django-bulk-sync is a package to support the Django ORM that synthesizes the concepts of bulk_create, bulk_update, and delete into a single call: bulk_sync().

A Usage Scenario

Companies have zero or more Employees. You want to efficiently sync the names of all employees for a single Company from an import from that company, but some are added, updated, or removed. The simple approach is inefficient – read the import line by line, and:

For each of N records:

  • SELECT to check for the employee’s existence
  • UPDATE if it exists, INSERT if it doesn’t

Then figure out some way to identify what was missing and delete it. As is so often the case, the speed of this process is controlled mostly by the number of queries run, and here it is about two queries for every record, and so O(N).

Instead, with bulk_sync, we can avoid the O(N) number of queries, and simplify the logic we have to write as well.

Example Usage

from django.db.models import Q
from bulk_sync import bulk_sync

new_models = []
for line in company_import_file:
    # The `.id` (or `.pk`) field should not be set. Instead, `key_fields` 
    # tells it how to match.
    e = Employee(name=line['name'], phone_number=line['phone_number'], ...)

# `filters` controls the subset of objects considered when deciding to 
# update or delete.
filters = Q(company_id=501)  
# `key_fields` matches an existing object if all `key_fields` are equal.
key_fields = ('name', )  
ret = bulk_sync(

print("Results of bulk_sync: "
      "{created} created, {updated} updated, {deleted} deleted."

Under the hood, it will fetch the primary keys of all filtered objects, then atomically call bulk_create, bulk_update, and a single queryset delete() call, to correctly and efficiently update all fields of all employees for the filtered Company, using name to match properly.

Argument Reference

def bulk_sync(new_models, key_fields, filters, batch_size=None):

Combine bulk create, update, and delete. Make the DB match a set of in-memory objects.

  • new_models: An iterable of Django ORM Model objects that you want stored in the database. They may or may not have id set, but you should not have already called save() on them.
  • key_fields: Identifying attribute name(s) to match up new_models items with database rows. If a foreign key is being used as a key field, be sure to pass the fieldname_id rather than the fieldname.
  • filters: Q() filters specifying the subset of the database to work in.
  • batch_size: passes through to Django bulk_create.batch_size and bulk_update.batch_size, and controls how many objects are created/updated per SQL query.
def bulk_compare(old_models, new_models, key_fields, ignore_fields=None):

Compare two sets of models by key_fields.

  • old_models: Iterable of Django ORM objects to compare.
  • new_models: Iterable of Django ORM objects to compare.
  • key_fields: Identifying attribute name(s) to match up new_models items with database rows. If a foreign key is being used as a key field, be sure to pass the fieldname_id rather than the fieldname.
  • ignore_fields: (optional) If set, provide field names that should not be considered when comparing objects.
  • Returns dict of:
          'added': list of all added objects.
          'unchanged': list of all unchanged objects.
          'updated': list of all updated objects.
          'updated_details': dict of {obj: {field_name: (old_value, new_value)}} for all changed fields in each updated object.
          'removed': list of all removed objects.

Other techniques

A simpler overall approach might be to simply do this:

with transaction.atomic():

In some cases, this may be faster (as it skips the initial fetch). However, the bulk_sync approach has a number of advantages:

  • Primary key of existing objects will not change unnecessarily: This may be critical if you use it as a foreign key.
  • You cannot find statistics on how many were created/updated/deleted.
  • auto_now_add fields will be changed, incorrectly.

Installation and Quick Start

The package is available on pip as django-bulk-sync. Run:

pip install django-bulk-sync

then import via:

from bulk_sync import bulk_sync

And use as in the example above.