The Django Book

Appendix G: The django-admin Utility is Django’s command-line utility for administrative tasks. This appendix explains its many powers.

You’ll usually access through a project’s wrapper. is automatically created in each Django project and is a thin wrapper around It takes care of two things for you before delegating to

  • It puts your project’s package on sys.path.
  • It sets the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable so that it points to your project’s file.

The script should be on your system path if you installed Django via its utility. If it’s not on your path, you can find it in site-packages/django/bin within your Python installation. Consider symlinking it from some place on your path, such as /usr/local/bin.

Windows users, who do not have symlinking functionality available, can copy to a location on their existing path or edit the PATH settings (under Settings ~TRA Control Panel ~TRA System ~TRA Advanced ~TRA Environment) to point to its installed location.

Generally, when working on a single Django project, it’s easier to use Use with DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE or the --settings command-line option, if you need to switch between multiple Django settings files.

The command-line examples throughout this appendix use to be consistent, but any example can use just as well.


The basic usage is: action [options]

or: action [options]

action should be one of the actions listed in this document. options, which is optional, should be zero or more of the options listed in this document.

Run --help to display a help message that includes a terse list of all available actions and options.

Most actions take a list of app names. An app name is the base name of the package containing your models. For example, if your INSTALLED_APPS contains the string '', the app name is blog.

Available Actions

The following sections cover the actions available to you.

adminindex [appname appname …]

Prints the admin-index template snippet for the given application names. Use admin-index template snippets if you want to customize the look and feel of your admin’s index page.

createcachetable [tablename]

Creates a cache table named tablename for use with the database cache back-end. See Chapter 13 for more about caching.


Runs the command-line client for the database engine specified in your DATABASE_ENGINE setting, with the connection parameters specified in the settings DATABASE_USER, DATABASE_PASSWORD, and so forth.

  • For PostgreSQL, this runs the psql command-line client.
  • For MySQL, this runs the mysql command-line client.
  • For SQLite, this runs the sqlite3 command-line client.

This command assumes the programs are on your PATH so that a simple call to the program name (psql, mysql, or sqlite3) will find the program in the right place. There’s no way to specify the location of the program manually.


Displays differences between the current settings file and Django’s default settings.

Settings that don’t appear in the defaults are followed by "###". For example, the default settings don’t define ROOT_URLCONF, so ROOT_URLCONF is followed by "###" in the output of diffsettings.

Note that Django’s default settings live in django.conf.global_settings, if you’re ever curious to see the full list of defaults.

dumpdata [appname appname …]

Outputs to standard output all data in the database associated with the named application(s).

By default, the database will be dumped in JSON format. If you want the output to be in another format, use the --format option (e.g., format=xml). You may specify any Django serialization back-end (including any user-specified serialization back-ends named in the SERIALIZATION_MODULES setting). The --indent option can be used to pretty-print the output.

If no application name is provided, all installed applications will be dumped.

The output of dumpdata can be used as input for loaddata.


Returns the database to the state it was in immediately after syncdb was executed. This means that all data will be removed from the database, any postsynchronization handlers will be re-executed, and the initial_data fixture will be reinstalled.


Introspects the database tables in the database pointed to by the DATABASE_NAME setting and outputs a Django model module (a file) to standard output.

Use this if you have a legacy database with which you’d like to use Django. The script will inspect the database and create a model for each table within it.

As you might expect, the created models will have an attribute for every field in the table. Note that inspectdb has a few special cases in its field name output:

  • If inspectdb cannot map a column’s type to a model field type, it will use TextField and will insert the Python comment 'This field type is a guess.' next to the field in the generated model.
  • If the database column name is a Python reserved word (such as 'pass', 'class', or 'for'), inspectdb will append '_field' to the attribute name. For example, if a table has a column 'for', the generated model will have a field 'for_field', with the db_column attribute set to 'for'. inspectdb will insert the Python comment 'Field renamed because it was a Python reserved word.' next to the field.

This feature is meant as a shortcut, not as definitive model generation. After you run it, you’ll want to look over the generated models yourself to make customizations. In particular, you’ll need to rearrange the models so that models with relationships are ordered properly.

Primary keys are automatically introspected for PostgreSQL, MySQL, and SQLite, in which case Django puts in the primary_key=True where needed.

inspectdb works with PostgreSQL, MySQL, and SQLite. Foreign key detection only works in PostgreSQL and with certain types of MySQL tables.

loaddata [fixture fixture …]

Searches for and loads the contents of the named fixture into the database.

A fixture is a collection of files that contain the serialized contents of the database. Each fixture has a unique name; however, the files that comprise the fixture can be distributed over multiple directories, in multiple applications.

Django will search in three locations for fixtures:

  • In the fixtures directory of every installed application
  • In any directory named in the FIXTURE_DIRS setting
  • In the literal path named by the fixture

Django will load any and all fixtures it finds in these locations that match the provided fixture names.

If the named fixture has a file extension, only fixtures of that type will be loaded. For example, the following: loaddata mydata.json

will only load JSON fixtures called mydata. The fixture extension must correspond to the registered name of a serializer (e.g., json or xml).

If you omit the extension, Django will search all available fixture types for a matching fixture. For example, the following: loaddata mydata

will look for any fixture of any fixture type called mydata. If a fixture directory contained mydata.json, that fixture would be loaded as a JSON fixture. However, if two fixtures with the same name but different fixture types are discovered (e.g., if mydata.json and mydata.xml were found in the same fixture directory), fixture installation will be aborted, and any data installed in the call to loaddata will be removed from the database.

The fixtures that are named can include directory components. These directories will be included in the search path. The following, for example: loaddata foo/bar/mydata.json

will search <appname>/fixtures/foo/bar/mydata.json for each installed application, <dirname>/foo/bar/mydata.json for each directory in FIXTURE_DIRS, and the literal path foo/bar/mydata.json.

Note that the order in which fixture files are processed is undefined. However, all fixture data is installed as a single transaction, so data in one fixture can reference data in another fixture. If the database back-end supports row-level constraints, these constraints will be checked at the end of the transaction.

The dumpdata command can be used to generate input for loaddata.

MySQL and Fixtures

Unfortunately, MySQL isn’t capable of completely supporting all the features of Django fixtures. If you use MyISAM tables, MySQL doesn’t support transactions or constraints, so you won’t get a rollback if multiple transaction files are found, or validation of fixture data. If you use InnoDB tables, you won’t be able to have any forward references in your data files — MySQL doesn’t provide a mechanism to defer checking of row constraints until a transaction is committed.

reset [appname appname …]

Executes the equivalent of sqlreset for the given app names.

runfcgi [options]

Starts a set of FastCGI processes suitable for use with any Web server that supports the FastCGI protocol. See Chapter 20 for more about deploying under FastCGI.

This command requires the Python FastCGI module from flup (

runserver [optional port number, or ipaddr:port]

Starts a lightweight development Web server on the local machine. By default, the server runs on port 8000 on the IP address You can pass in an IP address and port number explicitly.

If you run this script as a user with normal privileges (recommended), you might not have access to start a port on a low port number. Low port numbers are reserved for the superuser (root).


Do not use this server in a production setting. It has not gone through security audits or performance tests, and there are no plans to change that fact. Django’s developers are in the business of making Web frameworks, not Web servers, so improving this server to be able to handle a production environment is outside the scope of Django.

The development server automatically reloads Python code for each request, as needed. You don’t need to restart the server for code changes to take effect.

When you start the server, and each time you change Python code while the server is running, the server will validate all of your installed models. (See the upcoming section on the validate command.) If the validator finds errors, it will print them to standard output, but it won’t stop the server.

You can run as many servers as you want, as long as they’re on separate ports. Just execute runserver more than once.

Note that the default IP address,, is not accessible from other machines on your network. To make your development server viewable to other machines on the network, use its own IP address (e.g., or

For example, to run the server on port 7000 on IP address, use this: runserver 7000

Or to run the server on port 7000 on IP address, use this: runserver
Serving Static Files with the Development Server

By default, the development server doesn’t serve any static files for your site (such as CSS files, images, things under MEDIA_ROOT_URL, etc.). If you want to configure Django to serve static media, read about serving static media at

Turning Off Autoreload

To disable autoreloading of code while the development server is running, use the --noreload option, like so: runserver --noreload


Starts the Python interactive interpreter.

Django will use IPython ( if it’s installed. If you have IPython installed and want to force use of the “plain” Python interpreter, use the --plain option, like so: shell --plain

sql [appname appname …]

Prints the CREATE TABLE SQL statements for the given app names.

sqlall [appname appname …]

Prints the CREATE TABLE and initial-data SQL statements for the given app names.

Refer to the description of sqlcustom for an explanation of how to specify initial data.

sqlclear [appname appname …]

Prints the DROP TABLE SQL statements for the given app names.

sqlcustom [appname appname …]

Prints the custom SQL statements for the given app names.

For each model in each specified app, this command looks for the file <appname>/sql/<modelname>.sql, where <appname> is the given app name and <modelname> is the model’s name in lowercase. For example, if you have an app news that includes a Story model, sqlcustom will attempt to read a file news/sql/story.sql and append it to the output of this command.

Each of the SQL files, if given, is expected to contain valid SQL. The SQL files are piped directly into the database after all of the models’ table-creation statements have been executed. Use this SQL hook to make any table modifications, or insert any SQL functions into the database.

Note that the order in which the SQL files are processed is undefined.

sqlindexes [appname appname …]

Prints the CREATE INDEX SQL statements for the given app names.

sqlreset [appname appname …]

Prints the DROP TABLE SQL, and then the CREATE TABLE SQL, for the given app names.

sqlsequencereset [appname appname …]

Prints the SQL statements for resetting sequences for the given app names.

You’ll need this SQL only if you’re using PostgreSQL and have inserted data by hand. When you do that, PostgreSQL’s primary key sequences can get out of sync from what’s in the database, and the SQL emitted by this command will clear it up.

startapp [appname]

Creates a Django application directory structure for the given app name in the current directory.

startproject [projectname]

Creates a Django project directory structure for the given project name in the current directory.


Creates the database tables for all applications in INSTALLED_APPS whose tables have not already been created.

Use this command when you’ve added new applications to your project and want to install them in the database. This includes any applications shipped with Django that might be in INSTALLED_APPS by default. When you start a new project, run this command to install the default applications.

If you’re installing the django.contrib.auth application, syncdb will give you the option of creating a superuser immediately. syncdb will also search for and install any fixture named initial_data. See the documentation for loaddata for details on the specification of fixture data files.


Discovers and runs tests for all installed models. Testing was still under development when this book was being written, so to learn more you’ll need to read the documentation online at


Validates all installed models (according to the INSTALLED_APPS setting) and prints validation errors to standard output.

Available Options

The sections that follow outline the options that can take.


Example usage: syncdb --settings=mysite.settings

Explicitly specifies the settings module to use. The settings module should be in Python package syntax (e.g., mysite.settings). If this isn’t provided, will use the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable.

Note that this option is unnecessary in, because it takes care of setting DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE for you.


Example usage: syncdb --pythonpath='/home/djangoprojects/myproject'

Adds the given filesystem path to the Python import search path. If this isn’t provided, will use the PYTHONPATH environment variable.

Note that this option is unnecessary in, because it takes care of setting the Python path for you.


Example usage: dumpdata --format=xml

Specifies the output format that will be used. The name provided must be the name of a registered serializer.


Displays a help message that includes a terse list of all available actions and options.


Example usage: dumpdata --indent=4

Specifies the number of spaces that will be used for indentation when pretty-printing output. By default, output will not be pretty-printed. Pretty-printing will only be enabled if the indent option is provided.


Indicates you will not be prompted for any input. This is useful if the django-admin script will be executed as an unattended, automated script.


Disables the use of the autoreloader when running the development server.


Displays the current Django version.

Example output:

0.9.1 (SVN)


Example usage: syncdb --verbosity=2

Determines the amount of notification and debug information that will be printed to the console. 0 is no output, 1 is normal output, and 2 is verbose output.


Example usage: --adminmedia=/tmp/new-admin-style/

Tells Django where to find the various CSS and JavaScript files for the admin interface when running the development server. Normally these files are served out of the Django source tree, but because some designers customize these files for their site, this option allows you to test against custom versions.

Copyright 2006 Adrian Holovaty and Jacob Kaplan-Moss.
This work is licensed under the GNU Free Document License.
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