Django REST framework is a powerful and flexible toolkit for building Web APIs.

Posted by dzt on October 15, 2018


Django REST framework is a powerful and flexible toolkit for building Web APIs. Some reasons you might want to use REST framework:

  • The Web browsable API is a huge usability win for your developers.
  • Authentication policies including packages for OAuth1a and OAuth2.
  • Serialization that supports both ORM and non-ORM data sources.
  • Customizable all the way down - just use regular function-based views if you don’t need the more powerful features.
  • Extensive documentation, and great community support.
  • Used and trusted by internationally recognised companies including Mozilla, Red Hat, Heroku, and Eventbrite.


REST framework requires the following:

  • Python (2.7, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7)
  • Django (1.11, 2.0, 2.1)

The following packages are optional:


Install using pip, including any optional packages you want…

pip install djangorestframework
pip install markdown       # Markdown support for the browsable API.
pip install django-filter  # Filtering support

…or clone the project from github.

git clone

Add 'rest_framework' to your INSTALLED_APPS setting.


If you’re intending to use the browsable API you’ll probably also want to add REST framework’s login and logout views. Add the following to your root file.

urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^api-auth/', include('rest_framework.urls'))

Note that the URL path can be whatever you want.


Let’s take a look at a quick example of using REST framework to build a simple model-backed API.

We’ll create a read-write API for accessing information on the users of our project.

Any global settings for a REST framework API are kept in a single configuration dictionary named REST_FRAMEWORK. Start off by adding the following to your module:

    # Use Django's standard `django.contrib.auth` permissions,
    # or allow read-only access for unauthenticated users.

Don’t forget to make sure you’ve also added rest_framework to your INSTALLED_APPS.

We’re ready to create our API now. Here’s our project’s root module:

from django.conf.urls import url, include
from django.contrib.auth.models import User
from rest_framework import routers, serializers, viewsets

# Serializers define the API representation.
class UserSerializer(serializers.HyperlinkedModelSerializer):
    class Meta:
        model = User
        fields = ('url', 'username', 'email', 'is_staff')

# ViewSets define the view behavior.
class UserViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    queryset = User.objects.all()
    serializer_class = UserSerializer

# Routers provide an easy way of automatically determining the URL conf.
router = routers.DefaultRouter()
router.register(r'users', UserViewSet)

# Wire up our API using automatic URL routing.
# Additionally, we include login URLs for the browsable API.
urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^', include(router.urls)),
    url(r'^api-auth/', include('rest_framework.urls', namespace='rest_framework'))

You can now open the API in your browser at, and view your new ‘users’ API. If you use the login control in the top right corner you’ll also be able to add, create and delete users from the system.