ModelForms good for importing too

If you have exported data from one database in plain text format and you want to import it to Django, you should use a ModelForm class to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

A suitable ModelForm for your Django model will consume each row and do the conversion of each field to an appropriate Python type. Much simpler than explicitly converting each value yourself before creating a new model instance.

Suppose you have a model for an address book entry and its associated ModelForm (this works for Django 1.1):

# myapp/
from django.db import models
from django import forms

class Contact(models.Model):
    first_name = models.CharField(max_length=100)
    second_name = models.CharField(max_length=100)
    telephone = models.CharField(max_length=50, blank=True)
    email = models.EmailField(blank=True)

class ContactForm(forms.ModelForm):
    class Meta:
        model = Contact

Here’s a script to run through a comma-separated list of contacts where each line looks something like “Smits, Jimmy,, 555-1234”:

from myapp.models import ContactForm

# Map columns to fields, adjusting the order as necessary
column_map = (

for line in open('tab-separated-data.txt'):
    row = dict(zip(column_map, (field.strip() for field in line.split(','))))
    form_obj = ContactForm(row)
    except ValueError:
        for k, v in form_obj.errors.items():
            print k, row[k], ', '.join(map(unicode, v))

If a line doesn’t validate the script prints the validation errors and moves to the next line. If your data has columns you want to ignore then just name them in the column_map – the form class will ignore extra keys in the dictionary.

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