Django rest framework, use different serializers in the same ModelViewSet

Django rest framework, use different serializers in the same ModelViewSet

I would like to provide two different serializers and yet be able to benefit from all the facilities of ModelViewSet:

When viewing a list of objects, I would like each object to have an url which redirects to its details and every other relation appear using __unicode __ of the target model; 

example:
{
  "url": "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/gruppi/2/",
  "nome": "universitari",
  "descrizione": "unitn!",
  "creatore": "emilio",
  "accesso": "CHI",
  "membri": [
    "emilio",
    "michele",
    "luisa",
    "ivan",
    "saverio"
  ]
}


When viewing the details of an object, I would like to use the default HyperlinkedModelSerializer

example:
{
  "url": "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/gruppi/2/",
  "nome": "universitari",
  "descrizione": "unitn!",
  "creatore": "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/utenti/3/",
  "accesso": "CHI",
  "membri": [
    "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/utenti/3/",
    "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/utenti/4/",
    "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/utenti/5/",
    "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/utenti/6/",
    "http://127.0.0.1:8000/database/utenti/7/"
  ]
}

I managed to make all this work as I wish in the following way:
serializers.py
# serializer to use when showing a list
class ListaGruppi(serializers.HyperlinkedModelSerializer):
    membri = serializers.RelatedField(many = True)
    creatore = serializers.RelatedField(many = False)

    class Meta:
        model = models.Gruppi

# serializer to use when showing the details
class DettaglioGruppi(serializers.HyperlinkedModelSerializer):
    class Meta:
        model = models.Gruppi

views.py
class DualSerializerViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    """
    ViewSet providing different serializers for list and detail views.

    Use list_serializer and detail_serializer to provide them
    """
    def list(self, *args, **kwargs):
        self.serializer_class = self.list_serializer
        return viewsets.ModelViewSet.list(self, *args, **kwargs)

    def retrieve(self, *args, **kwargs):
        self.serializer_class = self.detail_serializer
        return viewsets.ModelViewSet.retrieve(self, *args, **kwargs)

class GruppiViewSet(DualSerializerViewSet):
    model = models.Gruppi
    list_serializer = serializers.ListaGruppi
    detail_serializer = serializers.DettaglioGruppi

    # etc.

Basically I detect when the user is requesting a list view or a detailed view and change serializer_class to suit my needs. I am not really satisfied with this code though, it looks like a dirty hack and, most importantly, what if two users request a list and a detail at the same moment? 
Is there a better way to achieve this using ModelViewSets or do I have to fall back using GenericAPIView?
EDIT:
Here's how to do it using a custom base ModelViewSet:
class MultiSerializerViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    serializers = { 
        'default': None,
    }

    def get_serializer_class(self):
            return self.serializers.get(self.action,
                        self.serializers['default'])

class GruppiViewSet(MultiSerializerViewSet):
    model = models.Gruppi

    serializers = {
        'list':    serializers.ListaGruppi,
        'detail':  serializers.DettaglioGruppi,
        # etc.
    }

Solutions/Answers:

Answer 1:

Override your get_serializer_class method. This method is used in your model mixins to retrieve the proper Serializer class.

Note that there is also a get_serializer method which returns an instance of the correct Serializer

class DualSerializerViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    def get_serializer_class(self):
        if self.action == 'list':
            return serializers.ListaGruppi
        if self.action == 'retrieve':
            return serializers.DettaglioGruppi
        return serializers.Default # I dont' know what you want for create/destroy/update.                

Answer 2:

You may find this mixin useful, it overrides the get_serializer_class method and allows you to declare a dict that maps action and serializer class or fallback to the usual behavior.

class MultiSerializerViewSetMixin(object):
    def get_serializer_class(self):
        """
        Look for serializer class in self.serializer_action_classes, which
        should be a dict mapping action name (key) to serializer class (value),
        i.e.:

        class MyViewSet(MultiSerializerViewSetMixin, ViewSet):
            serializer_class = MyDefaultSerializer
            serializer_action_classes = {
               'list': MyListSerializer,
               'my_action': MyActionSerializer,
            }

            @action
            def my_action:
                ...

        If there's no entry for that action then just fallback to the regular
        get_serializer_class lookup: self.serializer_class, DefaultSerializer.

        """
        try:
            return self.serializer_action_classes[self.action]
        except (KeyError, AttributeError):
            return super(MultiSerializerViewSetMixin, self).get_serializer_class()

Answer 3:

This answer is the same as the accepted answer but I prefer to do in this way.

Generic views

get_serializer_class(self):

Returns the class that should be used for the serializer. Defaults to returning the serializer_class attribute.

May be overridden to provide dynamic behavior, such as using different serializers for reading and write operations or providing different serializers to the different types of users.
the serializer_class attribute.

class DualSerializerViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    # mapping serializer into the action
    serializer_classes = {
        'list': serializers.ListaGruppi,
        'retrieve': serializers.DettaglioGruppi,
        # ... other actions
    }
    default_serializer_class = DefaultSerializer # Your default serializer

    def get_serializer_class(self):
        return self.serializer_classes.get(self.action, self.default_serializer_class)

Answer 4:

Based on @gonz and @user2734679 answers I’ve created this small python package that gives this functionality in form a child class of ModelViewset. Here is how it works.

from drf_custom_viewsets.viewsets.CustomSerializerViewSet
from myapp.serializers import DefaltSerializer, CustomSerializer1, CustomSerializer2

class MyViewSet(CustomSerializerViewSet):
    serializer_class = DefaultSerializer
    custom_serializer_classes = {
        'create':  CustomSerializer1,
        'update': CustomSerializer2,
    }

Answer 5:

Regarding providing different serializers, why is nobody going for the approach that checks the HTTP method? It’s clearer IMO and requires no extra checks.

def get_serializer_class(self):
    if self.request.method == 'POST':
        return NewRackItemSerializer
    return RackItemSerializer

Credits/source: https://github.com/encode/django-rest-framework/issues/1563#issuecomment-42357718

Answer 6:

Although pre-defining multiple Serializers in or way or another does seem to be the most obviously documented way, FWIW there is an alternative approach that draws on other documented code and which enables passing arguments to the serializer as it is instantiated. I think it would probably tend to be more worthwhile if you needed to generate logic based on various factors, such as user admin levels, the action being called, perhaps even attributes of the instance.

The first piece of the puzzle is the documentation on dynamically modifying a serializer at the point of instantiation. That documentation doesn’t explain how to call this code from a viewset or how to modify the readonly status of fields after they’ve been initated – but that’s not very hard.

The second piece – the get_serializer method is also documented – (just a bit further down the page from get_serializer_class under ‘other methods’) so it should be safe to rely on (and the source is very simple, which hopefully means less chance of unintended side effects resulting from modification). Check the source under the GenericAPIView (the ModelViewSet – and all the other built in viewset classes it seems – inherit from the GenericAPIView which, defines get_serializer.

Putting the two together you could do something like this:

In a serializers file (for me base_serializers.py):

class DynamicFieldsModelSerializer(serializers.ModelSerializer):
"""
A ModelSerializer that takes an additional `fields` argument that
controls which fields should be displayed.
"""

def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
    # Don't pass the 'fields' arg up to the superclass
    fields = kwargs.pop('fields', None)

    # Adding this next line to the documented example
    read_only_fields = kwargs.pop('read_only_fields', None)

    # Instantiate the superclass normally
    super(DynamicFieldsModelSerializer, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)

    if fields is not None:
        # Drop any fields that are not specified in the `fields` argument.
        allowed = set(fields)
        existing = set(self.fields)
        for field_name in existing - allowed:
            self.fields.pop(field_name)

    # another bit we're adding to documented example, to take care of readonly fields 
    if read_only_fields is not None:
        for f in read_only_fields:
            try:
                self.fields[f].read_only = True
            exceptKeyError:
                #not in fields anyway
                pass

Then in your viewset you might do something like this:

class MyViewSet(viewsets.ModelViewSet):
    # ...permissions and all that stuff

    def get_serializer(self, *args, **kwargs):

        # the next line is taken from the source
        kwargs['context'] = self.get_serializer_context()

        # ... then whatever logic you want for this class e.g:
        if self.action == "list":
            rofs = ('field_a', 'field_b')
            fs = ('field_a', 'field_c')
        if self.action == “retrieve”:
            rofs = ('field_a', 'field_c’, ‘field_d’)
            fs = ('field_a', 'field_b’)
        #  add all your further elses, elifs, drawing on info re the actions, 
        # the user, the instance, anything passed to the method to define your read only fields and fields ...
        #  and finally instantiate the specific class you want (or you could just
        # use get_serializer_class if you've defined it).  
        # Either way the class you're instantiating should inherit from your DynamicFieldsModelSerializer
        kwargs['read_only_fields'] = rofs
        kwargs['fields'] = fs
        return MyDynamicSerializer(*args, **kwargs)

And that should be it! Using MyViewSet should now instantiate your MyDynamicSerializer with the arguments you’d like – and assuming your serializer inherits from your DynamicFieldsModelSerializer, it should know just what to do.

Perhaps its worth mentioning that it can makes special sense if you want to adapt the serializer in some other ways …e.g. to do things like take in a read_only_exceptions list and use it to whitelist rather than blacklist fields (which I tend to do). I also find it useful to set the fields to an empty tuple if its not passed and then just remove the check for None … and I set my fields definitions on my inheriting Serializers to ‘all‘. This means no fields that aren’t passed when instantiating the serializer survive by accident and I also don’t have to compare the serializer invocation with the inheriting serializer class definition to know what’s been included…e.g within the init of the DynamicFieldsModelSerializer:

# ....
fields = kwargs.pop('fields', ())
# ...
allowed = set(fields)
existing = set(self.fields)
for field_name in existing - allowed:
self.fields.pop(field_name)
# ....

NB If I just wanted two or three classes that mapped to distinct actions and/or I didn’t want any specially dynamic serializer behaviour, I might well use one of the approaches mentioned by others here, but I thought this worth presenting as an alternative, particularly given its other uses.

References