Form wizard

Django comes with an optional “form wizard” application that splits forms across multiple Web pages. It maintains state in hashed HTML <input type="hidden"> fields so that the full server-side processing can be delayed until the submission of the final form.

You might want to use this if you have a lengthy form that would be too unwieldy for display on a single page. The first page might ask the user for core information, the second page might ask for less important information, etc.

The term “wizard,” in this context, is explained on Wikipedia.

How it works

Here’s the basic workflow for how a user would use a wizard:

  1. The user visits the first page of the wizard, fills in the form and submits it.
  2. The server validates the data. If it’s invalid, the form is displayed again, with error messages. If it’s valid, the server calculates a secure hash of the data and presents the user with the next form, saving the validated data and hash in <input type="hidden"> fields.
  3. Step 1 and 2 repeat, for every subsequent form in the wizard.
  4. Once the user has submitted all the forms and all the data has been validated, the wizard processes the data – saving it to the database, sending an e-mail, or whatever the application needs to do.


This application handles as much machinery for you as possible. Generally, you just have to do these things:

  1. Define a number of Form classes – one per wizard page.
  2. Create a FormWizard class that specifies what to do once all of your forms have been submitted and validated. This also lets you override some of the wizard’s behavior.
  3. Create some templates that render the forms. You can define a single, generic template to handle every one of the forms, or you can define a specific template for each form.
  4. Point your URLconf at your FormWizard class.

Defining Form classes

The first step in creating a form wizard is to create the Form classes. These should be standard django.forms.Form classes, covered in the forms documentation. These classes can live anywhere in your codebase, but convention is to put them in a file called in your application.

For example, let’s write a “contact form” wizard, where the first page’s form collects the sender’s e-mail address and subject, and the second page collects the message itself. Here’s what the might look like:

from django import forms

class ContactForm1(forms.Form):
    subject = forms.CharField(max_length=100)
    sender = forms.EmailField()

class ContactForm2(forms.Form):
    message = forms.CharField(widget=forms.Textarea)

Important limitation: Because the wizard uses HTML hidden fields to store data between pages, you may not include a FileField in any form except the last one.

Creating a FormWizard class

The next step is to create a django.contrib.formtools.wizard.FormWizard subclass. As with your Form classes, this FormWizard class can live anywhere in your codebase, but convention is to put it in

The only requirement on this subclass is that it implement a done() method.


This method specifies what should happen when the data for every form is submitted and validated. This method is passed two arguments:

In this simplistic example, rather than perform any database operation, the method simply renders a template of the validated data:

from django.shortcuts import render_to_response
from django.contrib.formtools.wizard import FormWizard

class ContactWizard(FormWizard):
    def done(self, request, form_list):
        return render_to_response('done.html', {
            'form_data': [form.cleaned_data for form in form_list],

Note that this method will be called via POST, so it really ought to be a good Web citizen and redirect after processing the data. Here's another example:

from django.http import HttpResponseRedirect
from django.contrib.formtools.wizard import FormWizard

class ContactWizard(FormWizard):
    def done(self, request, form_list):
        return HttpResponseRedirect('/page-to-redirect-to-when-done/')

See the section Advanced FormWizard methods below to learn about more FormWizard hooks.

Creating templates for the forms

Next, you'll need to create a template that renders the wizard's forms. By default, every form uses a template called forms/wizard.html. (You can change this template name by overriding get_template(), which is documented below. This hook also allows you to use a different template for each form.)

This template expects the following context:

  • step_field -- The name of the hidden field containing the step.
  • step0 -- The current step (zero-based).
  • step -- The current step (one-based).
  • step_count -- The total number of steps.
  • form -- The Form instance for the current step (either empty or with errors).
  • previous_fields -- A string representing every previous data field, plus hashes for completed forms, all in the form of hidden fields. Note that you'll need to run this through the safe template filter, to prevent auto-escaping, because it's raw HTML.

You can supply extra context to this template in two ways:

  • Set the extra_context attribute on your FormWizard subclass to a dictionary.
  • Pass a dictionary as a parameter named extra_context to your wizard's URL pattern in your URLconf. See Hooking the wizard into a URLconf.

Here's a full example template:

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
<p>Step {{ step }} of {{ step_count }}</p>
<form action="." method="post">{% csrf_token %}
{{ form }}
<input type="hidden" name="{{ step_field }}" value="{{ step0 }}" />
{{ previous_fields|safe }}
<input type="submit">
{% endblock %}

Note that previous_fields, step_field and step0 are all required for the wizard to work properly.

Hooking the wizard into a URLconf

Finally, we need to specify which forms to use in the wizard, and then deploy the new FormWizard object a URL in The wizard takes a list of your Form objects as arguments when you instantiate the Wizard:

from django.conf.urls.defaults import *
from testapp.forms import ContactForm1, ContactForm2, ContactWizard

urlpatterns = patterns('',
    (r'^contact/$', ContactWizard([ContactForm1, ContactForm2])),

Advanced FormWizard methods

class FormWizard

Aside from the done() method, FormWizard offers a few advanced method hooks that let you customize how your wizard works.

Some of these methods take an argument step, which is a zero-based counter representing the current step of the wizard. (E.g., the first form is 0 and the second form is 1.)


Given the step, returns a form prefix to use. By default, this simply uses the step itself. For more, see the form prefix documentation.

Default implementation:

def prefix_for_step(self, step):
    return str(step)

Renders a template if the hash check fails. It's rare that you'd need to override this.

Default implementation:

def render_hash_failure(self, request, step):
    return self.render(self.get_form(step), request, step,
                     'We apologize, but your form has expired. Please'
                     ' continue filling out the form from this page.'})

Calculates the security hash for the given request object and Form instance.

By default, this uses an MD5 hash of the form data and your SECRET_KEY setting. It's rare that somebody would need to override this.


def security_hash(self, request, form):
    return my_hash_function(request, form)

A hook for saving state from the request object and args / kwargs that were captured from the URL by your URLconf.

By default, this does nothing.


def parse_params(self, request, *args, **kwargs):
    self.my_state = args[0]

Returns the name of the template that should be used for the given step.

By default, this returns 'forms/wizard.html', regardless of step.


def get_template(self, step):
    return 'myapp/wizard_%s.html' % step

If get_template() returns a list of strings, then the wizard will use the template system's select_template() function. This means the system will use the first template that exists on the filesystem. For example:

def get_template(self, step):
    return ['myapp/wizard_%s.html' % step, 'myapp/wizard.html']

Renders the template for the given step, returning an HttpResponse object.

Override this method if you want to add a custom context, return a different MIME type, etc. If you only need to override the template name, use get_template() instead.

The template will be rendered with the context documented in the "Creating templates for the forms" section above.


Hook for modifying the wizard's internal state, given a fully validated Form object. The Form is guaranteed to have clean, valid data.

This method should not modify any of that data. Rather, it might want to set self.extra_context or dynamically alter self.form_list, based on previously submitted forms.

Note that this method is called every time a page is rendered for all submitted steps.

The function signature:

def process_step(self, request, form, step):
    # ...