Using Admin Sortable

This Django module offers three mixin classes to be added to the existing classes of your model admin:

  • admin.ModelAdmin
  • admin.StackedInline
  • admin.TabularInline

They slightly modify the admin views of a sortable model. There is no need to derive your model class from a special base model class. You can use your existing ordered field, just as you always did, or add a new one with any name you like, if needed.

Integrate your models

Each database model which shall be sortable, requires a position value in its model description. Rather than defining a base class, which contains such a positional value in a hard coded field, this module lets you reuse existing sort fields or define a new field for the sort value.

Therefore this module can be applied in situations where your model is derived from an existing abstract model which already contains any kind of position value. The only requirement for this module is, that this position value be specified as the primary field used for sorting. This in Django is declared through the model’s Meta class. An example

class SortableBook(models.Model):
    title = models.CharField('Title', null=True, blank=True, max_length=255)
    my_order = models.PositiveIntegerField(default=0, blank=False, null=False)

    class Meta(object):
        ordering = ['my_order']

Here the ordering field is named my_order, but you may choose any other name. There are three constraints:

  • my_order is the first field in the ordering tuple of the model’s Meta class.
  • my_order‘s default value must be 0. The JavaScript which performs the sorting is 1-indexed,
    so this will not interfere with the order of your items, even if you’re already using 0-indexed ordering fields.
  • The my_order field must be editable, so make sure that you do not add editable=False
    to it.

The field used to store the ordering position may be any kind of numeric model field offered by Django. Use one of these models fields:

  • models.BigIntegerField
  • models.IntegerField
  • models.PositiveIntegerField (recommended)
  • models.PositiveSmallIntegerField (recommended for small sets)
  • models.SmallIntegerField

Additionally you may use models.DecimalField or models.FloatField, but these model fields are not recommended.


Do not make this field unique! See below why.

In Django’s Admin, make the list view sortable

Next to the action checkbox, a draggable area is added to each entry line. The user than may click on any item and vertically drag that item to a new position.

Sortable List View

Sortable List View

If one or more items shall be moved to another page, this can easily been done by selecting them though the action checkbox. Then the user shall click on a predefined action from the pull down menu on the top of the list view.

Integrate into a list view

In, add a mixin class to augment the functionality for sorting (be sure to put the mixin class before model.ModelAdmin):

from django.contrib import admin
from adminsortable2.admin import SortableAdminMixin
from models import MyModel

class MyModelAdmin(SortableAdminMixin, admin.ModelAdmin):

That’s it! The list view of the model admin interface now adds a column with a draggable area. By clicking on that area, the user can move that row up or down. If he wants to move it to another page, he can do that as a bulk operation, using the admin actions.

By default the draggable area is positioned on the first column. If it shall be placed somewhere else, add the ordering field name explicitly to the attribute list_display.

Overriding change list page

To add for example a custom tool to the change list view, copy contrib/admin/templates/admin/change_list.html to either templates/admin/my_app/ or templates/admin/my_app/page/ directory of your project and make sure you are extending from the right template:

{% extends "adminsortable2/change_list.html" %}

{% block object-tools-items %}
    {{ block.super }}
        <a href="mylink/">My Link</a>
{% endblock %}

Make a stacked or tabular inline view sortable

The interface for a sortable stacked inline view looks exactly the same. If you click on an stacked inline’s field title, this whole inline form can be moved up and down.

The interface for a sortable tabular inline view adds a sensitive area to each draggable row. These rows then can be moved up and down.

Sortable Tabular Inlines

Sortable Tabular Inlines

After moving a tabular or stacked inline, save the model form to persist its sorting order.

Integrate into a detail view

from django.contrib import admin
from adminsortable2.admin import SortableInlineAdminMixin
from models import MySubModel, MyModel

class MySubModelInline(SortableInlineAdminMixin, admin.TabularInline):  # or admin.StackedInline
    model = MySubModel

class MyModelAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    inlines = (MySubModelInline,)


Remember to also set the list ordering in the Meta class of MySubModel.


Tabular inlines with help text expect admin/img/icon_unknown.svg to be in the staticfiles path. Prior to Django 1.9, you’ll need to manually add this icon or patch the template to remove it.

Sortable Many to Many Relations with Sortable Tabular Inlines

Sortable many to many relations can be achieved by creating a model to act as a juction table and adding an ordering field. This model can be specified on the models.ManyToManyField through parameter that tells the Django ORM to use your juction table instead of creating a default one. Otherwise, the process is conceptually similar to the above examples.

For example if you wished to have buttons added to control panel able to be sorted into order via the Django Admin interface you could do the following. A key feature of this approach is the ability for the same button to be used on more than one panel.

Initial data

In case you just changed your model to contain an additional sorting field (e.g. my_order), which does not yet contain any values, then you must set initial ordering values.

django-admin-sortable2 is shipping with a management command which can be used to prepopulate the ordering field:

shell> ./ reorder my_app.ModelOne [my_app.ModelTwo ...]

If you prefer to do a one-time database migration, just after having added the ordering field to the model, then create a datamigration.

..code:: python

shell> ./ makemigrations myapp

this creates non empty migration named something like migrations/

Edit the file and change it into a data migration:

def reorder(apps, schema_editor):
    MyModel = apps.get_model("myapp", "MyModel")
    order = 0
    for item in MyModel.objects.all():
        order += 1
        item.my_order = order

then add to operations list, after migrations. Add migrations.RunPython(reorder) to the list of operations:

class Migration(migrations.Migration):
    operations = [

then apply the changes to the database using:

shell> ./ migrate myapp


If you omit to prepopulate the ordering field with unique values, after adding this field to an existing model, then attempting to reorder field manually will fail.

Note on unique indices on the position field

From a design consideration, one might be tempted to add a unique index on the ordering field. But in practice this has serious drawbacks:

MySQL has a feature (or bug?) which requires to use the ORDER BY clause in bulk updates on unique fields.

SQLite has the same bug which is even worse, because it does neither update all the fields in one transaction, nor does it allow to use the ORDER BY clause in bulk updates.

Only PostgreSQL does it “right” in the sense, that it updates all fields in one transaction and afterwards rebuilds the unique index. Here one can not use the ORDER BY clause during updates, which from the point of view for SQL semantics, is senseless anyway.

See for details.

Therefore I strongly advise against setting unique=True on the position field, unless you want unportable code, which only works with Postgres databases.