Viewsets - Django REST framework (2023)

After routing has determined which controller to use for a request, your controller is responsible for making sense of the request and producing the appropriate output.

Ruby on Rails Documentation

Django REST framework allows you to combine the logic for a set of related views in a single class, called a ViewSet. In other frameworks you may also find conceptually similar implementations named something like 'Resources' or 'Controllers'.

A ViewSet class is simply a type of class-based View, that does not provide any method handlers such as .get() or .post(), and instead provides actions such as .list() and .create().

The method handlers for a ViewSet are only bound to the corresponding actions at the point of finalizing the view, using the .as_view() method.

Typically, rather than explicitly registering the views in a viewset in the urlconf, you'll register the viewset with a router class, that automatically determines the urlconf for you.


Let's define a simple viewset that can be used to list or retrieve all the users in the system.

from django.contrib.auth.models import Userfrom django.shortcuts import get_object_or_404from myapps.serializers import UserSerializerfrom rest_framework import viewsetsfrom rest_framework.response import Responseclass UserViewSet(viewsets.ViewSet): """ A simple ViewSet for listing or retrieving users. """ def list(self, request): queryset = User.objects.all() serializer = UserSerializer(queryset, many=True) return Response( def retrieve(self, request, pk=None): queryset = User.objects.all() user = get_object_or_404(queryset, pk=pk) serializer = UserSerializer(user) return Response(

If we need to, we can bind this viewset into two separate views, like so:

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user_list = UserViewSet.as_view({'get': 'list'})user_detail = UserViewSet.as_view({'get': 'retrieve'})

Typically we wouldn't do this, but would instead register the viewset with a router, and allow the urlconf to be automatically generated.

from myapp.views import UserViewSetfrom rest_framework.routers import DefaultRouterrouter = DefaultRouter()router.register(r'users', UserViewSet, basename='user')urlpatterns = router.urls

Rather than writing your own viewsets, you'll often want to use the existing base classes that provide a default set of behavior. For example:

class UserViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet): """ A viewset for viewing and editing user instances. """ serializer_class = UserSerializer queryset = User.objects.all()

There are two main advantages of using a ViewSet class over using a View class.

  • Repeated logic can be combined into a single class. In the above example, we only need to specify the queryset once, and it'll be used across multiple views.
  • By using routers, we no longer need to deal with wiring up the URL conf ourselves.

Both of these come with a trade-off. Using regular views and URL confs is more explicit and gives you more control. ViewSets are helpful if you want to get up and running quickly, or when you have a large API and you want to enforce a consistent URL configuration throughout.

ViewSet actions

The default routers included with REST framework will provide routes for a standard set of create/retrieve/update/destroy style actions, as shown below:

class UserViewSet(viewsets.ViewSet): """ Example empty viewset demonstrating the standard actions that will be handled by a router class. If you're using format suffixes, make sure to also include the `format=None` keyword argument for each action. """ def list(self, request): pass def create(self, request): pass def retrieve(self, request, pk=None): pass def update(self, request, pk=None): pass def partial_update(self, request, pk=None): pass def destroy(self, request, pk=None): pass

Introspecting ViewSet actions

During dispatch, the following attributes are available on the ViewSet.

  • basename - the base to use for the URL names that are created.
  • action - the name of the current action (e.g., list, create).
  • detail - boolean indicating if the current action is configured for a list or detail view.
  • suffix - the display suffix for the viewset type - mirrors the detail attribute.
  • name - the display name for the viewset. This argument is mutually exclusive to suffix.
  • description - the display description for the individual view of a viewset.

You may inspect these attributes to adjust behaviour based on the current action. For example, you could restrict permissions to everything except the list action similar to this:

def get_permissions(self): """ Instantiates and returns the list of permissions that this view requires. """ if self.action == 'list': permission_classes = [IsAuthenticated] else: permission_classes = [IsAdminUser] return [permission() for permission in permission_classes]

Marking extra actions for routing

If you have ad-hoc methods that should be routable, you can mark them as such with the @action decorator. Like regular actions, extra actions may be intended for either a single object, or an entire collection. To indicate this, set the detail argument to True or False. The router will configure its URL patterns accordingly. e.g., the DefaultRouter will configure detail actions to contain pk in their URL patterns.

A more complete example of extra actions:

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from django.contrib.auth.models import Userfrom rest_framework import status, viewsetsfrom rest_framework.decorators import actionfrom rest_framework.response import Responsefrom myapp.serializers import UserSerializer, PasswordSerializerclass UserViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet): """ A viewset that provides the standard actions """ queryset = User.objects.all() serializer_class = UserSerializer @action(detail=True, methods=['post']) def set_password(self, request, pk=None): user = self.get_object() serializer = PasswordSerializer( if serializer.is_valid(): user.set_password(serializer.validated_data['password']) return Response({'status': 'password set'}) else: return Response(serializer.errors, status=status.HTTP_400_BAD_REQUEST) @action(detail=False) def recent_users(self, request): recent_users = User.objects.all().order_by('-last_login') page = self.paginate_queryset(recent_users) if page is not None: serializer = self.get_serializer(page, many=True) return self.get_paginated_response( serializer = self.get_serializer(recent_users, many=True) return Response(

The action decorator will route GET requests by default, but may also accept other HTTP methods by setting the methods argument. For example:

 @action(detail=True, methods=['post', 'delete']) def unset_password(self, request, pk=None): ...

The decorator allows you to override any viewset-level configuration such as permission_classes, serializer_class, filter_backends...:

 @action(detail=True, methods=['post'], permission_classes=[IsAdminOrIsSelf]) def set_password(self, request, pk=None): ...

The two new actions will then be available at the urls ^users/{pk}/set_password/$ and ^users/{pk}/unset_password/$. Use the url_path and url_name parameters to change the URL segment and the reverse URL name of the action.

To view all extra actions, call the .get_extra_actions() method.

Routing additional HTTP methods for extra actions

Extra actions can map additional HTTP methods to separate ViewSet methods. For example, the above password set/unset methods could be consolidated into a single route. Note that additional mappings do not accept arguments.

 @action(detail=True, methods=['put'], name='Change Password') def password(self, request, pk=None): """Update the user's password.""" ... @password.mapping.delete def delete_password(self, request, pk=None): """Delete the user's password.""" ...

Reversing action URLs

If you need to get the URL of an action, use the .reverse_action() method. This is a convenience wrapper for reverse(), automatically passing the view's request object and prepending the url_name with the .basename attribute.

Note that the basename is provided by the router during ViewSet registration. If you are not using a router, then you must provide the basename argument to the .as_view() method.

Using the example from the previous section:

>>> view.reverse_action('set-password', args=['1'])'http://localhost:8000/api/users/1/set_password'

Alternatively, you can use the url_name attribute set by the @action decorator.

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>>> view.reverse_action(view.set_password.url_name, args=['1'])'http://localhost:8000/api/users/1/set_password'

The url_name argument for .reverse_action() should match the same argument to the @action decorator. Additionally, this method can be used to reverse the default actions, such as list and create.


The ViewSet class inherits from APIView. You can use any of the standard attributes such as permission_classes, authentication_classes in order to control the API policy on the viewset.

The ViewSet class does not provide any implementations of actions. In order to use a ViewSet class you'll override the class and define the action implementations explicitly.


The GenericViewSet class inherits from GenericAPIView, and provides the default set of get_object, get_queryset methods and other generic view base behavior, but does not include any actions by default.

In order to use a GenericViewSet class you'll override the class and either mixin the required mixin classes, or define the action implementations explicitly.


The ModelViewSet class inherits from GenericAPIView and includes implementations for various actions, by mixing in the behavior of the various mixin classes.

The actions provided by the ModelViewSet class are .list(), .retrieve(), .create(), .update(), .partial_update(), and .destroy().


Because ModelViewSet extends GenericAPIView, you'll normally need to provide at least the queryset and serializer_class attributes. For example:

class AccountViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet): """ A simple ViewSet for viewing and editing accounts. """ queryset = Account.objects.all() serializer_class = AccountSerializer permission_classes = [IsAccountAdminOrReadOnly]

Note that you can use any of the standard attributes or method overrides provided by GenericAPIView. For example, to use a ViewSet that dynamically determines the queryset it should operate on, you might do something like this:

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class AccountViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet): """ A simple ViewSet for viewing and editing the accounts associated with the user. """ serializer_class = AccountSerializer permission_classes = [IsAccountAdminOrReadOnly] def get_queryset(self): return self.request.user.accounts.all()

Note however that upon removal of the queryset property from your ViewSet, any associated router will be unable to derive the basename of your Model automatically, and so you will have to specify the basename kwarg as part of your router registration.

Also note that although this class provides the complete set of create/list/retrieve/update/destroy actions by default, you can restrict the available operations by using the standard permission classes.


The ReadOnlyModelViewSet class also inherits from GenericAPIView. As with ModelViewSet it also includes implementations for various actions, but unlike ModelViewSet only provides the 'read-only' actions, .list() and .retrieve().


As with ModelViewSet, you'll normally need to provide at least the queryset and serializer_class attributes. For example:

class AccountViewSet(viewsets.ReadOnlyModelViewSet): """ A simple ViewSet for viewing accounts. """ queryset = Account.objects.all() serializer_class = AccountSerializer

Again, as with ModelViewSet, you can use any of the standard attributes and method overrides available to GenericAPIView.

You may need to provide custom ViewSet classes that do not have the full set of ModelViewSet actions, or that customize the behavior in some other way.


To create a base viewset class that provides create, list and retrieve operations, inherit from GenericViewSet, and mixin the required actions:

from rest_framework import mixinsclass CreateListRetrieveViewSet(mixins.CreateModelMixin, mixins.ListModelMixin, mixins.RetrieveModelMixin, viewsets.GenericViewSet): """ A viewset that provides `retrieve`, `create`, and `list` actions. To use it, override the class and set the `.queryset` and `.serializer_class` attributes. """ pass

By creating your own base ViewSet classes, you can provide common behavior that can be reused in multiple viewsets across your API.


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