Source

django / docs / sessions.txt

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===================
How to use sessions
===================

Django provides full support for anonymous sessions. The session framework lets
you store and retrieve arbitrary data on a per-site-visitor basis. It stores
data on the server side and abstracts the sending and receiving of cookies.
Cookies contain a session ID -- not the data itself.

Enabling sessions
=================

Sessions are implemented via a piece of middleware_.

To enable session functionality, do the following:

    * Edit the ``MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES`` setting and make sure
      ``MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES`` contains ``'django.contrib.sessions.middleware.SessionMiddleware'``.
      The default ``settings.py`` created by ``django-admin.py startproject`` has
      ``SessionMiddleware`` activated.

    * Add ``'django.contrib.sessions'`` to your ``INSTALLED_APPS`` setting,
      and run ``manage.py syncdb`` to install the single database table
      that stores session data.

      **New in development version**: this step is optional if you're not using
      the database session backend; see `configuring the session engine`_.

If you don't want to use sessions, you might as well remove the
``SessionMiddleware`` line from ``MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES`` and ``'django.contrib.sessions'``
from your ``INSTALLED_APPS``. It'll save you a small bit of overhead.

.. _middleware: ../middleware/

Configuring the session engine
==============================

**New in development version**.

By default, Django stores sessions in your database (using the model
``django.contrib.sessions.models.Session``). Though this is convenient, in
some setups it's faster to store session data elsewhere, so Django can be
configured to store session data on your filesystem or in your cache.

Using file-based sessions
-------------------------

To use file-based sessions, set the ``SESSION_ENGINE`` setting to
``"django.contrib.sessions.backends.file"``.

You might also want to set the ``SESSION_FILE_PATH`` setting (which defaults
to output from ``tempfile.gettempdir()``, most likely  ``/tmp``) to control
where Django stores session files. Be sure to check that your Web server has
permissions to read and write to this location.

Using cache-based sessions
--------------------------

To store session data using Django's cache system, set ``SESSION_ENGINE``
to ``"django.contrib.sessions.backends.cache"``. You'll want to make sure
you've configured your cache; see the `cache documentation`_ for details.

.. _cache documentation: ../cache/

.. note::

    You should probably only use cache-based sessions if you're using the
    Memcached cache backend. The local-memory cache backend doesn't retain data
    long enough to be a good choice, and it'll be faster to use file or
    database sessions directly instead of sending everything through the file
    or database cache backends.

Using sessions in views
=======================

When ``SessionMiddleware`` is activated, each ``HttpRequest`` object -- the
first argument to any Django view function -- will have a ``session``
attribute, which is a dictionary-like object. You can read it and write to it.

It implements the following standard dictionary methods:

    * ``__getitem__(key)``

      Example: ``fav_color = request.session['fav_color']``

    * ``__setitem__(key, value)``

      Example: ``request.session['fav_color'] = 'blue'``

    * ``__delitem__(key)``

      Example: ``del request.session['fav_color']``. This raises ``KeyError``
      if the given ``key`` isn't already in the session.

    * ``__contains__(key)``

      Example: ``'fav_color' in request.session``

    * ``get(key, default=None)``

      Example: ``fav_color = request.session.get('fav_color', 'red')``

    * ``keys()``

    * ``items()``

    * ``setdefault()`` (**New in Django development version**)

It also has these methods:

    * ``set_test_cookie()``

      Sets a test cookie to determine whether the user's browser supports
      cookies. Due to the way cookies work, you won't be able to test this
      until the user's next page request. See `Setting test cookies`_ below for
      more information.

    * ``test_cookie_worked()``

      Returns either ``True`` or ``False``, depending on whether the user's
      browser accepted the test cookie. Due to the way cookies work, you'll
      have to call ``set_test_cookie()`` on a previous, separate page request.
      See `Setting test cookies`_ below for more information.

    * ``delete_test_cookie()``

      Deletes the test cookie. Use this to clean up after yourself.

    * ``set_expiry(value)``

      **New in Django development version**

      Sets the expiration time for the session. You can pass a number of
      different values:

            * If ``value`` is an integer, the session will expire after that
              many seconds of inactivity. For example, calling
              ``request.session.set_expiry(300)`` would make the session expire
              in 5 minutes.

            * If ``value`` is a ``datetime`` or ``timedelta`` object, the
              session will expire at that specific date/time.

            * If ``value`` is ``0``, the user's session cookie will expire
              when the user's Web browser is closed.

            * If ``value`` is ``None``, the session reverts to using the global
              session expiry policy.

    * ``get_expiry_age()``

      **New in Django development version**

      Returns the number of seconds until this session expires. For sessions
      with no custom expiration (or those set to expire at browser close), this
      will equal ``settings.SESSION_COOKIE_AGE``.

    * ``get_expiry_date()``

      **New in Django development version**

      Returns the date this session will expire. For sessions with no custom
      expiration (or those set to expire at browser close), this will equal the
      date ``settings.SESSION_COOKIE_AGE`` seconds from now.

    * ``get_expire_at_browser_close()``

      **New in Django development version**

      Returns either ``True`` or ``False``, depending on whether the user's
      session cookie will expire when the user's Web browser is closed.

You can edit ``request.session`` at any point in your view. You can edit it
multiple times.

Session object guidelines
-------------------------

    * Use normal Python strings as dictionary keys on ``request.session``. This
      is more of a convention than a hard-and-fast rule.

    * Session dictionary keys that begin with an underscore are reserved for
      internal use by Django.

    * Don't override ``request.session`` with a new object, and don't access or
      set its attributes. Use it like a Python dictionary.

Examples
--------

This simplistic view sets a ``has_commented`` variable to ``True`` after a user
posts a comment. It doesn't let a user post a comment more than once::

    def post_comment(request, new_comment):
        if request.session.get('has_commented', False):
            return HttpResponse("You've already commented.")
        c = comments.Comment(comment=new_comment)
        c.save()
        request.session['has_commented'] = True
        return HttpResponse('Thanks for your comment!')

This simplistic view logs in a "member" of the site::

    def login(request):
        m = Member.objects.get(username=request.POST['username'])
        if m.password == request.POST['password']:
            request.session['member_id'] = m.id
            return HttpResponse("You're logged in.")
        else:
            return HttpResponse("Your username and password didn't match.")

...And this one logs a member out, according to ``login()`` above::

    def logout(request):
        try:
            del request.session['member_id']
        except KeyError:
            pass
        return HttpResponse("You're logged out.")

Setting test cookies
====================

As a convenience, Django provides an easy way to test whether the user's
browser accepts cookies. Just call ``request.session.set_test_cookie()`` in a
view, and call ``request.session.test_cookie_worked()`` in a subsequent view --
not in the same view call.

This awkward split between ``set_test_cookie()`` and ``test_cookie_worked()``
is necessary due to the way cookies work. When you set a cookie, you can't
actually tell whether a browser accepted it until the browser's next request.

It's good practice to use ``delete_test_cookie()`` to clean up after yourself.
Do this after you've verified that the test cookie worked.

Here's a typical usage example::

    def login(request):
        if request.method == 'POST':
            if request.session.test_cookie_worked():
                request.session.delete_test_cookie()
                return HttpResponse("You're logged in.")
            else:
                return HttpResponse("Please enable cookies and try again.")
        request.session.set_test_cookie()
        return render_to_response('foo/login_form.html')

Using sessions out of views
===========================

**New in Django development version**

An API is available to manipulate session data outside of a view::

    >>> from django.contrib.sessions.backends.db import SessionStore
    >>> s = SessionStore(session_key='2b1189a188b44ad18c35e113ac6ceead')
    >>> s['last_login'] = datetime.datetime(2005, 8, 20, 13, 35, 10)
    >>> s['last_login']
    datetime.datetime(2005, 8, 20, 13, 35, 0)
    >>> s.save()

If you're using the ``django.contrib.sessions.backends.db`` backend, each
session is just a normal Django model. The ``Session`` model is defined in
``django/contrib/sessions/models.py``. Because it's a normal model, you can
access sessions using the normal Django database API::

    >>> from django.contrib.sessions.models import Session
    >>> s = Session.objects.get(pk='2b1189a188b44ad18c35e113ac6ceead')
    >>> s.expire_date
    datetime.datetime(2005, 8, 20, 13, 35, 12)

Note that you'll need to call ``get_decoded()`` to get the session dictionary.
This is necessary because the dictionary is stored in an encoded format::

    >>> s.session_data
    'KGRwMQpTJ19hdXRoX3VzZXJfaWQnCnAyCkkxCnMuMTExY2ZjODI2Yj...'
    >>> s.get_decoded()
    {'user_id': 42}

When sessions are saved
=======================

By default, Django only saves to the session database when the session has been
modified -- that is if any of its dictionary values have been assigned or
deleted::

    # Session is modified.
    request.session['foo'] = 'bar'

    # Session is modified.
    del request.session['foo']

    # Session is modified.
    request.session['foo'] = {}

    # Gotcha: Session is NOT modified, because this alters
    # request.session['foo'] instead of request.session.
    request.session['foo']['bar'] = 'baz'

In the last case of the above example, we can tell the session object
explicitly that it has been modified by setting the ``modified`` attribute on
the session object::

    request.session.modified = True

To change this default behavior, set the ``SESSION_SAVE_EVERY_REQUEST`` setting
to ``True``. If ``SESSION_SAVE_EVERY_REQUEST`` is ``True``, Django will save
the session to the database on every single request.

Note that the session cookie is only sent when a session has been created or
modified. If ``SESSION_SAVE_EVERY_REQUEST`` is ``True``, the session cookie
will be sent on every request.

Similarly, the ``expires`` part of a session cookie is updated each time the
session cookie is sent.

Browser-length sessions vs. persistent sessions
===============================================

You can control whether the session framework uses browser-length sessions vs.
persistent sessions with the ``SESSION_EXPIRE_AT_BROWSER_CLOSE`` setting.

By default, ``SESSION_EXPIRE_AT_BROWSER_CLOSE`` is set to ``False``, which
means session cookies will be stored in users' browsers for as long as
``SESSION_COOKIE_AGE``. Use this if you don't want people to have to log in
every time they open a browser.

If ``SESSION_EXPIRE_AT_BROWSER_CLOSE`` is set to ``True``, Django will use
browser-length cookies -- cookies that expire as soon as the user closes his or
her browser. Use this if you want people to have to log in every time they open
a browser.

**New in Django development version**

This setting is a global default and can be overwritten at a per-session level
by explicitly calling ``request.session.set_expiry()`` as described above in
`using sessions in views`_.

Clearing the session table
==========================

Note that session data can accumulate in the ``django_session`` database table
and Django does *not* provide automatic purging. Therefore, it's your job to
purge expired sessions on a regular basis.

To understand this problem, consider what happens when a user uses a session.
When a user logs in, Django adds a row to the ``django_session`` database
table. Django updates this row each time the session data changes. If the user
logs out manually, Django deletes the row. But if the user does *not* log out,
the row never gets deleted.

Django provides a sample clean-up script in ``django-admin.py cleanup``.
That script deletes any session in the session table whose ``expire_date`` is
in the past -- but your application may have different requirements.

Settings
========

A few `Django settings`_ give you control over session behavior:

SESSION_ENGINE
--------------

**New in Django development version**

Default: ``django.contrib.sessions.backends.db``

Controls where Django stores session data. Valid values are:

    * ``'django.contrib.sessions.backends.db'``
    * ``'django.contrib.sessions.backends.file'``
    * ``'django.contrib.sessions.backends.cache'``

See `configuring the session engine`_ for more details.

SESSION_FILE_PATH
-----------------

**New in Django development version**

Default: ``/tmp/``

If you're using file-based session storage, this sets the directory in
which Django will store session data.

SESSION_COOKIE_AGE
------------------

Default: ``1209600`` (2 weeks, in seconds)

The age of session cookies, in seconds.

SESSION_COOKIE_DOMAIN
---------------------

Default: ``None``

The domain to use for session cookies. Set this to a string such as
``".lawrence.com"`` for cross-domain cookies, or use ``None`` for a standard
domain cookie.

SESSION_COOKIE_NAME
-------------------

Default: ``'sessionid'``

The name of the cookie to use for sessions. This can be whatever you want.

SESSION_COOKIE_SECURE
---------------------

Default: ``False``

Whether to use a secure cookie for the session cookie. If this is set to
``True``, the cookie will be marked as "secure," which means browsers may
ensure that the cookie is only sent under an HTTPS connection.

SESSION_EXPIRE_AT_BROWSER_CLOSE
-------------------------------

Default: ``False``

Whether to expire the session when the user closes his or her browser. See
"Browser-length sessions vs. persistent sessions" above.

SESSION_SAVE_EVERY_REQUEST
--------------------------

Default: ``False``

Whether to save the session data on every request. If this is ``False``
(default), then the session data will only be saved if it has been modified --
that is, if any of its dictionary values have been assigned or deleted.

.. _Django settings: ../settings/

Technical details
=================

    * The session dictionary should accept any pickleable Python object. See
      `the pickle module`_ for more information.

    * Session data is stored in a database table named ``django_session`` .

    * Django only sends a cookie if it needs to. If you don't set any session
      data, it won't send a session cookie.

.. _`the pickle module`: http://www.python.org/doc/current/lib/module-pickle.html

Session IDs in URLs
===================

The Django sessions framework is entirely, and solely, cookie-based. It does
not fall back to putting session IDs in URLs as a last resort, as PHP does.
This is an intentional design decision. Not only does that behavior make URLs
ugly, it makes your site vulnerable to session-ID theft via the "Referer"
header.