Working with URLs in Python & Django

First the basics — navigating within your own app. If you’ve got this in your file:

from django.conf.urls import url
from paths import views

urlpatterns = (
url(r'^some/path/here$', views.path_view, name='path_view'),


If your urls include something like this:

urlpatterns = (
url(r'(?P<object_id>[0-9]+)/here/$', views.path_view, name='path_view'),

Nested Resources

Let’s say we’ve got multiple apps, and some of them are nested within others. You might have something like this in your root

rom django.conf.urls import url, include

from root import views

urlpatterns = (
url(r'^$', views.home, name='home'),
url(r'^nested/', include('root.nested.urls', namespace='nested')),
from django.conf.urls import url

from nested import views

urlpatterns = (
url(r'^/path/here+)$', views.path_vie, name='path_view'),

Parsing & Unparsing

This is where things get interesting. You can break a URL into its pieces, or compose a new one out of disparate pieces, and reform them how you want. Here are the docs.


I use this most often in tests where my view expects the request url to have query parameters, but there are plenty of other uses for it too — you can build a single url from pieces from as many different sources as you like, including self-composed strings.

from urlparse import urlunparseurl = urlunparse((None, None, reverse('url_name'), None,
'queryparam={}'.format(some_variable), None))
url #=> u'/urlpath?queryparam=variablevalue'


Likewise, you may need to do something with specific pieces of a url, but not the whole thing. Enter URL parsing.

parsed_url = urlparse('')#=> ParseResult(scheme='https', netloc='', path='/path', params='', query='query=value&another=value', fragment='fragment')
parsed_url.scheme #=> 'https'
parsed_url.query #=> 'query=value&another=value'

Bringing it all together: QueryDicts — Building Your Own

Sometimes you have a url, but you need to add additional query params to it from another source. While this could be done using string parsing, it’s safer to use these built in url libraries, as it handles the magic for you. Pulling in some pieces from above, you might do something like the following:

from django.http import QueryDict
from urlparse import urlparse, urlunparse
parsed_url = urlparse('')queries = QueryDict(parsed_url.query, mutable=True)
queries.update({'1': 'c', '3': 'd'})
queries #=> <QueryDict: {u'1': [u'a', 'c'], u'2': ['b'], u'3': [u'd']}>
queries = queries.urlencode() #=> u'1=a&1=c&2=b&3=d'new_url = urlunparse((parsed_url.scheme, parsed_url.netloc, parsed_url.path, parsed_url.params, queries, parsed_url.fragment))
new_url #=> u''
  • If you want to replace queries with your newly formed QueryDict, you’ll need to call .urlencode() on it first to get a string back out
  • If you add a duplicate key to your QueryDict, it won’t overwrite the previous value — your new query string will have 2 keys by the same name with different values
  • The values of your QueryDict are in a list form, not a string. There are some external libraries (I’m looking at you, allauth) that do some funky things with params, including updating a regular dictionary with a QueryDict and then calling urlencode on it. This will encode the brackets of your list as well and give you something like '1=a&2=%5Bu%27b%27%5D'. This is probably not what you want.

Senior Software Engineer |

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