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Bring schemaless PostgreSQL (HStore) in Django

Project description

django-hstore (schemaless DB) Code Health Requirements Status

Django-hstore is a niche library which integrates the hstore extension of PostgreSQL into Django.

HStore brings the power of schemaless databases into PostgreSQL, giving us the advantage of flexibility and performance without renouncing to the robustness of SQL databases.

Mailing List:!forum/django-hstore


  • Python 2.6, 2.7 or 3.3

  • Django 1.4, 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 (experimental)

  • PostgreSQL 9.0+

  • Psycopg 2.4.3+.


  • Postgis compatibility

  • Python3 support

  • usable admin widget

  • nice admin widget for django-grappelli

admin widget screenshot:

grappelli admin widget screenshot:


  • PostgreSQL’s implementation of hstore has no concept of type; it stores a mapping of string keys to string values. Values are stored as strings in the database regarding of their original type.

  • Hstore extension is not automatically installed on use this package. You must install it manually.

  • To run tests, hstore extension must be installed on template1 database.

  • If django.middleware.transaction.TransactionMiddleware is enabled and the project is deployed through uwsgi, the first request to a view working with models featuring hstore fields will raise an exception; see Django Ticket #22297 for more details on this issue. This issue is specific to Django 1.6 and below.

Important Note: the future version of HStore will bring types, nested structures and more advanced features, for more info read On the state of HStore by Engine Yard.

Install (stable)

Install the stable version using pip by running:

pip install django-hstore

Install (dev)

Install the development version with pip (you need git) by running:

pip install -e git+git://


First, add django_hstore to your settings.INSTALLED_APPS:


Second, collect static files (needed for the admin widget) with:

python collectstatic

Upgrade from older versions

In version 1.2.x some internals have been changed in order to simplify usage and prevent errors.

Values are automatically converted to strings, fields costantly validate input and so on.

If you are upgrading from an older version ensure your application code works as expected. If it doesn’t you will either have to update your code or tie your application’s requirement to the older version of django-hstore (1.1.1).

Note to South users

If you keep getting errors like There is no South database module ‘south.db.None’ for your database., add the following to

SOUTH_DATABASE_ADAPTERS = {'default': 'south.db.postgresql_psycopg2'}

Admin widget

django-hstore ships a nice admin widget that makes the field more user-friendly.

Each time a key or a value is modified the underlying textarea is updated:

Grappelli Admin widget

If you use the awsome django-grappelli there’s an even nicer looking widget for you too!

Each time a key or a value is modified the underlying textarea is updated:


The library provides three principal classes:


An ORM field which stores a mapping of string key/value pairs in an hstore column.


An ORM field which builds on DictionaryField to store a mapping of string keys to django object references, much like ForeignKey.


An ORM manager which provides much of the query functionality of the library.


An additional ORM manager to provide Geodjango functionality as well.

Model fields

Model definition is straightforward:

from django.db import models
from django_hstore import hstore

class Something(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=32)
    data = hstore.DictionaryField()  # can pass attributes like null, blank, ecc.

    objects = hstore.HStoreManager()
    # objects = hstore.HStoreGeoManager()

ReferenceField model field is also straightforward:

class ReferenceContainer(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=32)
    refs = hstore.ReferencesField()

    objects = hstore.HStoreManager()

Python API

You then treat the data field as simply a dictionary of string pairs:

instance = Something.objects.create(name='something', data={'a': '1', 'b': '2'})
assert['a'] == '1'

empty = Something.objects.create(name='empty')
assert == {}['a'] = '3'
assert Something.objects.get(name='empty').data['a'] == '3'

Booleans, integers, floats, lists and dictionaries will be converted to strings. Lists, dictionaries and booleans are converted into JSON formatted strings, so can be decoded if needed:

instance = Something.objects.create(name='something', data={'int': 1, 'bool': True})['int'] == '1'['bool'] == 'true'

import json['dict'] = { 'list': ['a', False, 1] }['dict'] == '{"list": ["a", false, 1]}'
json.loads(['dict']) == { 'list': ['a', False, 1] }
>>> True

You can issue indexed queries against hstore fields:

# equivalence
Something.objects.filter(data={'a': '1', 'b': '2'})

# comparison (greater than, less than or equal to, ecc)
Something.objects.filter(data__gt={'a': '1'})
Something.objects.filter(data__gte={'a': '1'})
Something.objects.filter(data__lt={'a': '2'})
Something.objects.filter(data__lte={'a': '2'})

# subset by key/value mapping
Something.objects.filter(data__contains={'a': '1'})

# subset by list of some key values
Something.objects.filter(data__contains={'a': ['1', '2']})

# subset by list of keys
Something.objects.filter(data__contains=['a', 'b'])

# subset by single key

You can still do classic django “contains” lookups as you would normally do for normal text fields if you were looking for a particular string. In this case, the HSTORE field will be converted to text and the lookup will be performed on all the keys and all the values:

Something.objects.create(data={ 'some_key': 'some crazy Value' })

# classic text lookup (look up for occurence of string in all the keys)
# classic case insensitive text looup

HSTORE manager

You can also take advantage of some db-side functionality by using the manager:

# identify the keys present in an hstore field
>>> Something.objects.hkeys(, attr='data')
['a', 'b']

# peek at a a named value within an hstore field
>>> Something.objects.hpeek(, attr='data', key='a')

# do the same, after filter
>>> Something.objects.filter('data', key='a')

# remove a key/value pair from an hstore field
>>> Something.objects.filter(name='something').hremove('data', 'b')

The hstore methods on manager pass all keyword arguments aside from attr and key to .filter().

ReferenceField Usage

ReferenceField is a field that allows to reference other database objects without using a classic ManyToMany relationship.

Here’s an example with the ReferenceContainer model defined in the Model fields section:

r = ReferenceContainer(name='test')
r.refs['another_object'] = AnotherModel.objects.get(slug='another-object')
r.refs['some_object'] = AnotherModel.objects.get(slug='some-object')

r = ReferenceContainer.objects.get(name='test')
'<AnotherModel: AnotherModel object>'
'<AnotherModel: AnotherModel some_object>'

The database is queried only when references are accessed directly. Once references have been retrieved they will be stored for any eventual subsequent access:

r = ReferenceContainer.objects.get(name='test')
# this won't query the database
{ u'another_object': u'myapp.models.AnotherModel:1', u'some_object': u'myapp.models.AnotherModel:2' }

# this will query the database
'<AnotherModel: AnotherModel object>'

# retrieved reference is now visible also when calling the HStoreDict object:
{ u'another_object': <AnotherModel: AnotherModel object>, u'some_object': u'myapp.models.AnotherModel:2' }

Multiple database setup

If for some reason you have to use django-hstore in a multi-database setup and some of the database you are using don’t have the hstore extension installed, you can skip hstore registration by setting HAS_HSTORE to False in your database config:

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2',
        'NAME': 'name',
        'USER': 'user',
        'PASSWORD': 'pass',
        'HOST': 'localhost',
        'PORT': '',
    'other': {
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2',
        'NAME': 'other',
        'USER': 'user',
        'PASSWORD': 'pass',
        'HOST': 'localhost',
        'PORT': '',
        'HAS_HSTORE': False,

If you do that, then don’t try to create DictionaryField in that database.

Be sure to check out allow_syncdb documentation.

Running the tests

Assuming one has the dependencies installed, and a PostgreSQL 9.0+ server up and running:


By default the tests run with the postgis backend.

If you want to run the tests with psycopg2 backend you can do:

python --settings=settings_psycopg

You might need to tweak the DB settings according to your DB configuration. If you need to do so you can copy the file to and add your database tweaks on it. will be automatically imported in The same applies for, which will be imported in

If after running this command you get an error saying:

type "hstore" does not exist

Try this:

psql template1 -c 'create extension hstore;'

More details here: PostgreSQL error type hstore does not exist

How to contribute

  1. Join the mailing List: django-hstore mailing list and announce your intentions

  2. Follow PEP8, Style Guide for Python Code

  3. Fork this repo

  4. Write code

  5. Write tests for your code

  6. Ensure all tests pass

  7. Ensure test coverage is not under 90%

  8. Document your changes

  9. Send pull request

Deprecation policy

At any momment of time, django-hstore developers will mantain support for three versions of django.

As example: The current stable release of django is 1.6, so django-hstore official supported versions are: 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6. When django 1.7 is released, 1.4 version will become on unsupported django version.

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