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What are Django REST Hooks?

REST Hooks are fancier versions of webhooks. Traditional webhooks are usually managed manually by the user, but REST Hooks are not! They encourage RESTful access to the hooks (or subscriptions) themselves. Add one, two or 15 hooks for any combination of event and URLs, then get notificatied in real-time by our bundled threaded callback mechanism.

The best part is: by reusing Django's great signals framework, this library is dead simple. Here's how to get started:

  1. Add 'rest_hooks' to installed apps in
  2. Define your HOOK_EVENTS in
  3. Start sending hooks!

Using our built-in actions, zero work is required to support any basic created, updated, and deleted actions across any Django model. We also allow for custom actions (IE: beyond CRUD) to be simply defined and triggered for any model, as well as truly custom events that let you send arbitrary payloads.

By default, this library will just POST Django's JSON serialization of a model, but you can alternatively provide a serialize_hook method to customize payloads.

Please note: this package does not implement any UI/API code, it only provides a handy framework or reference implementation for which to build upon. If you want to make a Django form or API resource, you'll need to do that yourself (though we've provided some example bits of code below).


Version 1.6.0:


  • Default handler of raw_hook_event uses the same logic as other handlers (see "Backwards incompatible changes" for details).

  • Lookup of event_name by model+action_name now has a complexity of O(1) instead of O(len(settings.HOOK_EVENTS))

  • HOOK_CUSTOM_MODEL is now similar to AUTH_USER_MODEL: must be of the form app_label.model_name (for django 1.7+). If old value is of the form app_label.models.model_name then it's automatically adapted.

  • rest_hooks.models.Hook is now really "swappable", so table creation is skipped if you have different settings.HOOK_CUSTOM_MODEL

  • rest_hooks.models.AbstractHook.deliver_hook now accepts a callable as payload_override argument (must accept 2 arguments: hook, instance). This was added to support old behavior of raw_custom_event.


  • HookAdmin.form now honors settings.HOOK_CUSTOM_MODEL

  • event_name determined from action+model is now consistent between runs (see "Backwards incompatible changes")

Backwards incompatible changes:

  • Dropped support for django 1.4
  • Custom HOOK_FINDER-s should accept and handle new argument payload_override. Built-in finder rest_hooks.utls.find_and_fire_hook already does this.
  • If several event names in settings.HOOK_EVENTS share the same 'app_label.model.action' (including 'app_label.model.action+') then django.core.exceptions.ImproperlyConfigured is raised
  • Receiver of raw_hook_event now uses the same logic as receivers of other signals: checks event_name against settings.HOOK_EVENTS, verifies model (if instance is passed), uses HOOK_FINDER. Old behaviour can be achieved by using trust_event_name=True, or instance=None to fire a signal.
  • If you have settings.HOOK_CUSTOM_MODEL of the form different than app_label.models.model_name or app_label.model_name, then it must be changed to app_label.model_name.


Running the tests for Django REST Hooks is very easy, just:

git clone && cd django-rest-hooks

Next, you'll want to make a virtual environment (we recommend using virtualenvwrapper but you could skip this we suppose) and then install dependencies:

mkvirtualenv django-rest-hooks
pip install -r devrequirements.txt

Now you can run the tests!



  • Python 2 or 3 (tested on 2.7, 3.3, 3.4, 3.6)
  • Django 1.5+ (tested on 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 2.0)

Installing & Configuring

We recommend pip to install Django REST Hooks:

pip install django-rest-hooks

Next, you'll need to add rest_hooks to INSTALLED_APPS and configure your HOOK_EVENTS setting:

### ###

    # other apps here...

    # '': 'App.Model.Action' (created/updated/deleted)
    'book.added':       'bookstore.Book.created',
    'book.changed':     'bookstore.Book.updated+',
    'book.removed':     'bookstore.Book.deleted',
    # and custom events, no extra meta data needed
    '':         '',
    'user.logged_in':    None

### bookstore/ ###

class Book(models.Model):
    # NOTE: it is important to have a user property
    # as we use it to help find and trigger each Hook
    # which is specific to users. If you want a Hook to
    # be triggered for all users, add '+' to built-in Hooks
    # or pass user_override=False for custom_hook events
    user = models.ForeignKey('auth.User', on_delete=models.CASCADE)
    # maybe user is off a related object, so try...
    # user = property(lambda self: self.intermediary.user)

    title = models.CharField(max_length=128)
    pages = models.PositiveIntegerField()
    fiction = models.BooleanField()

    # ... other fields here ...

    def serialize_hook(self, hook):
        # optional, there are serialization defaults
        # we recommend always sending the Hook
        # metadata along for the ride as well
        return {
            'hook': hook.dict(),
            'data': {
                'title': self.title,
                'pages': self.pages,
                'fiction': self.fiction,
                # ... other fields here ...

    def mark_as_read(self):
        # models can also have custom defined events
        from rest_hooks.signals import hook_event
            instance=self # the Book object

For the simplest experience, you'll just piggyback off the standard ORM which will handle the basic created, updated and deleted signals & events:

>>> from django.contrib.auth.models import User
>>> from rest_hooks.models import Hook
>>> jrrtolkien = User.objects.create(username='jrrtolkien')
>>> hook = Hook(user=jrrtolkien,
>>>     # creates the hook and stores it for later...
>>> from bookstore.models import Book
>>> book = Book(user=jrrtolkien,
                title='The Two Towers',
>>>     # fires off 'bookstore.Book.created' hook automatically

NOTE: If you try to register an invalid event hook (not listed on HOOK_EVENTS in you will get a ValidationError.

Now that the book has been created, will get:

    -H Content-Type: application/json \
    -d '{"hook": {
           "id":      123,
           "event":   "book.added",
           "target":  ""},
         "data": {
           "title":   "The Two Towers",
           "pages":   327,
           "fiction": true}}'

You can continue the example, triggering two more hooks in a similar method. However, since we have no hooks set up for 'book.changed' or 'book.removed', they wouldn't get triggered anyways.

>>> book.title += ': Deluxe Edition'
>>> book.pages = 352
>>>     # would fire off 'bookstore.Book.updated' hook automatically
>>> book.delete()   # would fire off 'bookstore.Book.deleted' hook automatically

You can also fire custom events with an arbitrary payload:

from rest_hooks.signals import raw_hook_event

user = User.objects.get(id=123)
        'username': user.username,
    user=user # required: used to filter Hooks

How does it work?

Django has a stellar signals framework, all REST Hooks does is register to receive all post_save (created/updated) and post_delete (deleted) signals. It then filters them down by:

  1. Which App.Model.Action actually have an event registered in settings.HOOK_EVENTS.
  2. After it verifies that a matching event exists, it searches for matching Hooks via the ORM.
  3. Any Hooks that are found for the User/event combination get sent a payload via POST.

How would you interact with it in the real world?

Let's imagine for a second that you've plugged REST Hooks into your API. One could definitely provide a user interface to create hooks themselves via a standard browser & HTML based CRUD interface, but the real magic is when the Hook resource is part of an API.

The basic target functionality is:

    -H Content-Type: application/json \
    -d '{"target":    "",
         "event":     "book.added"}'

Now, whenever a Book is created (either via an ORM, a Django form, admin, etc...), will get:

    -H Content-Type: application/json \
    -d '{"hook": {
           "id":      123,
           "event":   "book.added",
           "target":  ""},
         "data": {
           "title":   "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs",
           "pages":   657,
           "fiction": false}}'

It is important to note that REST Hooks will handle all of this hook callback logic for you automatically.

But you can stop it anytime you like with a simple:


If you already have a REST API, this should be relatively straightforward, but if not, Tastypie is a great choice.

Some reference Tastypie or Django REST framework: + REST Hook code is below.


### ###

from tastypie.resources import ModelResource
from tastypie.authentication import ApiKeyAuthentication
from tastypie.authorization import Authorization
from rest_hooks.models import Hook

class HookResource(ModelResource):
    def obj_create(self, bundle, request=None, **kwargs):
        return super(HookResource, self).obj_create(bundle,

    def apply_authorization_limits(self, request, object_list):
        return object_list.filter(user=request.user)

    class Meta:
        resource_name = 'hooks'
        queryset = Hook.objects.all()
        authentication = ApiKeyAuthentication()
        authorization = Authorization()
        allowed_methods = ['get', 'post', 'delete']
        fields = ['event', 'target']

### ###

from tastypie.api import Api

v1_api = Api(api_name='v1')

urlpatterns = patterns('',
    (r'^api/', include(v1_api.urls)),

Django REST framework (3.+)

### ###

from django.conf import settings
from rest_framework import serializers, exceptions

from rest_hooks.models import Hook

class HookSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
    def validate_event(self, event):
        if event not in settings.HOOK_EVENTS:
            err_msg = "Unexpected event {}".format(event)
            raise exceptions.ValidationError(detail=err_msg, code=400)
        return event    
    class Meta:
        model = Hook
        fields = '__all__'
        read_only_fields = ('user',)

### ###

from rest_framework import viewsets

from rest_hooks.models import Hook

from .serializers import HookSerializer

class HookViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    Retrieve, create, update or destroy webhooks.
    queryset = Hook.objects.all()
    model = Hook
    serializer_class = HookSerializer

    def perform_create(self, serializer):

### ###

from rest_framework import routers

from . import views

router = routers.SimpleRouter(trailing_slash=False)
router.register(r'webhooks', views.HookViewSet, 'webhook')

urlpatterns = router.urls

Some gotchas:

Instead of doing blocking HTTP requests inside of signals, we've opted for a simple Threading pool that should handle the majority of use cases.

However, if you use Celery, we'd really recommend using a simple task to handle this instead of threads. A quick example:

### ###


### ###

from celery.task import Task

import json
import requests

class DeliverHook(Task):
    max_retries = 5

    def run(self, target, payload, instance_id=None, hook_id=None, **kwargs):
        target:     the url to receive the payload.
        payload:    a python primitive data structure
        instance_id:   a possibly None "trigger" instance ID
        hook_id:       the ID of defining Hook object
            response =
                headers={'Content-Type': 'application/json'}
            if response.status_code >= 500:
        except requests.ConnectionError:
            delay_in_seconds = 2 ** self.request.retries

def deliver_hook_wrapper(target, payload, instance, hook):
    # instance is None if using custom event, not built-in
    if instance is not None:
        instance_id =
        instance_id = None
    # pass ID's not objects because using pickle for objects is a bad thing
    kwargs = dict(target=target, payload=payload,

We also don't handle retries or cleanup. Generally, if you get a 410 or a bunch of 4xx or 5xx, you should delete the Hook and let the user know.

Extend the Hook model:

The default Hook model fields can be extended using the AbstractHook model. For example, to add a is_active field on your hooks:

### ###


### ###

from django.db import models
from rest_hooks.models import AbstractHook

class CustomHook(AbstractHook):
    is_active = models.BooleanField(default=True)

The extended CustomHook model can be combined with a the HOOK_FINDER setting for advanced QuerySet filtering.

### ###


### ###

from .models import CustomHook

def find_and_fire_hook(event_name, instance, **kwargs):
    filters = {
        'event': event_name,
        'is_active': True,

    hooks = CustomHook.objects.filter(**filters)
    for hook in hooks: