Using django-simple-menu

Usage Overview

django-simple-menu lets you define multiple different menus that you can access from within your templates. This way you can have a menu for your main navigation, another menu for logged in users, another menu for anonymous users, etc.


Since we use the menu namespace you will get ImportError if you have any files named, ensure you use a plural version:

To define your menus you need to create a file named inside of the app that you wish to hook menus up to. In the file you should import the Menu and MenuItem classes from the menu package:

from menu import Menu, MenuItem

The Menu class exposes a class method named add_item that accepts two arguments; the menu name you want to add to, and the MenuItem you’re going to add.

The MenuItem class should be instantiated and passed to the add_item class method with the appropriate parameters. MenuItem accepts a wide number of options to its constructor method, the majority of which are simply attributes that become available in your templates when you’re rendering out the menus. The required arguments to MenuItem are the first two; the title of the menu and the URL, and the keywords that affect menu generation are:

  • The weight keyword argument affects sorting of the menu.
  • The children keyword argument is either a list of MenuItem objects, or a callable which accepts the request object and returns a list.
  • The check keyword argument is a callable that accepts the request object and returns True or False if the MenuItem should be visible for this request

Additional kwargs can be passed to MenuItem and these will become available in your templates. For example adding separator=True could be used to add separators to menus {% if item.separator %}<li class="divider"></li>{% endif %}

For the full list of MenuItem options see the menu source file.

Usage Example


# Add two items to our main menu
Menu.add_item("main", MenuItem("Tools",

Menu.add_item("main", MenuItem("Reports",

# Define children for the my account menu
myaccount_children = (
    MenuItem("Edit Profile",
             check=lambda request: request.user.is_superuser),

# Add a My Account item to our user menu
Menu.add_item("user", MenuItem("My Account",

Once you have your menus defined you need to incorporate them into your templates. This is done through the generate_menu template tag:

{% extends "base.html" %}
{% load menu %}

{% block content %}
{% generate_menu %}
{% endblock %}

Note that generate_menu must be called inside of a block.

Once you call generate_menu all of your MenuItems will be evaluated and the following items will be set in the context for you.

  1. menus - This is an object that contains all of the lists of menus as attribute names:

    {% for item in menus.user %} ... {% endfor %}
  2. selected_menu - This is the MenuItem object of the most specific URL match.

  3. submenu - This is the submenu object of the most specific URL match.

  4. has_submenu - This is True or False if the selected menu has children.

See the bootstrap-navbar.html file in the templates dir of the source code for an example that renders menus for the Twitter Bootstrap Navbar Component. You can use it like:

{% with menu=menus.main %}{% include "bootstrap-navbar.html" %}{% endwith %}

Check generalizations

If your application is dynamic enough, or complex enough, you may find that you want to generalize your check logic based on a permissions model, or something similar. To accomplish this you can create your own custom MenuItem implementation with a check method.

This assumes you have a utils package.


from django.core.urlresolvers import resolve

from menu import MenuItem

class ViewMenuItem(MenuItem):
    """Custom MenuItem that checks permissions based on the view associated
    with a URL"""

    def check(self, request):
         """Check permissions based on our view"""
         is_visible = True
         match = resolve(self.url)

         # do something with match, and possibly change is_visible...

         self.visible = is_visible


from utils.menus import ViewMenuItem

from menu import Menu, MenuItem

from django.core.urlresolvers import reverse

# Since we use ViewMenuItem here we do not need to define checks, instead
# the check logic will change their visibility based on the permissions
# attached to the views we reverse here.
reports_children = (
     ViewMenuItem("Staff Only", reverse("reports.views.staff")),
     ViewMenuItem("Superuser Only", reverse("reports.views.superuser"))

Menu.add_item("main", MenuItem("Reports Index",