Introduction to choicelists


Whenever in plain Django you use a choices attribute on a database field, in Lino you probably prefer using a ChoiceList instead.

A ChoiceList is an ordered in-memory list of choices. Each of these choices has a "value", a "text" and a optionally a "name". The text of a choice is what the user sees. It is usually translatable. The value is what is stored in the database. The name can be used to refer to a given choice from programmatically.

You can use a choicelist for much more than filling the choices attribute of a database field. You can display a choicelist as a table (using show in a doctest or by adding it to the main menu). You can refer to individual items programmatically using their name. You can subclass the choices and add application logic.


The examples in this document use the lino_book.projects.min2 project.

>>> from lino import startup
>>> startup('lino_book.projects.min2.settings.demo')
>>> from lino.api.doctest import *

For example Lino's calendar plugin ( defines a choicelist Weekdays which has 7 choices, one for each day of the week.

======= =========== ===========
 value   name        text
------- ----------- -----------
 1       monday      Monday
 2       tuesday     Tuesday
 3       wednesday   Wednesday
 4       thursday    Thursday
 5       friday      Friday
 6       saturday    Saturday
 7       sunday      Sunday
======= =========== ===========

Another example is the Genders choicelist defined in the lino.modlib.system plugin.

======= ======== ========
 value   name     text
------- -------- --------
 M       male     Male
 F       female   Female
======= ======== ========

Accessing choicelists

ChoiceLists are actors. Like every actor, choicelists are never instantiated. They are just the class object itself and as such globally available

You can either import them or use lino.api.rt.models to access them (see Accessing plugins for the difference):

>>> from import Weekdays
>>> Weekdays
>>> Weekdays is
>>> from lino.modlib.system.choicelists import Genders
>>> Genders is rt.models.system.Genders

You can also write code that dynamically resolves a string of type app_label.ListName to resolve them:

>>> rt.models.resolve('cal.Weekdays') is Weekdays

Defining choicelists

Here is how the choicelist has been defined:

class Weekdays(dd.ChoiceList):
    verbose_name = _("Weekday")

add = Weekdays.add_item
add('1', _('Monday'), 'monday')
add('2', _('Tuesday'), 'tuesday')

This is the easiest case.

More complex examples, including choicelists with extended choices:

Accessing individual choices

Each row of a choicelist is a choice, more precisely an instance of lino.core.choicelists.Choice or a subclass thereof.

Each Choice has a "value", a "text" and a (optionally) "name".

The value is what gets stored when this choice is assigned to a database field. It must be unique because it is the analog of primary key.

>>> [rmu(g.value) for g in Genders.objects()]
['M', 'F']

The text is what the user sees. It is a translatable string, implemented using Django's i18n machine:

>>> Genders.male.text.__class__  
<class 'django.utils.functional....__proxy__'>

Calling str() of a choice is (usually) the same as calling str() on its text attribute:

>>> [str(g) for g in Genders.objects()]
['Male', 'Female']

The text of a choice depends on the current user language.

>>> from django.utils import translation
>>> with translation.override('fr'):
...     [str(g) for g in Genders.objects()]
['Masculin', 'F\xe9minin']
>>> with translation.override('de'):
...     [str(g) for g in Genders.objects()]
['M\xe4nnlich', 'Weiblich']
>>> with translation.override('et'):
...     [str(g) for g in Genders.objects()]
['Mees', 'Naine']

The text of a choice is a translatable string, while value and name remain unchanged:

>>> with translation.override('fr'):
======= =========== ==========
 value   name        text
------- ----------- ----------
 1       monday      Lundi
 2       tuesday     Mardi
 3       wednesday   Mercredi
 4       thursday    Jeudi
 5       friday      Vendredi
 6       saturday    Samedi
 7       sunday      Dimanche
======= =========== ==========

Named choices

A choice can optionally have a name, which makes it accessible as class attributes on its choicelist so that application code can refer to this particular choice.

>>> Weekdays.monday
>>> Genders.male
>>> rmu([ for g in Genders.objects()])
['male', 'female']
>>> rmu(' '.join([ for d in Weekdays.objects()]))
'monday tuesday wednesday thursday friday saturday sunday'

Choicelist fields

You use the Weekdays choicelist in a model definition as follows:

from import Weekdays

class WeeklyEvent(dd.Model):
    day_of_week = Weekdays.field(default=Weekdays.monday)

This adds a database field whose value is an instance of lino.core.choicelists.Choice.

A choicelist field is like a ForeignKey field, but instead of pointing to a database object it points to a Choice. For the underlying database it is actually a CharField which contains the value (not the name) of its choice.

The lino.mixins.human.Human mixin uses the Genders choicelist as follows:

class Human(Model):
    gender = Genders.field(blank=True)

Because lino_xl.lib.contacts.Person inherits from Human, you can use this when you want to select all men:

>>> Person = rt.models.contacts.Person
>>> list(Person.objects.filter(gender=Genders.male))
[Person #114 ('Mr Hans Altenberg'), Person #112 ('Mr Andreas Arens'), ...]

A ChoiceList has an get_list_items() method which returns an iterator over its choices:

>>> print(Genders.get_list_items())
[<Genders.male:M>, <Genders.female:F>]

Note that objects() is a deprecated alias for get_list_items().

Customizing choicelists

When we say that choicelists are "constant" or "hard-coded", then we should add "for a given Lino site". They can be modified either by a child application or locally by the system administrator.

See workflows_module and user_types_module.

Sorting choicelists

Lino displays the choices of a choicelist in a combobox in their natural order of how they have been added to the list.

You can explicitly call Choicelist.sort() to sort them. This makes sense e.g. in lino_presto.lib.ledger where we add a new journal group "Orders" which we want to come before any other journal groups.


Comparing Choices uses their value (not the name nor text):

>>> UserTypes = rt.models.users.UserTypes
>>> UserTypes.admin > UserTypes.user
>>> UserTypes.admin == '900'
>>> UserTypes.admin == 'manager'
>>> UserTypes.admin == ''