Code Disciples

A blog for all things code

Thu 07 November 2019

Custom Commands with Flask

Posted by Abhishek Pednekar in Flask   

In this post, we will explore creating custom commands in Flask using the Click library. Click is one of the dependencies that is installed along with Flask.

Whenever we run pip install flask, the flask command is also installed. flask --help lists all the options that can be run along with the flask command. For example, flask run, flask shell etc.

In the subsequent sections, we will create custom flask commands, starting with a simple example and then moving onto a more practical scenario.

Custom Command - Example 1

In our first example, we will create a command that simply prints a message to the console. As always, we will create a virtual environment using python -m venv venv. After activating the environment - source venv/Scripts/activate, we will install flask - pip install flask. Next, we will create a python file (say and add the following code.

import click
from flask.cli import with_appcontext
from flask import Flask

app = Flask(__name__)

def print_text():
    print("Hello from flask!")


Let's look at each line of this code. First, we import the click library that will be used to create our custom command. Next, we import the with_appcontext method from the flask.cli module. This is needed since we are using click's command() decorator. The execution of the @click.command() decorator requires the application context to be pushed so that our command has access to our application instance. To achieve this, with_appcontext will be used as a decorator for the print_text() function. In addition to these, we also import the Flask class to create our application instance - app.

The command decorator contains a parameter called name, using which we specify the name of the custom command - print_text. Next, we define our print_text() function. Note that the name of the function need not match the name of the command. The function contains the code we would like to execute whenever we run our command. In this case, we simply print a string Hello from flask! on the console.

Next, we will pass the print_text function to the add_command method to create our custom command. To run this command, we use the syntax flask <custom_command_name which in our case is flask print_text. Ensure that the virtual environment is activated before running the command.


Custom Command - Example 2

In this example, we will create two custom commands. The first command will create a table called user in a SQLite database and the second will add records to the table.

To do this, we will first install the flask-sqlalchemy library - pip install flask-sqlalchemy in our virtual environment. In our code, we will add a class User that defines our database model. Finally, we will define a function called create_tables() to create our SQLite database called data.db and create the user table in the database using SQL Alchemy's db.create_all() command. The function will use the same decorators as the previous example. However, in this case, we will be passing the name of the command as create_tables to the command() decorator. Finally we will pass the create_tables function to the add_command() method to create our command.

from flask_sqlalchemy import SQLAlchemy

app.config["SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI"] = "sqlite:///data.db"

db = SQLAlchemy(app)

class User(db.Model):
    id = db.Column(db.Integer, primary_key=True)
    name = db.Column(db.String(50))
    role = db.Column(db.String(25))

def create_tables():


Now running flask create_tables in the terminal will create a database called data.db in the project folder. The database should contain a table called user



Next, we will add a couple of records to the table. The code will be similar to what we have seen thus far. However, our table has two columns - name and role. We will need to specify values for these columns by passing them as arguments to the custom command. To achieve this, we will need to specify these arguments using the @click.argument() decorator. One decorator will need to be specified per argument. We will also need to pass the name and role as parameters to the create_user() function.

def create_user(name, role):
    u = User(name=name, role=role)


To create our users using the custom command, we will run flask create_user <name> <role> in a terminal window.