Dynamic upload paths in Django

25 August 2008

For a while I’ve been using the CustomImageField as a way to specify an upload path for images. It’s a hack that lets you use ids or slugs from your models in the upload path, e.g.:


CustomImageField no more

Since the FileStorageRefactor was merged in to trunk r8244, it’s no longer necessary to use the custom field. Other recent changes to trunk mean that it doesn’t work any more in its current state, so this is a good time to retire it.

Pass a callable in upload_to

It is now possible for the upload_to parameter of the FileField or ImageField to be a callable, instead of a string. The callable is passed the current model instance and uploaded file name and must return a path. That sounds ideal.

Here’s an example:

import os
from django.db import models

def get_image_path(instance, filename):
    return os.path.join('photos', str(instance.id), filename)

class Photo(models.Model):
    image = models.ImageField(upload_to=get_image_path)

get_image_path is the callable (in this case a function). It simply gets the id from the instance of Photo and uses that in the upload path. Images will be uploaded to paths like:


You can use whatever fields are in the instance (slugs, etc), or fields in related models. For example, if Photo models are associated with an Album model, the upload path for a Photo could include the Album slug.

Note that if you are using the id, you need to make sure the model instance was saved before you upload the file. Otherwise, the id hasn’t been set at that point and can’t be used.

For reference, here’s what the main part of the view might look like:

    if request.method == 'POST':
        form = PhotoForm(request.POST, request.FILES)
        if form.is_valid():
            photo = Photo.objects.create()
            image_file = request.FILES['image']
            photo.image.save(image_file.name, image_file)

This is much simpler than the hacks used in CustomImageField and provides a nice flexible way to specify file or image upload paths per-model instance.

Note: If you are using ModelForm, when you call form.save() it will save the file – no need to do it yourself as in the example above.

Update: Using the id of the instance doesn’t work any more because it’s probably not set when your function is called. Try using a field such as a slug instead, or the id of a parent object (e.g. if the Photo is in an Album, use the Album‘s id.

Filed under: Django — Scott @ 10:38 pm

Extending the Django User model with inheritance

21 August 2008

Update March 2013:
Django 1.5 includes a configurable custom user model that makes all this obsolete.

Extra fields for Users

Most of the Django projects I’ve worked on need to store information about each user in addition to the standard name and email address held by the contrib.auth.models.User model.

The old way: User Profiles

The solution in the past was to create a “user profile” model which is associated 1-to-1 with the user. Something like:

the model

class UserProfile(models.Model):
    user = models.ForeignKey(User, unique=True, related_name='profile')
    timezone = models.CharField(max_length=50, default='Europe/London')

config in settings.py

AUTH_PROFILE_MODULE = 'accounts.UserProfile'


profile = request.user.get_profile()
print profile.timezone

It works ok, but it’s an extra database query for each request that uses the profile (it’s cached during the request so each call to get_profile() is not a query). Also, the information about the user is stored in two separate models, so you need to display and update fields from both the User and the UserProfile models.

The new way: Model Inheritance

As part of the great work done on the queryset-refactor by Malcolm et al, Django now has model inheritance.

If you’re using trunk as of revision 7477 (26th April 2008), your model classes can inherit from an existing model class. Additional fields are stored in a separate table which is linked to the table of the base model. When you retrieve your model, the query uses a join to get the fields from it and the base model.

Inheriting from User

Instead of creating a User Profile class, why don’t we inherit from the normal User class and add some fields?

from django.contrib.auth.models import User, UserManager

class CustomUser(User):
    """User with app settings."""
    timezone = models.CharField(max_length=50, default='Europe/London')

    # Use UserManager to get the create_user method, etc.
    objects = UserManager()

Now each instance of CustomUser will have the normal User fields and methods, as well as our additional fields and methods. Pretty handy, no?

We add UserManager as the default manager so that the standard methods are available. In particular, to create a user, we really want to say:

user = CustomUser.objects.create(...)

If we just created the user from the User class, we wouldn’t get a row in the CustomUser table. Creation needs to be done in the derived class.

You can still get and update the underlying User model, no problem, but it won’t have the additional fields and methods found in our CustomUser class.

Getting the CustomUser class by default

So far, there’s one problem. When you get request.user, it’s an instance of User, not an instance of CustomUser, so you don’t get the extra fields and methods.

What we want is for Django to retrieve the CustomUser instance transparently. It turns out to be quite easy.

Users come from authentication backends

The default authentication backend gets the User model from the database, checks the password is correct then returns the User. You can write your own authentication backend, for example to check the username and password against some other data source or to use the email address instead of username.

In our case, we can use an authentication backend to return an instance of CustomUser instead of User.

the authentication backend in auth_backends.py

from django.conf import settings
from django.contrib.auth.backends import ModelBackend
from django.core.exceptions import ImproperlyConfigured
from django.db.models import get_model

class CustomUserModelBackend(ModelBackend):
    def authenticate(self, username=None, password=None):
            user = self.user_class.objects.get(username=username)
            if user.check_password(password):
                return user
        except self.user_class.DoesNotExist:
            return None

    def get_user(self, user_id):
            return self.user_class.objects.get(pk=user_id)
        except self.user_class.DoesNotExist:
            return None

    def user_class(self):
        if not hasattr(self, '_user_class'):
            self._user_class = get_model(*settings.CUSTOM_USER_MODEL.split('.', 2))
            if not self._user_class:
                raise ImproperlyConfigured('Could not get custom user model')
        return self._user_class

config in settings.py


CUSTOM_USER_MODEL = 'accounts.CustomUser'

That’s it. Now when you get request.user, it’s an instance of the CustomUser class with whatever additional fields or methods you have added.

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Filed under: Django — Scott @ 8:40 pm