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Using forms with models
If you're building a database-driven app, chances are you'll have forms that
map closely to Django models. For instance, you might have a ``BlogComment``
model, and you want to create a form that lets people submit comments. In this
case, it would be redundant to define the field types in your form, because
you've already defined the fields in your model.
For this reason, Django provides a helper class that let you create a ``Form``
class from a Django model.
For example::
>>> from django.forms import ModelForm
# Create the form class.
>>> class ArticleForm(ModelForm):
... class Meta:
... model = Article
# Creating a form to add an article.
>>> form = ArticleForm()
# Creating a form to change an existing article.
>>> article = Article.objects.get(pk=1)
>>> form = ArticleForm(instance=article)
Field types
The generated ``Form`` class will have a form field for every model field. Each
model field has a corresponding default form field. For example, a
``CharField`` on a model is represented as a ``CharField`` on a form. A
model ``ManyToManyField`` is represented as a ``MultipleChoiceField``. Here is
the full list of conversions:
=============================== ========================================
Model field Form field
=============================== ========================================
``AutoField`` Not represented in the form
``BooleanField`` ``BooleanField``
``CharField`` ``CharField`` with ``max_length`` set to
the model field's ``max_length``
``CommaSeparatedIntegerField`` ``CharField``
``DateField`` ``DateField``
``DateTimeField`` ``DateTimeField``
``DecimalField`` ``DecimalField``
``EmailField`` ``EmailField``
``FileField`` ``FileField``
``FilePathField`` ``CharField``
``FloatField`` ``FloatField``
``ForeignKey`` ``ModelChoiceField`` (see below)
``ImageField`` ``ImageField``
``IntegerField`` ``IntegerField``
``IPAddressField`` ``IPAddressField``
``ManyToManyField`` ``ModelMultipleChoiceField`` (see
``NullBooleanField`` ``CharField``
``PhoneNumberField`` ``USPhoneNumberField``
(from ````)
``PositiveIntegerField`` ``IntegerField``
``PositiveSmallIntegerField`` ``IntegerField``
``SlugField`` ``CharField``
``SmallIntegerField`` ``IntegerField``
``TextField`` ``CharField`` with ``widget=Textarea``
``TimeField`` ``TimeField``
``URLField`` ``URLField`` with ``verify_exists`` set
to the model field's ``verify_exists``
``USStateField`` ``CharField`` with
(``USStateSelect`` is from
``XMLField`` ``CharField`` with ``widget=Textarea``
=============================== ========================================
.. note::
The ``FloatField`` form field and ``DecimalField`` model and form fields
are new in the development version.
As you might expect, the ``ForeignKey`` and ``ManyToManyField`` model field
types are special cases:
* ``ForeignKey`` is represented by ``django.forms.ModelChoiceField``,
which is a ``ChoiceField`` whose choices are a model ``QuerySet``.
* ``ManyToManyField`` is represented by
``django.forms.ModelMultipleChoiceField``, which is a
``MultipleChoiceField`` whose choices are a model ``QuerySet``.
In addition, each generated form field has attributes set as follows:
* If the model field has ``blank=True``, then ``required`` is set to
``False`` on the form field. Otherwise, ``required=True``.
* The form field's ``label`` is set to the ``verbose_name`` of the model
field, with the first character capitalized.
* The form field's ``help_text`` is set to the ``help_text`` of the model
* If the model field has ``choices`` set, then the form field's ``widget``
will be set to ``Select``, with choices coming from the model field's
``choices``. The choices will normally include the blank choice which is
selected by default. If the field is required, this forces the user to
make a selection. The blank choice will not be included if the model
field has ``blank=False`` and an explicit ``default`` value (the
``default`` value will be initially selected instead).
Finally, note that you can override the form field used for a given model
field. See `Overriding the default field types`_ below.
A full example
Consider this set of models::
from django.db import models
from django.forms import ModelForm
('MR', 'Mr.'),
('MRS', 'Mrs.'),
('MS', 'Ms.'),
class Author(models.Model):
name = models.CharField(max_length=100)
title = models.CharField(max_length=3, choices=TITLE_CHOICES)
birth_date = models.DateField(blank=True, null=True)
def __unicode__(self):
class Book(models.Model):
name = models.CharField(max_length=100)
authors = models.ManyToManyField(Author)
class AuthorForm(ModelForm):
class Meta:
model = Author
class BookForm(ModelForm):
class Meta:
model = Book
With these models, the ``ModelForm`` subclasses above would be roughly
equivalent to this (the only difference being the ``save()`` method, which
we'll discuss in a moment.)::
class AuthorForm(forms.Form):
name = forms.CharField(max_length=100)
title = forms.CharField(max_length=3,
birth_date = forms.DateField(required=False)
class BookForm(forms.Form):
name = forms.CharField(max_length=100)
authors = forms.ModelMultipleChoiceField(queryset=Author.objects.all())
The ``save()`` method
Every form produced by ``ModelForm`` also has a ``save()``
method. This method creates and saves a database object from the data
bound to the form. A subclass of ``ModelForm`` can accept an existing
model instance as the keyword argument ``instance``; if this is
supplied, ``save()`` will update that instance. If it's not supplied,
``save()`` will create a new instance of the specified model::
# Create a form instance from POST data.
>>> f = ArticleForm(request.POST)
# Save a new Article object from the form's data.
>>> new_article =
# Create a form to edit an existing Article.
>>> a = Article.objects.get(pk=1)
>>> f = ArticleForm(instance=a)
# Create a form to edit an existing Article, but use
# POST data to populate the form.
>>> a = Article.objects.get(pk=1)
>>> f = ArticleForm(request.POST, instance=a)
Note that ``save()`` will raise a ``ValueError`` if the data in the form
doesn't validate -- i.e., ``if form.errors``.
This ``save()`` method accepts an optional ``commit`` keyword argument, which
accepts either ``True`` or ``False``. If you call ``save()`` with
``commit=False``, then it will return an object that hasn't yet been saved to
the database. In this case, it's up to you to call ``save()`` on the resulting
model instance. This is useful if you want to do custom processing on the
object before saving it. ``commit`` is ``True`` by default.
Another side effect of using ``commit=False`` is seen when your model has
a many-to-many relation with another model. If your model has a many-to-many
relation and you specify ``commit=False`` when you save a form, Django cannot
immediately save the form data for the many-to-many relation. This is because
it isn't possible to save many-to-many data for an instance until the instance
exists in the database.
To work around this problem, every time you save a form using ``commit=False``,
Django adds a ``save_m2m()`` method to your ``ModelForm`` subclass. After
you've manually saved the instance produced by the form, you can invoke
``save_m2m()`` to save the many-to-many form data. For example::
# Create a form instance with POST data.
>>> f = AuthorForm(request.POST)
# Create, but don't save the new author instance.
>>> new_author =
# Modify the author in some way.
>>> new_author.some_field = 'some_value'
# Save the new instance.
# Now, save the many-to-many data for the form.
>>> f.save_m2m()
Calling ``save_m2m()`` is only required if you use ``save(commit=False)``.
When you use a simple ``save()`` on a form, all data -- including
many-to-many data -- is saved without the need for any additional method calls.
For example::
# Create a form instance with POST data.
>>> a = Author()
>>> f = AuthorForm(request.POST, instance=a)
# Create and save the new author instance. There's no need to do anything else.
>>> new_author =
Other than the ``save()`` and ``save_m2m()`` methods, a ``ModelForm``
works exactly the same way as any other ``forms`` form. For
example, the ``is_valid()`` method is used to check for validity, the
``is_multipart()`` method is used to determine whether a form requires
multipart file upload (and hence whether ``request.FILES`` must be
passed to the form), etc. See `the standard forms documentation`_
for more information.
.. _the standard forms documentation: ../forms/
Using a subset of fields on the form
In some cases, you may not want all the model fields to appear on the generated
form. There are three ways of telling ``ModelForm`` to use only a subset of the
model fields:
1. Set ``editable=False`` on the model field. As a result, *any* form
created from the model via ``ModelForm`` will not include that
2. Use the ``fields`` attribute of the ``ModelForm``'s inner ``Meta``
class. This attribute, if given, should be a list of field names
to include in the form.
3. Use the ``exclude`` attribute of the ``ModelForm``'s inner ``Meta``
class. This attribute, if given, should be a list of field names
to exclude from the form.
For example, if you want a form for the ``Author`` model (defined
above) that includes only the ``name`` and ``title`` fields, you would
specify ``fields`` or ``exclude`` like this::
class PartialAuthorForm(ModelForm):
class Meta:
model = Author
fields = ('name', 'title')
class PartialAuthorForm(ModelForm):
class Meta:
model = Author
exclude = ('birth_date',)
Since the Author model has only 3 fields, 'name', 'title', and
'birth_date', the forms above will contain exactly the same fields.
.. note::
If you specify ``fields`` or ``exclude`` when creating a form with
``ModelForm``, then the fields that are not in the resulting form will not
be set by the form's ``save()`` method. Django will prevent any attempt to
save an incomplete model, so if the model does not allow the missing fields
to be empty, and does not provide a default value for the missing fields,
any attempt to ``save()`` a ``ModelForm`` with missing fields will fail.
To avoid this failure, you must instantiate your model with initial values
for the missing, but required fields, or use ``save(commit=False)`` and
manually set any extra required fields::
instance = Instance(required_field='value')
form = InstanceForm(request.POST, instance=instance)
new_instance =
instance =
instance.required_field = 'new value'
new_instance =
See the `section on saving forms`_ for more details on using
.. _section on saving forms: `The save() method`_
Overriding the default field types
The default field types, as described in the `Field types`_ table above, are
sensible defaults. If you have a ``DateField`` in your model, chances are you'd
want that to be represented as a ``DateField`` in your form. But
``ModelForm`` gives you the flexibility of changing the form field type
for a given model field. You do this by declaratively specifying fields like
you would in a regular ``Form``. Declared fields will override the default
ones generated by using the ``model`` attribute.
For example, if you wanted to use ``MyDateFormField`` for the ``pub_date``
field, you could do the following::
>>> class ArticleForm(ModelForm):
... pub_date = MyDateFormField()
... class Meta:
... model = Article
If you want to override a field's default widget, then specify the ``widget``
parameter when declaring the form field::
>>> class ArticleForm(ModelForm):
... pub_date = DateField(widget=MyDateWidget())
... class Meta:
... model = Article
Form inheritance
As with basic forms, you can extend and reuse ``ModelForms`` by inheriting
them. This is useful if you need to declare extra fields or extra methods on a
parent class for use in a number of forms derived from models. For example,
using the previous ``ArticleForm`` class::
>>> class EnhancedArticleForm(ArticleForm):
... def clean_pub_date(self):
... ...
This creates a form that behaves identically to ``ArticleForm``, except there's
some extra validation and cleaning for the ``pub_date`` field.
You can also subclass the parent's ``Meta`` inner class if you want to change
the ``Meta.fields`` or ``Meta.excludes`` lists::
>>> class RestrictedArticleForm(EnhancedArticleForm):
... class Meta(ArticleForm.Meta):
... exclude = ['body']
This adds the extra method from the ``EnhancedArticleForm`` and modifies
the original ``ArticleForm.Meta`` to remove one field.
There are a couple of things to note, however.
* Normal Python name resolution rules apply. If you have multiple base
classes that declare a ``Meta`` inner class, only the first one will be
used. This means the child's ``Meta``, if it exists, otherwise the
``Meta`` of the first parent, etc.
* For technical reasons, a subclass cannot inherit from both a ``ModelForm``
and a ``Form`` simultaneously.
Chances are these notes won't affect you unless you're trying to do something
tricky with subclassing.
Model Formsets
Similar to regular formsets there are a couple enhanced formset classes that
provide all the right things to work with your models. Lets reuse the
``Author`` model from above::
>>> from django.forms.models import modelformset_factory
>>> AuthorFormSet = modelformset_factory(Author)
This will create a formset that is capable of working with the data associated
to the ``Author`` model. It works just like a regular formset::
>>> formset = AuthorFormSet()
>>> print formset
<input type="hidden" name="form-TOTAL_FORMS" value="1" id="id_form-TOTAL_FORMS" /><input type="hidden" name="form-INITIAL_FORMS" value="0" id="id_form-INITIAL_FORMS" />
<tr><th><label for="id_form-0-name">Name:</label></th><td><input id="id_form-0-name" type="text" name="form-0-name" maxlength="100" /></td></tr>
<tr><th><label for="id_form-0-title">Title:</label></th><td><select name="form-0-title" id="id_form-0-title">
<option value="" selected="selected">---------</option>
<option value="MR">Mr.</option>
<option value="MRS">Mrs.</option>
<option value="MS">Ms.</option>
<tr><th><label for="id_form-0-birth_date">Birth date:</label></th><td><input type="text" name="form-0-birth_date" id="id_form-0-birth_date" /><input type="hidden" name="form-0-id" id="id_form-0-id" /></td></tr>
.. note::
One thing to note is that ``modelformset_factory`` uses ``formset_factory``
and by default uses ``can_delete=True``.
Changing the queryset
By default when you create a formset from a model the queryset will be all
objects in the model. This is best shown as ``Author.objects.all()``. This is
>>> formset = AuthorFormSet(queryset=Author.objects.filter(name__startswith='O'))
Alternatively, you can use a subclassing based approach::
from django.forms.models import BaseModelFormSet
class BaseAuthorFormSet(BaseModelFormSet):
def get_queryset(self):
return super(BaseAuthorFormSet, self).get_queryset().filter(name__startswith='O')
Then your ``BaseAuthorFormSet`` would be passed into the factory function to
be used as a base::
>>> AuthorFormSet = modelformset_factory(Author, formset=BaseAuthorFormSet)
Saving objects in the formset
Similar to a ``ModelForm`` you can save the data into the model. This is done
with the ``save()`` method on the formset::
# create a formset instance with POST data.
>>> formset = AuthorFormSet(request.POST)
# assuming all is valid, save the data
>>> instances =
The ``save()`` method will return the instances that have been saved to the
database. If an instance did not change in the bound data it will not be
saved to the database and not found in ``instances`` in the above example.
You can optionally pass in ``commit=False`` to ``save()`` to only return the
model instances without any database interaction::
# don't save to the database
>>> instances =
>>> for instance in instances:
... # do something with instance
This gives you the ability to attach data to the instances before saving them
to the database. If your formset contains a ``ManyToManyField`` you will also
need to make a call to ``formset.save_m2m()`` to ensure the many-to-many
relationships are saved properly.
Limiting the number of objects editable
Similar to regular formsets you can use the ``max_num`` parameter to
``modelformset_factory`` to limit the number of forms displayed. With
model formsets this will properly limit the query to only select the maximum
number of objects needed::
>>> Author.objects.order_by('name')
[<Author: Charles Baudelaire>, <Author: Paul Verlaine>, <Author: Walt Whitman>]
>>> AuthorFormSet = modelformset_factory(Author, max_num=2, extra=1)
>>> formset = AuthorFormSet(queryset=Author.objects.order_by('name'))
>>> formset.initial
[{'id': 1, 'name': u'Charles Baudelaire'}, {'id': 3, 'name': u'Paul Verlaine'}]
If the value of ``max_num`` is less than the total objects returned it will
fill the rest with extra forms::
>>> AuthorFormSet = modelformset_factory(Author, max_num=4, extra=1)
>>> formset = AuthorFormSet(queryset=Author.objects.order_by('name'))
>>> for form in formset.forms:
... print form.as_table()
<tr><th><label for="id_form-0-name">Name:</label></th><td><input id="id_form-0-name" type="text" name="form-0-name" value="Charles Baudelaire" maxlength="100" /><input type="hidden" name="form-0-id" value="1" id="id_form-0-id" /></td></tr>
<tr><th><label for="id_form-1-name">Name:</label></th><td><input id="id_form-1-name" type="text" name="form-1-name" value="Paul Verlaine" maxlength="100" /><input type="hidden" name="form-1-id" value="3" id="id_form-1-id" /></td></tr>
<tr><th><label for="id_form-2-name">Name:</label></th><td><input id="id_form-2-name" type="text" name="form-2-name" value="Walt Whitman" maxlength="100" /><input type="hidden" name="form-2-id" value="2" id="id_form-2-id" /></td></tr>
<tr><th><label for="id_form-3-name">Name:</label></th><td><input id="id_form-3-name" type="text" name="form-3-name" maxlength="100" /><input type="hidden" name="form-3-id" id="id_form-3-id" /></td></tr>
Using ``inlineformset_factory``
The ``inlineformset_factory`` is a helper to a common usage pattern of working
with related objects through a foreign key. Suppose you have two models
``Author`` and ``Book``. You want to create a formset that works with the
books of a specific author. Here is how you could accomplish this::
>>> from django.forms.models import inlineformset_factory
>>> BookFormSet = inlineformset_factory(Author, Book)
>>> author = Author.objects.get(name=u'Orson Scott Card')
>>> formset = BookFormSet(instance=author)
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