You will not need much code to include formbar in your application to be able to render nice forms. Only a few lines of code are needed:

from formbar.config import Config, load
from formbar.form import Form
# Simple rendering here, no data submission
# nor validation or saving.
config = Config(load('/path/to/formconfig.xml'))
form_config = config.get_form('example')
form = Form(form_config)

This is of course just a very easy configuration. See sections below for more options on usage.

The configuration of the form happens in a XML configuration file. See Form configuration for more details on options to configura a form. Such a configuration file can be loaded by using the load() function to create a form configuration Config object.

As the form configuration usually contains more than one form configuration (different configurations for editing, reading or creating new items) you will need get the form configuration for a specific form by calling the get_form() method.

This configuration can be used to create a new Form.

Form configuration

There are some things which can be configured when initializing the form.

SQLAlchemy support

Formbar can work with mapped SQLAlchemy items. You can provide such an item as item attribute while initializing the form.


Formbar support translation of the following parts of the form:

  • Labels
  • Error and Warning messages
  • Help
  • Text

To make the translation work you will need to provide a translation function with the translate parameter while initializing a Form instance.

This translation function can be any function which behaves like a gettext method.

Use Custom renderers

To use custom renderers you will need to provide the classes of the renderes with the renderer parameter while initializing a Form instance.

The renderers are provided as a dictionary:

from import FooFieldRenderer, BarFieldRenderer
renderers = {
        "foo": FooFieldRenderer
        "bar": BarFieldRenderer

The key of the dictionary is the name of the type form the entities renderer in the the form configuration.

See Write custom renderes for more details on how to create a custom renderer.

Use Custom validators

Write me.

Rule evaluation

Rule evaluation on client side is done by sending AJAX requests to a specific URL which takes care of evaluating the submitted rules and returning the correct respose. The URL to which those requests are sent can be provided with the eval_url parameter.


Formbar can be run as server (See for more details). This server provides such an URL under localhost:8080/evaluate.

CSRF Token

Formbar supports rendering a hidden field in its form which includes the string provided as the csrf_token parameter while initializing the form.

The generated field look like this:

<input type="hidden" name="csrf_token" value="fe84d264dc7b9f25cce309c275464c1a60f6074a"/>

The value can be used on the server side to to some protection against CSRF Attacks.

If no parameter is provided no field will be generated.


See render() for more details on options for rendering the form.


To validate the submitted form data you can use the validate() function:

if form.validate(request.POST):
    errors = form.get_errors()
    warnings = form.get_warnings()
    submitted = form.submitted_data
    # Handle Error
    warnings = form.get_warnings()
    validated =
    # Handle Success

The validation will take care of correct conversation into python types and rule checking. In case the validated succeeds, the data attribute of the form will hold the converted python data based on the fields data type.

Saving data

Saving of the converted data after validation is usually done in the application and not by formbar. Although formbar provides a save() method for mapped SQLAlchemy items but this method is deprecated.

Generate specification

You can generate a specification based on the form configuration and additional Metadata (Specification) by using the command. parses Formbar XML configuration files in order to convert them to different formats. Its main purpose is to convert the XML data into a human-readable form specification in RST format.

A specification is generated per form. The command can be invoked like this:

python formbar/contrib/ --title Foo --form update /path/to/foo.xml > foo.rst

The –title parameter is optional. It will set the topmost heading of the specification to the given titel. Otherwise the name of the form will be used.

The –form parameter is optional. On default the “update” form will be used to generate the specification.