Views & Forms

Haystack comes with some default, simple views & forms to help you get started and to cover the common cases. Included is a way to provide:

  • Basic, query-only search.
  • Search by models.
  • Search with basic highlighted results.
  • Faceted search.
  • Search by models with basic highlighted results.

Most processing is done by the forms provided by Haystack via the search method. As a result, all but the faceted types (see Faceting) use the standard SearchView.

There is very little coupling between the forms & the views (other than relying on the existence of a search method on the form), so you may interchangeably use forms and/or views anywhere within your own code.



The most basic of the form types, this form consists of a single field, the q field (for query). Upon searching, the form will take the cleaned contents of the q field and perform an auto_query on either the custom SearchQuerySet you provide or off a default SearchQuerySet.

To customize the SearchQuerySet the form will use, pass it a searchqueryset parameter to the constructor with the SearchQuerySet you’d like to use. If using this form in conjunction with a SearchView, the form will receive whatever SearchQuerySet you provide to the view with no additional work needed.

The SearchForm also accepts a load_all parameter (True or False), which determines how the database is queried when iterating through the results. This also is received automatically from the SearchView.

All other forms in Haystack inherit (either directly or indirectly) from this form.


Identical to the SearchForm except that it tags the highlight method on to the end of the SearchQuerySet to enable highlighted results.


This form adds new fields to form. It iterates through all registered models for the current SearchSite and provides a checkbox for each one. If no models are selected, all types will show up in the results.


Identical to the ModelSearchForm except that it tags the highlight method on to the end of the SearchQuerySet to enable highlighted results on the selected models.


Identical to the SearchForm except that it adds a hidden selected_facets field onto the form, allowing the form to narrow the results based on the facets chosen by the user.

Creating Your Own Form

The simplest way to go about creating your own form is to inherit from SearchForm (or the desired parent) and extend the search method. By doing this, you save yourself most of the work of handling data correctly and stay API compatible with the SearchView.

For example, let’s say you’re providing search with a user-selectable date range associated with it. You might create a form that looked as follows:

from django import forms
from haystack.forms import SearchForm

class DateRangeSearchForm(SearchForm):
    start_date = forms.DateField(required=False)
    end_date = forms.DateField(required=False)

    def search(self):
        # First, store the SearchQuerySet received from other processing.
        sqs = super(DateRangeSearchForm, self).search()

        if not self.is_valid():
            return self.no_query_found()

        # Check to see if a start_date was chosen.
        if self.cleaned_data['start_date']:
            sqs = sqs.filter(pub_date__gte=self.cleaned_data['start_date'])

        # Check to see if an end_date was chosen.
        if self.cleaned_data['end_date']:
            sqs = sqs.filter(pub_date__lte=self.cleaned_data['end_date'])

        return sqs

This form adds two new fields for (optionally) choosing the start and end dates. Within the search method, we grab the results from the parent form’s processing. Then, if a user has selected a start and/or end date, we apply that filtering. Finally, we simply return the SearchQuerySet.


Haystack comes bundled with three views, the class-based views (SearchView & FacetedSearchView) and a traditional functional view (basic_search).

The class-based views provide for easy extension should you need to alter the way a view works. Except in the case of faceting (again, see Faceting), the SearchView works interchangeably with all other forms provided by Haystack.

The functional view provides an example of how Haystack can be used in more traditional settings or as an example of how to write a more complex custom view. It is also thread-safe.

SearchView(template=None, load_all=True, form_class=None, searchqueryset=None, context_class=RequestContext, results_per_page=None)

The SearchView is designed to be easy/flexible enough to override common changes as well as being internally abstracted so that only altering a specific portion of the code should be easy to do.

Without touching any of the internals of the SearchView, you can modify which template is used, which form class should be instantiated to search with, what SearchQuerySet to use in the event you wish to pre-filter the results. what Context-style object to use in the response and the load_all performance optimization to reduce hits on the database. These options can (and generally should) be overridden at the URLconf level. For example, to have a custom search limited to the ‘John’ author, displaying all models to search by and specifying a custom template (my/special/path/john_search.html), your URLconf should look something like:

from django.conf.urls.defaults import *
from haystack.forms import ModelSearchForm
from haystack.query import SearchQuerySet
from haystack.views import SearchView

sqs = SearchQuerySet().filter(author='john')

# Without threading...
urlpatterns = patterns('haystack.views',
    url(r'^$', SearchView(
    ), name='haystack_search'),

# With threading...
from haystack.views import SearchView, search_view_factory

urlpatterns = patterns('haystack.views',
    url(r'^$', search_view_factory(
    ), name='haystack_search'),


The standard SearchView is not thread-safe. Use the search_view_factory function, which returns thread-safe instances of SearchView.

By default, if you don’t specify a form_class, the view will use the haystack.forms.ModelSearchForm form.

Beyond this customizations, you can create your own SearchView and extend/override the following methods to change the functionality.

__call__(self, request)

Generates the actual response to the search.

Relies on internal, overridable methods to construct the response. You generally should avoid altering this method unless you need to change the flow of the methods or to add a new method into the processing.

build_form(self, form_kwargs=None)

Instantiates the form the class should use to process the search query.

Optionally accepts a dictionary of parameters that are passed on to the form’s __init__. You can use this to lightly customize the form.

You should override this if you write a custom form that needs special parameters for instantiation.


Returns the query provided by the user.

Returns an empty string if the query is invalid. This pulls the cleaned query from the form, via the q field, for use elsewhere within the SearchView. This is used to populate the query context variable.


Fetches the results via the form.

Returns an empty list if there’s no query to search with. This method relies on the form to do the heavy lifting as much as possible.


Paginates the results appropriately.

In case someone does not want to use Django’s built-in pagination, it should be a simple matter to override this method to do what they would like.


Allows the addition of more context variables as needed. Must return a dictionary whose contents will add to or overwrite the other variables in the context.


Generates the actual HttpResponse to send back to the user. It builds the page, creates the context and renders the response for all the aforementioned processing.

basic_search(request, template='search/search.html', load_all=True, form_class=ModelSearchForm, searchqueryset=None, context_class=RequestContext, extra_context=None, results_per_page=None)

The basic_search tries to provide most of the same functionality as the class-based views but resembles a more traditional generic view. It’s both a working view if you prefer not to use the class-based views as well as a good starting point for writing highly custom views.

Since it is all one function, the only means of extension are passing in kwargs, similar to the way generic views work.

Creating Your Own View

As with the forms, inheritance is likely your best bet. In this case, the FacetedSearchView is a perfect example of how to extend the existing SearchView. The complete code for the FacetedSearchView looks like:

class FacetedSearchView(SearchView):
    def extra_context(self):
        extra = super(FacetedSearchView, self).extra_context()

        if self.results == []:
            extra['facets'] =
            extra['facets'] = self.results.facet_counts()

        return extra

It updates the name of the class (generally for documentation purposes) and adds the facets from the SearchQuerySet to the context as the facets variable. As with the custom form example above, it relies on the parent class to handle most of the processing and extends that only where needed.