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This document is for Django's SVN release, which can be significantly different from previous releases. Get old docs here: Django 1.0

Admin actions

New in Django 1.1: Please, see the release notes

The basic workflow of Django’s admin is, in a nutshell, “select an object, then change it.” This works well for a majority of use cases. However, if you need to make the same change to many objects at once, this workflow can be quite tedious.

In these cases, Django’s admin lets you write and register “actions” – simple functions that get called with a list of objects selected on the change list page.

If you look at any change list in the admin, you’ll see this feature in action; Django ships with a “delete selected objects” action available to all models. For example, here’s the user module from Django’s built-in django.contrib.auth app:



The “delete selected objects” action uses QuerySet.delete() for efficiency reasons, which has an important caveat: your model’s delete() method will not be called.

If you wish to override this behavior, simply write a custom action which accomplishes deletion in your preferred manner – for example, by calling Model.delete() for each of the selected items.

For more background on bulk deletion, see the documentation on object deletion.

Read on to find out how to add your own actions to this list.

Writing actions

The easiest way to explain actions is by example, so let’s dive in.

A common use case for admin actions is the bulk updating of a model. Imagine a simple news application with an Article model:

from django.db import models

    ('d', 'Draft'),
    ('p', 'Published'),
    ('w', 'Withdrawn'),

class Article(models.Model):
    title = models.CharField(max_length=100)
    body = models.TextField()
    status = models.CharField(max_length=1, choices=STATUS_CHOICES)

    def __unicode__(self):
        return self.title

A common task we might perform with a model like this is to update an article's status from "draft" to "published". We could easily do this in the admin one article at a time, but if we wanted to bulk-publish a group of articles, it'd be tedious. So, let's write an action that lets us change an article's status to "published."

Writing action functions

First, we'll need to write a function that gets called when the action is trigged from the admin. Action functions are just regular functions that take three arguments:

Our publish-these-articles function won't need the ModelAdmin or the request object, but we will use the queryset:

def make_published(modeladmin, request, queryset):


For the best performance, we're using the queryset's update method. Other types of actions might need to deal with each object individually; in these cases we'd just iterate over the queryset:

for obj in queryset:

That's actually all there is to writing an action! However, we'll take one more optional-but-useful step and give the action a "nice" title in the admin. By default, this action would appear in the action list as "Make published" -- the function name, with underscores replaced by spaces. That's fine, but we can provide a better, more human-friendly name by giving the make_published function a short_description attribute:

def make_published(modeladmin, request, queryset):
make_published.short_description = "Mark selected stories as published"


This might look familiar; the admin's list_display option uses the same technique to provide human-readable descriptions for callback functions registered there, too.

Adding actions to the ModelAdmin

Next, we'll need to inform our ModelAdmin of the action. This works just like any other configuration option. So, the complete with the action and its registration would look like:

from django.contrib import admin
from myapp.models import Article

def make_published(modeladmin, request, queryset):
make_published.short_description = "Mark selected stories as published"

class ArticleAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = ['title', 'status']
    ordering = ['title']
    actions = [make_published], ArticleAdmin)

That code will give us an admin change list that looks something like this:


That's really all there is to it! If you're itching to write your own actions, you now know enough to get started. The rest of this document just covers more advanced techniques.

Advanced action techniques

There's a couple of extra options and possibilities you can exploit for more advanced options.

Actions as ModelAdmin methods

The example above shows the make_published action defined as a simple function. That's perfectly fine, but it's not perfect from a code design point of view: since the action is tightly coupled to the Article object, it makes sense to hook the action to the ArticleAdmin object itself.

That's easy enough to do:

class ArticleAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):

    actions = ['make_published']

    def make_published(self, request, queryset):
    make_published.short_description = "Mark selected stories as published"

Notice first that we've moved make_published into a method and renamed the modeladmin parameter to self, and second that we've now put the string 'make_published' in actions instead of a direct function reference. This tells the ModelAdmin to look up the action as a method.

Defining actions as methods gives the action more straightforward, idiomatic access to the ModelAdmin itself, allowing the action to call any of the methods provided by the admin.

For example, we can use self to flash a message to the user informing her that the action was successful:

class ArticleAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):

    def make_published(self, request, queryset):
        rows_updated = queryset.update(status='p')
        if rows_updated == 1:
            message_bit = "1 story was"
            message_bit = "%s stories were" % rows_updated
        self.message_user(request, "%s successfully marked as published." % message_bit)

This make the action match what the admin itself does after successfully performing an action:


Actions that provide intermediate pages

By default, after an action is performed the user is simply redirected back to the original change list page. However, some actions, especially more complex ones, will need to return intermediate pages. For example, the built-in delete action asks for confirmation before deleting the selected objects.

To provide an intermediary page, simply return an HttpResponse (or subclass) from your action. For example, you might write a simple export function that uses Django's serialization functions to dump some selected objects as JSON:

from django.http import HttpResponse
from django.core import serializers

def export_as_json(modeladmin, request, queryset):
    response = HttpResponse(mimetype="text/javascript")
    serializers.serialize("json", queryset, stream=response)
    return response

Generally, something like the above isn't considered a great idea. Most of the time, the best practice will be to return an HttpResponseRedirect and redirect the user to a view you've written, passing the list of selected objects in the GET query string. This allows you to provide complex interaction logic on the intermediary pages. For example, if you wanted to provide a more complete export function, you'd want to let the user choose a format, and possibly a list of fields to include in the export. The best thing to do would be to write a small action that simply redirects to your custom export view:

from django.contrib import admin
from django.contrib.contenttypes.models import ContentType
from django.http import HttpResponseRedirect

def export_selected_objects(modeladmin, request, queryset):
    selected = request.POST.getlist(admin.ACTION_CHECKBOX_NAME)
    ct = ContentType.objects.get_for_model(queryset.model)
    return HttpResponseRedirect("/export/?ct=%s&ids=%s" % (, ",".join(selected)))

As you can see, the action is the simple part; all the complex logic would belong in your export view. This would need to deal with objects of any type, hence the business with the ContentType.

Writing this view is left as an exercise to the reader.

Making actions available site-wide

AdminSite.add_action(action[, name])

Some actions are best if they're made available to any object in the admin site -- the export action defined above would be a good candidate. You can make an action globally available using AdminSite.add_action(). For example:

from django.contrib import admin

This makes the export_selected_objects action globally available as an action named "export_selected_objects". You can explicitly give the action a name -- good if you later want to programatically remove the action -- by passing a second argument to AdminSite.add_action():, 'export_selected')

Disabling actions

Sometimes you need to disable certain actions -- especially those registered site-wide -- for particular objects. There's a few ways you can disable actions:

Disabling a site-wide action


If you need to disable a site-wide action you can call AdminSite.disable_action().

For example, you can use this method to remove the built-in "delete selected objects" action:'delete_selected')

Once you've done the above, that action will no longer be available site-wide.

If, however, you need to re-enable a globally-disabled action for one particular model, simply list it explicitally in your ModelAdmin.actions list:

# Globally disable delete selected'delete_selected')

# This ModelAdmin will not have delete_selected available
class SomeModelAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    actions = ['some_other_action']

# This one will
class AnotherModelAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    actions = ['delete_selected', 'a_third_action']

Disabling all actions for a particular ModelAdmin

If you want no bulk actions available for a given ModelAdmin, simply set ModelAdmin.actions to None:

class MyModelAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    actions = None

This tells the ModelAdmin to not display or allow any actions, including any site-wide actions.

Conditionally enabling or disabling actions


Finally, you can conditionally enable or disable actions on a per-request (and hence per-user basis) by overriding ModelAdmin.get_actions().

This returns a dictionary of actions allowed. The keys are action names, and the values are (function, name, short_description) tuples.

Most of the time you'll use this method to conditionally remove actions from the list gathered by the superclass. For example, if I only wanted users whose names begin with 'J' to be able to delete objects in bulk, I could do the following:

class MyModelAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):

    def get_actions(self, request):
        actions = super(MyModelAdmin, self).get_actions(request)
        if request.user.username[0].upper() != 'J':
            del actions['delete_selected']
        return actions


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