Version 36 (modified by Adrian Holovaty, 13 years ago) (diff)

Made some edits. Still working on it.

Row-level permissions


What are row-level permissions?

Some examples of row-level permissions: "User A has read-access to article 234" or "User D has read, write access to article 234."

Why do we need this?

With the current permission system, a user of Django's admin interface is capable either of editing *all* objects of a certain type or editing *none* of the objects of a certain type. After implementing a row level permission, the user can be capable of editing only certain objects of that type -- e.g., just the objects he created himself.

Status in Django

Row-level permissions are being implemented in a branch -- the per-object-permissions branch. This branch needs your help in testing. To get the code, use this Subversion command:

svn co

Using row-level permissions

The basics

There are a few things you need to know about row-level permissions before working with them:

  • Row-level permissions use the permissions table to determine an object's possible permissions. You need to create permissions in the permissions table before using them in row-level permissions.
  • Row-level permissions can be negative. This is determined by an attribute called "negative."
  • Django checks permissions in the following order:
    • User row-level permission
    • Group row-level permission
    • User model-level permission
    • Group model-level permission The checking stops either at the first positive or negative. If no permission is found, it will return a negative (or false).

Enabling row-level permissions

To enable row-level permissions for a model, add a row_level_permissions = True to the model's class Meta. By default, row-level permissions are disabled.

For example:

class Mineral(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(maxlength=150)
    hardness = models.PositiveSmallIntegerField()
    class Admin:

    class Meta:
        row_level_permissions = True

    def __str__(self):

The class Admin is not required, but its presence does create the default add/change/delete model-level permissions, which are useful to have.

Creating a row-level permission

Django has two helper methods for use in creating row-level permissions. They both live on the RowLevelPermission model manager (i.e., RowLevelPermission.objects).

The first helper function is create_row_level_permission:

def create_row_level_permission(self, object_instance, owner_instance, permission, negative=False):
   # ...

The permission parameter can either be the codename of the permission or a permission instance. The negative parameter is optional and defaults to False. You must pass an instance of the object and owner to this method.

The second helper function is create_default_row_permissions:

def create_default_row_level_permissions(self, object_instance, owner_instance, change=True, delete=True, negChange=False, negDel=False):
   # ...

This will set up a row-level permission with the default permissions set up for an object. The default permissions are: add, change and delete.

For example, this creates a change row-level permission on the quartz object:

RowLevelPermission.objects.create_default_row_level_permissions(quartz, user, delete=False)

Checking permissions

To check whether a user has permission to edit an object, use the has_perm() method on the User object:

user.has_perm("mine.can_mine", object=mineral)

The object parameter is optional for backwards-compatibility. If you don't want to check row-level permissions, exclude the object parameter.

has_perm() returns either True or False. It returns False if the user has a negative row-level permission on the object. It also checks group row-level permissions. If the user is in two groups, the first having a positive row-level permission and the second having a negative row-level permission, it will take the positive permission over the negative.

Note that the GenericAuthorization branch (yet another of Django's many current branches) implements a different way of checking permissions. See the GenericAuthorization page for how row-level permissions fit in with that scheme.

Has row-level permission

The method contains_permission() checks whether the user has the given permission on a model -- not an *instance* of a model but the model itself. This checks if there is exists the given row level permission on any of the instances of the model. It is used in the admin interface to determine if the change list should be shown to the user.

E.g. If some_user has change permission on article 234, and you did:

some_user.contains_permission("mine.change_mineral", Mineral)

It will return True.

I am not a fan of contains_permission name, but for now it does work. If you have any ideas on how to change it, please let me know.

Checking Permissions in a Template

In a template, you can use the tag if_has_perm to check for permissions. The tag has the following syntax:

{% load auth %}
{% if_has_perm [not] (permission codename) [object] %}
{% else %}
{% end_if_has_perm %}

The parameters in square brackets are optional and the normal brackets are required. The else statement is optional. The permission codename should be in the format: app_label.codename.


You can set up row level permissions to be created automatically by the admin interface when a user creates an object by using the options: grant_change_row_level_perm and grant_delete_row_level_perm. By default these are turned off. An example:

class Mineral(models.Model):
    class Admin:
    class Meta:
        row_level_permissions = True

Row level permissions can be edited in the administration interface, on the change form for each object with row level permissions enabled is a link beside History to edit row level permissions. To edit row level permissions, you must have the change RLP permission and change permission on the object. To add row level permissions, you must have the add RLP permisison and change permission on the object.

By default, all instances of a model are shown to a user when they access the change list for a model. To turn off this behaviour, you must set the show_all_rows admin option to false. Doing this will increase the number of database queries made to the server, which is why the default option is that all rows are shown. An example:

class Mineral(models.Model):
    class Admin:
        show_all_rows = False
    class Meta:
        row_level_permissions = True

Accessing Row Level Permissions from a Model

The relation name for row level permissions from a model is "row_level_permissions", this will return all row level permissions related to the instance of the object. For example, this will return all row level permissions related to the object quartz:

rlp_list = quartz.row_level_permissions.all()

Accessing the Owner and Model of a Row Level Permission

To return the owner of a row level permission use the attribute "owner". For example:

user = row_level_permission.owner

To return the instance of a row level permission use the attribute "model". For example:

object = row_level_permission.model

Implementation Notes

Please see RowLevelPermissionsDeveloper for more information on how row level permissions are implemented.

Known Bugs

  • Connecting more then one "owner" to the RLP model causes a M2M conflict, this is a bug with the generic relation code. Work around for now is to rename the related_name for each different owner. - This is a bug with generic relations, see ticket #2573
  • Row level permissions can not have row level permissions enabled
  • Error message in admin interface is displayed with a checkmark not an error icon


Row Level Permissions are currently hosted in a branch on Django SVN. Please use: svn co to download the current code.


If there are any problems, please contact myself Chris at indirecthit[at]

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