Typechecking Django and DRF

  • Tutorial

As you have already know I love optional static typing. The thing is that sometimes it is not optional, but impossible. Because we have plenty of big untyped projects in Python's ecosystem.


Django and Django-Rest-Framework were two of them. Were. Because now they can be typed! Let me introduce TypedDjango organisation and stubs for django and drf.


This is going to be a concise tutorial and getting started guide.


Kudos


I want to say a big "thank you" to @mkurnikov for leading the project and to all contributors who made this possible. You are all awesome!


TLDR


In this article, I am showing how types work with django and drf. You can have a look at the result here.


And you can also use wemake-django-template to start your new projects with everything already configured. It will look exactly like the example project.


Getting started


In this little tutorial, I will show you several features of django-stubs and djangorestframework-stubs in action. I hope this will convince you that having someone to doublecheck things after you is a good thing.


You can always refer to the original documentation. All the steps are also covered there.


To start we will need a new project and a clean virtual environment, so we can install our dependencies:


pip install django django-stubs mypy

Then we will need to configure mypy correctly. It can be split into two steps. First, we configure the mypy itself:


# setup.cfg
[mypy]
# The mypy configurations: https://mypy.readthedocs.io/en/latest/config_file.html
python_version = 3.7

check_untyped_defs = True
disallow_any_generics = True
disallow_untyped_calls = True
disallow_untyped_decorators = True
ignore_errors = False
ignore_missing_imports = True
implicit_reexport = False
strict_optional = True
strict_equality = True
no_implicit_optional = True
warn_unused_ignores = True
warn_redundant_casts = True
warn_unused_configs = True
warn_unreachable = True
warn_no_return = True

Then we configure django-stubs plugin:


# setup.cfg
[mypy]
# Appending to `mypy` section:
plugins =
  mypy_django_plugin.main

[mypy.plugins.django-stubs]
django_settings_module = server.settings

What do we do here?


  1. We add a custom mypy plugin to help the type checker guess types in some complicated Django-specific situations (like models, queryset, settings, etc)
  2. We also add custom configuration for django-stubs to point it to the settings, we use for Django. It will need to import it.

The final result can be found here.


We now have everything installed and configured. Let's type check things!


Typechecking views


Let's start with typing views as it is the easiest thing to do with this plugin.


Here's our simple function-based view:


# server/apps/main/views.py
from django.http import HttpRequest, HttpResponse
from django.shortcuts import render

def index(request: HttpRequest) -> HttpResponse:
    reveal_type(request.is_ajax)
    reveal_type(request.user)
    return render(request, 'main/index.html')

Let's run and see what types it is aware of. Note that we might need to modify PYTHONPATH, so mypy would be able to import our project:


» PYTHONPATH="$PYTHONPATH:$PWD" mypy server
server/apps/main/views.py:14: note: Revealed type is 'def () -> builtins.bool'
server/apps/main/views.py:15: note: Revealed type is 'django.contrib.auth.models.User'

Let's try to break something:


# server/apps/main/views.py
def index(request: HttpRequest) -> HttpResponse:
    return render(request.META, 'main/index.html')

Nope, there's a typo and mypy will catch it:


» PYTHONPATH="$PYTHONPATH:$PWD" mypy server
server/apps/main/views.py:18: error: Argument 1 to "render" has incompatible type "Dict[str, Any]"; expected "HttpRequest"

It works! Ok, but that is pretty straight-forward. Let's complicate our example a little bit and create a custom model to show how can we type models and querysets.


Typechecking models and queryset


Django's ORM is a killer-feature. It is very flexible and dynamic. It also means that it is hard to type. Let's see some features that are already covered by django-stubs.


Our model definition:


# server/apps/main/models.py
from django.contrib.auth import get_user_model
from django.db import models

User = get_user_model()

class BlogPost(models.Model):
    author = models.ForeignKey(User, on_delete=models.CASCADE)

    text = models.TextField()

    is_published = models.BooleanField(default=False)
    created_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)

    def __str__(self) -> str:
        reveal_type(self.id)  # example reveal of all fields in a model
        reveal_type(self.author)
        reveal_type(self.text)
        reveal_type(self.is_published)
        reveal_type(self.created_at)
        return '<BlogPost {0}>'.format(self.id)

And every field of this model is covered by django-stubs. Let's see what types are revealed:


» PYTHONPATH="$PYTHONPATH:$PWD" mypy server
server/apps/main/models.py:21: note: Revealed type is 'builtins.int*'
server/apps/main/models.py:22: note: Revealed type is 'django.contrib.auth.models.User*'
server/apps/main/models.py:23: note: Revealed type is 'builtins.str*'
server/apps/main/models.py:24: note: Revealed type is 'builtins.bool*'
server/apps/main/models.py:25: note: Revealed type is 'datetime.datetime*'

Everything looks good! django-stubs provides a custom mypy plugin to convert model fields into correct instance types. That's why all types are correctly revealed.


The second big feature of django-stubs plugin is that we can type QuerySet:


# server/apps/main/logic/repo.py
from django.db.models.query import QuerySet

from server.apps.main.models import BlogPost

def published_posts() -> 'QuerySet[BlogPost]':  # works fine!
    return BlogPost.objects.filter(
        is_published=True,
    )

And here's how it can be checked:


reveal_type(published_posts().first())
# => Union[server.apps.main.models.BlogPost*, None]

We can even annotate querysets with .values() and .values_list() calls. This plugin is smart!


I have struggled with annotating methods returning QuerySets for several years. This feature solves a big problem for me: no more Iterable[BlogPost] or List[User]. I can now use real types.


Typechecking APIs


But, typing views, models, forms, commands, urls, and admin is not all we have. TypedDjango also has typings for djangorestframework. Let's install and configure it:


pip install djangorestframework djangorestframework-stubs

And we can start to create serializers:


# server/apps/main/serializers.py
from rest_framework import serializers

from server.apps.main.models import BlogPost, User

class UserSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
    class Meta:
        model = User
        fields = ['username', 'email']

class BlogPostSerializer(serializers.HyperlinkedModelSerializer):
    author = UserSerializer()

    class Meta:
        model = BlogPost
        fields = ['author', 'text', 'is_published', 'created_at']

Views:


# server/apps/main/views.py
from rest_framework import viewsets

from server.apps.main.serializers import BlogPostSerializer
from server.apps.main.models import BlogPost

class BlogPostViewset(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    serializer_class = BlogPostSerializer
    queryset = BlogPost.objects.all()

And routers:


# server/apps/main/urls.py
from django.urls import path, include
from rest_framework import routers

from server.apps.main.views import BlogPostViewset, index

router = routers.DefaultRouter()
router.register(r'posts', BlogPostViewset)

urlpatterns = [
    path('', include(router.urls)),
    # ...
]

It does not even look like something has changed, but everything inside is typed: settings, serializers, viewsets, and routers. It will allow you to incrementally add typings where you need them the most.


Let's try to change queryset = BlogPost.objects.all()
to queryset = [1, 2, 3] in our views:


» PYTHONPATH="$PYTHONPATH:$PWD" mypy server
server/apps/main/views.py:25: error: Incompatible types in assignment (expression has type "List[int]", base class "GenericAPIView" defined the type as "Optional[QuerySet[Any]]")

No, it won't work! Fix your code!


Conclusion


Typing the framework interfaces is an awesome thing to have. When combined with tools like returns and mappers it will allow writing type-safe and declarative business logic wrapped into typed framework interfaces. And to decrease the number of errors in the layer between these two.


Optional gradual static typing also allows you to start fast and add types only when your API is stabilized or go with types-driven development from the very start.


However, django-stubs and djangorestframework-stubs are new projects. There are still a lot of bugs, planned features, missing type specs. We welcome every contribution from the community to make the developer tooling in Python truly awesome.


Originally published at my blog.

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