Record stores

Sumatra supports multiple back-end databases for storing records. Sumatra uses the name “record store” for these databases, to distinguish them from other databases you may be using. Which one you should choose depends on your needs.

Single user, one record store per project

This is the default setting. If you create a new Sumatra project without specifying the --store option, a file .smt/records is created, which contains an SQLite database (if you have installed Django) or a shelve database (but in this case, you will not be able to use the web browser interface).

Single user, all projects in a single record store

If you have multiple projects, and you wish to store all the records in a single database, you can specify where this should be located, e.g.:

$ smt init --store=~/sumatra.db MyProject

If the database file does not already exist, it will be created.

For better performance (e.g., if you are running many Sumatra jobs at the same time) you can use PostgreSQL instead of SQLite. For this, you will need to install the psycopg2 package, then specify the database connection parameters in the form:

$ smt init --store=postgres://username:password@hostname/databasename MyProject

Collaborating within a single lab

If two or more people within your lab are using Sumatra, you can all use the same Sumatra record store. For this, the easiest option is to use a shared file system (e.g., using SAMBA or NFS) or run your PostgreSQL database on its own server. If this is not possible, you should use the network record store described in the next section.

Collaborating with people in a different lab

To collaborate with people in a different lab you can set up a server running Sumatra Server (distributed separately from Sumatra) or any other server software implementing the same API. You then set up your project as follows:

$ smt init --store=https://username:password@hostname/

Now when you run computations, Sumatra will send the records to the server, from where your collaborators can access them if they have an account on the server, or the project is set to public. Note that this does not transfer data files to the server, this has to be taken care of separately, using a mirroring data store.


at present, if the network connection fails the simulation record will be lost, so if you have a poor network connection or very long-running computations, it is probably safer to use a local record store. In the future we plan to add a caching mechanism which will keep a local copy of the record and retry the connection to the server later.

The easiest way to try Sumatra Server out is to use Docker.

Open science

If you want to try open notebook science you should use the network record store as described in the previous section, and set your projects to public.

Changing record stores

The smt configure command also accepts the --store option. In this case, Sumatra will copy all the records from the old store to the new one. It will not delete the old one.


this feature is quite new, so we recommend making a backup of your Sumatra project before attempting to change record stores.