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User registration and authorization on a django API with djoser and JSON web tokens.

lewiskori profile image Lewis kori Originally published at lewiskori.com Updated on ・8 min read

Originally published on my website

In the first part of the intro django rest framework, we set up the project and did an overview of what the project is all about. Check it out if you haven't yet.


In this section, we'll be going through user registration with the django rest framework and utilizing JSON web tokens for authorization. We'll also be extending the default User model that ships with django so as to allow us to capture more details about our system's users.

The project is available on github.

What is a JSON Web token?

JSON Web Token (JWT) is an Internet standard for creating JSON-based access tokens that assert some number of claims. For example, a server could generate a token that has the flag "logged in as admin" or "logged in like this user" and provide that to a client. The client could then use that token to prove that it is logged in as admin. The tokens are signed by one party's private key (usually the server's) so that both parties can verify that the token is legitimate. The tokens are designed to be compact, URL-safe, and usable especially in a web-browser single-sign-on (SSO) context. JWT claims can be typically used to pass the identity of authenticated users between an identity provider and a service provider.
Unlike token-based authentication, JWTs are not stored in the application's database. For a more in-depth explanation of how the JWTs work, check out this awesome video.

Project set up

Before proceeding, let's take a look at some of the endpoints we'll be utilizing in this section.

Endpoint Description
/auth/users/ Register a new user
/auth/users/me/ retrieve/update the currently logged in user
/auth/jwt/create/ create a JWT by passing a valid user in the post request to this endpoint
/auth/jwt/refresh/ get a new JWT once the lifetime of the previously generated one expires
/api/accounts/all-profiles/ get all user profiles and create a new one
/api/accounts/profile/id/ detail view of a user's profile

Those may seem like a handful but the good news is that djoser has done most of the heavy lifting for us. All the endpoints starting with auth are djoser generated.

Getting back to the first part of the series, we installed some python packages. We'll need to add those packages to the project's settings.py file so as to utilize them in our django project.

Don't forget to change the authentication settings for DRF to reflect the usage of JWTS.


With this system set up, it's important to register routes for the endpoints that'll be used within the project. By registering the paths to the project's main urls.py file we can access the different endpoints we'll need later on.

User profile model

Django ships with a default user model with fields like username, passwords and email input, in some cases, however, these fields may not be enough prompting us to extend the model or create your custom user model. In this case, we'll be extending the user model because we need to have a way to differentiate users. There'll be two user types. Those that can organize events and those that just want to attend events.

from django.db import models
from django.contrib.auth.models import User
# Create your models here.

class userProfile(models.Model):

    def __str__(self):
        return self.user.username

We'll also create a post_save signal to automatically create the user profile for new users that register to the platform.
For this, create a signals.py file and write the code below.

from django.contrib.auth.models import User
from django.db.models.signals import post_save
from django.dispatch import receiver

from .models import userProfile

@receiver(post_save, sender=User)
def create_profile(sender, instance, created, **kwargs):
    if created:

For a detailed explanation on how signals work, this is a good starting place
Don't forget to register the signal in your app.py file like so:

from django.apps import AppConfig

class AccountsConfig(AppConfig):
    name = 'accounts'

    def ready(self):
        import accounts.signals


With the basic set up out of the way, let's get to the API implementation.
If you are new to django, serializers allow complex data such as querysets and model instances to be converted to native python data types that can be easily rendered to formats like JSON. This is called serialization. They also allow deserialization after first validating incoming request data.

Within the app's directory, we'll initiate a serializers.py file and input the code below:

from rest_framework import serializers
from .models import userProfile
class userProfileSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
    class Meta:

Going line by line, what we did is import the serializers class from rest_framework as well as the model we want to serialize. In this case, it's the userProfile model.

Our first serializer is userProfileSerializer. This will inherit from the ModelSerializer class in django. As you noted before, the userProfile model was linked to the default user model in django. We'll indicate this field as read_only. This means that the field will be included in the APIs output but won't be included during Create or Update operations on the endpoint. To populate this field, we'll create a method to automatically fill the field with the request user.

There are other serializer types in rest_framework such as ListSerializer and HyperlinkedModelSerializer. For a comprehensive guide on the serializers, the rest framework docs are a great place to start.

API views

To access data in an API, we use endpoints. This are basically URL routes. How django works is that each url is linked to a controller called a view. The controllers can either be class based or function based.
After routing has determined which controller to use for a request, your controller is responsible for making sense of the request and producing the appropriate output.

One implementation of this controller in rest framework are the generic views. These were developed as a shortcut for common usage patterns. They take certain common idioms and patterns found in view development and abstract them so that you can quickly write common views of data without having to repeat yourself.
Some of these views are CreateAPIView, ListAPIView, ListCreateAPIView, RetrieveUpdateDestroyAPIView and the list goes on.

We'll implement the ListCreateAPIView and RetrieveUpdateDestroyAPIView.

from rest_framework.generics import (ListCreateAPIView,RetrieveUpdateDestroyAPIView,)
from rest_framework.permissions import IsAuthenticated
from .models import userProfile
from .permissions import IsOwnerProfileOrReadOnly
from .serializers import userProfileSerializer

# Create your views here.

class UserProfileListCreateView(ListCreateAPIView):

    def perform_create(self, serializer):

class userProfileDetailView(RetrieveUpdateDestroyAPIView):

Each API view is linked to the serializer class we had previously created.
One thing we notice is the


method in the UserProfileListCreateView class. This is how we indicate how we want to create the serializer. In this case, we wanted to populate the read_only user field with the requesting user then populate the serializer with this value.

The views are then linked to a URL endpoint in the app's urls.py file:

from django.urls import include, path
from rest_framework.routers import DefaultRouter

from .views import UserProfileListCreateView, userProfileDetailView

urlpatterns = [
    #gets all user profiles and create a new profile
   # retrieves profile details of the currently logged in user


Permissions determine whether a request should be granted or denied access.
Django rest framework ships with several. I won't get into those as it's documentation is quite comprehensive about them. However, let's draw our attention to the


permission class.

This is a custom permission implementation. We'll initialize a permission.py file and populate it with the code below:

from rest_framework.permissions import BasePermission,SAFE_METHODS

class IsOwnerProfileOrReadOnly(BasePermission):
    def has_object_permission(self, request, view, obj):
        if request.method in SAFE_METHODS:
            return True
        return obj.user==request.user

By overriding the BasePermission class, we can create our own permission. This class has two methods that we can override.

.has_permission() and .has_object_permission()

Both must return True if a request is to be granted and False if the request is denied. SAFE_METHODS are GET, OPTIONS, and HEAD.

In our custom permission class, we are checking if the requesting user is similar to the object's user field. This will ensure that a profile owner is the only one that can change their information.

API tests

Almost done now 🤣. We'll write some tests to ensure our endpoints are working as required.

class userProfileTestCase(APITestCase):
    def setUp(self):
        # create a new user making a post request to djoser endpoint
        # obtain a json web token for the newly created user

    def api_authentication(self):
        self.client.credentials(HTTP_AUTHORIZATION='Bearer '+self.token)

    # retrieve a list of all user profiles while the request user is authenticated
    def test_userprofile_list_authenticated(self):

    # retrieve a list of all user profiles while the request user is unauthenticated
    def test_userprofile_list_unauthenticated(self):

    # check to retrieve the profile details of the authenticated user
    def test_userprofile_detail_retrieve(self):
        # print(response.data)

    # populate the user profile that was automatically created using the signals
    def test_userprofile_profile(self):
        profile_data={'description':'I am a very famous game character','location':'nintendo world','is_creator':'true',}

To run the tests, run the command

python manage.py test

in your terminal.

If you are feeling a bit confused, here's the project structure up to this point.

├── accounts    
│   ├── admin.py
│   ├── apps.py
│   ├── __init__.py
│   ├── migrations     
│   │   └── __init__.py
│   ├── models.py      
│   ├── permissions.py 
│   ├── serializers.py 
│   ├── tests.py       
│   ├── urls.py        
│   └── views.py       
├── eventScheduler     
│   ├── __init__.py
│   ├── __pycache__
│   │   ├── __init__.cpython-35.pyc
│   │   └── settings.cpython-35.pyc
│   ├── settings.py
│   ├── urls.py
│   └── wsgi.py
└── manage.py

Demo with postman

User registration


Get access token


Retrieve/update the authenticated user.

We'll be passing the get request as the user Batman. To do this, every post request must have a JWT to identify the user as a valid user. In post man, we can place the token in the auth section and indicating you want to use a Bearer token. You'll then paste in the access token generated above.

Get all user Profiles

This will be through a GET request.

Update authenticated User

Through a PUT request
Update Profile

Additional resources

  1. Official django rest framework docs.
  2. djoser documenentation.
  3. Michele Saba's Udemy course

That's the end of this looong post 👀. I hope with this information you too can make your own RESTful API with django.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. You can also contact me through my website or on twitter.


Editor guide
fmesteban profile image

Hi! Nice post, was really useful to me. But now I want to expand on this. I have different models that I want to relate to a User of the system (lets say, Student and Teacher), each with different fields. How can I differentiate the registration of these?

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

hey Fmesteban,
really happy you found this post helpful.

One way you can approach this is by extending the Django AbstractUser model and introducing a field by the name role.

from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractUser

TEACHER = 'Teacher'
STUDENT = 'Student'

ROLES = [(TEACHER, 'Teacher'), (STUDENT, 'Student'),]

class UserAccount(AbstractUser):
    role = models.CharField(max_length=10,choices=ROLES, default=STUDENT)

From this, you can make different UserProfiles like indicated from the post. For instance:

from django.db import models
from django.contrib.auth import get_user_model

User = get_user_model()

class TeacherProfile(models.Model):
    user=models.OneToOne(User,limit_choices_to={'role':'Teacher'}, on_delete=models.CASCADE,related_name="teacher_profile")
    # your custom fields for teacher model

    def __str__(self):
        return self.user.username

class StudentProfile(models.Model):
    user=models.OneToOne(User,limit_choices_to={'role':'Student'}, on_delete=models.CASCADE,related_name="student_profile")
    # write your custom fields for student profile from here.

    def __str__(self):
        return self.user.username

After that has been set up, you'll just make a post_save signal that listens to the type of role on the new UserAccount instance. If it's a teacher, initialize TeacherProfile instance and populate it.

This can be achieved in a multistep form. Same for the student profile.

fmesteban profile image

Thanks for the quick response! I had about the same idea but wanted to make sure that was the way to go.

Thanks again!

Thread Thread
lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

You're welcome :)

Thread Thread
chafikmaouche profile image
Chafik Maouche

sir i want to use this role choice in the login process hwo can i do ti ?

lgalant profile image
Leandro Galanterni

Hey great posting, I'm trying to achieve the exact same thing you are doing but I'm not sure how to create a new profile. What I want to do is call the POST /auth/users method with additional fields so that it creates the profile and the user at the same time. Is this realistic? Or I need to perform 2 steps (i.e. one call to create the user and a second call to create the profile)
Thanks in advance!

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

Hey. Yes it would.

The best way to add extra fields is to extend django user model with AbstractUser, then place those extra fields in the REQUIRED_FIELDS array.
That way the djoser /auth/users/ endpoints can recognize the additional fields on the CustomUser model.

I had initially made the user profile to demonstrate signals to the readers :)

You can use django's AbstractUser Class to extend the user model. Here's the documentation

ce0la profile image
Olaniyi Oshunbote

I got the error NameError: name 'APITestCase' is not defined when I ran python manage.py test. No surprises there as that was not imported or earlier defined. How is this resolved?

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

Hello Olaniyi,
Are you working on your own implementation of the code?
If so kindly share the GitHub link and we can debug together. Mine is working ok as far as I can tell.
Here's a screenshot of the same.


Here's the code from the tests.py file.

girisagar46 profile image
Sagar Giri

How can I use raw json as POST data instead of x-www-form-urlencoded ?

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

Hey, Sagar, you can use this method on postman;

postman json

or if you want to use curl,
curl json

in both instances, the user is created as you can see below,

sharonxz profile image
Sharon Zeng

Thank you for sharing! It works like a charm!! So helpful!

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

Welcome! Glad it helped :)

ashkangoleh profile image
Ashkan Goleh poor

very useful tutorial , can you put information about reset-password ,activation, ...

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

hey, yes I will. Working on a full-stack tutorial with Django and vue.js. it'll be covered there

pedrolopes97_30 profile image

Thank you for this!

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

welcome ;)

elbatel profile image
Housseyn Belhadja

I cannot find the words to describe what I explained. Thank you very much, I am waiting for what you will offer in the next explanations about DJANGO REST <3

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

thank you. Comments like yours encourage me to write more and better. I'll be continuing with this next week. Had taken a small writing break ;)

shenmander profile image

Thank you for this!

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

welcome. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime.

irvanrizki225 profile image

in the test case there is no user data

skydler profile image
Leonel Mandarino

Hi, nice post! it's very helpfull.

But using djoser and creating the user endpoints would make 2 endpoints for retrieving and listing users, wouldn't it? is this a problem?

lewiskori profile image
Lewis kori Author

Hey. Yes it would.

The best way to add extra fields is to extend django user model with AbstractUser, then place those extra fields in the REQUIRED_FIELDS array.
That way the djoser /auth/users/ endpoints can recognize the additional fields on the CustomUser model.

I had initially made the user profile to demonstrate signals to the readers :)