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A simple framework for creating AJAX endpoints in Django.

branch: master
README.mkd

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Overview

This package creates a minimal framework for creating AJAX endpoints of your own in Django without having to create all of the mappings, handling errors, building JSON, etc.

Additionally, this package allows you to create AJAX endpoints for manipulating Django models directly from JavaScript without much effort. This feature works in a similar manner to Django's ModelAdmin feature in admin.py.

Install

  1. Make sure you have the decorator package installed.
  2. Install the ajax/ directory as you would any other application in your Django project or put it in your Django project's sys.path somewhere. The easiest way to install is through pip:
pip install -e git://github.com/joestump/django-ajax#egg=django-ajax
  1. Add ajax to INSTALLED_APPS in your settings.py.
  2. In your Django project's urls.py add (r'^ajax/', include('ajax.urls')).

There are no models associated with this package so you don't need to worry about syncing your database or anything.

Settings

You can add the following settings to settings.py :

  • AJAX_MAX_PER_PAGE (optional: defaults to 100). Sets the maximum number of objects that can be returned per page using the built-in list method on a ModelEndpoint

Usage

You can use this package to create ad-hoc AJAX endpoints or by exposing your Django applications's models via AJAX.

  1. /ajax/{some_app_name}/{some_endpoint}.json is treated as an ad-hoc AJAX endpoint and will be mapped to some_app_name.endpoints.some_endpoint. The function some_endpoint must return a dict or an HttpResponse of some sort. When a dict is returned, it is serialized as JSON and packaged up nicely for the client.
  2. /ajax/{some_app_name}/{model}.json will attempt to load up an instance of ModelEndpoint for the given model and run an append operation to create a new record for the given model.
  3. /ajax/{some_app_name}/{model}/{pk}/(update|delete|get).json will attempt to load up an instance of ModelEndpoint for the given model and run the given operation for the record specified by pk.

All of your AJAX endpoints should be put into a file called endpoints.py in your Django applications. AJAX will handle all of the rest of the magic.

Ad-Hoc Endpoint

The following is a simple example of an AJAX endpoint that just echo's back the POST. Keep in mind that ad-hoc AJAX endpoints basically work like regular Django views in that they get a request object. All of the usual view decorators can be used here without issue (e.g. login_required). The only thing to keep in mind is that views only get request as an argument and must return a dict or HttpResponse.

from ajax.exceptions import AJAXError

def right_back_at_you(request):
    if len(request.POST):
        return request.POST
    else:
        raise AJAXError(500, 'Nothing to echo back.')

If you're surfacing a known error, it's best to use AJAXError with a sane error code and a message. All other exceptions will be returned as a 500 with a generic error message.

From JavaScript you can easily access the endpoint using jQuery.

$.post('/ajax/my_app/right_back_at_you.json', {
    name: "Joe Stump",
    age: 31
});

You can also create endpoints from callable objects. The BaseEndpoint class has two functions that are pretty helpful for encoding Django a QuerySet or an instance of Model.

# BaseEndpoint._encode_*` appears to have been depricated. 
# You should use ajax.encoders.encoder in the future:

from ajax.encoders import encoder
encoder.encode(record)
  • BaseEndpoint._encode_data takes a single argument, data, which it assumes to be a QuerySet (or something that looks and acts like one) and converts it into a vanilla list capable of being serialized using simplejson. This uses Django's Python serializer and does some minor cleanup to make it a sane looking JSON payload.
  • BaseEndpoint._encode_record takes a Django Model and encodes it into a normal Python dict. Additionally, it looks for ForeignKey's and hydrates them to include the full associated record.

The following code is a simple example of using the BaseEndpoint._encode_record method. You could easily encode a bunch of users with BaseEndpoint._encode_data by replacing a few lines of code in this example.

from django.contrib.auth.models import User
from ajax.endpoints import BaseEndpoint
from ajax.exceptions import AJAXError

class MyEndpoint(BaseEndpoint):
    __call__(self, request):
        try:
            user = User.objects.get(pk=int(request.POST['user']))
        except User.DoesNotExist:
            raise AJAXError(404, 'Invalid user.')

        return self._encode_record(user)

my_endpoint = MyEndpoint()

Model Endpoint

AJAX also offers a class, called ModelEndpoint, that takes a Django model and exposes ways to manipulate it via AJAX.

import ajax
from my_app.models import Category

class CategoryEndpoint(ajax.endpoints.ModelEndpoint):
    pass

ajax.endpoint.register(Category, CategoryEndpoint)

You can then send a POST to:

  • /ajax/my_app/category.json to create a new Category.
  • /ajax/my_app/category/list.json to get a list of Category. Additionally, you can POST items_per_page (default is 20) and current_page (default is 1).
  • /ajax/my_app/category/{pk}/update.json to update a Category. pk must be present in the path for update, delete, and get. NOTE: This package assumes that the pk argument is an integer of some sort. If you've mangled your pk fields in weird ways, this likely will not work as expected.
  • /ajax/my_app/category/{pk}/get.json to get the Category as specified as pk.
  • /ajax/my_app/category/{pk}/delete.json to delete the Category as specified by pk.

NOTE: Your Model name (e.g. category in the above example) must be lowercase. Your request will fail otherwise.

Adding Ad-hoc endpoints to ModelEndpoints

You can also add you own custom methods to a ModelEndpoint. Adhoc methods in a ModelEndpoint observe the same rules as the get(), update() and delete() methods - with the noticable exception that self.pk may not be set.

For example, you could add a method called about that will display some info about the Model or Record (just used for illustration: not actually a good idea in real life):

import ajax
from my_app.models import Category

class CategoryEndpoint(ajax.endpoints.ModelEndpoint):   

    ...

    def about(self,request):
        pk = self.pk
        if pk:
            return {"message" : "run an operation on record: %s"%self._get_record()}        
        else:
            return {"message" : "run an operation on model: %s"%self.model.__name__}

Now, in addition to the endpoints above, this method would be available at:

  • /ajax/my_app/category/about.json - would return "run an operation on model: ..."

or

  • /ajax/my_app/category/{pk}/about.json - would return "run an operation on record: ..."

ForeignKey while Fetching

It should be noted that the AJAX package takes a liberal approach when it comes to instances of ForeignKey it finds in model declarations. If a model that has a ForeignKey is fetched it will be expanded to the full record, recursively. For instance, if a ForeignKey to User is in a given model, you will get the whole associated User record when a row is fetched.

ForeignKey while Creating

In addition to expanding ForeignKey while fetching, they are expanded when creating a record from the data in POST. If a ForeignKey to User is in a given model, and the field is called author, ModelEndpoint will detect that and automatically assume that request.POST['author'] is an appropriate pk, instantiate it, and replace it with a full instance of the associated User object.

Support for django-taggit

The popular django-taggit is great for adding tags to your Django models. The entire django-taggit API is exposed via AJAX for models that have the tags attribute.

  • /ajax/my_app/mymodel/{pk}/tags/add.json will add the tags specified by the POST parameter tags, which is a comma separated list of tags.
  • /ajax/my_app/mymodel/{pk}/tags/remove.json will remove the tags specified by the POST parameter tags.
  • /ajax/my_app/mymodel/{pk}/tags/set.json will replace the object's tags specified by pk with the tags specified by the POST parameter tags.
  • /ajax/my_app/mymodel/{pk}/tags/clear.json will clear all tags from the pk specified.
  • /ajax/my_app/mymodel/{pk}/tags/similar.json will fetch objects that are similarly tagged to the pk specified.

NOTE: The filtering options in the django-taggit API are not available via AJAX at this point.

Security

There are a number of security features inherent in the framework along with ways to lock down your ad-hoc and model endpoints. You can use the decorator(s) outlined below as well as throwing appropriate AJAXError exceptions from your ad-hoc endpoints. Of course, all exceptions raised and HttpResponse objects returned are respected by default. For model endpoints you can, additionally, use can_create(), can_update(), can_delete(), can_get(), and authenticate() to lock down various operations on the given model.

Framework Security

  • All requests to an AJAX endpoint must be sent via POST, including a GET on a model's pk.
  • The default ModelEndpoint.authenticate() method requires that a user is, at a minimum, logged in.

Decorators

ajax.decorators.login_required

The AJAX package offers a familiar decorator in ajax.decorators called login_required. It works in the same way that the Django decorator does and handles throwing a proper AJAXError if the user isn't logged in.

from ajax.decorators import login_required

@login_required
def my_ajax_endpoint(request):
    return {
        'Hello, %s!' % request.user.username
    }

ajax.decorators.allowed_methods

You can limit methods that are allowed on your ModelEndpoint by decorating your overriding ModelEndpoint.authenticate() method with the allowed_methods decorator. If a user tries to access a disallowed method, then they will receive an AJAXError.

from ajax.decorators import allowed_methods

class CategoryEndpoint(ajax.endpoints.ModelEndpoint):

    @allowed_methods('get','update','list')
    def authenticate(self,request):
        ...

ModelEndpoint

The ModelEndpoint class offers a number of methods that you can override to add more advanced security over your model-based enpoints. You can override these in your model-based endpoints to control who is able to access each model and in what manner.

(bool) ModelEndpoint.can_create(user)

Returns True if the user can create a new record using the given model.

(bool) ModelEndpoint.can_update(user, record)

Returns True if the user can update the given record.

(bool) ModelEndpoint.can_delete(user, record)

Returns True if the user can delete the given record.

(bool) ModelEndpoint.can_get(user, record)

Returns True if the user can fetch the given record.

(bool) ModelEndpoint.authenticate(request, application, method)

This method is ran before any other security-related operations. This method allows you to control overall authentication-related access prior to any of the can_* methods being ran and before any model operations are executed. It is ran regardless of the operation being attempted.

Encoders

AJAX ships with a few helpful encoders. You can specify the model fields you would like to include or exclude using the IncludeEncoder and ExcludeEncoder, respectively.

To only include certain fields:

from ajax.encoders import encoder, IncludeEncoder
from my_app.models import Category

encoder.register(Category, IncludeEncoder(include=['foo', 'bar']))

To exclude a field:

from ajax.encoders import encoder, IncludeEncoder
from my_app.models import Category

encoder.register(Category, ExcludeEncoder(exclude=['foo']))

Todo

  1. Integrate Django's CSRF token support.
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