Migrating From Haystack 1.X to Haystack 2.X

Haystack introduced several backward-incompatible changes in the process of moving from the 1.X series to the 2.X series. These were done to clean up the API, to support new features & to clean up problems in 1.X. At a high level, they consisted of:

  • The removal of SearchSite & haystack.site.
  • The removal of handle_registrations & autodiscover.
  • The addition of multiple index support.
  • The addition of SignalProcessors & the removal of RealTimeSearchIndex.
  • The removal/renaming of various settings.

This guide will help you make the changes needed to be compatible with Haystack 2.X.


Most prominently, the old way of specifying a backend & its settings has changed to support the multiple index feature. A complete Haystack 1.X example might look like:

HAYSTACK_SOLR_URL = 'http://localhost:9001/solr/default'

# Or...
HAYSTACK_WHOOSH_PATH = '/home/search/whoosh_index'
HAYSTACK_WHOOSH_POST_LIMIT = 128 * 1024 * 1024

# Or...
HAYSTACK_XAPIAN_PATH = '/home/search/xapian_index'

In Haystack 2.X, you can now supply as many backends as you like, so all of the above settings can now be active at the same time. A translated set of settings would look like:

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'haystack.backends.solr_backend.SolrEngine',
        'URL': 'http://localhost:9001/solr/default',
        'TIMEOUT': 60 * 5,
        'INCLUDE_SPELLING': True,
        'BATCH_SIZE': 100,
    'autocomplete': {
        'ENGINE': 'haystack.backends.whoosh_backend.WhooshEngine',
        'PATH': '/home/search/whoosh_index',
        'STORAGE': 'file',
        'POST_LIMIT': 128 * 1024 * 1024,
        'INCLUDE_SPELLING': True,
        'BATCH_SIZE': 100,
    'slave': {
        'ENGINE': 'xapian_backend.XapianEngine',
        'PATH': '/home/search/xapian_index',
        'INCLUDE_SPELLING': True,
        'BATCH_SIZE': 100,

You are required to have at least one connection listed within HAYSTACK_CONNECTIONS, it must be named default & it must have a valid ENGINE within it. Bare minimum looks like:

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'haystack.backends.simple_backend.SimpleEngine'

The key for each backend is an identifier you use to describe the backend within your app. You should refer to the Multiple Indexes documentation for more information on using the new multiple indexes & routing features.

Also note that the ENGINE setting has changed from a lowercase “short name” of the engine to a full path to a new Engine class within the backend. Available options are:

  • haystack.backends.solr_backend.SolrEngine
  • haystack.backends.whoosh_backend.WhooshEngine
  • haystack.backends.simple_backend.SimpleEngine

Additionally, the following settings were outright removed & will generate an exception if found:

  • HAYSTACK_SITECONF - Remove this setting & the file it pointed to.


The dummy backend was outright removed from Haystack, as it served very little use after the simple (pure-ORM-powered) backend was introduced.

If you wrote a custom backend, please refer to the “Custom Backends” section below.


The other major changes affect the SearchIndex class. As the concept of haystack.site & SearchSite are gone, you’ll need to modify your indexes.

A Haystack 1.X index might’ve looked like:

import datetime
from haystack.indexes import *
from haystack import site
from myapp.models import Note

class NoteIndex(SearchIndex):
    text = CharField(document=True, use_template=True)
    author = CharField(model_attr='user')
    pub_date = DateTimeField(model_attr='pub_date')

    def get_queryset(self):
        """Used when the entire index for model is updated."""
        return Note.objects.filter(pub_date__lte=datetime.datetime.now())

site.register(Note, NoteIndex)

A converted Haystack 2.X index should look like:

import datetime
from haystack import indexes
from myapp.models import Note

class NoteIndex(indexes.SearchIndex, indexes.Indexable):
    text = indexes.CharField(document=True, use_template=True)
    author = indexes.CharField(model_attr='user')
    pub_date = indexes.DateTimeField(model_attr='pub_date')

    def get_model(self):
        return Note

    def index_queryset(self, using=None):
        """Used when the entire index for model is updated."""
        return self.get_model().objects.filter(pub_date__lte=datetime.datetime.now())

Note the import on site & the registration statements are gone. Newly added are is the NoteIndex.get_model method. This is a required method & should simply return the Model class the index is for.

There’s also a new, additional class added to the class definition. The indexes.Indexable class is a simple mixin that serves to identify the classes Haystack should automatically discover & use. If you have a custom base class (say QueuedSearchIndex) that other indexes inherit from, simply leave the indexes.Indexable off that declaration & Haystack won’t try to use it.

Additionally, the name of the document=True field is now enforced to be text across all indexes. If you need it named something else, you should set the HAYSTACK_DOCUMENT_FIELD setting. For example:

HAYSTACK_DOCUMENT_FIELD = 'pink_polka_dot'

Finally, the index_queryset method should supplant the get_queryset method. This was present in the Haystack 1.2.X series (with a deprecation warning in 1.2.4+) but has been removed in Haystack v2.

Finally, if you were unregistering other indexes before, you should make use of the new EXCLUDED_INDEXES setting available in each backend’s settings. It should be a list of strings that contain the Python import path to the indexes that should not be loaded & used. For example:

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'haystack.backends.solr_backend.SolrEngine',
        'URL': 'http://localhost:9001/solr/default',
            # Imagine that these indexes exist. They don't.

This allows for reliable swapping of the index that handles a model without relying on correct import order.

Removal of RealTimeSearchIndex

Use of the haystack.indexes.RealTimeSearchIndex is no longer valid. It has been removed in favor of RealtimeSignalProcessor. To migrate, first change the inheritance of all your RealTimeSearchIndex subclasses to use SearchIndex instead:

# Old.
class MySearchIndex(indexes.RealTimeSearchIndex, indexes.Indexable):
    # ...

# New.
class MySearchIndex(indexes.SearchIndex, indexes.Indexable):
    # ...

Then update your settings to enable use of the RealtimeSignalProcessor:

HAYSTACK_SIGNAL_PROCESSOR = 'haystack.signals.RealtimeSignalProcessor'


For most basic uses of Haystack, this is all that is necessary to work with Haystack 2.X. You should rebuild your index if needed & test your new setup.

Advanced Uses

Swapping Backend

If you were manually swapping the SearchQuery or SearchBackend being used by SearchQuerySet in the past, it’s now preferable to simply setup another connection & use the SearchQuerySet.using method to select that connection instead.

Also, if you were manually instantiating SearchBackend or SearchQuery, it’s now preferable to rely on the connection’s engine to return the right thing. For example:

from haystack import connections
backend = connections['default'].get_backend()
query = connections['default'].get_query()

Custom Backends

If you had written a custom SearchBackend and/or custom SearchQuery, there’s a little more work needed to be Haystack 2.X compatible.

You should, but don’t have to, rename your SearchBackend & SearchQuery classes to be more descriptive/less collide-y. For example, solr_backend.SearchBackend became solr_backend.SolrSearchBackend. This prevents non-namespaced imports from stomping on each other.

You need to add a new class to your backend, subclassing BaseEngine. This allows specifying what backend & query should be used on a connection with less duplication/naming trickery. It goes at the bottom of the file (so that the classes are defined above it) and should look like:

from haystack.backends import BaseEngine
from haystack.backends.solr_backend import SolrSearchQuery

# Code then...

class MyCustomSolrEngine(BaseEngine):
    # Use our custom backend.
    backend = MySolrBackend
    # Use the built-in Solr query.
    query = SolrSearchQuery

Your HAYSTACK_CONNECTIONS['default']['ENGINE'] should then point to the full Python import path to your new BaseEngine subclass.

Finally, you will likely have to adjust the SearchBackend.__init__ & SearchQuery.__init__, as they have changed significantly. Please refer to the commits for those backends.