When faced with the need to do more complex things with the ORM in Django, it can be pretty frustrating. I happened upon a pretty interesting solution I’d like to share.

I needed to do some simple GROUP BY, but this trick can apply to all kinds of complicated SQL. The beauty of the ORM is that you can effectively pass around a SQL query and extend it. It encapsulates building a SQL String and saving associated params with that query. So, now, you want to do something more complicated, you need to use the “Escape Hatch” and use custom SQL, but you still need to begin with a QuerySet as a base. Here’s how:

from django.db import connections, router
from myproject.models import MyModel

qs = MyModel.objects.filter(...) # feel free to use the QuerySet API however

def do_custom_sql(qs):
    conn = connections[router.db_for_read(qs.model)]
    cursor = conn.cursor()

    # build the SQL and extract the params
    sql, params = qs.query.get_compiler(router.db_for_read(qs.model)).as_sql()

    # extract the WHERE clause
    where = sql[sql.index('WHERE') + 5:]

            , count(column2) as hits
        GROUP BY
            hits > 100
    ''' % {
        'table': conn.ops.quote_name(qs.model._meta.db_table),
        'where': where,
    }, params)

    for column1, hits in cursor.fetchall():

Now you can use the power of the ORM with the power of custom SQL. Of course there are caveats, but at least this is in your toolbox now and you’ll probably be able to figure it out from there.

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