3.1 release notes

django CMS 3.1 has been planned largely as a consolidation release, to build on the progress made in 3.0 and establish a safe, solid base for more ambitious work in the future.

In this release we have tried to maintain maximum backwards-compatibility, particularly for third-party applications, and endeavoured to identify and tidy loose ends in the system wherever possible.


Upgrading from previous versions

3.1 introduces some changes that require action if you are upgrading from a previous version. Please read Upgrading django CMS 3.0 to 3.1 for a step-by-step guide to the process of upgrading from 3.0 to 3.1.

What’s new in 3.1

Switch from MPTT to MP

Since django CMS 2.0 we have relied on MPTT (Modified Pre-order Tree Traversal) for efficiently handling tree structures in the database.

In 3.1, Django MPTT has been replaced by django-treebeard, to improve performance and reliability.

Over the years MPTT has proved not to be fast enough for big tree operations (>1000 pages); tree corruption, because of transactional errors, has also been a problem.

django-treebeard uses MP (Materialised Path). MP is more efficient and has more error resistance then MPTT. It should make working with and using django CMS better - faster and reliable.

Other than this, end users should not notice any changes.


User feedback required

We require as much feedback as possible about the performance of django-treebeard in this release. Please let us know your experiences with it, especially if you encounter any problems.


Backward incompatible change

While most of the low-level interface is very similar between django-mptt and django-treebeard they are not exactly the same. If any custom code needs to make use of the low-level interfaces of the page or plugins tree, please see the django-treebeard documentation for information on how to use equivalent calls in django-treebeard.


Handling plugin data migrations

Please check Plugin data migrations for information on how to create migrations compatible with django CMS 3.0 and 3.1

Action required

Run manage.py cms fix-mptt before you upgrade.

Developers who use django CMS will need to run the schema and data migrations that are part of this release. Developers of third-party applications that relied on the Django MPTT that shipped with django CMS are advised to update their own applications so that they install it independently.

Dropped support for Django 1.4 and 1.5

Starting from version 3.1, django CMS runs on Django 1.6 (specifically, 1.6.9 and later) and 1.7.


Django security support

Django 1.6 support is provided as an interim measure only. In accordance with the Django Project’s security policies, 1.6 no longer receives security updates from the Django Project team. Projects running on Django 1.6 have known vulnerabilities, so you are advised to upgrade your installation to 1.7 or 1.8 as soon as possible.

Action required

If you’re still on an earlier version, you will need to install a newer one, and make sure that your third-party applications are also up-to-date with it before attempting to upgrade django CMS.

South is now an optional dependency

As Django South is now required for Django 1.6 only, it’s marked as an optional dependency.

Action required

To install South along with django CMS use pip install django-cms[south].

Changes to PlaceholderAdmin.add_plugin

Historically, when a plugin was added to django CMS, a POST request was made to the PlaceholderAdmin.add_plugin endpoint (and going back into very ancient history before PlaceholderAdmin existed, it was PageAdmin.add_plugin). This would create an instance of CMSPlugin, but not an instance of the actual plugin model itself. It would then let the user agent edit the created plugin, which when saved would put the database back in to a consistent state, with a plugin instance connected to the otherwise empty and meaningless CMSPlugin.

In some cases, “ghost plugins” would be created, if the process of creating the plugin instance failed or were interrupted, for example by the broswer window’s being closed.

This would leave orphaned CMSPlugin instances in the database without any data. This could result pages not working at all, due to the resulting database inconsistencies.

This issue has now been solved. Calling CMSPluginBase.add_plugin with a GET request now serves the form for creating a new instance of a plugin. Then on submitting that form via POST, the plugin is created in its entirety, ensuring a consistent database and an end to ghost plugins.

However, to solve it some backwards incompatible changes to non-documented APIs that developers might have used have had to be made.

CMSPluginBase permission hooks

Until now, CMSPluginBase.has_delete_permission, CMSPluginBase.has_change_permission and CMSPluginBase.has_add_permission were handled by a single method, which used an undocumented and unreliable property on CMSPluginBase instances (or subclasses thereof) to handle permission management.

In 3.1, CMSPluginBase.has_add_permission is its own method that implements proper permission checking for adding plugins.

If you want to work with those APIs, see the Django documentation for more on the permission methods.


Prior to 3.1, this method would only ever be called with an actual instance available.

As of 3.1, this method will be called without an instance (the obj argument to the method will be None) if the form is used to add a plugin, rather than editing it. Again, this is in line with how Django’s ModelAdmin works.

If you need access to the Placeholder object to which the plugin will be added, the request object is guaranteed to have a placeholder_id key in request.GET, which is the primary key of the Placeholder object to which the plugin will be added. Similarly, plugin_language in request.GET holds the language code of the plugin to be added.


This method used to never be called, but as of 3.1 it will be. Should you need to hook into this method, you may want to use the CMSPluginBase.add_view_check_request method to verify that a request made to this view is valid. This method will perform integrity and permission checks for the GET parameters of the request.

Migrations moved

Migrations directories have been renamed to conform to the new standard layout:

  • Django 1.7 migrations: in the default cms/migrations and menus/migrations directories
  • South migrations: in the cms/south_migrations and menus/south_migrations directories

Action required

South 1.0.2 or newer is required to handle the new layout correctly, so make sure you have that installed.

If you are upgrading from django CMS 3.0.x running on Django 1.7 you need to remove the old migration path from MIGRATION_MODULES settings.

Plugins migrations moving process

Core plugins are being changed to follow the new convention for the migration modules, starting with djangocms_text_ckeditor 2.5 released together with django CMS 3.1.

Action required

Check the readme file of each plugin when upgrading to know the actions required.

Structure mode permission

A new Can use Structure mode* permission has been added.

Without this permission, a non-superuser will no longer have access to structure mode. This makes possible a more strict workflow, in which certain users are able to edit content but not structure.

This change includes a data migration that adds the new permission to any staff user or group with cms.change_page permission.

Action required

You may need to adjust these permissions once you have completed migrating your database.

Note that if you have existing users in your database, but are installing django CMS and running its migrations for the first time, you will need to grant them these permissions - they will not acquire them automatically.

Simplified loading of view restrictions in the menu

The system that loads page view restrictions into the menu has been improved, simplifying the queries that are generated, in order to make it faster.


User feedback required

We require as much feedback as possible about the performance of this feature in this release. Please let us know your experiences with it, especially if you encounter any problems.

Toolbar API extension

The toolbar API has been extended to permit more powerful use of it in future development, including the use of “clipboard-like” items.

For an example of how this can be used, see the new Aldryn Blueprint application.

Per-namespace apphook configuration

django CMS provides a new API to define namespaced Apphook configurations.

Aldryn Apphooks Config has been created and released as a standard implementation to take advantage of this, but other implementations can be developed.

Improvements to the toolbar user interface

Some minor changes have been implemented to improve the toolbar user interface. The old Draft/Live switch has been replaced to achieve a more clear distinction between page states, and Edit and Save as draft buttons are now available in the toolbar to control the page editing workflow.

Placeholder language fallback default to True

language_fallback in CMS_PLACEHOLDER_CONF is True by default.

New template tags


The family of render_model template tags that allow Django developers to make any Django model editable in the frontend has been extended with render_model_add_block, which can offer arbitrary markup as the Edit icon (rather than just an image as previously).


Some user interfaces have some plugins hidden from display in edit/preview mode. render_plugin_block provides a way to expose them for editing, and also more generally provides an alternative means of triggering a plugin’s change form.

Plugin table naming

Old-style plugin table names (for example, cmsplugin_<plugin name> are no longer supported. Relevant code has been removed.

Action required

Any plugin table name must be migrated to the standard (<application name>_<table name> layout.

cms.context_processors.media replaced by cms.context_processors.cms_settings

Action required

Replace the cms.context_processors.media with cms.context_processors.cms_settings in settings.py.

Upgrading django CMS 3.0 to 3.1

Preliminary steps

Before upgrading, please make sure that your current database is consistent and in a healthy state.

To ensure this, run two commands:

  • python manage.py cms delete_orphaned_plugins
  • python manage.py cms fix-mptt

Make a copy of the database before proceeding further.

Settings update

  • Change cms.context_processors.media to cms.context_processors.cms_settings in TEMPLATE_CONTEXT_PROCESSORS.
  • Add treebeard to INSTALLED_APPS, and remove mptt if not required by other applications.
  • If using Django 1.7 remove cms and menus from MIGRATION_MODULES to support the new migration layout.
  • If migrating from Django 1.6 and below to Django 1.7, remove south from installed_apps.
  • Eventually set language_fallback to False in CMS_PLACEHOLDER_CONF if you do not want language fallback behaviour for placeholders.

Update the database

  • Rename plugin table names, to conform to the new naming scheme (see above). Be warned that not all third-party plugin applications may provide these migrations - in this case you will need to rename the table manually. Following the upgrade, django CMS will look for the tables for these plugins under their new name, and will report that they don’t exist if it can’t find them.

  • The migration for MPTT to django-treebeard is handled by the django CMS migrations, thus apply migrations to update your database:

    python manage.py migrate