What is Django genericForeignkey for?

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You want to use Django to relate one model to another using a foreign key, but the model you want to relate is a different one for each database entry. Django offers a solution to your problem, a generic foreign key called genericForeignKey and the ContentType model, which I talked about earlier.

The genericForeignkey field type is able to link to different types of models, allowing us to relate any other model to ours. Remember in the previous post I talked about ContentType? Well, now we will give it a practical application. If you want to review the previous post, visit my post where I talk about ContentType in Django

The genericForeignKey field

Imagine an activity feed that keeps track of what each user does: uploading a video, deleting a song, liking a post, and so on. The target of each user's action will be a different model each time, so we can use genericForeignKey to create our feed.

from django.db import models
from django.contrib.contenttypes.models import ContentType
from django.contrib.contenttypes.fields import GenericForeignKey
from django.contrib.auth.models import User

class ActivityStream(models.Model)
    user = models.ForeignKey(User, on_delete=models.CASCADE)
    action = models.CharField(max_length=128)
    content_type = models.ForeignKey(ContentType, on_delete=models.CASCADE)
    object_id = models.PositiveIntegerField()
    item = GenericForeignKey('content_type', 'object_id')

Below I explain each field of our model:

user: it is a normal foreign key. It is only to know to which user the activity belongs. Also, being a foreign key, it is mandatory to indicate what will happen if the User model is deleted with on_delete. action: will be the action of the user, it is only a text string with the name of the activity, we can limit it to options, but here I will leave it open. ** content_type: it is the model to which we make reference, the same that is storing in the ContentType table that Django creates automatically. Also, being a foreign key, it is mandatory to indicate what will happen if the _ContentType_type is deleted with on_delete.

  • object_id**: the primary key or identifier of the object to which we will refer to. ** item: is an abstraction that allows you to directly access the object we make reference to with content_type and object_id; this field does not exist in the database.

Creation of an object

Now, to create an object, just pass the instance of an object to the item field, the content_type and object_id fields will be filled automatically. The rest is exactly the same as when you store any instance of an object in the database.

from django.contrib.auth.models import User
from tuApp.models import tuModelo # Aquí va el modelo de tu app

usuario = User.objects.get(id=1) # Reemplazalo por lo que quieras
modelo = tuModelo.objects.get(id=1) # Reemplazalo por lo que quieras
activity = ActivityStream(user=user, action="accion", item=modelo)

Ready, if we now review the template we just created, you will notice that the content_type and object_id fields have been filled automatically.

<ContentType: tuModelo | tuModelo>

Now you can use this object to carry out a stream of activities, a history or whatever you prefer.

Remember that if you want to go deeper into the subject you can visit the official Django documentation.

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