Fork me on GitHub

What problems are solved with this?

Django's ORM is quite expressive, and lookups can be used to filter in a specific way, for example:


will search for MyModel objects where the title satisfies a certain regex. Sometimes we however might want to do the opposite: a model might contain a lot of regex patterns, we are given a string to satisfy these, and then want to find the MyModels that have a pattern that contains this regex.

At the moment of writing there is no reverse lookup: we can not perform a MyModel.objects.filter(pattern__reverse_regex='test_string') where pattern is a field in MyModel that contains the regex, and we want to look for MyModels where the pattern accepts in this case 'test_string' as a string for this pattern.

What does this pattern look like?

A simple, but a bit "ugly" way to solve this is by using .alias(…) [Django-doc] to "inject" the value as a field in the queryset and then thus query with that "field", we can then use an F expression [Django-doc] to refer to the pattern field. This thus then looks like:

from django.db.models import F, Value


Since we use .alias(…) the value will not appear in the SELECT clause, which is a good thing, but it looks a bit "hacky".

But probably a more robust, and clearer way to show what we are doing, is building a query object like Django does behind the curtains when we perform lookups. Indeed, if we write pattern__regex, it makes a lookup for a field named pattern, and inspects what type of field it is. For a CharField a different set of lookups will be "registered". If we then write __regex, it will start looking for a lookup registered at this field with the name regex. These lookups typically reside in the django.db.models.lookups module. For this specific case, this is the Regex class. We thus can construct such query with:

from django.db.models import F, Value
from django.db.models.lookups import Regex

MyModel.objects.filter(Regex(Value('test_string'), F('pattern')))

This is equivalent to the query above, but makes it clear we want to filter based on a regex, where Value('test_string') is the string we want to test, and the field pattern (F('pattern')) is the regex we will use to test the string.