View method requests

So far you've worked with Django view methods and their input -- a request object and parameters -- as well as their output, consisting of generating a direct response or relying on a template to generate a response. However, now it's time to take a deeper look at what's available in view method requests and the various alternatives to generate view method responses.

The request reference you've placed unquestionably in view methods up to this point, is an instance of the django.http.request.HttpRequest class[3]. This request object contains information set by entities present before a view method: a user's web browser, the web server that runs the application or a Django middleware class configured on the application.

The following list shows some of the most common attributes and methods available in a request reference:

As you can attest from this brief list, the request reference contains a lot of actionable information to fulfill business logic (e.g. you can respond with certain content based on geolocation information from a user's IP address). There are well over fifty request options available between django.http.request.HttpRequest & django.http.request.QueryDict attributes and methods, all of which are explained in parts of the book where they're pertinent -- however you can review the full extent of request options in the footnote link of the django.http.request.HttpRequest class.

Once you're done extracting information from a request reference and doing related business logic with it (e.g. querying a database, fetching data from a third party REST service) you then need to set up data in a view method to send it out as part of a response.

To set up data in a Django view method you first need to declare it or extract it inside the method body. You can declare strings, numbers, lists, tuples, dictionaries or any other Python data structure.

Once you declare or extract the data inside a view method, you create a dictionary to make the data accessible on Django templates. The dictionary keys represent the reference names for the template, while the values are the data structures themselves. Listing 2-20 illustrates a view method that declares multiple data structures and passes them to a Django template.

Listing 2-20 Set up dictionary in Django view method for access in template

from django.shortcuts import render

def detail(request,store_id='1',location=None):
    # Create fixed data structures to pass to template
    # data could equally come from database queries
    # web services or social APIs
    STORE_NAME = 'Downtown'
    store_address = {'street':'Main #385','city':'San Diego','state':'CA'}
    store_amenities = ['WiFi','A/C']
    store_menu = ((0,''),(1,'Drinks'),(2,'Food'))
    values_for_template = {'store_name':STORE_NAME, 'store_address':store_address,
                           'store_amenities':store_amenities, 'store_menu':store_menu}
    return render(request,'stores/detail.html', values_for_template)

Notice in listing 2-20 how the render method includes the values_for_template dictionary. In previous examples, the render method just included the request object and a template to handle the request. In listing 2-20, a dictionary is passed as the last render argument. By specifying a dictionary as the last argument, the dictionary becomes available to the template -- which in this case is stores/detail.html.

Tip If you plan to access the same data on multiple templates, instead of declaring it on multiple views, you can use a context processor to declare it once and make it accessible on all project templates. The next chapter on Django templates discusses this topic of context processors.

The dictionary in listing 2-20 contains keys and values that are data structures declared in the method body. The dictionary keys become references to access the values inside Django templates.

Output view method dictionary in Django templates
Although the next chapter covers Django templates in-depth, the following snippet shows how to output the dictionary values in listing 2-20 using the {{}} syntax.

<h4>{{store_name}} store</h4>
<p>We offer: {{store_amenities.0}} and {{store_amenities.1}}</p>
<p>Menu includes : {{store_menu.1.1}} and {{store_menu.2.1}}</p>

The first declaration {{store_name}} uses the standalone key to display the Downtown value. The other access declarations use dot(.) notation because the values themselves are composite data structures.The store_address key contains a dictionary, so to access the internal dictionary values you use the internal dictionary key separated by a dot(.).store_address.street displays the street value, displays the city value and store_address.state displays the state value.The store_amenities key contains a list which uses a similar dot(.) notation to access internal values. However, since Python lists don't have keys you use the list index number. store_amenities.0 displays the first item in list store_amenities and store_amenities.1 displays the second item in list store_amenities.

The store_menu key contains a tuple of tuples which also requires a number on account of the lack of keys. {{store_menu.1.1}} displays the second tuple value of the second tuple value of store_menu and {{store_menu.2.1}} displays the second tuple value of the third tuple of store_menu.