Middleware is a framework of hooks into Django’s request/response processing. It’s a light, low-level “plugin” system for globally altering Django’s input or output.
Each middleware component is responsible for doing some specific function. For example, Django includes a middleware component, TransactionMiddleware, that wraps the processing of each HTTP request in a database transaction.
This document explains how middleware works, how you activate middleware, and how to write your own middleware. Django ships with some built-in middleware you can use right out of the box. They’re documented in the built-in middleware reference.
To activate a middleware component, add it to the MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES tuple in your Django settings.
In MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES, each middleware component is represented by a string: the full Python path to the middleware’s class name. For example, here’s the default value created by django-admin.py startproject:
MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES = ( 'django.contrib.sessions.middleware.SessionMiddleware', 'django.middleware.common.CommonMiddleware', 'django.middleware.csrf.CsrfViewMiddleware', 'django.contrib.auth.middleware.AuthenticationMiddleware', 'django.contrib.messages.middleware.MessageMiddleware', 'django.middleware.clickjacking.XFrameOptionsMiddleware', )
The order in MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES matters because a middleware can depend on other middleware. For instance, AuthenticationMiddleware stores the authenticated user in the session; therefore, it must run after SessionMiddleware.
Hooks and application order¶
During the request phase, before calling the view, Django applies middleware in the order it’s defined in MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES, top-down. Two hooks are available:
During the response phase, after calling the view, middleware are applied in reverse order, from the bottom up. Three hooks are available:
- process_exception() (only if the view raised an exception)
- process_template_response() (only for template responses)
If you prefer, you can also think of it like an onion: each middleware class is a “layer” that wraps the view.
The behavior of each hook is described below.
Writing your own middleware¶
Writing your own middleware is easy. Each middleware component is a single Python class that defines one or more of the following methods:
request is an HttpRequest object.
process_request() is called on each request, before Django decides which view to execute.
It should return either None or an HttpResponse object. If it returns None, Django will continue processing this request, executing any other process_request() middleware, then, process_view() middleware, and finally, the appropriate view. If it returns an HttpResponse object, Django won’t bother calling any other request, view or exception middleware, or the appropriate view; it’ll apply response middleware to that HttpResponse, and return the result.
- process_view(request, view_func, view_args, view_kwargs)¶
request is an HttpRequest object. view_func is the Python function that Django is about to use. (It’s the actual function object, not the name of the function as a string.) view_args is a list of positional arguments that will be passed to the view, and view_kwargs is a dictionary of keyword arguments that will be passed to the view. Neither view_args nor view_kwargs include the first view argument (request).
process_view() is called just before Django calls the view.
It should return either None or an HttpResponse object. If it returns None, Django will continue processing this request, executing any other process_view() middleware and, then, the appropriate view. If it returns an HttpResponse object, Django won’t bother calling any other view or exception middleware, or the appropriate view; it’ll apply response middleware to that HttpResponse, and return the result.
Accessing request.POST or request.REQUEST inside middleware from process_request or process_view will prevent any view running after the middleware from being able to modify the upload handlers for the request, and should normally be avoided.
The CsrfViewMiddleware class can be considered an exception, as it provides the csrf_exempt() and csrf_protect() decorators which allow views to explicitly control at what point the CSRF validation should occur.
- process_template_response(request, response)¶
process_template_response() is called just after the view has finished executing, if the response instance has a render() method, indicating that it is a TemplateResponse or equivalent.
It must return a response object that implements a render method. It could alter the given response by changing response.template_name and response.context_data, or it could create and return a brand-new TemplateResponse or equivalent.
You don’t need to explicitly render responses – responses will be automatically rendered once all template response middleware has been called.
Middleware are run in reverse order during the response phase, which includes process_template_response().
- process_response(request, response)¶
process_response() is called on all responses before they’re returned to the browser.
Unlike the process_request() and process_view() methods, the process_response() method is always called, even if the process_request() and process_view() methods of the same middleware class were skipped (because an earlier middleware method returned an HttpResponse). In particular, this means that your process_response() method cannot rely on setup done in process_request().
Finally, remember that during the response phase, middleware are applied in reverse order, from the bottom up. This means classes defined at the end of MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES will be run first.
Dealing with streaming responses¶
Unlike HttpResponse, StreamingHttpResponse does not have a content attribute. As a result, middleware can no longer assume that all responses will have a content attribute. If they need access to the content, they must test for streaming responses and adjust their behavior accordingly:
if response.streaming: response.streaming_content = wrap_streaming_content(response.streaming_content) else: response.content = alter_content(response.content)
streaming_content should be assumed to be too large to hold in memory. Response middleware may wrap it in a new generator, but must not consume it. Wrapping is typically implemented as follows:
def wrap_streaming_content(content) for chunk in content: yield alter_content(chunk)
- process_exception(request, exception)¶
request is an HttpRequest object. exception is an Exception object raised by the view function.
Django calls process_exception() when a view raises an exception. process_exception() should return either None or an HttpResponse object. If it returns an HttpResponse object, the template response and response middleware will be applied, and the resulting response returned to the browser. Otherwise, default exception handling kicks in.
Again, middleware are run in reverse order during the response phase, which includes process_exception. If an exception middleware returns a response, the middleware classes above that middleware will not be called at all.
Most middleware classes won’t need an initializer since middleware classes are essentially placeholders for the process_* methods. If you do need some global state you may use __init__ to set up. However, keep in mind a couple of caveats:
- Django initializes your middleware without any arguments, so you can’t define __init__ as requiring any arguments.
- Unlike the process_* methods which get called once per request, __init__ gets called only once, when the Web server responds to the first request.
Marking middleware as unused¶
It’s sometimes useful to determine at run-time whether a piece of middleware should be used. In these cases, your middleware’s __init__ method may raise django.core.exceptions.MiddlewareNotUsed. Django will then remove that piece of middleware from the middleware process.
- Middleware classes don’t have to subclass anything.
- The middleware class can live anywhere on your Python path. All Django cares about is that the MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES setting includes the path to it.
- Feel free to look at Django’s available middleware for examples.
- If you write a middleware component that you think would be useful to other people, contribute to the community! Let us know, and we’ll consider adding it to Django.
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