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This documentation covers Review Board 4.0. You can see the latest Review Board documentation or all other versions.

Database Models

Writing Database Models

Extensions are able to provide Django models, which are database tables under the control of the extension. Review Board handles registering these models, creating the database tables, and performing any database schema migrations the extension defines.

Extensions use the same convention as Django apps when defining models. In order to define new models, a models.py file, or a models/ directory constituting a Python module needs to be created.

Here is an example models.py file:

from django.db import models

class MyExtensionsSampleModel(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=128)
    enabled = models.BooleanField(default=False)

See the Django models documentation for more information on how to write a model.


When an extension is disabled, tables for its models remain in the database. These should generally not interfere with anything, but is important to know.

Making Changes to Custom Models

Over time, you may need to make changes to your custom models. For instance, you might add another field to a model, or remove a field, or change some of the defaults for the field. When you make these changes, you’ll need to create an evolution file.

Evolution files are Python files that describe the changes being made to models. These are used by Django Evolution (a component used by Review Board) to make updates to your database the next time the extension is updated and re-enabled.

After you’ve made changes to your models, you can auto-generate a suitable evolution file for your changes by running:

$ ./reviewboard/manage.py evolve --hint


This assumes that you’re developing your extension against a standalone development install of Review Board. You should never develop against a production server!

You will also need to have the extension enabled for the above command to work.

Finally, never run evolve --hint --execute. Some of Django Evolution’s output may suggest these options, but these are not suitable for developing extensions. Don’t even be tempted to use these options.

This command will output a Python script for your evolution. It will look something like this:

from django_evolution.mutations import AddField
from django.db import models

    AddField('MyExtensionSampleModel', 'new_field',
             models.BooleanField, initial=False),

For simple additions and changes, the generated file will be sufficient. For more advanced usage, please see the Django Evolution documentation.

You will want to save the file in the evolutions/ directory. This directory would be located in the same directory containing models.py. You can name the saved file whatever you like, so long as it ends in .py.

Next, you’ll need to add this evolution file’s name to the “sequence” list in evolutions/__init__.py. This should look like:


(Note the lack of a .py on the name.)

Test this on your development system by disabling and re-enabling the extension. If all goes well, the extension should be enabled, and your database should contain the modified fields.

Adding Data to Review Board Models

Review Board ships with many different models for storing information on users, review requests, diffs, and more.

Your extension cannot modify these models! Trying to hack new fields onto the models by modifying the source code or monkey-patching will just result in database upgrade failures (which may require more extensive work by us to fix as part of a support incident).

You have a couple of options for augmenting data:

  1. Store data in the extra_data fields of models.

    Many of our models contain an extra_data field, which stores standard Python data types like strings, dictionaries, and lists. The field itself works like a dictionary.

    You can store data under a namespace within that field. We recommend using the extension’s ID for the namespace.

    For example:

    custom_data = review_request.extra_data.getdefault(MyExtension.id, {})
    custom_data['my_list'] = [1, 2, 3]
    custom_data['my_dict'] = {'foo': 'bar'}

    This data can be used by your extension and can be accessed and modified through the API. However, you cannot perform database queries based on the contents of this field.

  2. Use custom models.

    If you need to work with indexable fields, use a custom model as described above. You can associate this with ReviewRequest or other models using a django.db.models.ForeignKey, if you like:

    class MyCustomModel(models.Model):
        review_request = models.ForeignKey(ReviewRequest)

    You can then query your custom models based on the review request you want using Django’s standard querying capabilities.

Adding Models to the Admin Database Browser

By setting Extension.has_admin_site to True, an extension will be given its own database browser in the administration UI. This is also known as a “Django administration site,” but it’s not a full-fledged administration UI like Review Board’s.

To get to this “site,” you’ll click Database on the list of links for the extension, where you’d normally go to enable or disable the extension.

The extension will also have an Extension.admin_site attribute that points to the AdminSite object used. This is provided automatically, and is used primarily for the registration of models.

Only models that are registered will appear in the database browser. You can see the documentation on the Django admin site for details on how this works. For example:

from sample_extension.extension import SampleExtension
from sample_extension.models import SampleModel

# Register the Model so it will show up in the admin site.