Session Variables in Django

I’ve been coding in Django for nearly 2 years now and only recently have I needed to code a session variable.

It is probably because sessions are mainly to do with login and that was handled by the django-allauth plugin that I use.

However the situation arose where I needed to store a session variable to remember the user’s last choice (their last_pick) from a number of options.

Setting a session variable in Django

The session variable is a dict. So assigning is easy. Let’s pretend they are picking a fruit.

request.session['last_pick'] = 'apple'

Getting a session variable in Django

Getting a variable needs an extra step – you can’t just reference request.session[‘last_pick’] – as it might not be set. This causes an error. So we use the get() method with a default as the second argument.

last_pick = request.session.get('last_pick', None)

Then down the track you might do something like:

if last_pick:
    # do something knowing last_pick is populated e.g.
    option_to_show = last_pick
else:
    # do something knowing there is no last_pick e.g.
    option_to_show = some_function_to_get_the_default_option()

    # Set the last pick to the default
    request.session['last_pick'] = option_to_show

...

# Now do something with the option we have to show
print(f"Item picked was: {last_pick}")


The get() method for a dict

I missed learning about the get() method when first learning Python. It was only long down the track did I learn of it’s existence. Here it is for your reference:

dictionary.get(keyname, value)

ParameterDescription
keynameRequired. The keyname of the item you want to return the value from
valueOptional. A value to return if the specified key does not exist.
Default value None

Django Docs

And finally, a link to the Django Docs on sessions – You’re welcome!

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