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Add an API to your Django app using token-based authentication.

Project description


This is a Django application which allows you to create simple APIs that use token-based authentication. You can easily open up existing views to the API by adding a single decorator.

This is useful if you want to create applications on mobile devices which connect to your Django website, but where only your clients are expected to access the API.

If instead you are looking to open up an API to the public, you are better off going with a framework with OAuth support, of which there exist some really good implementations.


  • Django 1.9+
  • Python 2.7 or 3+


First obtain tokenapi package and place it somewhere on your PYTHONPATH, for example in your project directory (where is).

Alternatively, if you are using some sort of virtual environment, like virtualenv, you can perform a regular installation or use pip:

python install

# or ...

pip install django-tokenapi

Add tokenapi to your INSTALLED_APPS.

Ensure that django.contrib.auth.backends.ModelBackend is in your AUTHENTICATION_BACKENDS.

Add tokenapi.backends.TokenBackend to your AUTHENTICATION_BACKENDS.

Include tokenapi.urls in your It will look something like this:

urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^token/', include('tokenapi.urls')),


You can change the number of days that a token is valid for by setting TOKEN_TIMEOUT_DAYS in The default is 7.


Obtaining a Token

You can obtain a token for a specific user by sending a POST request with a username and password parameter to the api_token_new view. Using curl, the request would look like:

curl -d "username=jpulgarin&password=GGGGGG"

If the request is successful, you will receive a JSON response like so:

{"success": true, "token": "2uy-420a8efff7f882afc20d", "user": 1}

An invalid username and password pair will produce a response like so:

{"success": false, "errors": "Unable to log you in, please try again"}

Note that if you User model has an is_active flag, the authentication logic will not allow inactive users to obtain or use tokens.

You should store the user and token that are returned on the client accessing the API, as all subsequent calls will require that the request have a valid token and user pair.

Verifying a Token

You can verify that a token matches a given user by sending a GET request to the api_token view, and sending the token and user as part of the URL. Using curl it would look like:


If valid, you will receive the following JSON response:

{"success": true}

Writing API Compatible Views

To allow a view to be accessed through token-based auth, use the tokenapi.decorators.token_required decorator. There are also JSON helper functions to make it easier to deal with JSON. This is an example of an API compatible view:

from tokenapi.decorators import token_required
from tokenapi.http import JsonResponse, JsonError, JsonResponseBadRequest, JsonResponseUnauthorized, JsonResponseForbidden, JsonResponseNotFound, JsonResponseNotAllowed, JsonResponseNotAcceptable

def index(request):
    if request.method == 'POST':
        data = {
            'test1': 49,
            'test2': 'awesome',
        return JsonResponse(data)
        return JsonError("Only POST is allowed")

Using a Token

Request Parameters

The client can access any API compatible view by sending a request to it, and including user and token as request parameters (either GET or POST). Accessing the example view above using curl might look like:

curl -d "user=1&token=2uy-420a8efff7f882afc20d"

You would receive the following response:

{"success": true, "test1": 49, "test2": "awesome"}

Basic authentication

Alternately, you can access any API compatible view by including the user and token in the Authorization header according to the basic access authentication scheme. To construct the Authorization header:

  1. Combine user id and token into string "user:token"
  2. Encode resulting string using Base64
  3. Prepend "Basic " (including the trailing space) to the resulting Base64 encoded string

If, in the same request, you provide credentials via both request parameters and the Authorization header, the request parameters will be used for authentication.


The token generating code is from django.contrib.auth.tokens, but modified so that it does not hash on a user's last login.

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