DEV Community

Alejandro Riera
Alejandro Riera

Posted on • Originally published at

"How to use email as user identifier in Django 1.11"

(This post was originally published on

I found several guides and tips on how to do this. They were all very inspiring and helpful but I had to figure some things on my own because none of them provided all I needed: a fully working admin panel that replicates all the functionality of the original one.

I won't stop to explain what every line is doing, in the end I'm just trying to save myself some trouble in the future, but I share it because it may be useful to someone else as well. At the moment of writing this I am using Django==1.11.5.

Before we start

Remember that you need to do this at the beginning of the life of your project, before running any migrations, so drop&create your DB if you are already that far. I would do this in my local machine with postgres:

pg_ctl -D /usr/local/var/postgres restart
dropdb my_app
createdb my_app
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

First create your new app

Since it this is gonna be very generic, project-wide app, I like to call it base. I may end up placing other basic models / views in here.

python startapp base
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Configure your settings


# ./my_app/
AUTH_USER_MODEL = 'base.User'
    # ...
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Configure your models and admin

This will be your models, highly inspired by the original Django source code.


from django.db import models
from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractBaseUser
from django.contrib.auth.models import BaseUserManager
from django.contrib.auth.models import PermissionsMixin
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _

class MyUserManager(BaseUserManager):
    A custom user manager to deal with emails as unique identifiers for auth
    instead of usernames. The default that's used is "UserManager"
    def _create_user(self, email, password, **extra_fields):
        Creates and saves a User with the given email and password.
        if not email:
            raise ValueError('The Email must be set')
        email = self.normalize_email(email)
        user = self.model(email=email, **extra_fields)
        return user

    def create_superuser(self, email, password, **extra_fields):
        extra_fields.setdefault('is_staff', True)
        extra_fields.setdefault('is_superuser', True)
        extra_fields.setdefault('is_active', True)

        if extra_fields.get('is_staff') is not True:
            raise ValueError('Superuser must have is_staff=True.')
        if extra_fields.get('is_superuser') is not True:
            raise ValueError('Superuser must have is_superuser=True.')
        return self._create_user(email, password, **extra_fields)

class User(AbstractBaseUser, PermissionsMixin):
    email = models.EmailField(unique=True, null=True)
    is_staff = models.BooleanField(
        _('staff status'),
        help_text=_('Designates whether the user can log into this site.'),
    is_active = models.BooleanField(
            'Designates whether this user should be treated as active. '
            'Unselect this instead of deleting accounts.'
    is_superuser = models.BooleanField(default=False, help_text='Designates that this user has all permissions without explicitly assigning them.', verbose_name='superuser status')
    created_at   = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
    updated_at   = models.DateTimeField(auto_now=True)
    first_name   = models.CharField(blank=True, max_length=30, verbose_name='first name')
    last_name    = models.CharField(blank=True, max_length=30, verbose_name='last name')

    USERNAME_FIELD = 'email'
    objects = MyUserManager()

    def __str__(self):

    def get_full_name(self):

    def get_short_name(self):

Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

And here is the admin file, also highly inspired by the original Django source code


from django import forms
from django.contrib import admin
from django.contrib.auth import password_validation
from django.contrib.auth.admin import UserAdmin as BaseUserAdmin
from django.contrib.auth.forms import ReadOnlyPasswordHashField
from django.contrib.auth.forms import UserChangeForm as BaseUserChangeForm
from django.utils.translation import gettext, gettext_lazy as _
from .models import User

class UserCreationForm(forms.ModelForm):
    """A form for creating new users. Includes all the required
    fields, plus a repeated password."""
    password1 = forms.CharField(
    password2 = forms.CharField(
        label=_("Password confirmation"),
        help_text=_("Enter the same password as before, for verification."),

    class Meta:
        model = User
        fields = ('email', 'is_staff', 'is_active', 'first_name', 'last_name', )

    def clean_password2(self):
        # Check that the two password entries match
        password1 = self.cleaned_data.get("password1")
        password2 = self.cleaned_data.get("password2")
        if password1 and password2 and password1 != password2:
            raise forms.ValidationError("Passwords don't match")
        return password2

    def save(self, commit=True):
        # Save the provided password in hashed format
        user = super().save(commit=False)
        if commit:
        return user

class UserChangeForm(BaseUserChangeForm):
    Override as needed

class UserAdmin(BaseUserAdmin):
    # The forms to add and change user instances
    form = UserChangeForm
    add_form = UserCreationForm

    # The fields to be used in displaying the User model.
    # These override the definitions on the base UserAdmin
    # that reference specific fields on auth.User.
    list_display = ('email', 'is_superuser', 'is_staff', 'is_active', 'first_name', 'last_name', 'created_at', 'updated_at', 'last_login')
    # list_filter = ('email',)

    readonly_fields=('created_at', 'updated_at',)
    fieldsets = (
        (None                , {'fields': ('email', 'password')}),
        (_('Personal info')  , {'fields': ('first_name', 'last_name',)}),
        (_('Permissions')    , {'fields': ('is_active', 'is_staff', 'is_superuser', 'groups', 'user_permissions')}),
        (_('Important dates'), {'fields': ('last_login', 'created_at', 'updated_at')}),
    # add_fieldsets is not a standard ModelAdmin attribute. UserAdmin
    # overrides get_fieldsets to use this attribute when creating a user.
    add_fieldsets = (
        (None, {
            'classes': ('wide',),
            'fields': ('email', 'password1', 'password2')}
    search_fields = ('email',)
    ordering = ('email',)
    # filter_horizontal = (), UserAdmin)
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Apply changes

And lastly you need to generate your migrations and migrate

python makemigrations base
python migrate
python createsuperuser
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode


Top comments (0)