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a flexible library for exporting serialized django model instances to a version-controlled repository automatically or manually

Project description

This package provides some basic utilities for backing up django model instances to a version-controlled repository. It is very experimental at this point and hasn’t been tested in any meaningful environment.

It does not provide any utilities for restoring live data from backups.

How it works

  1. Each model that you wish to version should subclass vcexport’s models.VersionedMixin class. It defines an export_to_repository method which serializes the instance to a text format and saves to the repository.

  2. For automatic versioning of models, register them with vcexport:

    import vcexport

    This will connect a post_save signal.

  3. By default, models are serialized to django’s XML format, because it works well with diff and is generic.

  4. You can customize the serialization per model by passing a custom template path as a class attribute:

    class MyModel(models.Model, VersionedMixin):
        repository_template = 'fleem/document_format.txt'

    The template will be rendered with two context variables; object which is the model instance that was saved, and a boolean created:

    {% if created %}New object!{% endif %}
    Color: {{object.color}}

    This allows alternate use cases to be supported:

    • You want to version a model wholesale
    • You have a model which has one or two document-like text fields, and you want to version those fields only – just don’t write out any other fields in the serialization template.
  5. By default the document dumps of your model instances will be saved in repository paths that look like /app_name/ModelClassName/instance_pk.

    You can customize the path:

    class MyModel(models.Model, VersionedMixin):
        def repository_path(self):
            return '/my_custom/path_for/this_model/' + self.color

    Note that if you do this, you may end up with multiple model instances that save to the same file path in the repository. This is a feature.

  6. The default commit message is uninteresting: “Object {{}} (from ‘{{app_name}}.{{model_name}}’) saved by django-vcexport.”

    The default committing user is undefined. At present you cannot customize this.

    You can customize the commit message with a model method that takes a request object and a boolean created, and returns a string:

    class MyModel(models.Model, VersionedMixin):
        def repository_commit_message(self, request, created):
            if created:
                return "User %s committed a new %s" % (
                  request.user.username, self.color)
            return "User %s committed %s" % (request.user.username,
  7. You can also export the content explicitly, for example in your model’s .save() method, in view code, etc. Use the export_to_repository method, which, like repository_commit_message and repository_commit_user, optionally takes a request argument. This allows you to encapsulate your logic for getting relevant data out of the request in your overrides of those methods. (I’m not sure about this. I might get rid of it in the next version.) Example:

    def my_view(request):
        versioned_object, created = MyModel.objects.get_or_create(...)
        versioned_object.export_to_repository(request, created)

    Both request and created are optional and default to None and False respectively. You can also pass a commit message and/or username to export_to_repository directly:


    The method will return the Revision of the commit, or None if there were no changes to apply.

You must provide one piece of configuration in your file:

  • VCEXPORT_CHECKOUT_DIR: the absolute path to a local checkout of the repository that you want to store your data in

You will have to initialize your repository and checkout on your own.

You must have pysvn installed.

Originally developed at Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching & Learning <>

New in version 0.4:

Initial release. This package was previously called svndjango. It was redesigned from the ground up and renamed django-vcexport to describe more accurately what it does.


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