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Quick and easy user registration with django

iferminm profile image Israel Fermín M. Originally published at iffm.me ・5 min read

What does 99% of the projects we work on have in common?, what's usually the first or the last thing we start working on when building something, a personal project perhaps?. If you said dealing with users, that's right. On each and every project we find ourselves writing different registration or authentication flows, sometimes we use third party authentication services like Google or facebook via their *API*s, but most of the times I'd say we start by asking our user's to register using their email and a password.

Common approaches

There are several approaches to user registration, we can do it on a single step, or we can do it on 2 steps with a confirmation email being sent to the given address. There are several ways you can structure your registration flow, either two simple questions (email and password) or multiple questions through several pages, you name it, we always write user registration flows.

If you ask me, I've always preferred to write a simple one, ask for an email and a password and ask for the rest of the information I need on a separate User Profile page, things like name, date of birth, country, city, mobile number or other stuff I might need. But you want as less friction as possible on the registration process, especially if you're trying to get your first users, that's why I don't even send confirmation emails when I just launched something. I start asking for confirmation when I already got some users and I have people constantly signing up, otherwise, it's not worth the effort or the network traffic, plus the complexity of sending it asynchronously with a message queue.

Those are the reasons why I thought of writing a reusable django app to solve this, build an app to have django create users and just use it in all my projects. I was working on it for a while, taking the good parts of all the registration flows I've written, until I found django-registration and just switched to that library.

User registration flows with django-registration

This is way better that anything I could have written myself, it's being used by many people, has an active maintainer, works out of the box and supports single and two steps registration flows so, why reinventing the wheel if it's already there?, I'm using it for a couple of personal projects I'll be launching in the upcoming months (or not... you know...) and it's incredible how easy it makes it to implement user registration in django, allowing me to start working on actual features and functionality in almost no time.

Let's get started

Installing django-registration

To install it, you just need to pip it as any usual Python module

pip install django-registration
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For the simple one step registration flow or the HMAC Based workflow, you don't need to do anything else.

Registration workflows

django-registration, supports three different workflows:

One step user registration flow

This workflow consists of as few steps as possible, the user signs up by filling the registration form, after submitting, the account is created without any intermediate verification and the user is logged in automatically.

HMAC-based user registration flow

It's a two steps registration workflow that doesn't store any verification key, it sends instead a timestamped HMAC verified value to the user via email in order to verify the account.

Model-based user registration flow

To use this workflow, you'll have to add registration to your INSTALLED_APPS as you will need to install one model to perform the verification step. If you need a two steps account creation because you require email verification, the recommended way is to use the HMAC flow.

The basic one step registration flow is the easiest way to register new users, if you're just deploying something for fun
and it's intended mostly for your personal use but want to allow other people to use it, I don't think you need to verify
email and go through all that hassle unless you get serious about it, so in my case, the intended user for my project is just myself, but if someone else wants to use it, I'm OK with that, I assume if you want to use something you'll just provide a legit email because it's on your own interest.

Setting up django-registration

I decided to go for a one step flow, as I don't really care if anyone provides an nonexistent email, I'm the one who will mostly be using this, so, I guess it's OK, django-registration allows me to restrict new accounts from being created just by adding REGISTRATION_OPEN = False on my settings.py file.

Each registration flow comes with its own set of views and urls and you'll have to create your custom template and form if you needed, you'll most probably end up customizing some behavior, but it's really easy to do, most of the core, boring and repetitive work of creating the registration workflow is done for you and works out of the box.

In this case, for the one step all I had to do was the following:

1. Include the URLs for django-registration

Include registration.backends.simple.urls in my urls configuration

from django.conf.urls import url
from django.conf.urls import include

urlpatterns = [
    # Some url patterns
    url(r'accounts/', include('registration.backends.simple.urls')),
    # More url patterns
]
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2. Allow creating new user accounts

Set REGISTRATION_OPEN = True, this is the default value, but better explicit than implicit

3. Setup redirections after user creation

By default, after successful registration the user will be redirected to /, but you can customize this behavior by
subclassing registration.backends.simple.views.RegistrationView and overriding the method get_success_url(), in my case, redirecting to / is fine.

4. Customize the user registration form

By default, django-registration will use registration.forms.RegistrationForm, this can be overridden by supplying your own form_class argument when adding the default RegistationView to the urlpatterns or by subclassing it and setting the form_class attribute or implementing get_form_class(). In my case, I opted for passing an argument to the as_view() method when adding the corresponding url.

from registration.backends.simple.views import RegistrationView

from django.conf.urls import url
from django.conf.urls import include

from .forms import UserRegistrationForm


urlpatterns = [
    # Some url patterns
    url(r'accounts/register/$', RegistrationView.as_view(
        form_class=UserRegistrationForm
    ),
    url(r'accounts/', include('registration.backends.simple.urls')),
    # More url patterns
]
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5. Customize the registration template

Customize the registration template, this flow only needs one template called registration/registration_form.html and it will pick it up automatically, the RegistrationView will add the form variable to the context and it will contain a RegistrationForm instance, all for free.

Using django-registration can save a lot of time, setting up the HMAC-based user registration flow is also super easy if you need to, I'd recommend you ro refer to the official docs, linked below, if you want to dig deeper into this django module.

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