Custom Admin Templates in Django

(Those who are experienced Django developers, or even anyone beyond beginner stage, will find the follow points obvious, but I’m documenting here for my future reference.)

I’ve been experimenting with custom admin templates in Django, in preparation for a project I’m working on. I quickly found some help on the subject, mainly in the Django book. Chapter 6 lays it out pretty well:

As we explained in Chapter 4, the TEMPLATE_DIRS setting specifies a list of directories to check when loading Django templates. To customize Django’s admin templates, simply copy the relevant stock admin template from the Django distribution into your one of the directories pointed-to by TEMPLATE_DIRS.

The admin site finds the “Django administration” header by looking for the template admin/base_site.html. By default, this template lives in the Django admin template directory, django/contrib/admin/templates, which you can find by looking in your Python site-packages directory, or wherever Django was installed. To customize this base_site.html template, copy that template into an admin subdirectory of whichever directory you’re using in TEMPLATE_DIRS. For example, if your TEMPLATE_DIRS includes “/home/mytemplates”, then copy django/contrib/admin/templates/admin/base_site.html to /home/mytemplates/admin/base_site.html. Don’t forget that admin subdirectory.

Then, just edit the new admin/base_site.html file to replace the generic Django text with your own site’s name as you see fit.

Note that any of Django’s default admin templates can be overridden. To override a template, just do the same thing you did with base_site.html: copy it from the default directory into your custom directory and make changes to the copy.

Here’s where my beginner status gets in the way. I didn’t know where in the directory structure to put the custom template. After a little playing around, I figured out that it should be in the directory pointed to by my TEMPLATE_DIRS setting in Mine reads:

os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), ‘templates’).replace (‘\\’,’/’),

So, with my project called ‘mysite’ and application called ‘books’, the custom change template for the publisher entity lands in /mysite/books/templates/admin/books/publisher/. Kind of long, but keeps the logic encapsulated with the application.

Next, I wanted to try changing the look of the admin screens. These templates have to be located in a templates directory found in the project directory. This is a little frustrating for me, since I’d like to keep these changes with the application. However, that’s not how Django works, so I’ll just go with it.

(Unrelated note, I tried out my app using lynx as the browser, and found it works pretty well. I think that as long as I strive for full lynx compatibility, I’ll have better luck working with different browsers.)

This post originally appeared on the Linux Server Diary.