Django — Easily save your model instances with dumpdata and loaddata

So I’ve always wanted to know how to write the XML fixtures for automatically loading my project db with initial data, but I always thought I’d have to learn something so I stayed away and simply entered test data by hand.

Boy was I wrong.

I had to manually write shipping tables for several shipping categories / states and state tax rates so I wanted them in a fixture I could simply load into django anywhere else.

Turns out it is amazingly easy.

Note: I previously used format=xml in this example but I’ve since switched to json (the default) because I was getting parser errors when I tried to loaddata the xml files

python dumpdata --indent=4 > shipping_fixture.json

python dumpdata
dumps all of your apps. add your app afterwards to dump only one piece.

Notice the command simply has a long output and no options to save it to a file somewhere. That’s where you use > to specify a file to write the data to.

–indent=4 just adds indentation because the default writes all data at the beginning of the line.

python loaddata shipping_fixture.json will load your data. You can also add a default fixtures setting in to have commands like flush delete the db & repopulate with your fixture.

Great stuff.. who knew it would be so freaking easy.


  1. I spent 3 hours figuring out why my fixtures wouldn’t work thanks to the use of “>>” in this article.

    Use “>” instead. It doesn’t append.

  2. Not so great if you have a million records and not enough RAM to hold them all…dumpdata will churn through your swap all day… and when you try loaddata… don’t get me started. Thank goodness for Django 1.5 which fixes the loaddata swap churn, but not so sure about dumpdata.

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