A Modular Django User
Latest commit 632935d Mar 17, 2011 @sorl corr
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  • A modular django user.

I am not going to discuss if this is a good idea or not. This Django application monkey patches django in order to have a custom User model that plugs into the django.contrib.auth application.


First of all install the module by checking out the latest code or use pip:

pip install django-primate

In order to monkey patch we need to do this early. I have created a small modified manage.py file that you can use for your development. This sets up your environment and right before you run your management command (such as runserver) we apply the patch. Copy this into your project and overwrite the default manage.py:

#!/usr/bin/env python
from django.core.management import setup_environ, ManagementUtility
import imp
    imp.find_module('settings') # Assumed to be in the same directory.
except ImportError:
    import sys
        "Error: Can't find the file 'settings.py' in the directory "
        "containing %r. It appears you've customized things.\nYou'll have to "
        "run django-admin.py, passing it your settings module.\n" % __file__

import settings

if __name__ == "__main__":
    import primate

To monkey patch your deployment you would apply the patch right after setting up the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE.

Now add django.contrib.auth to your INSTALLED_APPS


After installing this patch you effectively have no User model at all. You have to create one on your own and define it in your settings. I will give you an example on how to do this using the provided UserBase class.


from primate.models import UserBase, UserMeta
from django.db import models

class CustomUser(UserBase):
    __metaclass__ = UserMeta
    name = models.CharField(max_length=500, default='Jon Deg')
    title = models.CharField(max_length=20, blank=True)


``AUTH_USER_MODEL = 'users.models.CustomUser'``

Now you can import this model by from django.contrib.auth.models import User or from project.users.models import CustomUser

Custom fields and overriding default fields

It's simple

  • To add a field just add a field to the model as you would normally.
  • To override a field just override the field name and it will be used instead of the one defined in UserBase.

The overriding feature is something special not available in normal Django model abstract classes and is done in the custom metaclass. You can also remove fields defined in the UserBase class by altering the metaclass a little, you can have a look in the code, its a really simple.


To make the admin work I have made the monkey patch primate.patch patch the admin.autodiscover so that it does not register the default admin class for django.contrib.auth.User. This means that you will need to register that your self. The easiest way to do that is to first add users to your INSTALLED_APPS and then add something like this to users/admin.py:

from primate.admin import UserAdminBase
from django.contrib import admin
from django.contrib.auth.models import User

class UserAdmin(UserAdminBase):

admin.site.register(User, UserAdmin)

What's new in UserBase compared to django.contrib.auth.models.User?

I have made some minor changes:

  1. Removed first_name and last_name
  2. Added name
  3. username is now max 50 chars
  4. Made email unique
  5. get_profile method just returns self

As stated earlier, you can now change all this, remove add and override fields in your user model.


I was worried, this is a major feature, luckily Andrew already thought of this: quote from the documentation under SOUTH_MIGRATION_MODULES:

"Note that the keys in this dictionary are ‘app labels’, not the full paths to apps; for example, were I to provide a migrations directory for django.contrib.auth, I'd want to use auth as the key here."

So the time has come, just add this to your settings:

    'auth': 'users.migrations',

Alternative password hashing

SHA-1 is the default django hashing algorithm for passwords. Some may not agree that this is the best choice. django-primate makes it simple for you to use alternative hashing as you can just override the check_password and set_password methods in your custom user model. Since bcrypt is a good choice there is a simple way for you to implement hashing using this:

# project/users/models.py

from primate.models import UserBase, UserMeta, BcryptMixin
from django.db import models

class CustomUser(BcryptMixin, UserBase):
    __metaclass__ = UserMeta

Note that this will update all passwords on authorization success to use bcrypt.