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Tracking dirty fields on a Django model


Django Dirty Fields

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Tracking dirty fields on a Django model instance.

Dirty means that there is a difference between field value in the database and the one we currently have on a model instance.



$ pip install django-dirtyfields


To use django-dirtyfields, you need to:

  • Inherit from DirtyFieldMixin in the Django model you want to track.
from django.db import models
from dirtyfields import DirtyFieldsMixin

class TestModel(DirtyFieldsMixin, models.Model):
    """A simple test model to test dirty fields mixin with"""
    boolean = models.BooleanField(default=True)
    characters = models.CharField(blank=True, max_length=80)
  • Use one of these 2 functions on a model instance to know if this instance is dirty, and get the dirty fields:

    • is_dirty()
    • get_dirty_fields()


>>> from tests.models import TestModel
>>> tm = TestModel.objects.create(boolean=True,characters="testing")
>>> tm.is_dirty()
>>> tm.get_dirty_fields()

>>> tm.boolean = False

>>> tm.is_dirty()
>>> tm.get_dirty_fields()
{'boolean': True}

Checking foreign key fields.

By default, dirty functions are not checking foreign keys. If you want to also take these relationships into account, use check_relationship parameter:

>>> from tests.models import TestModel
>>> tm = TestModel.objects.create(fkey=obj1)
>>> tm.is_dirty()
>>> tm.get_dirty_fields()

>>> tm.fkey = obj2

>>> tm.is_dirty()
>>> tm.is_dirty(check_relationship=True)

>>> tm.get_dirty_fields()
>>> tm.get_dirty_fields(check_relationship=True)
{'fkey': 1}

Saving dirty fields.

If you want to only save dirty fields from an instance in the database (only these fields will be involved in SQL query), you can use save_dirty_fields method.

Warning: this save_dirty_fields method will trigger the same signals as django default save method. But, in django 1.4.22-, as we are using under the hood an update method, we need to manually send these signals, so be aware that only sender and instance arguments are passed to the signal in that context.

Why would you want this?

When using signals, especially pre_save, it is useful to be able to see what fields have changed or not. A signal could change its behaviour depending on whether a specific field has changed, whereas otherwise, you only could work on the event that the model's save() method had been called.


If you're interested in developing it, you can launch project tests on that way:

$ pip install tox
$ pip install -e .
$ tox


This code has largely be adapted from what was made available at Stack Overflow.

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