Djangocon: How to write a view - David Winterbottom

Tags: django, djangocon

(One of the summaries of a talk at the 2015 Djangocon EU conference).

David Winterbottom says that on the one hand, views are simple: a request comes in and a response goes out. On the other hand, you have lots of freedom in views, which might lead to problems.

A central principle in software architecture is separation of concerns. For instance by encapsulation: providing a clean interface and hiding information from other parts of the system.

A well-known design pattern is MVC, model-view-controller. Originally used for desktop application, but also used in most web frameworks. Note that every web framework interpretes it differently.

  • Model: business logic. Domain logic. The data, the rules.

  • View: what the user sees.

  • Controller: steers the whole process. The user interacts with the controller.

Django talks about MTV: model, template, view. He’d say that what’s the view in MVC is mostly the templates and static files. The Controller in django is then views, middleware,

What David often notices in django projects is that the is too big. There’s data validation in there. Some of the model layer creeps into the view. And so on. You’re not encapsulating everything like you could be.

Django is for perfectionists with deadlines. With models and views you can quickly get something working. But especially with the new class based views, it is easy to mix the two up a bit, functionality-wise.

Perhaps it is caused by django’s convention of placing the database models in There’s talk about “fat models, thin view” and the other way around. That’s just shifting code between and

Wouldn’t it be better to capture the domain knowledge in multiple files like,,, Something like that might help make your code cleaner and clearer.

Some “view smells”:

If your view start smelling, you have to know when to stop adjusting it and when to just retreat back to a regular modelform, for instance.

What you should take away from this talk: keep views boring! Views should be simple. The hard code should be in the domain layer. And: separate concerns.

What might help is asking yourself questions like:

  • How would I do it if it were a REST API?

  • How would I do this in a management command? (This question is great for finding places where you’re wrongly passing a request around).

Holiday picture from the Eifel region logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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