Set Fields


These field classes are only maintained for legacy purposes. They aren’t recommended as comma separation is a fragile serialization format.

For new uses, you’re better off using Django 3.1’s JSONField that works with all database backends. On earlier versions of Django, you can use django-jsonfield-backport.

Two fields that store sets of a base field in comma-separated strings - cousins of Django’s CommaSeparatedIntegerField. There are two versions: SetCharField, which is based on CharField and appropriate for storing sets with a small maximum size, and SetTextField, which is based on TextField and therefore suitable for sets of (near) unbounded size (the underlying LONGTEXT MySQL datatype has a maximum length of 232 - 1 bytes).

SetCharField(base_field, size=None, **kwargs):

A field for storing sets of data, which all conform to the base_field.


The base type of the data that is stored in the set. Currently, must be IntegerField, CharField, or any subclass thereof - except from SetCharField itself.


Optionally set the maximum number of elements in the set. This is only checked on form validation, not on model save!

As SetCharField is a subclass of CharField, any CharField options can be set too. Most importantly you’ll need to set max_length to determine how many characters to reserve in the database.

Example instantiation:

from django.db.models import IntegerField, Model
from django_mysql.models import SetCharField

class LotteryTicket(Model):
    numbers = SetCharField(
        max_length=(6 * 3),  # 6 two digit numbers plus commas

In Python simply set the field’s value as a set:

>>> lt = LotteryTicket.objects.create(numbers={1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32})
>>> lt.numbers
{1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32}
>>> lt.numbers.remove(1)
>>> lt.numbers.add(3)
>>> lt.numbers
{32, 3, 2, 4, 8, 16}

Validation on save()

When performing the set-to-string conversion for the database, SetCharField performs some validation, and will raise ValueError if there is a problem, to avoid saving bad data. The following are invalid:

  • If there is a comma in any member’s string representation

  • If the empty string is stored.

The default form field is SimpleSetField.

SetTextField(base_field, size=None, **kwargs):

The same as SetCharField, but backed by a TextField and therefore much less restricted in length. There is no max_length argument.

Example instantiation:

from django.db.models import IntegerField, Model
from django_mysql.models import SetTextField

class Post(Model):
    tags = SetTextField(

Querying Set Fields


These fields are not built-in datatypes, and the filters use one or more SQL functions to parse the underlying string representation. They may slow down on large tables if your queries are not selective on other columns.


The contains lookup is overridden on SetCharField and SetTextField to match where the set field contains the given element, using MySQL’s FIND_IN_SET (docs: MariaDB / MySQL).

For example:

>>> Post.objects.create(name="First post", tags={"thoughts", "django"})
>>> Post.objects.create(name="Second post", tags={"thoughts"})
>>> Post.objects.create(name="Third post", tags={"tutorial", "django"})

>>> Post.objects.filter(tags__contains="thoughts")
[<Post: First post>, <Post: Second post>]

>>> Post.objects.filter(tags__contains="django")
[<Post: First post>, <Post: Third post>]

>>> Post.objects.filter(Q(tags__contains="django") & Q(tags__contains="thoughts"))
[<Post: First post>]


ValueError will be raised if you try contains with a set. It’s not possible without using AND in the query, so you should add the filters for each item individually, as per the last example.


A transform that converts to the number of items in the set. For example:

>>> Post.objects.filter(tags__len=1)
[<Post: Second post>]

>>> Post.objects.filter(tags__len=2)
[<Post: First post>, <Post: Third post>]

>>> Post.objects.filter(tags__len__lt=2)
[<Post: Second post>]

SetF() expressions

Similar to Django’s F expression, this allows you to perform an atomic add or remove on a set field at the database level:

>>> from django_mysql.models import SetF
>>> Post.objects.filter(tags__contains="django").update(
...     tags=SetF("tags").add("programming")
... )
>>> Post.objects.update(tags=SetF("tags").remove("thoughts"))

Or with attribute assignment to a model:

>>> post = Post.objects.earliest("id")
>>> post.tags = SetF("tags").add("python")
class django_mysql.models.SetF(field_name)

You should instantiate this class with the name of the field to use, and then call one of its two methods with a value to be added/removed.

Note that unlike F, you cannot chain the methods - the SQL involved is a bit too complicated, and thus you can only perform a single addition or removal.


Takes an expression and returns a new expression that will take the value of the original field and add the value to the set if it is not contained:

post.tags = SetF("tags").add("python")

Takes an expression and returns a new expression that will remove the given item from the set field if it is present:

post.tags = SetF("tags").remove("python")


Both of the above methods use SQL expressions with user variables in their queries, all of which start with @tmp_. This shouldn’t affect you much, but if you use user variables in your queries, beware for any conflicts.