Example App

The example app demonstrates how you can use django-generic-m2m to create “tags” between different types of models.

It uses several apps from django basic apps to provide some various content models. Then it uses django-completion to allow users to “autocomplete” various objects in the database, making it easy for users to tag one piece of content with other content from the database.

Below is a screen-shot of a user creating a new blog post. The “relationships” text input does autocompletion making it easy to add “tags” to various models. When the form is submitted, those “tags” become stored using the generic-m2m API.


How to run the example app

The example app is bundled with django-generic-m2m, but running it requires several external dependencies. For this reason, I’d recommend running it in its own dedicated virtualenv:

virtualenv --no-site-packages genericm2m-example
cd genericm2m-example
source bin/activate

Now install the latest version of django-generic-m2m from github:

pip install -e git+git://github.com/coleifer/django-generic-m2m.git#egg=genericm2m

You should see a few lines of text followed by “Successfully installed genericm2m”. Now you’ll need to install the example app dependencies:

pip install -r src/genericm2m/example/requirements.txt

This will install the 1.3.X branch of django, django-basic-apps, and django-completion. Once these are installed you are ready to run the example:

cd src/genericm2m/example
./manage.py runserver

Now navigate to in your browser and you will see the example app’s homepage:


If you want to see examples of “model tagging”, browse the photos or blogs. There is a section titled “Related to” with links to whatever the object was tagged with:


I’d encourage you to click around, create a few posts or photos and try tagging them with various models.

What is in the example app?

The example app is centered around a few small pieces:

  • custom form classes and views to handle creating the relationships
  • javascript that handles autocompletion and storing data in the form
  • autocomplete providers that make it possible to do autocompletion on our models
  • code in template to show the related objects for a post or photo

We’ll tackle this stuff one bit at a time starting with the form classes and views, since thats all normal django stuff we’re all probably familiar with.

Forms and views

If you open up example/site_app/forms.py in your favorite editor, you’ll see a normal ModelForm subclass which has a couple additional fields on it:

from django.contrib.contenttypes.models import ContentType

class BaseRelationshipsForm(forms.ModelForm):
    relationships = forms.CharField(required=False)
    hidden_relationships = forms.CharField(required=False, widget=forms.HiddenInput())

    def clean_hidden_relationships(self):
        hidden = self.cleaned_data.get('hidden_relationships') or ''

        cts_and_ids = [ct_id for ct_id in hidden.split(',') if ct_id.strip()]
        objects = []

        for ct_id in cts_and_ids:
            content_type_id, object_id = ct_id.split(':')

            ctype = ContentType.objects.get_for_id(int(content_type_id))
            obj = ctype.model_class()._default_manager.get(pk=object_id)


        return objects

This subclass will be used to implement a generic-m2m-aware ModelForm for blog posts and photos. As you can see from the clean_hidden_relationships method, all we’re doing is deserializing a comma-separated list of content-type/primary-key pairs and returning a list of actual objects.

Here’s what the code for the Photo form class looks like…Nothing too weird – it uses a mixin to auto-generate the slug upon save, but other than that pretty plain-jane:

class PhotoForm(BaseRelationshipsForm, SlugifyMixin):
    class Meta:
        model = Photo
        fields = ('title', 'photo',)

These forms are used by two views which handle displaying a template and, if everything looks good, creating a new object. The interesting part is right after the initial model save where the newly-created objects gets connected to whatever objects it was tagged with:

def generic_completion_view(request, form_class, template):
    form = form_class(request.POST or None, request.FILES or None)

    if request.method == 'POST' and form.is_valid():
        # save the new object instance
        new_obj = form.save()

        # grab the related objects from the form and add them
        # to the new post instance
        for obj in form.cleaned_data['hidden_relationships']:

        return redirect(new_obj)

    return render_to_response(template, {'form': form},

def create_photo(request):
    return generic_completion_view(request, PhotoForm, 'media/create_photo.html')

Some JavaScript

On the client-side, we need to do three things:

  1. fetch data from our autocomplete view when the user types into the relationships input
  2. upon selecting an item, update a hidden field so the form on the server-side can figure
    out what objects we’re talking about
  3. provide a mechanism for removing previously selected objects

These tasks are accomplished by using jQuery UI’s autocomplete widget. The trick I used is cribbed from django-basic-apps, wherein the id of the object selected is stored in the hash of the link to “remove” that object from the list selected items. So you end up with a hidden input full of any number of identifiers, and links with a generic listener that removes the id in question from the hidden input.

Autocomplete providers

django-completion (shameless plug) is an attempt at simplifying the process of providing autocompletion for a set of models. I used it to enable autocompletion on a handful of models from django-basic-apps. The process should look familiar if you’ve created custom ModelAdmin classes before. Here’s a representative example:

from completion import site, DjangoModelProvider

from basic.blog.models import Post
# ... other imports ...

class PostProvider(DjangoModelProvider):
    def get_title(self, obj):
        return obj.title

    def get_pub_date(self, obj):
        return obj.publish

    def get_data(self, obj):
        return {
            'title': obj.title,
            'url': obj.get_absolute_url(),

# ... other providers ...

site.register(Post, PostProvider)

Signal handlers ensure that the autocomplete data is kept fresh whenever a model instance is saved or deleted.

Template code

If you look in the template code, all we do is loop over the relationships of the object. The template uses an optimized lookup to traverse the GFK relationships by calling generic_objects(). This returns the actual objects that the blog post is connected to.

<h3>Related to:</h3>
  {% for obj in object.related.all.generic_objects %}
    <li><a href="{{ obj.get_absolute_url }}">{{ obj }}</a></li>
  {% empty %}
    <li>Nothing here</li>
  {% endfor %}

And that about wraps it up!