Django Tutorial Part 9: Working with forms

In this tutorial we'll show you how to work with HTML Forms in Django, and in particular the easiest way to write forms to create, update, and delete model instances. As part of this demonstration we'll extend the LocalLibrary website so that librarians can renew books, and create, update, and delete authors using our own forms (rather than using the admin application).

Prerequisites: Complete all previous tutorial topics, including Django Tutorial Part 8: User authentication and permissions.
Objective: To understand how write forms to get information from users and update the database. To understand how the generic class-based form editing views can vastly simplify creating forms for working with a single model.

Overview

An HTML Form is a group of one or more fields/widgets on a web page, which can be used to collect information from users for submission to a server. Forms are a flexible mechanism for collecting user input because there are suitable widgets for entering many different types of data, including text boxes, checkboxes, radio buttons, date pickers, etc. Forms are also a relatively secure way of sharing data with the server, as they allow us to send data in POST requests with cross-site request forgery protection.

While we haven't created any forms in this tutorial so far, we've already encountered them in the Django Admin site — for example the screenshot below shows a form for editing a one of our Book models, comprised of a number of selection lists and text editors.

Admin Site - Book Add

Working with forms can be complicated! Developers need to write HTML for the form, validate and properly sanitise entered data on the server (and possibly also in the browser), repost the form with error messages to inform users of any invalid fields, handle the data when it has successfully been submitted, and finally respond to the user in some way to indicate success. Django Forms take a lot of the work out of all these steps, by providing a framework that lets you define forms and their fields programmatically, and then use these objects to both generate the form HTML code and handle much of the validation and user interaction.

In this tutorial we're going to show you a few of the ways you can create and work with forms, and in particular, how the generic editing form views can significantly reduce the amount of work you need to do to create forms to manipulate your models. Along the way we'll extend our LocalLibrary application by adding a form to allow librarians to renew library books, and we'll create pages to create, edit and delete books and authors (reproducing a basic version of the form shown above for editing books).

HTML Forms

First a brief overview of HTML Forms. Consider a simple HTML form, with a single text field for entering the name of some "team", and its associated label:

Simple name field example in HTML form

The form is defined in HTML as a collection of elements inside <form>...</form> tags, containing at least one input element of type="submit".

<form action="/team_name_url/" method="post">
    <label for="team_name">Enter name: </label>
    <input id="team_name" type="text" name="name_field" value="Default name for team.">
    <input type="submit" value="OK">
</form>

While here we just have one text field for entering the team name, a form may have any number of other input elements and their associated labels. The field's type attribute defines what sort of widget will be displayed. The name and id of the field are used to identify the field in JavaScript/CSS/HTML, while value defines the initial value for the field when it is first displayed. The matching team label is specified using the label tag (see "Enter name" above), with a for field containing the id value of the associated input.

The submit input will be displayed as a button (by default) that can be pressed by the user to upload the data in all the other input elements in the form to the server (in this case, just the team_name). The form attributes define the HTTP method used to send the data and the destination of the data on the server (action):

  • action: The resource/URL where data is to be sent for processing when the form is submitted. If this is not set (or set to an empty string), then the form will be submitted back to the current page URL.
  • method: The HTTP method used to send the data: post or get.
    • The POST method should always be used if the data is going to result in a change to the server's database, because this can be made more resistant to cross-site forgery request attacks.
    • The GET method should only be used for forms that don't change user data (e.g. a search form). It is recommended for when you want to be able to bookmark or share the URL.

The role of the server is first to render the initial form state — either containing blank fields, or pre-populated with initial values. After the user presses the submit button the server will receive the form data with values from the web browser, and must validate the information. If the form contains invalid data the server should display the form again, this time with user-entered data in "valid" fields, and messages to describe the problem for the invalid fields. Once the server gets a request with all valid form data it can perform an appropriate action (e.g. saving the data, returning the result of a search, uploading a file etc.) and then notify the user.

As you can imagine, creating the HTML, validating the returned data, re-displaying the entered data with error reports if needed, and performing the desired operation on valid data can all take quite a lot of effort to "get right". Django makes this a lot easier, by taking away some of the heavy lifting and repetitive code!

Django form handling process

Django's form handling uses all of the same techniques that we learned about in previous tutorials (for displaying information about our models): the view gets a request, performs any actions required including reading data from the models, then generates and returns an HTML page (from a template, into which we pass a context containing the data to be displayed). What makes things more complicated is that the server also needs to be able to process data provided by the user, and redisplay the page if there are any errors.

A process flowchart of how Django handles form requests is shown below, starting with a request for a page containing a form (shown in green).

Updated form handling process doc.

Based on the diagram above, the main things that Django's form handling does are:

  1. Display the default form the first time it is requested by the user.
    • The form may contain blank fields (e.g. if you're creating a new record), or it may be pre-populated with initial values (e.g. if you are changing a record, or have useful default initial values).
    • The form is referred to as unbound at this point, because it isn't associated with any user-entered data (though it may have initial values).
  2. Receive data from a submit request and bind it to the form.
    • Binding data to the form means that the user-entered data and any errors are available when we need to redisplay the form.
  3. Clean and validate the data.
    • Cleaning the data performs sanitisation of the input (e.g. removing invalid characters that might potentially used to send malicious content to the server) and converts them into consistent Python types.
    • Validation checks that the values are appropriate for the field (e.g. are in the right date range, aren't too short or too long, etc.)
  4. If any data is invalid, re-display the form, this time with any user populated values and error messages for the problem fields.
  5. If all data is valid, perform required actions (e.g. save the data, send and email, return the result of a search, upload a file etc.)
  6. Once all actions are complete, redirect the user to another page.

Django provides a number of tools and approaches to help you with the tasks detailed above. The most fundamental is the Form class, which simplifies both generation of form HTML and data cleaning/validation. In the next section we describe how forms work using the practical example of a page to allow librarians to renew books.

Note: Understanding how Form is used will help you when we discuss Django's more "high level" form framework classes.

Renew-book form using a Form and function view

Next we're going to add a page to allow librarians to renew borrowed books. To do this we'll create a form that allows users to enter a date value. We'll seed the field with an initial value 3 weeks from the current date (the normal borrowing period), and add some validation to ensure that the librarian can't enter a date in the past or a date too far in the future. When a valid date has been entered, we'll write it to the current record's BookInstance.due_back field.

The example will use a function-based view and a Form class. The following sections explain how forms work, and the changes you need to make to our ongoing LocalLibrary project.

Form

The Form class is the heart of Django's form handling system. It specifies the fields in the form, their layout, display widgets, labels, initial values, valid values, and (once validated) the error messages associated with invalid fields. The class also provides methods for rendering itself in templates using predefined formats (tables, lists, etc.) or for getting the value of any element (enabling fine-grained manual rendering).

Declaring a Form

The declaration syntax for a Form is very similar to that for declaring a Model, and shares the same field types (and some similar parameters). This makes sense because in both cases we need to ensure that each field handles the right types of data, is constrained to valid data, and has a description for display/documentation.

To create a Form we import the forms library, derive from the Form class, and declare the form's fields. A very basic form class for our library book renewal form is shown below:

from django import forms
    
class RenewBookForm(forms.Form):
    renewal_date = forms.DateField(help_text="Enter a date between now and 4 weeks (default 3).")

Form fields

In this case we have a single DateField for entering the renewal date that will render in HTML with a blank value, the default label "Renewal date:", and some helpful usage text: "Enter a date between now and 4 weeks (default 3 weeks)." As none of the other optional arguments are specified the field will accept dates using the input_formats: YYYY-MM-DD (2016-11-06), MM/DD/YYYY (02/26/2016), MM/DD/YY (10/25/16), and will be rendered using the default widget: DateInput.

There are many other types of form fields, which you will largely recognise from their similarity to the equivalent model field classes: BooleanField, CharField, ChoiceField, TypedChoiceField, DateField, DateTimeField, DecimalField, DurationField, EmailField, FileField, FilePathField, FloatField, ImageField, IntegerField, GenericIPAddressField, MultipleChoiceField, TypedMultipleChoiceField, NullBooleanField, RegexField, SlugField, TimeField, URLField, UUIDField, ComboField, MultiValueField, SplitDateTimeField, ModelMultipleChoiceField, ModelChoiceField​​​​.

The arguments that are common to most fields are listed below (these have sensible default values):

  • required: If True, the field may not be left blank or given a None value. Fields are required by default, so you would set required=False to allow blank values in the form.
  • label: The label to use when rendering the field in HTML. If label is not specified then Django would create one from the field name by capitalising the first letter and replacing underscores with spaces (e.g. Renewal date).
  • label_suffix: By default a colon is displayed after the label (e.g. Renewal date:). This argument allows you to specify as different suffix containing other character(s).
  • initial: The initial value for the field when the form is displayed.
  • widget: The display widget to use.
  • help_text (as seen in the example above): Additional text that can be displayed in forms to explain how to use the field.
  • error_messages: A list of error messages for the field. You can override these with your own messages if needed.
  • validators: A list of functions that will be called on the field when it is validated.
  • localize: Enables the localisation of form data input (see link for more information).
  • disabled: The field is displayed but its value cannot be edited if this is True. The default is False.

Validation

Django provides numerous places where you can validate your data. The easiest way to validate a single field is to override the method clean_<fieldname>() for the field you want to check. So for example, we can validate that entered renewal_date values are between now and 4 weeks by implementing clean_renewal_date() as shown below.

from django import forms

from django.core.exceptions import ValidationError
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _
import datetime #for checking renewal date range.
    
class RenewBookForm(forms.Form):
    renewal_date = forms.DateField(help_text="Enter a date between now and 4 weeks (default 3).")

    def clean_renewal_date(self):
        data = self.cleaned_data['renewal_date']
        
        #Check date is not in past. 
        if data < datetime.date.today():
            raise ValidationError(_('Invalid date - renewal in past'))

        #Check date is in range librarian allowed to change (+4 weeks).
        if data > datetime.date.today() + datetime.timedelta(weeks=4):
            raise ValidationError(_('Invalid date - renewal more than 4 weeks ahead'))

        # Remember to always return the cleaned data.
        return data

There are two important things to note. The first is that we get our data using self.cleaned_data['renewal_date'] and that we return this data whether or not we change it at the end of the function. This step gets us the data "cleaned" and sanitised of potentially unsafe input using the default validators, and converted into the correct standard type for the data (in this case a Python datetime.datetime object).

The second point is that if a value falls outside our range we raise a ValidationError, specifying the error text that we want to display in the form if an invalid value is entered. The example above also wraps this text in one of Django's translation functions ugettext_lazy() (imported as _()), which is good practice if you want to translate your site later.

Note: There are numerious other methods and examples for validating forms in Form and field validation (Django docs). For example, in cases where you have multiple fields that depend on each other, you can override the Form.clean() function and again raise a ValidationError.

That's all we need for the form in this example!

Copy the Form

Create and open the file locallibrary/catalog/forms.py and copy the entire code listing from the previous block into it.

URL Configuration

Before we create our view, let's add a URL configuration for the renew-books page. Copy the following configuration to the bottom of locallibrary/catalog/urls.py.

urlpatterns += [   
    url(r'^book/(?P<pk>[-\w]+)/renew/$', views.renew_book_librarian, name='renew-book-librarian'),
]

The URL configuration will redirect URLs with the format /catalog/book/<bookinstance id>/renew/ to the function named renew_book_librarian() in views.py, and send the BookInstance id as the parameter named pk.

Note: We can name our captured URL data "pk" anything we like, because we have complete control over the view function (we're not using a generic detail view class that expects parameters with a certain name). However pk, short for "primary key", is a reasonable convention to use!

View

As discussed in the Django form handling process above, the view has to render the default form when it is first called and then either re-render it with error messages if the data is invalid, or process the data and redirect to a new page if the data is valid. In order to perform these different actions, the view has to be able to know whether it is being called for the first time to render the default form, or a subsequent time to validate data. 

For forms that use a POST request to submit information to the server, the most common pattern is for the view to test against the POST request type (if request.method == 'POST':) to identify form validation requests and GET (using an else condition) to identify the initial form creation request. If you want to submit your data using a GET request then a typical approach for identifying whether this is the first or subsequent view invocation is to read the form data (e.g. to read a hidden value in the form).

The book renewal process will be writing to our database, so by convention we use the POST request approach. The code fragment below shows the (very standard) pattern for this sort of function view. 

from django.shortcuts import get_object_or_404
from django.http import HttpResponseRedirect
from django.core.urlresolvers import reverse
import datetime

from .forms import RenewBookForm

def renew_book_librarian(request, pk):
    book_inst=get_object_or_404(BookInstance, pk = pk)

    # If this is a POST request then process the Form data
    if request.method == 'POST':

        # Create a form instance and populate it with data from the request (binding):
        form = RenewBookForm(request.POST)

        # Check if the form is valid:
        if form.is_valid():
            # process the data in form.cleaned_data as required (here we just write it to the model due_back field)
            book_inst.due_back = form.cleaned_data['renewal_date']
            book_inst.save()

            # redirect to a new URL:
            return HttpResponseRedirect(reverse('all-borrowed') )

    # If this is a GET (or any other method) create the default form.
    else:
        proposed_renewal_date = datetime.date.today() + datetime.timedelta(weeks=3)
        form = RenewBookForm(initial={'renewal_date': proposed_renewal_date,})

    return render(request, 'catalog/book_renew_librarian.html', {'form': form, 'bookinst':book_inst})

First we import our form (RenewBookForm) and a number of other useful objects/methods used in the body of the view function:

  • get_object_or_404(): Returns a specified object from a model based on its primary key value, and raises an Http404 exception (not found) if the record does not exist. 
  • HttpResponseRedirect: This creates a redirect to a specified URL (HTTP status code 302). 
  • reverse(): This generates a URL from a URL configuration name and a set of arguments. It is the Python equivalent of the url tag that we've been using in our templates.
  • datetime: A Python library for manipulating dates and times. 

In the view we first use the pk argument in get_object_or_404() to get the current BookInstance (if this does not exist, the view will immediately exit and the page will display a "not found" error). If this is not a POST request (handled by the else clause) then we create the default form passing in an initial value for the renewal_date field (as shown in bold below, this is 3 weeks from the current date). 

    book_inst=get_object_or_404(BookInstance, pk = pk)    

    # If this is a GET (or any other method) create the default form
    else:
        proposed_renewal_date = datetime.date.today() + datetime.timedelta(weeks=3)
        form = RenewBookForm(initial={'renewal_date': proposed_renewal_date,})

    return render(request, 'catalog/book_renew_librarian.html', {'form': form, 'bookinst':book_inst})

After creating the form, we call render() to create the HTML page, specifying the template and a context that contains our form. In this case the context also contains our BookInstance, which we'll use in the template to provide information about the book we're renewing.

If however this is a POST request, then we create our form object and populate it with data from the request. This process is called "binding" and allows us to validate the form. We then check if the form is valid, which runs all the validation code on all of the fields — including both the generic code to check that our date field is actually a valid date and our specific form's clean_renewal_date() function to check the date is in the right range. 

    book_inst=get_object_or_404(BookInstance, pk = pk)

    # If this is a POST request then process the Form data
    if request.method == 'POST':

        # Create a form instance and populate it with data from the request (binding):
        form = RenewBookForm(request.POST)

        # Check if the form is valid:
        if form.is_valid():
            # process the data in form.cleaned_data as required (here we just write it to the model due_back field)
            book_inst.due_back = form.cleaned_data['renewal_date']
            book_inst.save()

            # redirect to a new URL:
            return HttpResponseRedirect(reverse('all-borrowed') )

    return render(request, 'catalog/book_renew_librarian.html', {'form': form, 'bookinst':book_inst})

If the form is not valid we call render() again, but this time the form value passed in the context will include error messages. 

If the form is valid, then we can start to use the data, accessing it through the form.cleaned_data attribute (e.g. data = form.cleaned_data['renewal_date']). Here we just save the data into the due_back value of the associated BookInstance object.

Important: While you can also access the form data directly through the request (for example request.POST['renewal_date'] or request.GET['renewal_date'] (if using a GET request) this is NOT recommended. The cleaned data is sanitised, validated, and converted into Python-friendly types.

The final step in the form-handling part of the view is to redirect to another page, usually a "success" page. In this case we use HttpResponseRedirect and reverse() to redirect to the view named 'all-borrowed' (this was created as the "challenge" in Django Tutorial Part 8: User authentication and permissions). If you didn't create that page consider redirecting to the home page at URL '/').

That's everything needed for the form handling itself, but we still need to restrict access to the view to librarians. We should probably create a new permission in BookInstance ("can_renew"), but to keep things simple here we just use the @permission_required function decorator with our existing can_mark_returned permission.

The final view is therefore as shown below. Please copy this into the bottom of locallibrary/catalog/views.py.

from django.contrib.auth.decorators import permission_required

from django.shortcuts import get_object_or_404
from django.http import HttpResponseRedirect
from django.core.urlresolvers import reverse
import datetime

from .forms import RenewBookForm

@permission_required('catalog.can_mark_returned')
def renew_book_librarian(request, pk):
    """
    View function for renewing a specific BookInstance by librarian
    """
    book_inst=get_object_or_404(BookInstance, pk = pk)

    # If this is a POST request then process the Form data
    if request.method == 'POST':

        # Create a form instance and populate it with data from the request (binding):
        form = RenewBookForm(request.POST)

        # Check if the form is valid:
        if form.is_valid():
            # process the data in form.cleaned_data as required (here we just write it to the model due_back field)
            book_inst.due_back = form.cleaned_data['renewal_date']
            book_inst.save()

            # redirect to a new URL:
            return HttpResponseRedirect(reverse('all-borrowed') )

    # If this is a GET (or any other method) create the default form.
    else:
        proposed_renewal_date = datetime.date.today() + datetime.timedelta(weeks=3)
        form = RenewBookForm(initial={'renewal_date': proposed_renewal_date,})

    return render(request, 'catalog/book_renew_librarian.html', {'form': form, 'bookinst':book_inst})

The template

Create the template referenced in the view (/catalog/templates/catalog/book_renew_librarian.html) and copy the code below into it:

{% extends "base_generic.html" %}
{% block content %}

    <h1>Renew: {{bookinst.book.title}}</h1>
    <p>Borrower: {{bookinst.borrower}}</p>
    <p{% if bookinst.is_overdue %} class="text-danger"{% endif %}>Due date: {{bookinst.due_back}}</p>
    
    <form action="" method="post">
        {% csrf_token %}
        <table>
        {{ form }}
        </table>
        <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
    </form>

{% endblock %}

Most of this will be completely familiar from previous tutorials. We extend the base template and then redefine the content block. We are able to reference {{bookinst}} (and its variables) because it was passed into the context object in the render() function, and we use these to list the book title, borrower and the original due date.

The form code is relatively simple. First we declare the form tags, specifying where the form is to be submitted (action) and the method for submitting the data (in this case an "HTTP POST") — if you recall the HTML Forms overview at the top of the page, an empty action as shown, means that the form data will be posted back to the current URL of the page (which is what we want!). Inside the tags we define the submit input, which a user can press to submit the data. The {% csrf_token %} added just inside the form tags is part of Django's cross-site forgery protection.

Note: Add the {% csrf_token %} to every Django template you create that uses POST to submit data. This will reduce the chance of forms being hijacked by malicious users.

All that's left is the {{form}} template variable, which we passed to the template in the context dictionary. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when used as shown this provides the default rendering of all the form fields, including their labels, widgets, and help text — the rendering is as shown below:

<tr>
  <th><label for="id_renewal_date">Renewal date:</label></th>
  <td>
    <input id="id_renewal_date" name="renewal_date" type="text" value="2016-11-08" required />
    <br />
    <span class="helptext">Enter date between now and 4 weeks (default 3 weeks).</span>
  </td>
</tr>

Note: It is perhaps not obvious because we only have one field, but by default every field is defined in its own table row (which is why the variable is inside table tags above).​​​​​​ This same rendering is provided if you reference the template variable {{ form.as_table }}.

If you were to enter an invalid date, you'd additionally get a list of the errors rendered in the page (shown in bold below).

<tr>
  <th><label for="id_renewal_date">Renewal date:</label></th>
   <td>
      <ul class="errorlist">
        <li>Invalid date - renewal in past</li>
      </ul>
      <input id="id_renewal_date" name="renewal_date" type="text" value="2015-11-08" required />
      <br />
      <span class="helptext">Enter date between now and 4 weeks (default 3 weeks).</span>
    </td>
</tr>

Other ways of using form template variable

Using {{form}} as shown above, each field is rendered as a table row. You can also render each field as a list item (using {{form.as_ul}} ) or as a paragraph (using {{form.as_p}}).

What is even more cool is that you can have complete control over the rendering of each part of the form, by indexing its properties using dot notation. So for example we can access a number of separate items for our renewal_date field:

  • {{form.renewal_date}}: The whole field.
  • {{form.renewal_date.errors}}: The list of errors.
  • {{form.renewal_date.id_for_label}}: The id of the label.
  • {{form.renewal_date.help_text}}: The field help text.
  • etc!

For more examples of how to manually render forms in templates and dynamically loop over template fields, see Working with forms > Rendering fields manually (Django docs).

Testing the page

If you accepted the "challenge" in Django Tutorial Part 8: User authentication and permissions you'll have a list of all books on loan in the library, which is only visible to library staff. We can add a link to our renew page next to each item using the template code below.

{% if perms.catalog.can_mark_returned %}- <a href="{% url 'renew-book-librarian' bookinst.id %}">Renew</a>  {% endif %}

Note: Remember that your test login will need to have the permission "catalog.can_mark_returned" in order to access the renew book page (perhaps use your superuser account).

You can alternatively manually construct a test URL like this — http://127.0.0.1:8000/catalog/book/<bookinstance_id>/renew/ (a valid bookinstance id can be obtained by navigating to a book detail page in your library, and copying the id field).

What does it look like?

If you are successful, the default form will look like this:

The form with an invalid value entered, will look like this:

The list of all books with renew links will look like this:

 

ModelForms

Creating a Form class using the approach described above is very flexible, allowing you to create whatever sort of form page you like and associate it with any model or models.

However if you just need a form to map the fields of a single model then your model will already define most of the information that you need in your form: fields, labels, help text, etc. Rather than recreating the model definitions in your form, it is easier to use the ModelForm helper class to create the form from your model. This ModelForm can then be used within your views in exactly the same way as an ordinary Form.

A basic ModelForm containing the same field as our original RenewBookForm is shown below. All you need to do to create the form is add class Meta with the associated model (BookInstance) and a list of the model fields to include in the form (you can include all fields using fields = '__all__', or you can use exclude (instead of fields) to specify the fields not to include from the model).

from django.forms import ModelForm
from .models import BookInstance

class RenewBookModelForm(ModelForm):
    class Meta:
        model = BookInstance
        fields = ['due_date',]

Note: This might not look like all that much simpler than just using a Form (and it isn't in this case, because we just have one field). However if you have a lot of fields, it can reduce the amount of code quite significantly!

The rest of the information comes from the model field definitions (e.g. labels, widgets, help text, error messages). If these aren't quite right, then we can override them in our class Meta, specifying a dictionary containing the field to change and its new value. For example, in this form we might want a label for our field of "Renewal date" (rather than the default based on the field name: Due date), and we also want our help text to be specific to this use case. The Meta below shows you how to override these fields, and you can similarly set widgets and error_messages if the defaults aren't sufficient.

class Meta:
    model = BookInstance
    fields = ['due_date',]
    labels = { 'due_date': _('Renewal date'), }
    help_texts = { 'due_date': _('Enter a date between now and 4 weeks (default 3).'), } 

To add validation you can use the same approach as for a normal Form — you define a function named clean_field_name() and raise ValidationError exceptions for invalid values. The only difference with respect to our original form is that the model field is named due_date and not "renewal_date".

from django.forms import ModelForm
from .models import BookInstance

class RenewBookModelForm(ModelForm):
    class Meta:
        model = BookInstance
        fields = ['due_date',]
        labels = { 'due_date': _('Renewal date'), }
        help_texts = { 'due_date': _('Enter a date between now and 4 weeks (default 3).'), } 
        
        def clean_due_date(self):
            data = self.cleaned_data['renewal_date']

            #Check date is not in past.          
            if data < datetime.date.today():             
                raise ValidationError(_('Invalid date - renewal in past'))
            #Check date is in range librarian allowed to change (+4 weeks)
            if data > datetime.date.today() + datetime.timedelta(weeks=4):
                raise ValidationError(_('Invalid date - renewal more than 4 weeks ahead'))

            # Remember to always return the cleaned data.
            return data

The class RenewBookModelForm below is now functionally equivalent to our original RenewBookForm. You could import and use it wherever you currently use RenewBookForm.

Generic editing views

The form handling algorithm we used in our function view example above represents an extremely common pattern in form editing views. Django abstracts much of this "boilerplate" for you, by creating generic editing views for creating, editing, and deleting views based on models. Not only do these handle the "view" behaviour, but they automatically create the form class (a ModelForm) for you from the model.

Note: In addition to the editing views described here, there is also a FormView class, which lies somewhere between our function view and the other generic views in terms of "flexibility" vs "coding effort". Using FormView you still need to create your Form, but you don't have to implement all of the standard form-handling pattern. Instead you just have to provide an implementation of the function that will be called once the submitted is known to be be valid.

In this section we're going to use generic editing views to create pages to add functionality to create, edit, and delete Author records from our library — effectively providing a basic reimplementation of parts of the Admin site (this could be useful if you need to offer admin functionality in a more flexible way that can be provided by the admin site).

Views

Open the views file (locallibrary/catalog/views.py) and append the following code block to the bottom of it:

from django.views.generic.edit import CreateView, UpdateView, DeleteView
from django.urls import reverse_lazy
from .models import Author

class AuthorCreate(CreateView):
    model = Author
    fields = '__all__'
    initial={'date_of_death':'12/10/2016',}

class AuthorUpdate(UpdateView):
    model = Author
    fields = ['first_name','last_name','date_of_birth','date_of_death']

class AuthorDelete(DeleteView):
    model = Author
    success_url = reverse_lazy('authors')

As you can see, to create the views you need to derive from CreateView, UpdateView, and DeleteView (respectively) and then define the associated model.

For the "create" and "update" cases you also need to specify the fields to display in the form (using in same syntax as for ModelForm). In this case we show both the syntax to display "all" fields, and how you can list them individually. You can also specify initial values for each of the fields using a dictionary of field_name/value pairs (here we arbitrarily set the date of death for demonstration purposes — you might want to remove that!). By default these views will redirect on success to a page displaying the newly created/edited model item, which in our case will be the author detail view we created in a previous tutorial. You can specify an alternative redirect location by explicitly declaring parameter success_url (as done for the AuthorDelete class).

The AuthorDelete class doesn't need to display any of the fields, so these don't need to be specified. You do however need to specify the success_url, because there is no obvious default value for Django to use. In this case we use the reverse_lazy() function to redirect to our author list after an author has been deleted — reverse_lazy() is a lazily executed version of reverse(), used here because we're providing an URL to a class-based view attribute.

Templates

The "create" and "update" views use the same template by default, which will be named after your model: model_name_form.html (you can change the suffix to something other than _form using the template_name_suffix field in your view, e.g. template_name_suffix = '_other_suffix')

Create the template file locallibrary/catalog/templates/catalog/author_form.html and copy in the text below.

{% extends "base_generic.html" %}

{% block content %}

<form action="" method="post">
    {% csrf_token %}
    <table>
    {{ form.as_table }}
    </table>
    <input type="submit" value="Submit" />
    
</form>
{% endblock %}

This is similar to our previous forms, and renders the fields using a table. Note also how again we declare the {% csrf_token %} to ensure that our forms are resistant to CSRF attacks.

The "delete" view expects to find a template named with the format model_name_confirm_delete.html (again, you can change the suffix using template_name_suffix in your view). Create the template file locallibrary/catalog/templates/catalog/author_confirm_delete.html and copy in the text below.

{% extends "base_generic.html" %}

{% block content %}

<h1>Delete Author</h1>

<p>Are you sure you want to delete the author: {{ author }}?</p>

<form action="" method="POST">
  {% csrf_token %}
  <input type="submit" action="" value="Yes, delete." />
</form>

{% endblock %}

URL configurations

Open your URL configuration file (locallibrary/catalog/urls.py) and add the following configuration to the bottom of the file:

urlpatterns += [  
    url(r'^author/create/$', views.AuthorCreate.as_view(), name='author_create'),
    url(r'^author/(?P<pk>\d+)/update/$', views.AuthorUpdate.as_view(), name='author_update'),
    url(r'^author/(?P<pk>\d+)/delete/$', views.AuthorDelete.as_view(), name='author_delete'),
]

There is nothing particularly new here! You can see that the views are classes, and must hence be called via .as_view(), and you should be able to recognise the URL patterns in each case. We must use pk as the name for our captured primary key value, as this is the parameter name expected by the view classes.

The author create, update, and delete pages are now ready to test (we won't bother hooking them into the site sidebar in this case, although you can do so if you wish).

Note: Observant users will have noticed that we didn't do anything to prevent unauthorised users from accessing the pages! We leave that as an exercise for you (hint: you could use the PermissionRequiredMixin and either create a new permission or reuse our can_mark_returned permission).

Testing the page

First login to the site with an account that has whatever permissions you decided are needed to access the author editing pages.

Then navigate to the author create page: http://127.0.0.1:8000/catalog/author/create/, which should like the screenshot below.

Form Example: Create Author

Enter values for the fields and then press Submit to save the author record. You should now be taken to a detail view for your new author, with an URL of something like http://127.0.0.1:8000/catalog/author/10.

You can test editing records by appending /update/ to the end of the detail view URL (e.g. http://127.0.0.1:8000/catalog/author/10/update/) — we don't show a screenshot, because it looks just like the "create" page!

Last of all we can delete the page, by appending delete to the end of the author detail-view URL (e.g. http://127.0.0.1:8000/catalog/author/10/delete/). Django should display the delete page shown below. Press Yes, delete. to remove the record and be taken to the list of all authors.

 

Challenge yourself

Create some forms to create, edit and delete Book records. You can use exactly the same structure as for Authors. If your book_form.html template is just a copy-renamed version of the author_form.html template, then the new "create book" page will look like the screenshot below:

Summary

Creating and handling forms can be a complicated process! Django makes it much easier by providing programmatic mechanisms to declare, render and validate forms. Furthermore, Django provides generic form editing views that can do almost all the work to define pages that can create, edit, and delete records associated with a single model instance.

There is a lot more that can be done with forms (check out our See also list below), but you should now understand how to add basic forms and form-handling code to your own websites.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

 Contributors to this page: chrisdavidmills, hamishwillee
 Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,