Django 1.5 Custom User Example

With Django 1.5, one of the biggest changes introduced was the ability to configure the user model. Anyone who has coded a Django app with a business requirement of adding a birthday field, an arbitrary checkbox to the user registration fields, or even making the signup process email-only with no usernames, knows the awkward feeling of implementing their own custom user and feeling a little less Django-esque when all is said and done. This configurable user model change alone was enough for me to 1) upgrade all my Django sites to 1.5 and to 2) swap out my customer user code for the way it should be done now with the configurable user model.

The Django docs are fantastic. It is one of the most comprehensive and, most important, user-friendly documentations out there for programmers of all skill levels. I highly encourage you to read through the docs first on customizing the user model, but isn’t required to understand this walk-through.

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes like to skim or even skip the docs altogether, and turn to Google to try and find a solid example online. I found a few, but none of them really seemed to show me a full example of configuring the user model. As a result, I decided to write my own and put it all together in an example Django project to show how I handled the custom user model. Here is the link to the repo on Github.

This is going to be a brief walk-through in running this example codebase. It is opinionated, but (hopefully!) easily understood - so this would enable you to modify this example codebase slightly to fit your business requirements.

Also, this custom user example is inspired from Dr. Russell Keith-Magee’s great talk at DjangoCon US 2013 titled “Red User, Blue User, MyUser, auth.User” and should serve as a good example for how you can change the core fields of auth.User.

Please note - this walk-through will assume you have pip and virtualenv installed locally, as we’ll be using that to create the environment for the example Django project.

View the source on Github

First, clone the example custom user project and change directory into it:

$ git clone
$ cd django-custom-user-example

Then, create your virtual environment. We’ll only be installing Django (v1.5.4):

$ mkvirtualenv customuser(customuser)
$ pip install django

After Django is installed, let’s run syncdb to create our test DB and first superuser. This is configured out-of-the-box to use SQLite3 for simplicity, but feel free to change to whatever database backend you feel more comfortable with. Create your superuser now and follow the prompts:

(customuser) $ python syncdb...::Follow prompts to create a superuser::

Then we can run runserver to checkout how the custom users in the admin looks:

(customuser) $ python runserver

And open up your browser to and log in with the superuser you just created. Under “Accounts”, you will see our custom “Users” there. Try it out, take it for a spin, create additional users from the admin, change passwords, etc. This all works nicely with our custom user model!

Django Custom User Screenshot

Hopefully this is helpful to some out there looking for a solid example on customizing the User model. Any issues with the codebase, please use the repo’s issues tracker on Github. Happy hacking!

– Sep 23, 2013