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Activating the administration interface

The administration interface comes as a Django application. To activate it, we will follow a simple procedure that is similar to enabling the user authentication system. The administration application is located in the django.contrib.admin package. So the first step is adding the path of this package to the INSTALLED_APPS variable. Open the settings.py file, locate INSTALLED_APPS, and edit it as follows:


Next, run the following command to create the necessary tables for the administration application:

$ python manage.py syncdb

Now we need to make the administration interface accessible from within our site by adding URL entries for it. The admin application defines many views (as we will see later), so manually adding a separate entry for each view can become a tedious task. Therefore, the admin interface provides a shortcut for this. There is a single object that encapsulates all the admin views. To use it, open the urls.py file and edit it as follows:

from django.contrib import admin

urlpatterns = ('',
[...] # Admin interface
(r'^admin/(.*)', admin.site.root),

Here, we are importing the admin module, calling a method in it, and mapping all the URLs under the path ^admin/ to a view called admin.site.root. This will make the views of the administration interface accessible from within our project.

One last thing remains before we see the administration page in action. We need to tell Django what models can be managed in the administration interface. This is done by creating a new file called the admin.py file in the bookmarks directory. Create the bookmarks/admin.py file and add the following code to it:

from django.contrib import admin
from bookmarks.models import *

class LinkAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
admin.site.register(Link, LinkAdmin)

We created a class derived from the admin.ModelAdmin class and mapped it to the Link model using the admin.site.register method. This effectively tells Django to enable the Link model in the administration interface. The keyword pass means that the class is empty. Later, we will use this class to customize the administration page; so it won’t remain empty.

Do the same to the Bookmark, Tag, and SharedBookmark models and add it to the bookmarks/admin.py file. Now, create an empty admin class for each of them and register it. The User model is provided by Django and, therefore, we don’t have control over it. But fortunately, it already has an Admin class so it’s available in the administration interface by default.

Next, launch the development server and direct your browser to You will be greeted by a login page. The superuser account after writing the database model is the account that you have to use in order to log in:

Django 1.0 Website Development

Next, you will see a list of the models that are available to the administration interface. As discussed earlier, only models that have admin classes in the bookmarks/admin.py file will appear on this page.

Django 1.0 Website Development

If you click on a model name, you will get a list of the objects that are stored in the database under this model. You can use this page to view or edit a particular object, or to add a new one. The following figure shows the listing page for the Link model:

Django 1.0 Website Development

The edit form is generated according to the fields that exist in the model. The Link form, for example, contains a single text field called Url. You can use this form to view and change the URL of a Link object. In addition, the form performs proper validation of fields before saving the object. So if you try to save a Link object with an invalid URL, you will receive an error message asking you to correct the field. The following figure shows a validation error when trying to save an invalid link:

Django 1.0 Website Development

Fields are mapped to form widgets according to their type. For example, date fields are edited using a calendar widget, whereas foreign key fields are edited using a list widget, and so on. The following figure shows a calendar widget from the user edit page. Django uses it for date and time fields.

Django 1.0 Website Development

As you may have noticed, the administration interface represents models by using the string returned by the __unicode__ method. It was indeed a good idea to replace the generic strings returned by the default __unicode__ method with more helpful ones. This greatly helps when working with the administration page, as well as with debugging.

Experiment with the administration pages. Try to create, edit, and delete objects. Notice how changes made in the administration interface are immediately reflected on the live site. Also, the administration interface keeps a track of the actions that you make and lets you review the history of changes for each object.

This section has covered most of what you need to know in order to use the administration interface provided by Django. This feature is actually one of the main advantages of using Django. You get a fully featured administration interface from writing only a few lines of code!

Next, we will see how to tweak and customize the administration pages. As a bonus, we will learn more about the permissions system offered by Django.

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