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Getting data to home page with Django

When I was first learning Django, I decided to build a personal website first. I took sivers.org as an example. I loved its simplicity and directness.

I first created a blog app within my project. Then created the URL structure. /writings/ listed all my posts and /writings/<slug> was for a specific post. Everything was working correctly. The next challenge was to get the latest n posts to my home page. That took me at least a week to figure out. The worst thing was that the way I did it was way too complicated. I used custom template tags to achieve that.

I wanted to write a post about it back then. Thank God I didn't. Last week I figured out a much simpler way to do that. This is what this post is about.

Setup

Blog app

Let's say you have a simple project setup with two apps, pages for static pages, and a blog for all the posts that you write.

You blog app contains a simple post model, with the following variables:

class Post(MentionableMixin, models.Model):
    title = models.CharField(max_length=200)
    body = models.TextField()
    date = models.DateTimeField()
    category = models.CharField(max_length=100)

    # if you are not sure what the code below does, don't worry about it.
    def __str__(self):
        return "(Draft = " + str(self.draft) + ") " + self.category + ': ' + self.title

    def get_absolute_url(self) -> str:
        return reverse('post', kwargs={'slug': self.slug})

Next, you have two views, one for a list of posts and one for the post itself.

class PostListView(ListView):
    model = Post
    template_name = 'writings/posts/all-posts.html'
    ordering = '-date'

class PostDetailView(DetailView):
    model = Post
    template_name = 'writings/posts/post.html'

You have those views attached to specific URLs like so:

urlpatterns = [
    path('posts', PostListView.as_view(), name='all_posts'),
    path('posts/<int:pk>', PostDetailView.as_view(), name='post'),
]

This is your blog app. The very plane, almost identical to other "Make your blog tutorials":

If you are starting out I strongly recommend going through DjangoGirlstutorial and Will Vincent's tutorials and books.

Pages app

If you have read basic tutorials by William Vincent, then this will be familiar. If you haven't, I strongly suggest it. He has a lot of posts on his website. Even better are his books on Django. Those have been a priceless resource for me when I was learning Django (I still am).

In any case, for the static pages, William suggests to set up a 'pages' app. No need to write models. You will have views and URL routing.

Your project urls.py will route to the pages app like so:

urlpatterns = [
    path('', HomePageView.as_view(), name='home'),
    path('about/', AboutPageView.as_view(), name='about'),
]

And your pages app views.py will look like the so:

class HomePageView(TemplateView):
    template_name = 'home.html'

class AboutPageView(TemplateView):
    template_name = 'about.html'

Getting context

At last, we can actually work on the problem at hand.

All you have to do is: 1) import the Post model from the blog app 2) add get_context method to your homepage TemplateView

That's it. Now your views.py looks like this:

class HomePageView(TemplateView):
    template_name = 'home.html'

    # new
    def get_context_data(self, **kwargs):
        context = super().get_context_data(**kwargs)
        context['posts'] = Post.objects.filter(draft=False).order_by('-date')[0:5]

        return context

What you can do now is use the name you've given to the new context in the templates. In you home.html all you have to do is to add a for loop like so:

{% for post in posts %}
  <a href="{% url 'post' post.pk %}">
      <p>{\{ post.title }\}</p>
  </a>
{% endfor %}

You will now get the list of all the posts.

Conclusion

Before I used a very complicated method to achieve the same result, I honestly don't even want to tell anyone about it. This is a much more straight forward, much more elegant solution. It requires much less additional code written.

One thing I felt when I was writing this post is a worry that people are reading this need more context. I think I will end writing a "Definitive guide to start a Django project." That way, in the future, I can always refer to the structure that already exists, as opposed to starting fresh every single time.

If you agree, please let me know. If you disagree, still, please let me know. If you have any questions, please let me know.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading.

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