"Adding" Q objects in Django

Published on June 26, 2009, 9:47 a.m.

I've got a Django app with the following Model:

class Story(models.Model):
title = models.CharField(max_length=255)
content = models.TextField()

The Problem:
I wanted to build a simple search feature that OR'ed all the search terms. Essentially, I wanted SQL resembling the following:
SELECT * from myapp_stories where 
title LIKE '%term1%' OR content LIKE '%term1%' OR
title LIKE '%term2%' OR content LIKE '%term2%';

The Solution:
You can add django's Q objects together! This is a feature not currently discussed in the docs, but I dug through the source code and I discovered that a Q object is really just a node in a Tree! More specifically, Q is a subclass of django.utils.tree.Node (check it out, it's cool!) A Node has a attribute called a connector. Q objects have two possible connectors: AND and OR. But how do we connect Q objects? Well, a Node has a handy add(node, conn_type) method whose parameters include another Node and a connection type.

As previously mentioned, the possible connection types for Q objects are AND and OR, so Q objects can be added together by doing something like this:

# ANDing Q objects
q_object = Q()
q_object.add(Q(), Q.AND)

# ORing Q objects
q_object = Q()
q_object.add(Q(), Q.OR)

So, the solution to my Search view is as follows:

from django.db.models import Q
from models import Story

def search(request):
Generic Search: GET should contain the following:
terms - the search keywords separated by spaces
terms = request.GET.get('terms', None)
term_list = terms.split(' ')

stories = Story.objects.all()

q = Q(content__icontains=term_list[0]) | Q(title__icontains=term_list[0])
for term in term_list[1:]:
q.add((Q(content__icontains=term) | Q(title__icontains=term)), q.connector)

stories = stories.filter(q)

return render_to_response('myapp/search.html', locals(), \

Needless to say, Q objects are quite powerful!
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