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Filtered aggregates lands in Django 2.0!
May 12, 2018
2 minutes read

Big Django projects often suffer from a few problems regarding database modelling and relations. Django provides incredibly easy to use tools to model your domain along with an awesomely powerful ORM to query on them. Often back office reporting software written in Django makes extensive use of the annotations and aggregations features:

annotated_employees = Employee.objects.annotate(

for employee in annotated_employees:
    print(f'Expense total: {employee.total_expenses}')
    print(f'Holidays taken: {employee.total_holidays}')

This works well but you run into an immediate problem if you want to only count taken holidays or approved expenses. The results of the computations above give no way to filter on the subset of rows you want to aggregate. This is a problem that I ran into a lot, so much so that I decided to have a go at fixing it in Django itself.

I’m happy to say that this was merged and released in Django 2.0! All built in aggregations now take a filter argument that is a Q object, allowing you to do advanced filtering on all rows. You can even filter on sub-relations!

annotated_employees = Employee.objects.annotate(
    total_expenses=Sum('expenses__cost', filter=Q(is_approved=True)),
    total_holidays=Count('holidays', filter=Q(cancelled=False)),
    total_expenses_approved_by_dave=Sum('expenses__cost', filter=Q(approved_by__username='dave')),

The implementation

The SQL 2003 standard provides a nice way to do this: SUM(field) FILTER (WHERE ...). Unfortunately only Postgres supports this syntax, so for all other backends we emulate it with a CASE statement:

SUM(CASE WHEN condition THEN field)

This works because SUM() and other built in aggregates ignore NULL values, and if condition is false then NULL is returned.

Tags: django

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