managers

Sometimes you may want to switch the database or collection to query against. For example, archiving older data into a separate database for performance reasons or writing functions that dynamically choose collections to write a document to. Switch Database

The switch_db context manager allows you to change the database alias for a given class allowing quick and easy access to the same User document across databases:

from mongoengine.context_managers import switch_db

class User(Document):
    name = StringField()

    meta = {'db_alias': 'user-db'}

with switch_db(User, 'archive-user-db') as User:
    User(name='Ross').save()  # Saves the 'archive-user-db'


switch_db() when used on a class that allow inheritance will change the database alias for instances of a given class only - instances of subclasses will still use the default database. Switch Collection

The switch_collection() context manager allows you to change the collection for a given class allowing quick and easy access to the same Group document across collection:

from mongoengine.context_managers import switch_collection

class Group(Document):
    name = StringField()

Group(name='test').save()  # Saves in the default db

with switch_collection(Group, 'group2000') as Group:
    Group(name='hello Group 2000 collection!').save()  # Saves in group2000 collection


Make sure any aliases have been registered with register_connection() or connect() before using the context manager.