Django admin: better export to XLS

The goal here is to make a slick gui for selecting exactly what the user wants to export from Django’s Change List view. It will be an global action, so lets start there.

def export_simple_selected_objects(modeladmin, request, queryset):
selected_int = queryset.values_list(‘id’, flat=True)
selected = []
for s in selected_int:
ct = ContentType.objects.get_for_model(queryset.model)
return HttpResponseRedirect("/export_to_xls/?ct=%s&ids=%s" % (, ",".join(selected)))
export_simple_selected_objects.short_description = "Export selected items to XLS"


This adds a global action called Export selected items to XLS. I went with xls instead of ods because xlwt is very mature and LibreOffice can open xls just fine. It’s limited by the max length of get variables because it just lists each id. See this bug report. Next is the view.

import xlwt
def admin_export_xls(request):
model_class = ContentType.objects.get(id=request.GET[‘ct’]).model_class()
queryset = model_class.objects.filter(pk__in=request.GET[‘ids’].split(‘,’))
model_fields = model_class._meta.fields

if ‘xls’ in request.POST:
workbook = xlwt.Workbook()
worksheet = workbook.add_sheet(unicode(model_class._meta.verbose_name_plural))
fields = []
# Get selected fields from POST data
for field in model_fields:
if ‘field__’ + in request.POST:
# Title
for i, field in enumerate(fields):
worksheet.write(0,i, field.verbose_name)
for ri, row in enumerate(queryset): # For Row iterable, data row in the queryset
for ci, field in enumerate(fields): # For Cell iterable, field, fields
worksheet.write(ri+1, ci, unicode(getattr(row,
# Boring file handeling crap
fd, fn = tempfile.mkstemp()
fh = open(fn, ‘rb’)
resp =
response = HttpResponse(resp, mimetype=’application/ms-excel’)
response[‘Content-Disposition’] = ‘attachment; filename=%s.xls’ %
return response

return render_to_response(‘export_to_xls.html’, {
‘model_name’: model_class._meta.verbose_name,
‘fields’: model_fields,
}, RequestContext(request, {}),)


Remember to set up your URLs. Next is the HTML. Maybe something like this


var checked_status = this.checked;
this.checked = checked_status;

<h2> Export {{ model_name }} </h2>
<form method="post" action="">
<input type="checkbox" id="check_all" checked="checked" />
{% for field in fields %}
<input type="checkbox" class="check_field" checked="checked" name="field__{{ }}"/>
{{ field.verbose_name }}
{% endfor %}
<input type="submit" name="xls" value="Submit"/>

The javascript just makes the check all box work. Note I use jquery, if you don’t you will need to rewrite it. Very simple but it works. Now users won’t have to delete unwanted columns from xls reports. Notice how the user is left on the export screen and not happily back to the edit list. Some ajax can solve this. I’m overriding the global change_list.html which actually isn’t ideal if you use any plugins that also override it. Here’s what I added.


if (
&& $(“input:checked”).length
) {
top: 60
return false;

<!– Overlay, when you edit CSS, make sure this display is set to none initially –>


I use jquery tools overlay to make a nice overlay screen while keeping the user on the change list page. Basically I want a div to appear and then load some stuff from ajax. What’s cool is that I just post the data to “” so the regular Django admin functions work without editing them for AJAX. Well I did add to the submit button onclick=’$(“#export_xls_form”).overlay().close();’ to close the window when submitting. Ok I’m a complete liar I also added get_variables = request.META[‘QUERY_STRING’] to the view as a cheap way to keep those GET variables. But hey it’s still works as a non ajax admin action and that’s cool.

In the screenshot I added a CSS3 shadow and rounded corners to make it look better.

What’s next? Well it would be nice if we could access foreign key fields. If this had some type of advanced search and saving mechanism, we’d have a full generic Django query builder. Hmm.

By David

I am a supporter of free software and run Burke Software and Consulting LLC. I am always looking for contract work especially for non-profits and open source projects. Open Source Contributions I maintain a number of Django related projects including GlitchTip, Passit, and django-report-builder. You can view my work on gitlab. Academic papers Incorporating Gaming in Software Engineering Projects: Case of RMU Monopoly in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (2008)


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: