Understanding Model Retrieval in Django (get_model vs. String Manipulation)


Understanding Django Models

  • In Django, models represent the data structure of your application. They define the fields (attributes) that store information about your data, like names, descriptions, or prices in an e-commerce app.
  • Each model is a Python class that inherits from django.db.models.Model. This base class provides functionalities for interacting with the database and managing your data.

Retrieving a Model Class from a String

While Django doesn't have a built-in get_model function, here are two common approaches to achieve this:

  1. Using apps.get_model (Recommended):

    • Import the get_model function from django.apps:

      from django.apps import get_model
    • Provide the app name (usually in lowercase with underscores) and the model name (in PascalCase) as strings:

      app_name = 'my_app'  # Replace with your app name
      model_name = 'MyModel'  # Replace with your model name
      MyModel = get_model(app_name, model_name)

Example Usage:

from django.apps import get_model

# Assuming you have a model named 'Product' in the app 'myapp'
Product = get_model('myapp', 'Product')

# Now you can use the Product model class
product = Product.objects.create(name='T-Shirt', price=20.00)

Key Points:

  • The retrieved MyModel object is the Python class representing your model, not an actual instance of your data.
  • To create or retrieve instances of your data, use methods like objects.create() or objects.get().
  • The get_model approach is more secure and maintainable, especially in larger projects.

I hope this explanation clarifies how to retrieve Django models from string representations!

Recommended Approach (Using apps.get_model):

from django.apps import get_model

# Assuming you have a model named 'Book' in the app 'library'
app_name = 'library'
model_name = 'Book'

Book = get_model(app_name, model_name)

# Now you can use the Book model class
new_book = Book.objects.create(title="The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", author="Douglas Adams")
all_books = Book.objects.all()  # Retrieves all Book instances

Less Secure Approach (Manual String Manipulation):

# **Caution:** Use eval() with extreme care due to security risks

model_string = 'library.Book'  # Replace with the correct app and model name

# **Not recommended for security reasons**
Book = eval(model_string)

# This might work if the string is correct, but use with caution
new_book = Book.objects.create(title="The Martian", author="Andy Weir")

Important Considerations:

  • In the recommended approach, the app_name and model_name variables are clearly defined, making your code more readable and maintainable.
  • The less secure approach uses eval(), which can be a security vulnerability if the model_string comes from an untrusted source. It's generally best to avoid eval() unless absolutely necessary.


  • Choose the get_model approach for a more secure and reliable solution.
  • If you must use string manipulation, ensure the string is properly validated and sanitized to prevent potential security issues.

  • Importing the Model Directly (Limited Use):

    If your model is defined in the same Python module as your code, you can directly import it:

    from .models import MyModel  # Assuming MyModel is in the same module

    This approach has limitations:

    • It only works if the model is in the same module.
    • It ties your code to the specific module location.
  • Using apps.get_app for More Control (Advanced):

    In complex scenarios, you might combine get_app and attribute access for more control:

    from django.apps import get_app
    app = get_app('myapp')
    MyModel = app.get_model('MyModel')

    This gives you access to the app object for further operations if needed. However, it's less common for basic model retrieval.

  • These methods don't fundamentally change how you retrieve a model class from a string.
  • The recommended approach (get_model) remains the most secure and versatile choice.
  • Direct import or get_app might be suitable in specific use cases, but use them judiciously.

Additional Tips:

  • Error Handling: Consider incorporating error handling (e.g., try-except) to handle potential exceptions like invalid app names or non-existent models.
  • Type Hints (Optional): If using Python 3.5+, you can leverage type hints for get_model to improve code clarity (e.g., MyModel = get_model('myapp', 'MyModel': MyModel)).

Ultimately, the best approach depends on your specific needs and code structure. Prioritize readability, maintainability, and security when making your choice.

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