Populating a table with data

Tables can be created from a range of input data structures. If you’ve seen the tutorial you’ll have seen a queryset being used, however any iterable that supports len() and contains items that expose key-based access to column values is fine.

List of dicts

An an example we will demonstrate using list of dicts. When defining a table it is necessary to declare each column:

import django_tables2 as tables

data = [
    {'name': 'Bradley'},
    {'name': 'Stevie'},

class NameTable(tables.Table):
    name = tables.Column()

table = NameTable(data)


If you build use tables to display QuerySet data, rather than defining each column manually in the table, the Table.Meta.model option allows tables to be dynamically created based on a model:

# models.py
class Person(models.Model):
    first_name = models.CharField(max_length=200)
    last_name = models.CharField(max_length=200)
    user = models.ForeignKey('auth.User')
    dob = models.DateField()

# tables.py
import django_tables2 as tables

class PersonTable(tables.Table):
    class Meta:
        model = Person

# views.py
def person_list(request):
    table = PersonTable(Person.objects.all())

    return render(request, 'person_list.html', {
        'table': table

This has a number of benefits:

  • Less repetition
  • Column headers are defined using the field’s verbose_name
  • Specialized columns are used where possible (e.g. DateColumn for a DateField)

When using this approach, the following options might be useful to customize what fields to show or hide:

  • sequence – reorder columns
  • fields – specify model fields to include
  • exclude – specify model fields to exclude


Django-tables tries to be efficient in displaying big datasets. It tries to avoid converting the QuerySet instances to lists by using SQL to slice the data and should be able to handle datasets with 100k records without a problem.

However, when using one of the customisation methods described in this documentation, there is lot’s of oppurtunity to introduce slowness. If you experience that, try to strip the table of customisations and re-add them one by one, checking for performance after each step.