This tool provides utilities for interacting with OpenAI APIs and storing the results in a SQLite database.

See Semantic search answers: Q&A against documentation with GPT3 + OpenAI embeddings for background on this project.


Install this tool using pip:

pip install openai-to-sqlite


You will need an OpenAI API key to use this tool.

You can create one at

You can then either set the API key as an environment variable:

export OPENAI_API_KEY=sk-...

Or pass it to each command using the --token sk-... option.


The embeddings command can be used to calculate and store OpenAI embeddings for strings of text.

Each embedding has a cost, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the pricing for the embedding model.

The command can accept data in four different ways:

  • As a JSON file containing a list of objects
  • As a CSV file
  • As a TSV file
  • By running queries against a SQLite database

For all of these formats there should be an id column, followed by one or more text columns.

The ID will be stored as the content ID. Any other columns will be concatenated together and used as the text to be embedded.

The embeddings from the API will then be saved as binary blobs in the embeddings table of the specified SQLite database – or another table, if you pass the -t/--table option.


Given a CSV file like this:

1,This is a test
2,This is another test

Embeddings can be stored like so:

openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db data.csv

The resulting schema looks like this:

CREATE TABLE [embeddings] (
   [embedding] BLOB

The same data can be provided as TSV data:

id    content
1     This is a test
2     This is another test

Then imported like this:

openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db data.tsv

Or as JSON data:

  {"id": 1, "content": "This is a test"},
  {"id": 2, "content": "This is another test"}

Imported like this:

openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db data.json

In each of these cases the tool automatically detects the format of the data. It does this by inspecting the data itself – it does not consider the file extension.

If the automatic detection is not working, you can pass --format json, csv or tsv to explicitly specify a format:

openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db data.tsv --format tsv

Importing data from standard input

You can use a filename of - to pipe data in to standard input:

cat data.tsv | openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db -

Data from a SQL query

The --sql option can be used to read data to be embedded from the attached SQLite database. The query must return an id column and one or more text columns to be embedded.

openai-to-sqlite embeddings content.db 
  --sql "select id, title from documents"

This will create a embeddings table in the content.db database and populate it with embeddings calculated from the title column in that query.

You can also store embeddings in one database while reading data from another database, using the --attach alias filename.db option:

openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db 
  --attach documents documents.db 
  --sql "select id, title from documents.documents"

A progress bar will be displayed when using --sql that indicates how long the embeddings are likely to take to calculate.

The CSV/TSV/JSON options do not correctly display the progress bar. You can work around this by importing your data into SQLite first (e.g. using sqlite-utils) and then running the embeddings using --sql.


Embeddings will be sent to the OpenAI embeddings API in batches of 100. If you know that your data is short strings you can increase the batch size, up to 2048, using the --batch-size option:

openai-to-sqlite embeddings embeddings.db data.csv --batch-size 2048

Working with the stored embeddings

The embedding column is a SQLite blob containing 1536 floating point numbers encoded as a sequence of 4 byte values.

You can extract them back to an array of floating point values in Python like this:

import struct

vector = struct.unpack(
    "f" * 1536, binary_embedding

Searching embeddings with the search command

Having saved the embeddings for content, you can run searches using the search command:

openai-to-sqlite search embeddings.db 'this is my search term'

The output will be a list of cosine similarity scores and content IDs:

% openai-to-sqlite search blog.db 'cool datasette demo'
0.843 7849
0.830 8036
0.828 8195
0.826 8098
0.818 8086
0.817 8171
0.816 8121
0.815 7860
0.815 7872
0.814 8169

Add the -t/--table option if your embeddings are stored in a different table:

openai-to-sqlite search content.db 'this is my search term' -t documents


To contribute to this tool, first checkout the code. Then create a new virtual environment:

cd openai-to-sqlite
python -m venv venv
source venv/bin/activate

Now install the dependencies and test dependencies:

To run the tests:

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