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7. How to do a subquery expression in Django?

Django allows using SQL subqueries. Let’s start with something simple, We have a UserParent model which has OnetoOne relation with auth user. We will find all the UserParent which have a UserParent.

>>> from django.db.models import Subquery
>>> users = User.objects.all()
>>> UserParent.objects.filter(user_id__in=Subquery(users.values('id')))
<QuerySet [<UserParent: UserParent object (2)>, <UserParent: UserParent object (5)>, <UserParent: UserParent object (8)>]>

Now for something more complex. For each Category, we want to find the most benevolent Hero.

The models look something like this.

class Category(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=100)


class Hero(models.Model):
    # ...
    name = models.CharField(max_length=100)
    category = models.ForeignKey(Category, on_delete=models.CASCADE)

    benevolence_factor = models.PositiveSmallIntegerField(
        help_text="How benevolent this hero is?",
        default=50
    )

You can find the most benevolent Hero like this

hero_qs = Hero.objects.filter(
    category=OuterRef("pk")
).order_by("-benevolence_factor")
Category.objects.all().annotate(
    most_benevolent_hero=Subquery(
        hero_qs.values('name')[:1]
    )
)

If you look at the generated sql, you will see

SELECT "entities_category"."id",
       "entities_category"."name",

  (SELECT U0."name"
   FROM "entities_hero" U0
   WHERE U0."category_id" = ("entities_category"."id")
   ORDER BY U0."benevolence_factor" DESC
   LIMIT 1) AS "most_benevolent_hero"
FROM "entities_category"

Let’s break down the queryset logic. The first part is

hero_qs = Hero.objects.filter(
    category=OuterRef("pk")
).order_by("-benevolence_factor")

We are ordering the Hero object by benevolence_factor in DESC order, and using category=OuterRef("pk") to declare that we will be using it in a subquery.

Then we annotate with most_benevolent_hero=Subquery(hero_qs.values('name')[:1]), to get use the subquery with a Category queryset. The hero_qs.values('name')[:1] part picks up the first name from subquery.

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