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Model instance reference
.. currentmodule:: django.db.models
This document describes the details of the ``Model`` API. It builds on the
material presented in the :doc:`model </topics/db/models>` and :doc:`database
query </topics/db/queries>` guides, so you'll probably want to read and
understand those documents before reading this one.
Throughout this reference we'll use the :ref:`example Weblog models
<queryset-model-example>` presented in the :doc:`database query guide
Creating objects
To create a new instance of a model, just instantiate it like any other Python
.. class:: Model(**kwargs)
The keyword arguments are simply the names of the fields you've defined on your
model. Note that instantiating a model in no way touches your database; for
that, you need to :meth:``.
.. note::
You may be tempted to customize the model by overriding the ``__init__``
method. If you do so, however, take care not to change the calling
signature as any change may prevent the model instance from being saved.
Rather than overriding ``__init__``, try using one of these approaches:
1. Add a classmethod on the model class::
from django.db import models
class Book(models.Model):
title = models.CharField(max_length=100)
def create(cls, title):
book = cls(title=title)
# do something with the book
return book
book = Book.create("Pride and Prejudice")
2. Add a method on a custom manager (usually preferred)::
class BookManager(models.Manager):
def create_book(self, title):
book = self.create(title=title)
# do something with the book
return book
class Book(models.Model):
title = models.CharField(max_length=100)
objects = BookManager()
book = Book.objects.create_book("Pride and Prejudice")
Customizing model loading
.. classmethod:: Model.from_db(db, field_names, values)
The ``from_db()`` method can be used to customize model instance creation
when loading from the database.
The ``db`` argument contains the database alias for the database the model
is loaded from, ``field_names`` contains the names of all loaded fields, and
``values`` contains the loaded values for each field in ``field_names``. The
``field_names`` are in the same order as the ``values``, so it is possible to
use ``cls(**(zip(field_names, values)))`` to instantiate the object. If all
of the model's fields are present, then ``values`` are guaranteed to be in
the order ``__init__()`` expects them. That is, the instance can be created
by ``cls(*values)``. It is possible to check if all fields are present by
consulting ``cls._deferred`` - if ``False``, then all fields have been loaded
from the database.
In addition to creating the new model, the ``from_db()`` method must set the
``adding`` and ``db`` flags in the new instance's ``_state`` attribute.
Below is an example showing how to record the initial values of fields that
are loaded from the database::
def from_db(cls, db, field_names, values):
# default implementation of from_db() (could be replaced
# with super())
if cls._deferred:
instance = cls(**zip(field_names, values))
instance = cls(*values)
instance._state.adding = False
instance._state.db = db
# customization to store the original field values on the instance
instance._loaded_values = dict(zip(field_names, values))
return instance
def save(self, *args, **kwargs):
# Check how the current values differ from ._loaded_values. For example,
# prevent changing the creator_id of the model. (This example doesn't
# support cases where 'creator_id' is deferred).
if not self._state.adding and (
self.creator_id != self._loaded_values['creator_id']):
raise ValueError("Updating the value of creator isn't allowed")
super(...).save(*args, **kwargs)
The example above shows a full ``from_db()`` implementation to clarify how that
is done. In this case it would of course be possible to just use ``super()`` call
in the ``from_db()`` method.
Refreshing objects from database
.. method:: Model.refresh_from_db(using=None, fields=None, **kwargs)
If you need to reload a model's values from the database, you can use the
``refresh_from_db()`` method. When this method is called without arguments the
following is done:
1. All non-deferred fields of the model are updated to the values currently
present in the database.
2. The previously loaded related instances for which the relation's value is no
longer valid are removed from the reloaded instance. For example, if you have
a foreign key from the reloaded instance to another model with name
``Author``, then if ``obj.author_id !=``, ```` will
be thrown away, and when next accessed it will be reloaded with the value of
Note that only fields of the model are reloaded from the database. Other
database dependent values such as annotations are not reloaded.
The reloading happens from the database the instance was loaded from, or from
the default database if the instance wasn't loaded from the database. The
``using`` argument can be used to force the database used for reloading.
It is possible to force the set of fields to be loaded by using the ``fields``
For example, to test that an ``update()`` call resulted in the expected
update, you could write a test similar to this::
def test_update_result(self):
obj = MyModel.objects.create(val=1)
MyModel.objects.filter('val') + 1)
# At this point obj.val is still 1, but the value in the database
# was updated to 2. The object's updated value needs to be reloaded
# from the database.
self.assertEqual(obj.val, 2)
Note that when deferred fields are accessed, the loading of the deferred
field's value happens through this method. Thus it is possible to customize
the way deferred loading happens. The example below shows how one can reload
all of the instance's fields when a deferred field is reloaded::
class ExampleModel(models.Model):
def refresh_from_db(self, using=None, fields=None, **kwargs):
# fields contains the name of the deferred field to be
# loaded.
if fields is not None:
fields = set(fields)
deferred_fields = self.get_deferred_fields()
# If any deferred field is going to be loaded
if fields.intersection(deferred_fields):
# then load all of them
fields = fields.union(deferred_fields)
super(ExampleModel, self).refresh_from_db(using, fields, **kwargs)
.. method:: Model.get_deferred_fields()
A helper method that returns a set containing the attribute names of all those
fields that are currently deferred for this model.
.. _validating-objects:
Validating objects
There are three steps involved in validating a model:
1. Validate the model fields - :meth:`Model.clean_fields()`
2. Validate the model as a whole - :meth:`Model.clean()`
3. Validate the field uniqueness - :meth:`Model.validate_unique()`
All three steps are performed when you call a model's
:meth:`~Model.full_clean()` method.
When you use a :class:`~django.forms.ModelForm`, the call to
:meth:`~django.forms.Form.is_valid()` will perform these validation steps for
all the fields that are included on the form. See the :doc:`ModelForm
documentation </topics/forms/modelforms>` for more information. You should only
need to call a model's :meth:`~Model.full_clean()` method if you plan to handle
validation errors yourself, or if you have excluded fields from the
:class:`~django.forms.ModelForm` that require validation.
.. method:: Model.full_clean(exclude=None, validate_unique=True)
This method calls :meth:`Model.clean_fields()`, :meth:`Model.clean()`, and
:meth:`Model.validate_unique()` (if ``validate_unique`` is ``True``), in that
order and raises a :exc:`~django.core.exceptions.ValidationError` that has a
``message_dict`` attribute containing errors from all three stages.
The optional ``exclude`` argument can be used to provide a list of field names
that can be excluded from validation and cleaning.
:class:`~django.forms.ModelForm` uses this argument to exclude fields that
aren't present on your form from being validated since any errors raised could
not be corrected by the user.
Note that ``full_clean()`` will *not* be called automatically when you call
your model's :meth:`` method. You'll need to call it manually
when you want to run one-step model validation for your own manually created
models. For example::
from django.core.exceptions import ValidationError
except ValidationError as e:
# Do something based on the errors contained in e.message_dict.
# Display them to a user, or handle them programmatically.
The first step ``full_clean()`` performs is to clean each individual field.
.. method:: Model.clean_fields(exclude=None)
This method will validate all fields on your model. The optional ``exclude``
argument lets you provide a list of field names to exclude from validation. It
will raise a :exc:`~django.core.exceptions.ValidationError` if any fields fail
The second step ``full_clean()`` performs is to call :meth:`Model.clean()`.
This method should be overridden to perform custom validation on your model.
.. method:: Model.clean()
This method should be used to provide custom model validation, and to modify
attributes on your model if desired. For instance, you could use it to
automatically provide a value for a field, or to do validation that requires
access to more than a single field::
import datetime
from django.core.exceptions import ValidationError
from django.db import models
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _
class Article(models.Model):
def clean(self):
# Don't allow draft entries to have a pub_date.
if self.status == 'draft' and self.pub_date is not None:
raise ValidationError(_('Draft entries may not have a publication date.'))
# Set the pub_date for published items if it hasn't been set already.
if self.status == 'published' and self.pub_date is None:
self.pub_date =
Note, however, that like :meth:`Model.full_clean()`, a model's ``clean()``
method is not invoked when you call your model's :meth:`` method.
In the above example, the :exc:`~django.core.exceptions.ValidationError`
exception raised by ``Model.clean()`` was instantiated with a string, so it
will be stored in a special error dictionary key,
:data:`~django.core.exceptions.NON_FIELD_ERRORS`. This key is used for errors
that are tied to the entire model instead of to a specific field::
from django.core.exceptions import ValidationError, NON_FIELD_ERRORS
except ValidationError as e:
non_field_errors = e.message_dict[NON_FIELD_ERRORS]
To assign exceptions to a specific field, instantiate the
:exc:`~django.core.exceptions.ValidationError` with a dictionary, where the
keys are the field names. We could update the previous example to assign the
error to the ``pub_date`` field::
class Article(models.Model):
def clean(self):
# Don't allow draft entries to have a pub_date.
if self.status == 'draft' and self.pub_date is not None:
raise ValidationError({'pub_date': _('Draft entries may not have a publication date.')})
If you detect errors in multiple fields during ``Model.clean()``, you can also
pass a dictionary mapping field names to errors::
raise ValidationError({
'title': ValidationError(_('Missing title.'), code='required'),
'pub_date': ValidationError(_('Invalid date.'), code='invalid'),
Finally, ``full_clean()`` will check any unique constraints on your model.
.. method:: Model.validate_unique(exclude=None)
This method is similar to :meth:`~Model.clean_fields`, but validates all
uniqueness constraints on your model instead of individual field values. The
optional ``exclude`` argument allows you to provide a list of field names to
exclude from validation. It will raise a
:exc:`~django.core.exceptions.ValidationError` if any fields fail validation.
Note that if you provide an ``exclude`` argument to ``validate_unique()``, any
:attr:`~django.db.models.Options.unique_together` constraint involving one of
the fields you provided will not be checked.
Saving objects
To save an object back to the database, call ``save()``:
.. method::, force_update=False, using=DEFAULT_DB_ALIAS, update_fields=None)
If you want customized saving behavior, you can override this ``save()``
method. See :ref:`overriding-model-methods` for more details.
The model save process also has some subtleties; see the sections below.
Auto-incrementing primary keys
If a model has an :class:`~django.db.models.AutoField` — an auto-incrementing
primary key — then that auto-incremented value will be calculated and saved as
an attribute on your object the first time you call ``save()``::
>>> b2 = Blog(name='Cheddar Talk', tagline='Thoughts on cheese.')
>>> # Returns None, because b doesn't have an ID yet.
>>> # Returns the ID of your new object.
There's no way to tell what the value of an ID will be before you call
``save()``, because that value is calculated by your database, not by Django.
For convenience, each model has an :class:`~django.db.models.AutoField` named
``id`` by default unless you explicitly specify ``primary_key=True`` on a field
in your model. See the documentation for :class:`~django.db.models.AutoField`
for more details.
The ``pk`` property
.. attribute::
Regardless of whether you define a primary key field yourself, or let Django
supply one for you, each model will have a property called ``pk``. It behaves
like a normal attribute on the model, but is actually an alias for whichever
attribute is the primary key field for the model. You can read and set this
value, just as you would for any other attribute, and it will update the
correct field in the model.
Explicitly specifying auto-primary-key values
If a model has an :class:`~django.db.models.AutoField` but you want to define a
new object's ID explicitly when saving, just define it explicitly before
saving, rather than relying on the auto-assignment of the ID::
>>> b3 = Blog(id=3, name='Cheddar Talk', tagline='Thoughts on cheese.')
>>> # Returns 3.
>>> # Returns 3.
If you assign auto-primary-key values manually, make sure not to use an
already-existing primary-key value! If you create a new object with an explicit
primary-key value that already exists in the database, Django will assume you're
changing the existing record rather than creating a new one.
Given the above ``'Cheddar Talk'`` blog example, this example would override the
previous record in the database::
b4 = Blog(id=3, name='Not Cheddar', tagline='Anything but cheese.') # Overrides the previous blog with ID=3!
See `How Django knows to UPDATE vs. INSERT`_, below, for the reason this
Explicitly specifying auto-primary-key values is mostly useful for bulk-saving
objects, when you're confident you won't have primary-key collision.
What happens when you save?
When you save an object, Django performs the following steps:
1. **Emit a pre-save signal.** The :doc:`signal </ref/signals>`
:attr:`django.db.models.signals.pre_save` is sent, allowing any
functions listening for that signal to take some customized
2. **Pre-process the data.** Each field on the object is asked to
perform any automated data modification that the field may need
to perform.
Most fields do *no* pre-processing — the field data is kept as-is.
Pre-processing is only used on fields that have special behavior. For
example, if your model has a :class:`~django.db.models.DateField` with
``auto_now=True``, the pre-save phase will alter the data in the object
to ensure that the date field contains the current date stamp. (Our
documentation doesn't yet include a list of all the fields with this
"special behavior.")
3. **Prepare the data for the database.** Each field is asked to provide
its current value in a data type that can be written to the database.
Most fields require *no* data preparation. Simple data types, such as
integers and strings, are 'ready to write' as a Python object. However,
more complex data types often require some modification.
For example, :class:`~django.db.models.DateField` fields use a Python
``datetime`` object to store data. Databases don't store ``datetime``
objects, so the field value must be converted into an ISO-compliant date
string for insertion into the database.
4. **Insert the data into the database.** The pre-processed, prepared
data is then composed into an SQL statement for insertion into the
5. **Emit a post-save signal.** The signal
:attr:`django.db.models.signals.post_save` is sent, allowing
any functions listening for that signal to take some customized
How Django knows to UPDATE vs. INSERT
You may have noticed Django database objects use the same ``save()`` method
for creating and changing objects. Django abstracts the need to use ``INSERT``
or ``UPDATE`` SQL statements. Specifically, when you call ``save()``, Django
follows this algorithm:
* If the object's primary key attribute is set to a value that evaluates to
``True`` (i.e., a value other than ``None`` or the empty string), Django
executes an ``UPDATE``.
* If the object's primary key attribute is *not* set or if the ``UPDATE``
didn't update anything, Django executes an ``INSERT``.
The one gotcha here is that you should be careful not to specify a primary-key
value explicitly when saving new objects, if you cannot guarantee the
primary-key value is unused. For more on this nuance, see `Explicitly specifying
auto-primary-key values`_ above and `Forcing an INSERT or UPDATE`_ below.
In Django 1.5 and earlier, Django did a ``SELECT`` when the primary key
attribute was set. If the ``SELECT`` found a row, then Django did an ``UPDATE``,
otherwise it did an ``INSERT``. The old algorithm results in one more query in
the ``UPDATE`` case. There are some rare cases where the database doesn't
report that a row was updated even if the database contains a row for the
object's primary key value. An example is the PostgreSQL ``ON UPDATE`` trigger
which returns ``NULL``. In such cases it is possible to revert to the old
algorithm by setting the :attr:`~django.db.models.Options.select_on_save`
option to ``True``.
.. _ref-models-force-insert:
Forcing an INSERT or UPDATE
In some rare circumstances, it's necessary to be able to force the
:meth:`` method to perform an SQL ``INSERT`` and not fall back to
doing an ``UPDATE``. Or vice-versa: update, if possible, but not insert a new
row. In these cases you can pass the ``force_insert=True`` or
``force_update=True`` parameters to the :meth:`` method.
Obviously, passing both parameters is an error: you cannot both insert *and*
update at the same time!
It should be very rare that you'll need to use these parameters. Django will
almost always do the right thing and trying to override that will lead to
errors that are difficult to track down. This feature is for advanced use
Using ``update_fields`` will force an update similarly to ``force_update``.
.. _ref-models-field-updates-using-f-expressions:
Updating attributes based on existing fields
Sometimes you'll need to perform a simple arithmetic task on a field, such
as incrementing or decrementing the current value. The obvious way to
achieve this is to do something like::
>>> product = Product.objects.get(name='Venezuelan Beaver Cheese')
>>> product.number_sold += 1
If the old ``number_sold`` value retrieved from the database was 10, then
the value of 11 will be written back to the database.
The process can be made robust, :ref:`avoiding a race condition
<avoiding-race-conditions-using-f>`, as well as slightly faster by expressing
the update relative to the original field value, rather than as an explicit
assignment of a new value. Django provides :class:`F expressions
<django.db.models.F>` for performing this kind of relative update. Using
:class:`F expressions <django.db.models.F>`, the previous example is expressed
>>> from django.db.models import F
>>> product = Product.objects.get(name='Venezuelan Beaver Cheese')
>>> product.number_sold = F('number_sold') + 1
For more details, see the documentation on :class:`F expressions
<django.db.models.F>` and their :ref:`use in update queries
Specifying which fields to save
If ``save()`` is passed a list of field names in keyword argument
``update_fields``, only the fields named in that list will be updated.
This may be desirable if you want to update just one or a few fields on
an object. There will be a slight performance benefit from preventing
all of the model fields from being updated in the database. For example:: = 'Name changed again'['name'])
The ``update_fields`` argument can be any iterable containing strings. An
empty ``update_fields`` iterable will skip the save. A value of None will
perform an update on all fields.
Specifying ``update_fields`` will force an update.
When saving a model fetched through deferred model loading
(:meth:`~django.db.models.query.QuerySet.only()` or
:meth:`~django.db.models.query.QuerySet.defer()`) only the fields loaded
from the DB will get updated. In effect there is an automatic
``update_fields`` in this case. If you assign or change any deferred field
value, the field will be added to the updated fields.
Deleting objects
.. method:: Model.delete(using=DEFAULT_DB_ALIAS, keep_parents=False)
Issues an SQL ``DELETE`` for the object. This only deletes the object in the
database; the Python instance will still exist and will still have data in
its fields. This method returns the number of objects deleted and a dictionary
with the number of deletions per object type.
For more details, including how to delete objects in bulk, see
If you want customized deletion behavior, you can override the ``delete()``
method. See :ref:`overriding-model-methods` for more details.
Sometimes with :ref:`multi-table inheritance <multi-table-inheritance>` you may
want to delete only a child model's data. Specifying ``keep_parents=True`` will
keep the parent model's data.
.. versionchanged:: 1.9
The ``keep_parents`` parameter was added.
.. versionchanged:: 1.9
The return value describing the number of objects deleted was added.
Pickling objects
When you :mod:`pickle` a model, its current state is pickled. When you unpickle
it, it'll contain the model instance at the moment it was pickled, rather than
the data that's currently in the database.
.. admonition:: You can't share pickles between versions
Pickles of models are only valid for the version of Django that
was used to generate them. If you generate a pickle using Django
version N, there is no guarantee that pickle will be readable with
Django version N+1. Pickles should not be used as part of a long-term
archival strategy.
Since pickle compatibility errors can be difficult to diagnose, such as
silently corrupted objects, a ``RuntimeWarning`` is raised when you try to
unpickle a model in a Django version that is different than the one in
which it was pickled.
.. _model-instance-methods:
Other model instance methods
A few object methods have special purposes.
.. method:: Model.__str__()
The ``__str__()`` method is called whenever you call ``str()`` on an object.
Django uses ``str(obj)`` in a number of places. Most notably, to display an
object in the Django admin site and as the value inserted into a template when
it displays an object. Thus, you should always return a nice, human-readable
representation of the model from the ``__str__()`` method.
For example::
from django.db import models
from django.utils.encoding import python_2_unicode_compatible
@python_2_unicode_compatible # only if you need to support Python 2
class Person(models.Model):
first_name = models.CharField(max_length=50)
last_name = models.CharField(max_length=50)
def __str__(self):
return '%s %s' % (self.first_name, self.last_name)
If you'd like compatibility with Python 2, you can decorate your model class
with :func:`~django.utils.encoding.python_2_unicode_compatible` as shown above.
.. method:: Model.__eq__()
The equality method is defined such that instances with the same primary
key value and the same concrete class are considered equal. For proxy
models, concrete class is defined as the model's first non-proxy parent;
for all other models it is simply the model's class.
For example::
from django.db import models
class MyModel(models.Model):
id = models.AutoField(primary_key=True)
class MyProxyModel(MyModel):
class Meta:
proxy = True
class MultitableInherited(MyModel):
MyModel(id=1) == MyModel(id=1)
MyModel(id=1) == MyProxyModel(id=1)
MyModel(id=1) != MultitableInherited(id=1)
MyModel(id=1) != MyModel(id=2)
.. method:: Model.__hash__()
The ``__hash__`` method is based on the instance's primary key value. It
is effectively hash( If the instance doesn't have a primary key
value then a ``TypeError`` will be raised (otherwise the ``__hash__``
method would return different values before and after the instance is
saved, but changing the ``__hash__`` value of an instance `is forbidden
in Python`_).
.. _is forbidden in Python:
.. method:: Model.get_absolute_url()
Define a ``get_absolute_url()`` method to tell Django how to calculate the
canonical URL for an object. To callers, this method should appear to return a
string that can be used to refer to the object over HTTP.
For example::
def get_absolute_url(self):
return "/people/%i/" %
While this code is correct and simple, it may not be the most portable way to
to write this kind of method. The :func:`~django.urls.reverse` function is
usually the best approach.
For example::
def get_absolute_url(self):
from django.urls import reverse
return reverse('people.views.details', args=[str(])
One place Django uses ``get_absolute_url()`` is in the admin app. If an object
defines this method, the object-editing page will have a "View on site" link
that will jump you directly to the object's public view, as given by
Similarly, a couple of other bits of Django, such as the :doc:`syndication feed
framework </ref/contrib/syndication>`, use ``get_absolute_url()`` when it is
defined. If it makes sense for your model's instances to each have a unique
URL, you should define ``get_absolute_url()``.
.. warning::
You should avoid building the URL from unvalidated user input, in order to
reduce possibilities of link or redirect poisoning::
def get_absolute_url(self):
return '/%s/' %
If ```` is ``'/'`` this returns ``'//'``
which, in turn, is a valid schema relative URL but not the expected
It's good practice to use ``get_absolute_url()`` in templates, instead of
hard-coding your objects' URLs. For example, this template code is bad:
.. code-block:: html+django
<!-- BAD template code. Avoid! -->
<a href="/people/{{ }}/">{{ }}</a>
This template code is much better:
.. code-block:: html+django
<a href="{{ object.get_absolute_url }}">{{ }}</a>
The logic here is that if you change the URL structure of your objects, even
for something simple such as correcting a spelling error, you don't want to
have to track down every place that the URL might be created. Specify it once,
in ``get_absolute_url()`` and have all your other code call that one place.
.. note::
The string you return from ``get_absolute_url()`` **must** contain only
ASCII characters (required by the URI specification, :rfc:`2396`) and be
URL-encoded, if necessary.
Code and templates calling ``get_absolute_url()`` should be able to use the
result directly without any further processing. You may wish to use the
``django.utils.encoding.iri_to_uri()`` function to help with this if you
are using unicode strings containing characters outside the ASCII range at
Extra instance methods
In addition to :meth:``, :meth:`~Model.delete()`, a model object
might have some of the following methods:
.. method:: Model.get_FOO_display()
For every field that has :attr:`~django.db.models.Field.choices` set, the
object will have a ``get_FOO_display()`` method, where ``FOO`` is the name of
the field. This method returns the "human-readable" value of the field.
For example::
from django.db import models
class Person(models.Model):
('S', 'Small'),
('M', 'Medium'),
('L', 'Large'),
name = models.CharField(max_length=60)
shirt_size = models.CharField(max_length=2, choices=SHIRT_SIZES)
>>> p = Person(name="Fred Flintstone", shirt_size="L")
>>> p.shirt_size
>>> p.get_shirt_size_display()
.. method:: Model.get_next_by_FOO(\**kwargs)
.. method:: Model.get_previous_by_FOO(\**kwargs)
For every :class:`~django.db.models.DateField` and
:class:`~django.db.models.DateTimeField` that does not have :attr:`null=True
<django.db.models.Field.null>`, the object will have ``get_next_by_FOO()`` and
``get_previous_by_FOO()`` methods, where ``FOO`` is the name of the field. This
returns the next and previous object with respect to the date field, raising
a :exc:`~django.db.models.Model.DoesNotExist` exception when appropriate.
Both of these methods will perform their queries using the default
manager for the model. If you need to emulate filtering used by a
custom manager, or want to perform one-off custom filtering, both
methods also accept optional keyword arguments, which should be in the
format described in :ref:`Field lookups <field-lookups>`.
Note that in the case of identical date values, these methods will use the
primary key as a tie-breaker. This guarantees that no records are skipped or
duplicated. That also means you cannot use those methods on unsaved objects.
Other attributes
.. exception:: Model.DoesNotExist
This exception is raised by the ORM in a couple places, for example by
:meth:`QuerySet.get() <django.db.models.query.QuerySet.get>` when an object
is not found for the given query parameters.
Django provides a ``DoesNotExist`` exception as an attribute of each model
class to identify the class of object that could not be found and to allow
you to catch a particular model class with ``try/except``. The exception is
a subclass of :exc:`django.core.exceptions.ObjectDoesNotExist`.
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