Django Admin: Sorting on Related Object’s Property

This is mostly a note to myself for the future, but I’m sure someone else out there will find it helpful.

The Problem

In one of the apps I work on, I have a pretty standard setup for extending the User object in Django: I have a UserProfile model with a ForeignKey to the auth.User model and have AUTH_PROFILE_MODULE pointing at that model, so that the appropriate row gets returned when I call user.get_profile()

I’ve populated the UserProfile model with a bunch of fields that the client wanted to be able to see in the admin view. Nice and easy so far.

I was then asked to add the date the user joined the site to that view, and also make it sortable. “Easy!” I thought. I immediately went and added user__date_joined to the ModelAdmin‘s list_display Turns out it’s not that easy! Doing this causes a 500.

At first I was baffled that a simple relationship could not be traversed. I went into the Django source and figured out that the error was being thrown by admin.validation.validate() I took out the check to see what would happen if it the field were just allowed to be in there (I was half expecting it to just work, since putting user__date_joined in search_fields worked fine.. I thought maybe the check was accidentally too strict) and that’s when I understood why it’s not allowed: by allowing a field on another model to be included in a certain model’s admin class, an assumption is introduced that 1. that model/field have all the methods required to be displayed and 2. that those methods do what the writer of the ModelAdmin in question expects. Not a good idea.

The Solution

I brought this up in a django IRC channel, and Zain quickly suggested that I just add a callable to the ModelAdmin that simply returns the user’s date_joined. I already knew I could do that, and the reason I hadn’t was that I needed to be able to sort by that field – something that is impossible if it’s generated by a callable.

That’s when Zain pointed out admin_order_field to me – turns out you can tell the admin site to use a specific column to back sort queries against a callable. The resulting code looks like this:

class UserProfileAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_select_related = True
    list_display = ( [...] 'date_joined')

    def date_joined(self, profile):
        return profile.user.date_joined

    date_joined.admin_order_field = 'user__date_joined'

That’s all there is to it. Enjoy!

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3 Responses to “Django Admin: Sorting on Related Object’s Property”

  1. Andrei says:

    Thank you so much! You save me! I was going crazy with this ordering…

  2. Ivan Virabyan says:

    I have been struggling against this problem, thanks you a lot!

  3. Arthur says:

    Thanks a lot! That helped.

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