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Writing your first Django app, part 1
Let's learn by example.
Throughout this tutorial, we'll walk you through the creation of a basic
poll application.
It'll consist of two parts:
* A public site that lets people view polls and vote in them.
* An admin site that lets you add, change and delete polls.
We'll assume you have :doc:`Django installed </intro/install>` already. You can
tell Django is installed and which version by running the following command:
.. code-block:: bash
python -c "import django; print(django.get_version())"
You should see either the version of your Django installation or an error
telling "No module named django". Check also that the version number matches
the version of this tutorial. If they don't match, you can refer to the
tutorial for your version of Django or update Django to the newest version.
See :doc:`How to install Django </topics/install>` for advice on how to remove
older versions of Django and install a newer one.
.. admonition:: Where to get help:
If you're having trouble going through this tutorial, please post a message
to `django-users`__ or drop by `#django on`__ to chat
with other Django users who might be able to help.
__ irc://
Creating a project
If this is your first time using Django, you'll have to take care of some
initial setup. Namely, you'll need to auto-generate some code that establishes a
Django :term:`project` -- a collection of settings for an instance of Django,
including database configuration, Django-specific options and
application-specific settings.
From the command line, ``cd`` into a directory where you'd like to store your
code, then run the following command:
.. code-block:: bash startproject mysite
This will create a ``mysite`` directory in your current directory. If it didn't
work, see :doc:`Troubleshooting </faq/troubleshooting>`.
.. admonition:: Script name may differ in distribution packages
If you installed Django using a Linux distribution's package manager
(e.g. apt-get or yum) ```` may have been renamed to
``django-admin``. You may continue through this documentation by omitting
``.py`` from each command.
.. admonition:: Mac OS X permissions
If you're using Mac OS X, you may see the message "permission denied" when
you try to run `` startproject``. This is because, on
Unix-based systems like OS X, a file must be marked as "executable" before it
can be run as a program. To do this, open and navigate (using
the ``cd`` command) to the directory where :doc:`
</ref/django-admin>` is installed, then run the command
``sudo chmod +x``.
.. note::
You'll need to avoid naming projects after built-in Python or Django
components. In particular, this means you should avoid using names like
``django`` (which will conflict with Django itself) or ``test`` (which
conflicts with a built-in Python package).
.. admonition:: Where should this code live?
If your background is in PHP, you're probably used to putting code under the
Web server's document root (in a place such as ``/var/www``). With Django,
you don't do that. It's not a good idea to put any of this Python code
within your Web server's document root, because it risks the possibility
that people may be able to view your code over the Web. That's not good for
Put your code in some directory **outside** of the document root, such as
Let's look at what :djadmin:`startproject` created::
.. admonition:: Doesn't match what you see?
The default project layout recently changed. If you're seeing a "flat"
layout (with no inner :file:`mysite/` directory), you're probably using
a version of Django that doesn't match this tutorial version. You'll
want to either switch to the older tutorial or the newer Django version.
These files are:
* The outer :file:`mysite/` directory is just a container for your
project. Its name doesn't matter to Django; you can rename it to anything
you like.
* :file:``: A command-line utility that lets you interact with this
Django project in various ways. You can read all the details about
:file:`` in :doc:`/ref/django-admin`.
* The inner :file:`mysite/` directory is the actual Python package for your
project. Its name is the Python package name you'll need to use to import
anything inside it (e.g. ``import mysite.settings``).
* :file:`mysite/`: An empty file that tells Python that this
directory should be considered a Python package. (Read `more about
packages`_ in the official Python docs if you're a Python beginner.)
* :file:`mysite/`: Settings/configuration for this Django
project. :doc:`/topics/settings` will tell you all about how settings
* :file:`mysite/`: The URL declarations for this Django project; a
"table of contents" of your Django-powered site. You can read more about
URLs in :doc:`/topics/http/urls`.
* :file:`mysite/`: An entry-point for WSGI-compatible webservers to
serve your project. See :doc:`/howto/deployment/wsgi/index` for more details.
.. _more about packages:
The development server
Let's verify this worked. Change into the outer :file:`mysite` directory, if
you haven't already, and run the command ``python runserver``. You'll
see the following output on the command line::
Validating models...
0 errors found.
Django version 1.4, using settings 'mysite.settings'
Development server is running at
Quit the server with CONTROL-C.
You've started the Django development server, a lightweight Web server written
purely in Python. We've included this with Django so you can develop things
rapidly, without having to deal with configuring a production server -- such as
Apache -- until you're ready for production.
Now's a good time to note: DON'T use this server in anything resembling a
production environment. It's intended only for use while developing. (We're in
the business of making Web frameworks, not Web servers.)
Now that the server's running, visit with your Web
browser. You'll see a "Welcome to Django" page, in pleasant, light-blue pastel.
It worked!
.. admonition:: Changing the port
By default, the :djadmin:`runserver` command starts the development server
on the internal IP at port 8000.
If you want to change the server's port, pass
it as a command-line argument. For instance, this command starts the server
on port 8080:
.. code-block:: bash
python runserver 8080
If you want to change the server's IP, pass it along with the port. So to
listen on all public IPs (useful if you want to show off your work on other
computers), use:
.. code-block:: bash
python runserver
Full docs for the development server can be found in the
:djadmin:`runserver` reference.
Database setup
Now, edit :file:`mysite/`. It's a normal Python module with
module-level variables representing Django settings. Change the
following keys in the :setting:`DATABASES` ``'default'`` item to match
your database connection settings.
* :setting:`ENGINE <DATABASE-ENGINE>` -- Either
``'django.db.backends.mysql'``, ``'django.db.backends.sqlite3'`` or
``''``. Other backends are :setting:`also available
* :setting:`NAME` -- The name of your database. If you're using
SQLite, the database will be a file on your computer; in that
case, :setting:`NAME` should be the full absolute path,
including filename, of that file. If the file doesn't exist, it
will automatically be created when you synchronize the database
for the first time (see below).
When specifying the path, always use forward slashes, even on
Windows (e.g. ``C:/homes/user/mysite/sqlite3.db``).
* :setting:`USER` -- Your database username (not used for SQLite).
* :setting:`PASSWORD` -- Your database password (not used for
* :setting:`HOST` -- The host your database is on. Leave this as
an empty string if your database server is on the same physical
machine (not used for SQLite).
If you're new to databases, we recommend simply using SQLite by setting
:setting:`ENGINE` to ``'django.db.backends.sqlite3'`` and :setting:`NAME` to
the place where you'd like to store the database. SQLite is included in Python,
so you won't need to install anything else to support your database.
.. note::
If you're using PostgreSQL or MySQL, make sure you've created a database by
this point. Do that with "``CREATE DATABASE database_name;``" within your
database's interactive prompt.
If you're using SQLite, you don't need to create anything beforehand - the
database file will be created automatically when it is needed.
While you're editing :file:``, set :setting:`TIME_ZONE` to your
time zone. The default value is the Central time zone in the U.S. (Chicago).
Also, note the :setting:`INSTALLED_APPS` setting toward the bottom of
the file. That holds the names of all Django applications that are
activated in this Django instance. Apps can be used in multiple projects, and
you can package and distribute them for use by others in their projects.
By default, :setting:`INSTALLED_APPS` contains the following apps, all of which
come with Django:
* :mod:`django.contrib.auth` -- An authentication system.
* :mod:`django.contrib.contenttypes` -- A framework for content types.
* :mod:`django.contrib.sessions` -- A session framework.
* :mod:`django.contrib.sites` -- A framework for managing multiple sites
with one Django installation.
* :mod:`django.contrib.messages` -- A messaging framework.
* :mod:`django.contrib.staticfiles` -- A framework for managing
static files.
These applications are included by default as a convenience for the common case.
Each of these applications makes use of at least one database table, though,
so we need to create the tables in the database before we can use them. To do
that, run the following command:
.. code-block:: bash
python syncdb
The :djadmin:`syncdb` command looks at the :setting:`INSTALLED_APPS` setting and
creates any necessary database tables according to the database settings in your
:file:`` file. You'll see a message for each database table it
creates, and you'll get a prompt asking you if you'd like to create a superuser
account for the authentication system. Go ahead and do that.
If you're interested, run the command-line client for your database and type
``\dt`` (PostgreSQL), ``SHOW TABLES;`` (MySQL), or ``.schema`` (SQLite) to
display the tables Django created.
.. admonition:: For the minimalists
Like we said above, the default applications are included for the common
case, but not everybody needs them. If you don't need any or all of them,
feel free to comment-out or delete the appropriate line(s) from
:setting:`INSTALLED_APPS` before running :djadmin:`syncdb`. The
:djadmin:`syncdb` command will only create tables for apps in
.. _creating-models:
Creating models
Now that your environment -- a "project" -- is set up, you're set to start
doing work.
Each application you write in Django consists of a Python package, somewhere
on your `Python path`_, that follows a certain convention. Django comes with a
utility that automatically generates the basic directory structure of an app,
so you can focus on writing code rather than creating directories.
.. admonition:: Projects vs. apps
What's the difference between a project and an app? An app is a Web
application that does something -- e.g., a Weblog system, a database of
public records or a simple poll app. A project is a collection of
configuration and apps for a particular Web site. A project can contain
multiple apps. An app can be in multiple projects.
Your apps can live anywhere on your `Python path`_. In this tutorial, we'll
create our poll app right next to your :file:`` file so that it can be
imported as its own top-level module, rather than a submodule of ``mysite``.
To create your app, make sure you're in the same directory as :file:``
and type this command:
.. code-block:: bash
python startapp polls
That'll create a directory :file:`polls`, which is laid out like this::
This directory structure will house the poll application.
The first step in writing a database Web app in Django is to define your models
-- essentially, your database layout, with additional metadata.
.. admonition:: Philosophy
A model is the single, definitive source of data about your data. It contains
the essential fields and behaviors of the data you're storing. Django follows
the :ref:`DRY Principle <dry>`. The goal is to define your data model in one
place and automatically derive things from it.
In our simple poll app, we'll create two models: ``Poll`` and ``Choice``.
A ``Poll`` has a question and a publication date. A ``Choice`` has two fields:
the text of the choice and a vote tally. Each ``Choice`` is associated with a
These concepts are represented by simple Python classes. Edit the
:file:`polls/` file so it looks like this::
from django.db import models
class Poll(models.Model):
question = models.CharField(max_length=200)
pub_date = models.DateTimeField('date published')
class Choice(models.Model):
poll = models.ForeignKey(Poll)
choice_text = models.CharField(max_length=200)
votes = models.IntegerField()
The code is straightforward. Each model is represented by a class that
subclasses :class:`django.db.models.Model`. Each model has a number of class
variables, each of which represents a database field in the model.
Each field is represented by an instance of a :class:`~django.db.models.Field`
class -- e.g., :class:`~django.db.models.CharField` for character fields and
:class:`~django.db.models.DateTimeField` for datetimes. This tells Django what
type of data each field holds.
The name of each :class:`~django.db.models.Field` instance (e.g. ``question`` or
``pub_date`` ) is the field's name, in machine-friendly format. You'll use this
value in your Python code, and your database will use it as the column name.
You can use an optional first positional argument to a
:class:`~django.db.models.Field` to designate a human-readable name. That's used
in a couple of introspective parts of Django, and it doubles as documentation.
If this field isn't provided, Django will use the machine-readable name. In this
example, we've only defined a human-readable name for ``Poll.pub_date``. For all
other fields in this model, the field's machine-readable name will suffice as
its human-readable name.
Some :class:`~django.db.models.Field` classes have required elements.
:class:`~django.db.models.CharField`, for example, requires that you give it a
:attr:`~django.db.models.Field.max_length`. That's used not only in the database
schema, but in validation, as we'll soon see.
Finally, note a relationship is defined, using
:class:`~django.db.models.ForeignKey`. That tells Django each ``Choice`` is related
to a single ``Poll``. Django supports all the common database relationships:
many-to-ones, many-to-manys and one-to-ones.
.. _`Python path`:
Activating models
That small bit of model code gives Django a lot of information. With it, Django
is able to:
* Create a database schema (``CREATE TABLE`` statements) for this app.
* Create a Python database-access API for accessing ``Poll`` and ``Choice`` objects.
But first we need to tell our project that the ``polls`` app is installed.
.. admonition:: Philosophy
Django apps are "pluggable": You can use an app in multiple projects, and
you can distribute apps, because they don't have to be tied to a given
Django installation.
Edit the :file:`` file again, and change the
:setting:`INSTALLED_APPS` setting to include the string ``'polls'``. So
it'll look like this::
# Uncomment the next line to enable the admin:
# 'django.contrib.admin',
# Uncomment the next line to enable admin documentation:
# 'django.contrib.admindocs',
Now Django knows to include the ``polls`` app. Let's run another
.. code-block:: bash
python sql polls
You should see something similar to the following (the ``CREATE TABLE`` SQL
statements for the polls app):
.. code-block:: sql
CREATE TABLE "polls_poll" (
"question" varchar(200) NOT NULL,
"pub_date" timestamp with time zone NOT NULL
CREATE TABLE "polls_choice" (
"poll_id" integer NOT NULL REFERENCES "polls_poll" ("id") DEFERRABLE INITIALLY DEFERRED,
"choice_text" varchar(200) NOT NULL,
"votes" integer NOT NULL
Note the following:
* The exact output will vary depending on the database you are using.
* Table names are automatically generated by combining the name of the app
(``polls``) and the lowercase name of the model -- ``poll`` and
``choice``. (You can override this behavior.)
* Primary keys (IDs) are added automatically. (You can override this, too.)
* By convention, Django appends ``"_id"`` to the foreign key field name.
(Yes, you can override this, as well.)
* The foreign key relationship is made explicit by a ``REFERENCES``
* It's tailored to the database you're using, so database-specific field
types such as ``auto_increment`` (MySQL), ``serial`` (PostgreSQL), or
``integer primary key`` (SQLite) are handled for you automatically. Same
goes for quoting of field names -- e.g., using double quotes or single
quotes. The author of this tutorial runs PostgreSQL, so the example
output is in PostgreSQL syntax.
* The :djadmin:`sql` command doesn't actually run the SQL in your database -
it just prints it to the screen so that you can see what SQL Django thinks
is required. If you wanted to, you could copy and paste this SQL into your
database prompt. However, as we will see shortly, Django provides an
easier way of committing the SQL to the database.
If you're interested, also run the following commands:
* :djadmin:`python validate <validate>` -- Checks for any errors
in the construction of your models.
* :djadmin:`python sqlcustom polls <sqlcustom>` -- Outputs any
:ref:`custom SQL statements <initial-sql>` (such as table modifications or
constraints) that are defined for the application.
* :djadmin:`python sqlclear polls <sqlclear>` -- Outputs the
necessary ``DROP TABLE`` statements for this app, according to which
tables already exist in your database (if any).
* :djadmin:`python sqlindexes polls <sqlindexes>` -- Outputs the
``CREATE INDEX`` statements for this app.
* :djadmin:`python sqlall polls <sqlall>` -- A combination of all
the SQL from the :djadmin:`sql`, :djadmin:`sqlcustom`, and
:djadmin:`sqlindexes` commands.
Looking at the output of those commands can help you understand what's actually
happening under the hood.
Now, run :djadmin:`syncdb` again to create those model tables in your database:
.. code-block:: bash
python syncdb
The :djadmin:`syncdb` command runs the SQL from :djadmin:`sqlall` on your
database for all apps in :setting:`INSTALLED_APPS` that don't already exist in
your database. This creates all the tables, initial data and indexes for any
apps you've added to your project since the last time you ran syncdb.
:djadmin:`syncdb` can be called as often as you like, and it will only ever
create the tables that don't exist.
Read the :doc:` documentation </ref/django-admin>` for full
information on what the ```` utility can do.
Playing with the API
Now, let's hop into the interactive Python shell and play around with the free
API Django gives you. To invoke the Python shell, use this command:
.. code-block:: bash
python shell
We're using this instead of simply typing "python", because :file:``
sets the ``DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE`` environment variable, which gives Django
the Python import path to your :file:`` file.
.. admonition:: Bypassing
If you'd rather not use :file:``, no problem. Just set the
``DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE`` environment variable to ``mysite.settings`` and
run ``python`` from the same directory :file:`` is in (or ensure
that directory is on the Python path, so that ``import mysite`` works).
For more information on all of this, see the :doc:`
documentation </ref/django-admin>`.
Once you're in the shell, explore the :doc:`database API </topics/db/queries>`::
>>> from polls.models import Poll, Choice # Import the model classes we just wrote.
# No polls are in the system yet.
>>> Poll.objects.all()
# Create a new Poll.
# Support for time zones is enabled in the default settings file, so
# Django expects a datetime with tzinfo for pub_date. Use
# instead of and it will do the right thing.
>>> from django.utils import timezone
>>> p = Poll(question="What's new?",
# Save the object into the database. You have to call save() explicitly.
# Now it has an ID. Note that this might say "1L" instead of "1", depending
# on which database you're using. That's no biggie; it just means your
# database backend prefers to return integers as Python long integer
# objects.
# Access database columns via Python attributes.
>>> p.question
"What's new?"
>>> p.pub_date
datetime.datetime(2012, 2, 26, 13, 0, 0, 775217, tzinfo=<UTC>)
# Change values by changing the attributes, then calling save().
>>> p.question = "What's up?"
# objects.all() displays all the polls in the database.
>>> Poll.objects.all()
[<Poll: Poll object>]
Wait a minute. ``<Poll: Poll object>`` is, utterly, an unhelpful representation
of this object. Let's fix that by editing the polls model (in the
``polls/`` file) and adding a
:meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` method to both ``Poll`` and
class Poll(models.Model):
# ...
def __unicode__(self):
return self.question
class Choice(models.Model):
# ...
def __unicode__(self):
return self.choice_text
It's important to add :meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` methods to
your models, not only for your own sanity when dealing with the interactive
prompt, but also because objects' representations are used throughout Django's
automatically-generated admin.
.. admonition:: Why :meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` and not
If you're familiar with Python, you might be in the habit of adding
:meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__str__` methods to your classes, not
:meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` methods. We use
:meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` here because Django models deal
with Unicode by default. All data stored in your database is converted to
Unicode when it's returned.
Django models have a default :meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__str__` method
that calls :meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` and converts the
result to a UTF-8 bytestring. This means that ``unicode(p)`` will return a
Unicode string, and ``str(p)`` will return a normal string, with characters
encoded as UTF-8.
If all of this is gibberish to you, just remember to add
:meth:`~django.db.models.Model.__unicode__` methods to your models. With any
luck, things should Just Work for you.
Note these are normal Python methods. Let's add a custom method, just for
import datetime
from django.utils import timezone
# ...
class Poll(models.Model):
# ...
def was_published_recently(self):
return self.pub_date >= - datetime.timedelta(days=1)
Note the addition of ``import datetime`` and ``from django.utils import
timezone``, to reference Python's standard :mod:`datetime` module and Django's
time-zone-related utilities in :mod:`django.utils.timezone`, respectively. If
you aren't familiar with time zone handling in Python, you can learn more in
the :doc:`time zone support docs </topics/i18n/timezones>`.
Save these changes and start a new Python interactive shell by running
``python shell`` again::
>>> from polls.models import Poll, Choice
# Make sure our __unicode__() addition worked.
>>> Poll.objects.all()
[<Poll: What's up?>]
# Django provides a rich database lookup API that's entirely driven by
# keyword arguments.
>>> Poll.objects.filter(id=1)
[<Poll: What's up?>]
>>> Poll.objects.filter(question__startswith='What')
[<Poll: What's up?>]
# Get the poll whose year is 2012.
>>> Poll.objects.get(pub_date__year=2012)
<Poll: What's up?>
>>> Poll.objects.get(id=2)
Traceback (most recent call last):
DoesNotExist: Poll matching query does not exist. Lookup parameters were {'id': 2}
# Lookup by a primary key is the most common case, so Django provides a
# shortcut for primary-key exact lookups.
# The following is identical to Poll.objects.get(id=1).
>>> Poll.objects.get(pk=1)
<Poll: What's up?>
# Make sure our custom method worked.
>>> p = Poll.objects.get(pk=1)
>>> p.was_published_recently()
# Give the Poll a couple of Choices. The create call constructs a new
# Choice object, does the INSERT statement, adds the choice to the set
# of available choices and returns the new Choice object. Django creates
# a set to hold the "other side" of a ForeignKey relation
# (e.g. a poll's choices) which can be accessed via the API.
>>> p = Poll.objects.get(pk=1)
# Display any choices from the related object set -- none so far.
>>> p.choice_set.all()
# Create three choices.
>>> p.choice_set.create(choice_text='Not much', votes=0)
<Choice: Not much>
>>> p.choice_set.create(choice_text='The sky', votes=0)
<Choice: The sky>
>>> c = p.choice_set.create(choice_text='Just hacking again', votes=0)
# Choice objects have API access to their related Poll objects.
>>> c.poll
<Poll: What's up?>
# And vice versa: Poll objects get access to Choice objects.
>>> p.choice_set.all()
[<Choice: Not much>, <Choice: The sky>, <Choice: Just hacking again>]
>>> p.choice_set.count()
# The API automatically follows relationships as far as you need.
# Use double underscores to separate relationships.
# This works as many levels deep as you want; there's no limit.
# Find all Choices for any poll whose pub_date is in 2012.
>>> Choice.objects.filter(poll__pub_date__year=2012)
[<Choice: Not much>, <Choice: The sky>, <Choice: Just hacking again>]
# Let's delete one of the choices. Use delete() for that.
>>> c = p.choice_set.filter(choice_text__startswith='Just hacking')
>>> c.delete()
For more information on model relations, see :doc:`Accessing related objects
</ref/models/relations>`. For more on how to use double underscores to perform
field lookups via the API, see :ref:`Field lookups <field-lookups-intro>`. For
full details on the database API, see our :doc:`Database API reference
When you're comfortable with the API, read :doc:`part 2 of this tutorial
</intro/tutorial02>` to get Django's automatic admin working.
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