Django Filtering

Problem #

If you make a webapp, you will need someday or another to give filtering options to your frontend coworkers. In Django it is pretty simple to add filtering to a query_set: e.g (Item.objects.filter(name='Graphic Card'))

Although, I found optional filtering was annoying, I could've used the Item.objects.filter(name__startswith='') when there's no filter given but this is not nice because if you have 10 different filters you will still need to handle integers and pass all the filters even the empty ones to your query.

Solution #

Let's handle the use case of a /GET /items?name__startswith=Grap&price_gte=300&price__lte=700 which should return all items that start with Grap and price range from 300 and 700

So your request will trigger the viewset ItemViewSet which contains the default function list which returns the the elements in self.get_queryset() which the default is all elements (At least for me when I generated the sample ViewSet)

Here's what I found:

class ListModelMixin(object):
List a queryset.

def list(self, request, *args, **kwargs):
queryset = self.filter_queryset(self.get_queryset())
serializer = self.get_serializer(queryset, many=True)
return Response(

To modify the behaviour we need to override the get_queryset(), I am not sure if we should override the def list() function but it looked to me that if I did that, the get_queryset() will return everything and then we filter in the backend, which I don't want.

Now back to our sheeps, to make our URL work we can make a function that will dynamically generate our query parameters like this:

from django.db.models import Q

# `/GET /items?name__startswith=Grap&price_gte=300&price__lte=700`
def get_queryset(self):

filters = {
'name__startswith': self.request.GET.get('name__startswith ', ''),
'price__gte': self.request.GET.get('price_gte ', ''),
'price__lte': self.request.GET.get('price__lte', ''),

def queries(filters):
return [Q(**{k: v}) for k, v in filters.items() if v]

return Item.objects.filter(*queries(filters))

First, we fetch the 3 query sets and put them in a dictionary with the keys name__startswith, price_gte, price__lte, if they are not there we give the default value '' (which means False).

Second, our queries function will generate an array of Queries Q of column name k (the key of the dictionary filters.items()) and the filter condition v (the value of filters.items()), but only if v (translates to if True, remember '' means False). The function Q takes as arguments named variables, of the form Q(name__startswith='Gra') (named arguments) and this is why I used a dictionary with unpacking, a bit like **kwargs: you can see some doc about that here.

Third we pass the filters we generated earlier to the function we just created, which will return an array of Queries, but our Item.objects.filter takes multiple queries as arguments and not an array of queries, so again we need to unpack the unnamed variables like this: *queries(filters), this will look like this after unpacking: Item.objects.filter(Q1, Q2, Q3) where Q1=Q(name__startswith='Gra'), Q2=Q(price_gte=300), Q3=Q(price__lte=700).

Finally, you can add more complex filtering like category__in=[1,2,3] (where 1 2 and 3 are category ids). To do this you just need to parse your array in the filters level like this:

'category__in'=[int(c) for c in self.request.GET.get('category__in', '').split(',') if c]

This will split your query parameter category__in=1,2,3 into an array [1,2,3], again if the array is empty, the queries(filters) function will evaluate [] to False

Happy Pythoning!

PS: If you find an issue or a way to improve this article, please open an issue here.

Note1: Try these 'Falsy' variables

if not []: print('List is empty')
if not '': print('String is empty')

Note2: You could also take all query parameters and directly build your dictionary, something like:

[Q(**{k: v}) for k, v in self.request.GET]

You could also make a function that would translate __in to splitting the value, etc. I didn't try something like this yet but if I find the need I would update this article, if you do it, feel free to contribute


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