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GitHub notifications alike app for Django.

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django-notifications Documentation

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django-notifications is a GitHub notification alike app for Django, it was derived from django-activity-stream

The major difference between django-notifications and django-activity-stream:

  • django-notifications is for building something like Github "Notifications"
  • While django-activity-stream is for building Github "News Feed"

Notifications are actually actions events, which are categorized by four main components.

  • Actor. The object that performed the activity.
  • Verb. The verb phrase that identifies the action of the activity.
  • Action Object. (Optional) The object linked to the action itself.
  • Target. (Optional) The object to which the activity was performed.

Actor, Action Object and Target are GenericForeignKeys to any arbitrary Django object. An action is a description of an action that was performed (Verb) at some instant in time by some Actor on some optional Target that results in an Action Object getting created/updated/deleted.

For example: justquick (actor) closed (verb) issue 2 (action_object) on activity-stream (target) 12 hours ago

Nomenclature of this specification is based on the Activity Streams Spec:


  • Python 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11
  • Django 3.2, 4.0, 4.1


Installation is easy using pip and will install all required libraries.

$ pip install django-notifications-hq

or get it from source

$ git clone
$ cd django-notifications
$ python sdist
$ pip install dist/django-notifications-hq*

Note that django-model-utils will be installed: this is required for the pass-through QuerySet manager.

Then to add the Django Notifications to your project add the app notifications to your INSTALLED_APPS and urlconf.

The app should go somewhere after all the apps that are going to be generating notifications like django.contrib.auth


Add the notifications urls to your urlconf:

import notifications.urls

urlpatterns = [
    url('^inbox/notifications/', include(notifications.urls, namespace='notifications')),

The method of installing these urls, importing rather than using 'notifications.urls', is required to ensure that the urls are installed in the notifications namespace.

To run schema migration, execute python migrate notifications.

Generating Notifications

Generating notifications is probably best done in a separate signal.

from django.db.models.signals import post_save
from notifications.signals import notify
from myapp.models import MyModel

def my_handler(sender, instance, created, **kwargs):
    notify.send(instance, verb='was saved')

post_save.connect(my_handler, sender=MyModel)

To generate an notification anywhere in your code, simply import the notify signal and send it with your actor, recipient, and verb.

from notifications.signals import notify

notify.send(user, recipient=user, verb='you reached level 10')

The complete syntax is.

notify.send(actor, recipient, verb, action_object, target, level, description, public, timestamp, **kwargs)


  • actor: An object of any type. (Required) Note: Use sender instead of actor if you intend to use keyword arguments
  • recipient: A Group or a User QuerySet or a list of User. (Required)
  • verb: An string. (Required)
  • action_object: An object of any type. (Optional)
  • target: An object of any type. (Optional)
  • level: One of Notification.LEVELS ('success', 'info', 'warning', 'error') (default=info). (Optional)
  • description: An string. (Optional)
  • public: An boolean (default=True). (Optional)
  • timestamp: An tzinfo ( (Optional)

Extra data

You can attach arbitrary data to your notifications by doing the following:


Then, any extra arguments you pass to notify.send(...) will be attached to the .data attribute of the notification object. These will be serialised using the JSONField's serialiser, so you may need to take that into account: using only objects that will be serialised is a good idea.

Soft delete

By default, delete/(?P<slug>\d+)/ deletes specified notification record from DB. You can change this behaviour to "mark Notification.deleted field as True" by:


With this option, QuerySet methods unread and read contain one more filter: deleted=False. Meanwhile, QuerySet methods deleted, active, mark_all_as_deleted, mark_all_as_active are turned on. See more details in QuerySet methods section.


QuerySet methods

Using django-model-utils, we get the ability to add queryset methods to not only the manager, but to all querysets that will be used, including related objects. This enables us to do things like:


which returns all unread notifications. To do this for a single user, we can do:

    user = User.objects.get(pk=pk)

There are some other QuerySet methods, too.


Return all of the unsent notifications, filtering the current queryset. (emailed=False)


Return all of the sent notifications, filtering the current queryset. (emailed=True)


Return all of the unread notifications, filtering the current queryset. When SOFT_DELETE=True, this filter contains deleted=False.

Return all of the read notifications, filtering the current queryset. When SOFT_DELETE=True, this filter contains deleted=False.

qs.mark_all_as_read() | qs.mark_all_as_read(recipient)

Mark all of the unread notifications in the queryset (optionally also filtered by recipient) as read.

qs.mark_all_as_unread() | qs.mark_all_as_unread(recipient)

Mark all of the read notifications in the queryset (optionally also filtered by recipient) as unread.

qs.mark_as_sent() | qs.mark_as_sent(recipient)

Mark all of the unsent notifications in the queryset (optionally also filtered by recipient) as sent.

qs.mark_as_unsent() | qs.mark_as_unsent(recipient)

Mark all of the sent notifications in the queryset (optionally also filtered by recipient) as unsent.


Return all notifications that have deleted=True, filtering the current queryset. Must be used with SOFT_DELETE=True.

Return all notifications that have deleted=False, filtering the current queryset. Must be used with DELETE=True.

qs.mark_all_as_deleted() | qs.mark_all_as_deleted(recipient)

Mark all notifications in the queryset (optionally also filtered by recipient) as deleted=True. Must be used with DELETE=True.

qs.mark_all_as_active() | qs.mark_all_as_active(recipient)

Mark all notifications in the queryset (optionally also filtered by recipient) as deleted=False. Must be used with SOFT_DELETE=True.

Model methods


A wrapper for Django's timesince function.


Mark the current object as read.

Template tags

Put {% load notifications\_tags %} in the template before you actually use notification tags.


    {% notifications_unread %}

Give the number of unread notifications for a user, or nothing (an empty string) for an anonymous user.

Storing the count in a variable for further processing is advised, such as:

    {% notifications_unread as unread_count %}
    {% if unread_count %}
        You have <strong>{{ unread_count }}</strong> unread notifications.
    {% endif %}

Live-updater API

To ensure users always have the most up-to-date notifications, django-notifications includes a simple javascript API for updating specific fields within a django template.

There are two possible API calls that can be made:

  1. api/unread_count/ that returns a javascript object with 1 key: unread_count eg:

  2. api/unread_list/ that returns a javascript object with 2 keys: unread_count and unread_list eg:

     "unread_list":[--list of json representations of notifications--]

    Representations of notifications are based on the django method: model_to_dict

    Query string arguments:

    • max - maximum length of unread list.
    • mark_as_read - mark notification in list as read.

    For example, get api/unread_list/?max=3&mark_as_read=true returns 3 notifications and mark them read (remove from list on next request).

How to use:

  1. Put {% load notifications_tags %} in the template before you actually use notification tags.

  2. In the area where you are loading javascript resources add the following tags in the order below:

    <script src="{% static 'notifications/notify.js' %}" type="text/javascript"></script>
    {% register_notify_callbacks callbacks='fill_notification_list,fill_notification_badge' %}

    register_notify_callbacks takes the following arguments:

    1. badge_class (default live_notify_badge) - The identifier class of the element to show the unread count, that will be periodically updated.
    2. menu_class (default live_notify_list) - The identifier class of the element to insert a list of unread items, that will be periodically updated.
    3. refresh_period (default 15) - How often to fetch unread items from the server (integer in seconds).
    4. fetch (default 5) - How many notifications to fetch each time.
    5. callbacks (default <empty string>) - A comma-separated list of javascript functions to call each period.
    6. api_name (default list) - The name of the API to call (this can be either list or count).
    7. mark_as_read (default False) - Marks notifications as read when fetched.
  3. To insert a live-updating unread count, use the following template:

    {% live_notify_badge %}

    live_notify_badge takes the following arguments:

    • badge_class (default live_notify_badge) - The identifier class for the <span> element that will be created to show the unread count.
  4. To insert a live-updating unread list, use the following template:

    {% live_notify_list %}

    live_notify_list takes the following arguments:

    • list_class (default live_notify_list) - The identifier class for the <ul> element that will be created to insert the list of notifications into.

Using the live-updater with bootstrap

The Live-updater can be incorporated into bootstrap with minimal code.

To create a live-updating bootstrap badge containing the unread count, simply use the template tag:

{% live_notify_badge badge_class="badge" %}

To create a live-updating bootstrap dropdown menu containing a selection of recent unread notifications, simply use the template tag:

{% live_notify_list list_class="dropdown-menu" %}

Customising the display of notifications using javascript callbacks

While the live notifier for unread counts should suit most use cases, users may wish to alter how unread notifications are shown.

The callbacks argument of the register_notify_callbacks dictates which javascript functions are called when the unread api call is made.

To add a custom javascript callback, simply add this to the list, like so:

{% register_notify_callbacks callbacks='fill_notification_badge,my_special_notification_callback' %}

The above would cause the callback to update the unread count badge, and would call the custom function my_special_notification_callback. All callback functions are passed a single argument by convention called data, which contains the entire result from the API.

For example, the below function would get the recent list of unread messages and log them to the console:

function my_special_notification_callback(data) {
    for (var i=0; i < data.unread_list.length; i++) {
        msg = data.unread_list[i];

Testing the live-updater

  1. Clone the repo
  2. Run ./ runserver
  3. Browse to yourserverip/test/
  4. Click 'Make a notification' and a new notification should appear in the list in 5-10 seconds.

Serializing the django-notifications Model

See here -

In this example the target object can be of type Foo or Bar and the appropriate serializer will be used.

class GenericNotificationRelatedField(serializers.RelatedField):

    def to_representation(self, value):
        if isinstance(value, Foo):
            serializer = FooSerializer(value)
        if isinstance(value, Bar):
            serializer = BarSerializer(value)


class NotificationSerializer(serializers.Serializer):
    recipient = PublicUserSerializer(User, read_only=True)
    unread = serializers.BooleanField(read_only=True)
    target = GenericNotificationRelatedField(read_only=True)

Thanks to @DaWy

AbstractNotification model

In case you need to customize the notification model in order to add field or customised features that depend on your application, you can inherit and extend the AbstractNotification model, example:

#In your_app/

from django.db import models
from notifications.base.models import AbstractNotification

class Notification(AbstractNotification):
    # custom field example
    category = models.ForeignKey('myapp.Category',

    class Meta(AbstractNotification.Meta):
        abstract = False

You will require to define NOTIFICATIONS_NOTIFICATION_MODEL setting in as follows:

# In your_project/



Email Notification

Sending email to users has not been integrated into this library. So for now you need to implement it if needed. There is a reserved field Notification.emailed to make it easier.

Sample App

A sample app has been implemented in notifications/tests/sample_notifications that extends django-notifications with the sole purpose of testing its extensibility. You can run the SAMPLE APP by setting the environment variable SAMPLE_APP as follows

export SAMPLE_APP=1
# Run the Django development server with sample_notifications app installed
python runserver
# Unset SAMPLE_APP to remove sample_notifications app from list of INSTALLED_APPS

django-notifications Team

Core contributors (in alphabetical order):


We are looking for contributors, for anyone who'd like to contribute and willing to put time and energy on this project, please contact Yang Yubo.

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