This Django application provides tools for the web designer to customize the rendering of forms in templates.

Rendering forms with Django is boring

For an introduction to Django forms, see the Django documentation about forms.

The following section will point out some limitations of the Django’s standard way to display forms in templates. Here is a short list of common problems:

  • how to add CSS classes to the form elements?
  • how to display the fields in a different order than specified in the form’s python class definition?
  • how to display only a subset of the form? How to display fieldsets?
  • how to customize only a few fields in the form?

If you are already aware of these problems, you can read about the form_layouts template tag library in the next section.

Otherwise, let’s begin by considering the following Django form:

from django import forms

class ContactForm(forms.Form):
    subject = forms.CharField(max_length=100)
    message = forms.CharField()
    sender = forms.EmailField()
    cc_myself = forms.BooleanField(required=False)

Django’s standard way to render forms is to use the form.as_p() method or similar:

{{ my_form.as_p }}

You get something like this:

  <label for="id_subject">Subject:</label>
  <input id="id_subject" type="text" name="subject" maxlength="100" />
  <label for="id_message">Message:</label>
  <input type="text" name="message" id="id_message" />
  <label for="id_sender">Sender:</label>
  <input type="text" name="sender" id="id_sender" />
  <label for="id_cc_myself">Cc myself:</label>
  <input type="checkbox" name="cc_myself" id="id_cc_myself" />

Seems magic...

HTML output is fully controlled by Python scripts. This is efficient, but the template designer does not have control on it. This does not contribute to the separation between logic and design.

Now, what if the template designer wants to add a “required” CSS class attribute to the required fields in a form? He has to write code. As explained in the the Django documentation about form templates, you can write a loop:

{% for field in form %}
<div class="fieldWrapper{% if field.field.required %} required{% endif %}">
  {{ field.errors }}
  {{ field.label_tag }}: {{ field }}
{% endfor %}

Now what if the template designer want to customize only one field in the form? He has to write down the complete form. Here is an example where subject’s help text is displayed before field, and message label is “Your message”:

<div class="fieldWrapper">
  {{ form.subject.errors }}
  {{ form.subject.label_tag }}:
  <span class="helptext">{{ form.subject.help_text }}</p>
  {{ form.subject }}
<div class="fieldWrapper">
  {{ form.message.errors }}
  <label for="id_message">Your message:</label>
  {{ form.message }}
  <span class="helptext">{{ form.message.help_text }}</p>
<div class="fieldWrapper">
  {{ form.sender.errors }}
  {{ form.sender.label_tag }}:
  {{ form.sender }}
<div class="fieldWrapper">
  {{ form.cc_myself.errors }}
  {{ form.cc_myself.label_tag }}:
  {{ form.cc_myself }}

And what if you want to customize many fields in many forms? Then it gets really boring, isn’t it?

The Django documentation about reusable form templates says:

If you find yourself doing this often, you might consider creating a custom
inclusion tag.

So, here comes django-formrenderingtools. This application uses templates to render forms, wherever it is possible. Default templates can be reused, and specific templates can be created if necessary.

Introducing the “form_layouts” template tag library

Consider the form used in the previous section.

Here is how you can use django-formrenderingtools to display it:

{% load form_layouts %}
{% form %}

Now, if you want to customize the “subject” field, create a “form_layouts/contact/fields/subject.html” template. Write “Hello world!” in this template.

By doing this, you have created a “contact” form layout (the directory name) and a custom template for the “subject” field. So the new template code is:

{% load form_layouts %}
{% form layout="contact" %}

Refresh your page. You should see “Hello world!” instead of the subject field.

Notice that the template name is important. If the template does not have the “good” name, then the template tag will not be able to find it. See Template names and directory structure for details.

Have a look on the “django_formrenderingtools/templates/form_layouts/default/” directory to get the default templates used by the “form_layouts” template tags.

You can customize more fields, forms, labels by creating templates.

You can reuse the “contact” form layout for other forms.

You can override the default form layout so that it fits your coding conventions.

Learn more by reading the Reference or Demo project sections of this documentation.


The goal of this application is to provide a pack of template tags which helps you render each element in a form: full form, list of fields, non field errors (global errors), field errors (specific errors), field, label, help text... It is intended to be simple to learn and easy to extend.

Every form element has a corresponding template tag, which uses templates to generate the output. Template designers no longer rely on developers to customize the form output.

This application provides a “form_layouts” template tag library which itself provides the following template tags:

  • form: renders a full form, i.e. non field errors, all fields, field errors, labels and help texts
  • form_errors: renders global form errors, i.e. non field errors
  • field_list: renders a set of fields in a form, with corresponding field errors, labels and help texts
  • field: renders a field, with field errors, label and help text
  • field_errors: renders errors related to a field
  • label: renders a field’s label
  • help_text: renders a field’s help text

For a deeper description of each template tag, see Template tags.

This application uses a template-naming system that lets you reuse generic templates or use specific ones, depending on your needs. You can reuse built-in templates, override them or create your own templates. See Template names and directory structure for details.