[Fixed]-Ajax architecture in Django application


I make everything as normal views which display normally in the browser. That includes all the replies to AJAX requests (sub pages).

When I want to make bits of the site more dynamic I then use jQuery to do the AJAX, or in this case AJAH and just load the contents of one of the divs in the sub page into the requesting page.

This technique works really well – it is very easy to debug the sub pages as they are just normal pages, and jQuery makes your life very easy using these as part of an AJA[XH]ed page.


For all the answers to this, I can’t believe no one’s mentioned django-piston yet. It’s mainly promoted for use in building REST APIs, but it can output JSON (which jQuery, among others, can consume) and works just like views in that you can do anything with a request, making it a great option for implementing AJAX interactions (or AJAJ [JSON], AJAH, etc whatever). It also supports form validation.


I can’t think of any standard way to insert ajax into a Django application, but you can have a look to this tutorial.

You will also find more details on django’s page about Ajax



Two weeks ago I made a write up how I implement sub-templates to use them in “normal” and “ajax” request (for Django it is the same). Maybe it is helpful for you.


+1 to Nick for pages displaying normally in the browser. That seems to be the best starting point.

The problem with the simplest AJAX approaches, such as Nick and vikingosegundo propose, is that you’ll have to rely on the innerHTML property in your Javascript. This is the only way to dump the new HTML sent in the JSON. Some would consider this a Bad Thing.

Unfortunately I’m not aware of a standard way to replicate the display of forms using Javascript that matches the Django rendering. My approach (that I’m still working on) is to subclass the Django Form class so it outputs bits of Javascript along with the HTML from as_p() etc. These then replicate the form my manipulating the DOM.


From experience I know that managing an application where you generate the HTML on the server side and just “insert” it into your pages, becomes a nightmare. It is also impossible to test using the Django test framework. If you’re using Selenium or a similar tool, it’s ok, but you need to wait for the ajax request to go return so you need tons of sleeps in your test script, which may slow down your test suite.

If the purpose of using the Ajax technique is to create a good user interface, I would recommend going all in, like the GMail interface, and doing everything in the browser with JavaScript. I have written several apps like this using nothing but jQuery, state machines for managing UI state and JSON with ReST on the backend. Django, IMHO, is a perfect match for the backend in this case. There are even third party software for generating a ReST-interface to your models, which I’ve never used myself, but as far as I know they are great at the simple things, but you of course still need to do your own business logic.

With this approach, you do run into the problem of duplicating code in the JS and in your backend, such as form handling, validation, etc. I have been thinking about solving this with generating structured information about the forms and validation logic which I can use in JS. This could be compiled at deploy-time and be loaded as any other JS file.

Also, avoid XML. The browsers are slow at parsing it, it is a pain to generate and a pain to work with in the browser. Use JSON.



Im currently testing:

  • jQuery & backbone.js client-side

  • django-piston (intermediate layer)

Will write later my findings on my blog http://blog.sserrano.com

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