Django Forms

The final thing we want to do on our website is create a nice way to add and edit blog posts. Django's admin is cool, but it is rather hard to customize and make pretty. With forms we will have absolute power over our interface – we can do almost anything we can imagine!

The nice thing about Django forms is that we can either define one from scratch or create a ModelForm which will save the result of the form to the model.

This is exactly what we want to do: we will create a form for our Post model.

Like every important part of Django, forms have their own file: forms.py.

We need to create a file with this name in the blog directory.

blog
   └── forms.py

OK, let's open it in the code editor and type the following code:

blog/forms.py

from django import forms

from .models import Post

class PostForm(forms.ModelForm):

    class Meta:
        model = Post
        fields = ('title', 'text',)

We need to import Django forms first (from django import forms) and our Post model (from .models import Post).

PostForm, as you probably suspect, is the name of our form. We need to tell Django that this form is a ModelForm (so Django will do some magic for us) – forms.ModelForm is responsible for that.

Next, we have class Meta, where we tell Django which model should be used to create this form (model = Post).

Finally, we can say which field(s) should end up in our form. In this scenario we want only title and text to be exposed – author should be the person who is currently logged in (you!) and created_date should be automatically set when we create a post (i.e. in the code), right?

And that's it! All we need to do now is use the form in a view and display it in a template.

So once again we will create a link to the page, a URL, a view and a template.

Before we add the link, we need some icons to use as buttons for the link. For this tutorial, download file-earmark-plus.svg and save it in the folder blog/templates/blog/icons/

Note: To download the SVG image, open the context menu on the link (usually by right-clicking on it) and select "Save link as". In the dialog asking you where to save the file, navigate to the djangogirls directory of your Django project, and within that to subdirectory blog/templates/blog/icons/, and save the file there.

It's time to open blog/templates/blog/base.html in the code editor. Now we can use this icon file inside the base template as follows. In the div element inside header section, we will add a link before the h1 element:

blog/templates/blog/base.html

<a href="{% url 'post_new' %}" class="top-menu">
    {% include './icons/file-earmark-plus.svg' %}
</a>

Note that we want to call our new view post_new. The SVG icon is provided by the Bootstrap Icons and it will display a page icon with plus sign. We use a Django template directive called include. This will inject the file's content into the Django template. The web browser knows how to handle this type of content without any further processing.

You can download all the Bootstrap icons here. Unzip the file and copy all the SVG image files into a new folder inside blog/templates/blog/ called icons. That way you can access an icon like pencil-fill.svg using the file path blog/templates/blog/icons/pencil-fill.svg

After editing the line, your HTML file should now look like this:

blog/templates/blog/base.html

{% load static %}
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
    <head>
        <title>Django Girls blog</title>
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/bootstrap@4.5.3/dist/css/bootstrap.min.css" integrity="sha384-TX8t27EcRE3e/ihU7zmQxVncDAy5uIKz4rEkgIXeMed4M0jlfIDPvg6uqKI2xXr2" crossorigin="anonymous">
        <link href='//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lobster&subset=latin,latin-ext' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'>
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="{% static 'css/blog.css' %}">
    </head>
    <body>
        <header class="page-header">
            <div class="container">
                <a href="{% url 'post_new' %}" class="top-menu">
                    {% include './icons/file-earmark-plus.svg' %}
                </a>
                <h1><a href="/">Django Girls Blog</a></h1>
            </div>
        </header>
        <main class="content container">
            <div class="row">
                <div class="col">
                    {% block content %}
                    {% endblock %}
                </div>
            </div>
        </main>
    </body>
</html>

After saving and refreshing the page http://127.0.0.1:8000 you will see a familiar NoReverseMatch error. Is that the case? Good!

URL

We open blog/urls.py in the code editor and add a line:

blog/urls.py

path('post/new/', views.post_new, name='post_new'),

And the final code will look like this:

blog/urls.py

from django.urls import path
from . import views

urlpatterns = [
    path('', views.post_list, name='post_list'),
    path('post/<int:pk>/', views.post_detail, name='post_detail'),
    path('post/new/', views.post_new, name='post_new'),
]

After refreshing the site, we see an AttributeError, since we don't have the post_new view implemented. Let's add it right now.

post_new view

Time to open the blog/views.py file in the code editor and add the following lines with the rest of the from rows:

blog/views.py

from .forms import PostForm

And then our view:

blog/views.py

def post_new(request):
    form = PostForm()
    return render(request, 'blog/post_edit.html', {'form': form})

To create a new Post form, we need to call PostForm() and pass it to the template. We will go back to this view, but for now, let's quickly create a template for the form.

Template

We need to create a file post_edit.html in the blog/templates/blog directory, and open it in the code editor. To make a form work we need several things:

  • We have to display the form. We can do that with (for example) {{ form.as_p }}.
  • The line above needs to be wrapped with an HTML form element: <form method="POST">...</form>.
  • We need a Save button. We do that with an HTML button: <button type="submit">Save</button>.
  • And finally, just after the opening <form ...> tag we need to add {% csrf_token %}. This is very important, since it makes your forms secure! If you forget about this bit, Django will complain when you try to save the form:

CSFR Forbidden page

OK, so let's see how the HTML in post_edit.html should look:

blog/templates/blog/post_edit.html

{% extends 'blog/base.html' %}

{% block content %}
    <h2>New post</h2>
    <form method="POST" class="post-form">{% csrf_token %}
        {{ form.as_p }}
        <button type="submit" class="save btn btn-default">Save</button>
    </form>
{% endblock %}

Time to refresh! Yay! Your form is displayed!

New form

But, wait a minute! When you type something in the title and text fields and try to save it, what will happen?

Nothing! We are once again on the same page and our text is gone… and no new post is added. So what went wrong?

The answer is: nothing. We need to do a little bit more work in our view.

Saving the form

Open blog/views.py once again in the code editor. Currently all we have in the post_new view is the following:

blog/views.py

def post_new(request):
    form = PostForm()
    return render(request, 'blog/post_edit.html', {'form': form})

When we submit the form, we are brought back to the same view, but this time we have some more data in request, more specifically in request.POST (the naming has nothing to do with a blog "post"; it's to do with the fact that we're "posting" data). Remember how in the HTML file, our <form> definition had the variable method="POST"? All the fields from the form are now in request.POST. You should not rename POST to anything else (the only other valid value for method is GET, but we have no time to explain what the difference is).

So in our view we have two separate situations to handle: first, when we access the page for the first time and we want a blank form, and second, when we go back to the view with all form data we just typed. So we need to add a condition (we will use if for that):

blog/views.py

if request.method == "POST":
    [...]
else:
    form = PostForm()

It's time to fill in the dots [...]. If method is POST then we want to construct the PostForm with data from the form, right? We will do that as follows:

blog/views.py

form = PostForm(request.POST)

The next thing is to check if the form is correct (all required fields are set and no incorrect values have been submitted). We do that with form.is_valid().

We check if the form is valid and if so, we can save it!

blog/views.py

if form.is_valid():
    post = form.save(commit=False)
    post.author = request.user
    post.published_date = timezone.now()
    post.save()

Basically, we have two things here: we save the form with form.save and we add an author (since there was no author field in the PostForm and this field is required). commit=False means that we don't want to save the Post model yet – we want to add the author first. Most of the time you will use form.save() without commit=False, but in this case, we need to supply it. post.save() will preserve changes (adding the author) and a new blog post is created!

Finally, it would be awesome if we could immediately go to the post_detail page for our newly created blog post, right? To do that we need one more import:

blog/views.py

from django.shortcuts import redirect

Add it at the very beginning of your file. And now we can say, "go to the post_detail page for the newly created post":

blog/views.py

return redirect('post_detail', pk=post.pk)

post_detail is the name of the view we want to go to. Remember that this view requires a pk variable? To pass it to the views, we use pk=post.pk, where post is the newly created blog post!

OK, we've talked a lot, but we probably want to see what the whole view looks like now, right?

blog/views.py

def post_new(request):
    if request.method == "POST":
        form = PostForm(request.POST)
        if form.is_valid():
            post = form.save(commit=False)
            post.author = request.user
            post.published_date = timezone.now()
            post.save()
            return redirect('post_detail', pk=post.pk)
    else:
        form = PostForm()
    return render(request, 'blog/post_edit.html', {'form': form})

Let's see if it works. Go to the page http://127.0.0.1:8000/post/new/, add a title and text, save it… and voilà! The new blog post is added and we are redirected to the post_detail page!

You might have noticed that we are setting the publish date before saving the post. Later on, we will introduce a publish button in Django Girls Tutorial: Extensions.

That is awesome!

As we have recently used the Django admin interface, the system currently thinks we are still logged in. There are a few situations that could lead to us being logged out (closing the browser, restarting the DB, etc.). If, when creating a post, you find that you are getting errors referring to the lack of a logged-in user, head to the admin page http://127.0.0.1:8000/admin and log in again. This will fix the issue temporarily. There is a permanent fix awaiting you in the Homework: add security to your website! chapter after the main tutorial.

Logged in error

Form validation

Now, we will show you how cool Django forms are. A blog post needs to have title and text fields. In our Post model we did not say that these fields (as opposed to published_date) are not required, so Django, by default, expects them to be set.

Try to save the form without title and text. Guess what will happen!

Form validation

Django is taking care to validate that all the fields in our form are correct. Isn't it awesome?

Edit form

Now we know how to add a new post. But what if we want to edit an existing one? This is very similar to what we just did. Let's create some important things quickly. (If you don't understand something, you should ask your coach or look at the previous chapters, since we covered all these steps already.)

First, let's save the icon which represents the edit button. Download pencil-fill.svg and save it to the location blog/templates/blog/icons/.

Open blog/templates/blog/post_detail.html in the code editor and add the following code inside article element:

blog/templates/blog/post_detail.html

<aside class="actions">
    <a class="btn btn-default" href="{% url 'post_edit' pk=post.pk %}">
      {% include './icons/pencil-fill.svg' %}
    </a>
</aside>

so that the template will look like this:

blog/templates/blog/post_detail.html

{% extends 'blog/base.html' %}

{% block content %}
    <article class="post">
        <aside class="actions">
            <a class="btn btn-default" href="{% url 'post_edit' pk=post.pk %}">
                {% include './icons/pencil-fill.svg' %}
            </a>
        </aside>
        {% if post.published_date %}
            <time class="date">
                {{ post.published_date }}
            </time>
        {% endif %}
        <h2>{{ post.title }}</h2>
        <p>{{ post.text|linebreaksbr }}</p>
    </article>
{% endblock %}

Open blog/urls.py in the code editor, and add this line:

blog/urls.py

    path('post/<int:pk>/edit/', views.post_edit, name='post_edit'),

We will reuse the template blog/templates/blog/post_edit.html, so the last missing thing is a view.

Let's open blog/views.py in the code editor and add this at the very end of the file:

blog/views.py

def post_edit(request, pk):
    post = get_object_or_404(Post, pk=pk)
    if request.method == "POST":
        form = PostForm(request.POST, instance=post)
        if form.is_valid():
            post = form.save(commit=False)
            post.author = request.user
            post.published_date = timezone.now()
            post.save()
            return redirect('post_detail', pk=post.pk)
    else:
        form = PostForm(instance=post)
    return render(request, 'blog/post_edit.html', {'form': form})

This looks almost exactly the same as our post_new view, right? But not entirely. For one, we pass an extra pk parameter from urls. Next, we get the Post model we want to edit with get_object_or_404(Post, pk=pk) and then, when we create a form, we pass this post as an instance, both when we save the form…

blog/views.py

form = PostForm(request.POST, instance=post)

…and when we've just opened a form with this post to edit:

blog/views.py

form = PostForm(instance=post)

OK, let's test if it works! Let's go to the post_detail page. There should be an edit button in the top-right corner:

Edit button

When you click it you will see the form with our blog post:

Edit form

Feel free to change the title or the text and save the changes!

Congratulations! Your application is getting more and more complete!

If you need more information about Django forms, you should read the documentation: https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/2.2/topics/forms/

Security

Being able to create new posts by clicking a link is awesome! But right now, anyone who visits your site will be able to make a new blog post, and that's probably not something you want. Let's make it so the button shows up for you but not for anyone else.

Open blog/templates/blog/base.html in the code editor, find our div inside header and the anchor element you put in there earlier. It should look like this:

blog/templates/blog/base.html

<a href="{% url 'post_new' %}" class="top-menu">
    {% include './icons/file-earmark-plus.svg' %}
</a>

We're going to add another {% if %} tag to this, which will make the link show up only for users who are logged into the admin. Right now, that's just you! Change the <a> element to look like this:

blog/templates/blog/base.html

{% if user.is_authenticated %}
    <a href="{% url 'post_new' %}" class="top-menu">
        {% include './icons/file-earmark-plus.svg' %}
    </a>
{% endif %}

This {% if %} will cause the link to be sent to the browser only if the user requesting the page is logged in. This doesn't protect the creation of new posts completely, but it's a good first step. We'll cover more security in the extension lessons.

Remember the edit icon we just added to our detail page? We also want to add the same change there, so other people won't be able to edit existing posts.

Open blog/templates/blog/post_detail.html in the code editor and find this line:

blog/templates/blog/post_detail.html

<a class="btn btn-default" href="{% url 'post_edit' pk=post.pk %}">
    {% include './icons/pencil-fill.svg' %}
</a>

Change it to this:

blog/templates/blog/post_detail.html

{% if user.is_authenticated %}
     <a class="btn btn-default" href="{% url 'post_edit' pk=post.pk %}">
        {% include './icons/pencil-fill.svg' %}
     </a>
{% endif %}

Since you're likely logged in, if you refresh the page, you won't see anything different. Load the page in a different browser or an incognito window (called "InPrivate" in Windows Edge), though, and you'll see that the link doesn't show up, and the icon doesn't display either!

One more thing: deploy time!

Let's see if all this works on PythonAnywhere. Time for another deploy!

  • First, commit your new code, and push it up to GitHub:

command-line

$ git status
$ git add .
$ git status
$ git commit -m "Added views to create/edit blog post inside the site."
$ git push

PythonAnywhere command-line

$ cd ~/<your-pythonanywhere-domain>.pythonanywhere.com
$ git pull
[...]

(Remember to substitute <your-pythonanywhere-domain> with your actual PythonAnywhere subdomain, without the angle-brackets.)

And that should be it. Congrats! :)

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