Customising Form display

The React Components provided by newforms can help you get started quickly and offer a degreee of customisation, but you can completely customise the way a form is presented by rendering it yourself.

To assist with rendering, we introduce another concept which ties together Widgets, Fields and Forms:



A BoundField() is a helper for rendering HTML content for – and related to – a single Field.

It ties together the Field itself, the fields’s configured Widget, the name the field is given by the Form, and the raw user input data and validation errors held by a Form.

BoundFields provide properties and functions for using these together to render the different components required to display a field – its label, form inputs and validation error messages – as well as exposing the constituent parts of each of these should you wish to fully customise every aspect of form display.

Forms provide a number of methods for creating BoundFields. These are:

  • form.boundFieldsObj() – returns an object whose properties are the form’s field names, with BoundFields as values.
  • form.boundFields() – returns a list of BoundFields in their form-defined order.
  • form.boundField(fieldName) – returns the BoundField for the named field.

Every object which can generate ReactElement objects in newforms has a default render() method – for BoundFields, the default render() for a non-hidden field calls asWidget(), which renders the Widget the field is configured with.

A selection of the properties and methods of a BoundField which are useful for custom field rendering are listed below. For complete details, see the BoundField API.

Useful BoundField properties
The name of the field in the form.

The name the field will be represented by when rendered. If each Form and FormSet being used to render user inputs has a unique prefix, this is guaranteed to be a unique name.

As such, it’s a good candidate if you need a unique key prop for a React component related to each field.

The label text for the field, e.g. 'Email address'.
Any help text that has been associated with the field.

The Field() instance from the form, that this BoundField() wraps. You can use it to access field properties directly.

Newforms also adds a custom property to the Field API – you can pass this argument when creating a field to store any additional, custom metadata you want to associate with the field for later use.

Useful BoundField methods

Gets an object which holds any validation error messages for the field and has a default rendering to a <ul class="errorlist">.
Gets the first validation error message for the field as a String, or undefined if there are none, making it convenient for conditional display of error messages.
Generates the id that will be used for this field. You may want to use this in lieu of labelTag() if you are constructing the label manually.
Generates a <label> containing the field’s label text, with the appropriate htmlFor property.

By default, generates a <span className="helpText"> containing the field’s help text if it has some configured, but this can be configured with arguments.

New in version 0.10.


Gets the current validation status of the field as a string, one of:

  • 'pending' – has a pending async validation.
  • 'error' – has validation errors.
  • 'valid' – has neither of the above and data present in form.cleanedData.
  • 'default' – none of the above (likely hasn’t been interacted with or validated yet).

New in version 0.10.

Gets the value which will be displayed in the field’s user input.

boundFields() example

Using these, let’s customise rendering of our ContactForm. Rendering things in React is just a case of creating ReactElement objects, so the full power of JavaScript and custom React components are available to you.

For example, let’s customise rendering to add a CSS class to our form field rows and to put the checkbox for the ccMyself field inside its <label>:

function renderField(bf) {
  var className = 'form-field'
  if (bf.field instanceof forms.BooleanField) {
    return <div className={className}>
      <label>{bf.render()} {bf.label}</label>
      {bf.helpTextTag()} {bf.errors().render()}
  else {
    return <div className={className}>
      {bf.labelTag()} {bf.render()}
      {bf.helpTextTag()} {bf.errors().render()}

We still don’t need to do much work in our component’s render() method:

render: function() {
  return <form action="/contact" method="POST">
      <input type="submit" value="Submit"/>{' '}
      <input type="button" value="Cancel" onClick={this.onCancel}/>

Its initial rendered output is now:

<form action="/contact" method="POST">
  <div class="form-field"><label for="id_subject">Subject:</label> <input maxlength="100" type="text" name="subject" id="id_subject"></div>
  <div class="form-field"><label for="id_message">Message:</label> <input type="text" name="message" id="id_message"></div>
  <div class="form-field"><label for="id_sender">Sender:</label> <input type="email" name="sender" id="id_sender"></div>
  <div class="form-field"><label for="id_ccMyself"><input type="checkbox" name="ccMyself" id="id_ccMyself"> Cc myself</label></div>
  <div><input type="submit" value="Submit"> <input type="button" value="Cancel"></div>

boundFieldsObj() example

The following Form and FormSet will be used to take input for a number of items to be cooked:

var ItemForm = forms.Form.extend({
  name: Forms.CharField(),
  time: Forms.IntegerField(),
  tend: Forms.ChoiceField({required: false, choices: ['', 'Flip', 'Rotate']})

var ItemFormSet = forms.FormSet.extend({form: ItemForm, extra: 3})

The list of item forms will be presented as a <table> for alignment and compactness. We could use boundFields() as above and loop over each form’s fields, creating a <td> for each one, but what if we wanted to display a unit label alongside the “time” field and dynamically display some extra content alongside the “tend” field?

If every field needs to be rendered slightly differently, or needs to be placed individually into an existing layout, boundFieldsObj() provides a convenient way to access the form’s BoundFields by field name:

  {itemFormset.forms().map(function(itemForm, index) {
    var fields = itemForm.boundFieldsObj()
    return <tr>
      <td>{fields.time.render()} mins</td>
        {fields.tend.value() && ' halfway'}