Django: Extending the User Model

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Django: Extending the User Model

June 22, 2019 | Coding | No Comments

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I love Django. It’s a wonderful framework and ORM. Whether you’re building a full website or a restful api, its got you covered. But if you are like me, you HATE the default user model. This generally comes down to it having both a username & e-mail field; and the e-mail field isn’t even unique.

In my world, the e-mail address is the perfect, unique username. So how do you make this happen?

If your app is out, live in the world all ready, you’re out of luck. But if you are firing up a new one, there are a couple of options. Just DON’T RUN THE MIGRATIONS until the new user model is ready.

First thing after starting the new project is starting the users app.

(ENV) $: python startapp users

Next we are going to create our new manager and user model in users. DO NOT RUN MIGRATIONS! Did you get that? I’ll tell you when.


from django.contrib.auth.base_user import BaseUserManager
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _

class UserManager(BaseUserManager):
    Our custom user model that uses email as the unique username
    def create_user(self, email, password, **extra_fields):
        Create user.
        if not email:
            raise ValueError(_('The Email must be set'))
        email = self.normalize_email(email)
        user = self.model(email=email, **extra_fields)
        return user

    def create_superuser(self, email, password, **extra_fields):
        Create superuser.
        extra_fields.setdefault('is_staff', True)
        extra_fields.setdefault('is_superuser', True)
        extra_fields.setdefault('is_active', True)

        if extra_fields.get('is_staff') is not True:
            raise ValueError(_('Superuser must have is_staff=True.'))
        if extra_fields.get('is_superuser') is not True:
            raise ValueError(_('Superuser must have is_superuser=True.'))
        return self.create_user(email, password, **extra_fields)

When we create our user model, we are going to extend AbstractUser. We can extend BaseAbstractUser as well, but that is a lot more work and I really don’t see a need to ever do that at all.

# users/

from django.db import models
from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractUser
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _

from .managers import UserManager

class User(AbstractUser):
    username = None
    email = models.EmailField(_('email address'), unique=True)

    USERNAME_FIELD = 'email'

    objects = UserManager()

    def __str__(self):

Notice the username = None and USERNAME_FIELD = ’email’. We can also add any other fields we want here now. Instead of adding a separate 1 to 1 profile model, we can put things right on the user. Such as phone number, or company name, customer id #, etc.

Now we can add it to our



AUTH_USER_MODEL = 'users.User'

You can go ahead and create and run the migrations now and run python createsuperuser to set yourself up.

Now we need Forms and Admin integration.

# users/
from django.contrib.auth.forms import UserCreationForm, UserChangeForm

from .models import User

class UserCreationForm(UserCreationForm):
    class Meta(UserCreationForm):
        model = User
        fields = ('email',)

class UserChangeForm(UserChangeForm):
    class Meta:
        model = User
        fields = ('email',)
from django.contrib import admin
from django.contrib.auth.admin import UserAdmin

from .forms import UserCreationForm, UserChangeForm
from .models import User

class UserAdmin(UserAdmin):
    add_form = UserCreationForm
    form = UserChangeForm
    model = User
    list_display = ('email', 'is_staff', 'is_active',)
    list_filter = ('email', 'is_staff', 'is_active',)
    fieldsets = (
        (None, {'fields': ('email', 'password')}),
        ('Permissions', {'fields': ('is_staff', 'is_active')}),
    add_fieldsets = (
        (None, {
            'classes': ('wide',),
            'fields': ('email', 'password1', 'password2', 'is_staff', 'is_active')}
    search_fields = ('email',)
    ordering = ('email',), UserAdmin)

That’s it. You have your own customized user model that you can extend further at will.

Referencing the User model:

There are two ways to get the user model now. You can’t simply import AbstractUser anymore. The preferred method is to use get_user_model() but you can also use settings.AUTH_USER_MODEL. For instance, if you want a foreign key relationship to the user.

# Example
User = get_user_model()
## or User = settings.AUTH_USER_MODEL ## but get_user_model() is preferred

class OurTestModel(models.Model):
     customer = models.ForeignKey(User, on_delete=models.CASCADE)


To make this a simpler process I’ve created a GitHub repo that you can drop into your Django project and get started right away.


About Author

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Jack of all trades. I.T. edition. Programmer, Systems Administrator, DevOps and whatever else comes up.