Fields, queries and indexes

Supported and unsupported features

Field types

All Django field types are fully supported except for the following:

  • ImageField
  • ManyToManyField

The following Django field options have no effect on App Engine:

  • unique
  • unique_for_date
  • unique_for_month
  • unique_for_year

Additionally djangotoolbox provides non-Django field types in djangotoolbox.fields which you can use on App Engine or other non-relational databases. These are

  • ListField
  • BlobField

The following App Engine properties can be emulated by using a CharField in Django-nonrel:

  • CategoryProperty
  • LinkProperty
  • EmailProperty
  • IMProperty
  • PhoneNumberProperty
  • PostalAddressProperty

QuerySet methods

You can use the following field lookup types on all Fields except on TextField (unless you use indexes) and BlobField

  • __exact equal to (the default)
  • __lt less than
  • __lte less than or equal to
  • __gt greater than
  • __gte greater than or equal to
  • __in (up to 500 values on primary keys and 30 on other fields)
  • __range inclusive on both boundaries
  • __startswith needs a composite index if combined with other filters
  • __year
  • __isnull requires django-dbindexer to work correctly on ForeignKey (you don’t have to define any indexes for this to work)

Using django-dbindexer all remaining lookup types will automatically work too!

Additionally, you can use

  • QuerySet.exclude()
  • Queryset.values() (only efficient on primary keys)
  • Q-objects
  • QuerySet.count()
  • QuerySet.reverse()
  • ...

In all cases you have to keep general App Engine restrictions in mind.

Model inheritance only works with abstract base classes:

class MyModel(models.Model):
    # ... fields ...
    class Meta:
        abstract = True # important!

class ChildModel(MyModel):
    # works

In contrast, multi-table inheritance (i.e. inheritance from non-abstract models) will result in query errors. That’s because multi-table inheritance, as the name implies, creates separate tables for each model in the inheritance hierarchy, so it requires JOINs to merge the results. This is not the same as multiple inheritance which is supported as long as you use abstract parent models.

Many advanced Django features are not supported at the moment. A few of them are:

  • JOINs (with django-dbindexer simple JOINs will work)
  • many-to-many relations
  • aggregates
  • transactions (but you can use run_in_transaction() from App Engine’s SDK)
  • QuerySet.select_related()


Additionally, the following features from App Engine are not supported:

  • entity groups (we don’t yet have a GAEPKField, but it should be trivial to add)
  • batch puts (it’s technically possible, but nobody found the time/need to implement it, yet)


It’s possible to specify which fields should be indexed and which not. This also includes the possibility to convert a TextField into an indexed field like CharField.

Managing per-field indexes

An annoying problem when trying to reuse an existing Django app is that some apps use TextField instead of CharField and still want to filter on that field. On App Engine TextField is not indexed and thus can’t be filtered against. One app which has this problem is django-openid-auth. Previously, you had to modify the model source code directly and replace TextField with CharField where necessary. However, this is not a good solution because whenever you update the code you have to apply the patch, again. Now, djangoappengine provides a solution which allows you to configure indexes for individual fields without changing the models. By decoupling DB-specific indexes from the model definition we simplify maintenance and increase code portability.


Let’s see how we can get django-openid-auth to work correctly without modifying the app’s source code. First, you need to create a module which defines the indexing settings. Let’s call it “”:

from django_openid_auth.models import Association, UserOpenID

    Association: {'indexed': ['server_url', 'assoc_type']},
    UserOpenID: {'indexed': ['claimed_id']},

Then, in your you have to specify the list of gae settings modules:


That’s it. Now the server_url, assoc_type, and claimed_id TextFields will behave like CharField and get indexed by the datastore.

Note that we didn’t place the index definition in the django_openid_auth package. It’s better to keep them separate because that way upgrades are easier: Just update the django_openid_auth folder. No need to re-add the index definition (and you can’t mistakenly delete the index definition during updates).


You can also use this to optimize your models. For example, you might have fields which don’t need to be indexed. The more indexes you have the slower will be. Fields that shouldn’t be indexed can be specified via 'unindexed':

from myapp.models import MyContact

    MyContact: {
        'indexed': [...],
        'unindexed': ['creation_date', 'last_modified', ...],

This also has a nice extra advantage: If you specify a CharField as “unindexed” it will behave like a TextField and allow for storing strings that are longer than 500 bytes. This can also be useful when trying to integrate 3rd-party apps.

dbindexer index definitions

By default, djangoappengine installs __iexact indexes on User.username and

High-replication datastore settings

In order to use remote with the high-replication datastore you need to add the following to the top of your

from djangoappengine.settings_base import *