Table Of Contents


The @paginate() decorator transparently divides query results into subsets for easier or more useful display. The template of any controller method for which a paginate decorator is defined receives the query results and pagination-specific parameters. The controller just needs to do specify a dataset that shall be paginated, e.g. by passing an SQLObject/SQLAlchemy query. The paginate package also includes a DataGrid-based Widget (PaginateDataGrid) that extends the basic DataGrid widget template to use the pagination-specific parameters.

Basic Usage

The following example (and all of the examples on this page) assume a database table named Person with the columns name and age. These examples are taken from the pagedemo1 application attached to this page.

Here is what the controller for a non-DataGrid based pagination implementation looks like:

def paginate1(self):
    return dict(persons=Person.query)

This assumes that you use the SQLAlchemy ORM. For SQLObject, simply replace Person.query with The ORM defers actually executing a query until a particular result is used. The controller code above defines a result set (persons) but doesn’t actually use any of the results. This allows the paginate decorator to control which rows are fetched. Here, the @paginate() decorator examines the controller’s return dictionary, finding the persons result set. The decorator modifies the persons object to return a limited number of results, sets a number of variables, and passes everything to the template.

Here is the accompanying template code for this decorator:

<p><b py:for="page in tg.paginate.pages">
    <a py:strip="page == tg.paginate.current_page"
        href="${tg.paginate.get_href(page)}" py:content="page"/></b></p>
<table border="1">
    <tr py:for="person in persons">
        <td py:content=""/><td py:content="person.age"/>

Aside from the code that uses tg.paginate, this is exactly what you would expect to work with a query result. The tg.paginate object is automatically created by the paginate decorator and filled with the data relevant for this page. If you click the numeric links provided by this template, it will take you to the appropriate page in the query result. Let’s take a look at the changes made to your page’s URL that are used to handle pagination. Here is a sample taken from paginate1:

  • tg_paginate_limit tells the decorator how many results are displayed per page. It defaults to 10 items, and you can control if users are allowed to override it (by default overrides are disabled).
  • tg_paginate_no indicates the current page number. We are currently looking at page two of the entire set.
  • tg_paginate_order is used when query ordering is specified in the decorator. When available it can be used to reorder the results based on different columns.

tg.paginate in Detail

Before we spend any more time looking at the @paginate() decorator, it is probably a good idea to review what the tg.paginate object does. This is used to communicate pagination information to the template. It contains a number of useful variables and the method get_href, which is used to build pagination-aware links. Here is a breakdown of what the member variables contain:

  • tg.paginate.pages - a list of the individual page numbers
  • tg.paginate.current_page - holds the page number of the current page
  • tg.paginate.href_next - a url that leads you to the next page in the sequence
  • tg.paginate.href_prev - href_next‘s expected cousin. Provides the previous page in the sequence
  • tg.paginate.href_last - Provides the last page in the sequence
  • tg.paginate.href_first - href_last‘s expected cousin. Provides the first page in the sequence
  • tg.paginate.page_count - the total number of pages in the result set
  • tg.paginate.limit - the number of query results shown per page
  • tg.paginate.order - the database column used to order query results, if one is provided
  • tg.paginate.reversed - a boolean value stating if the results determined by tg.paginate.order are displayed in normal or reversed order
  • tg.paginate.ordering - the database columns used to order query results, if other columns have been ordered before as well
  • tg.paginate.input_values - this is used internally by the pagination system, primarily to build links; you will probably not need to alter it


The tg.paginate.get_href method builds a url pointing to the page number specified. It uses tg.paginate.input_values to do it’s work, so ordering (and reversing) results by column will be maintained automatically unless you specify a new value. Here are the parameters for this method:

  • page (required) - the number of the page the link should point to
  • order (optional, default is None) - the column in the query result that should be used to order results

@paginate() in Detail

The @paginate decorator examines the output of the controller function it is decorating, makes some modifications to the dataset it has been instructed to modify, adds a pagination-specific variable (tg.paginate) and sends the newly modified controller function result to the template. The dataset that is handled by @paginate can be an SQLObject SelectResult, an SQLAlchemy Query, a list of Python objects with data fields in (nested) attributes, or a list of Python dicts. Here are the arguments that the paginate decorator accepts:

  • var_name (required) - the name of the variable in the dictionary returned by the controller that specifies the dataset @paginate will be modifying
  • default_order (optional, default is an empty string) - This is the name of the column that will be used to order pagination results. You can also specify a list of column names for ordering in that sequence. If you prefix column names with a ‘-‘, then these columns will be sorted in reversed order. Due to the way pagination is implemented, specifying a default_order will override any result ordering performend in the controller.
  • limit (optional, default is 10) - the number of results to return per page
  • max_limit (optional, default is 0) - the maximum number to which the imposed limit can be increased using the “var_name”_tgp_limit keyword argument in the URL. If this is set to 0 (the default), no dynamic change at all will be allowed; if it is set to None, any change will be allowed.
  • max_pages (optional, default is 5) - This is used to generate the tg.paginate.pages variable. If the page count is larger than max_pages, tg.paginate.pages will only contain the page numbers surrounding the current page at a distance of 1/2 max_pages. For example, if you have fifteen pages in your result, and are currently on page seven with max_pages set to five, tg.pageinate.pages will contain [5,6,7,8,9]
  • max_sort (optional, default is 1000) - the maximum number of records that will be sorted in memory if the data cannot be sorted using SQL. If set to 0, sorting in memory will never be performed; if set to None, no limit will be imposed.
  • dynamic_limit - If specified, this parameter must be the name of a key present in the dictionary returned by your decorated controller. The value found for this key will be used as the limit for our pagination and will override the other settings, the hard-coded one declared in the decorator itself AND the URL parameter one. This enables the programmer to store a limit settings inside the application preferences and then let the user manage it.

Some of the variables in tg.paginate, and thus some of the parameters in the URL will affect the behavior of the @paginate decorator. Those URL parameters and their effects are reviewed below:

  • tg_order - If default_order has been specified, the column given in this parameter is used to override the one defined in default_order.
  • tg_paginate_limit - If max_limit is not set to 0, this value will be used instead of the limit argument given to @paginate.


By itself the paginate decorator is already very useful. However, one of the most common uses for paginate is to limit the amount of data displayed in a table, and we already have a widget that takes care of most of the work for this: DataGrid. The paginate system provides an extension to this widget that handles paged data: PaginateDataGrid. The PaginateDataGrid widget does not change the functionality of DataGrid, it simply adds pagination features to the template. To use PaginateDataGrid instead of a regular DataGrid, you only need to add the paginate decorator to your controller.

Using non SQL datasets

Paginate works also with non SQL datasets such as a list of dictionaries:

def paginate5(self):
    return dict(persons=self.persons())

def persons(self):
    return [dict(id=i, name='name%d'%i, age=100-i) for i in range(100)]

Don’t forget to change the template accordingly, because and person[‘name’] are different in Python (and thus in Genshi templates): Here is the critical part of the paginate5.html template:

<tr py:for="person in persons">
    <td py:content="person['name']"/><td py:content="person['age']"/>

If you use PaginateDataGrid, then don’t forget to change the getters for your datagrid columns accordingly.

Demo applications using paginate

Attached are two demo applications using paginate in various ways. The paginate demo application 1 (attached as pagedemo1.tar.gz and contains the examples above, the paginate demo application 2 (attached as pagedemo2.tar.gz and offers some more sophisticated examples.


Why does pagination not work when my controller returns a string?
Due to the way it is structured, Pagination only works on controller methods that return a dictionary.
Can I paginate something besides SQLAlchemy select results?
You can also use SQLObject queries and all kinds of lists of dictionaries or objects with data in attributes.
How can I reverse the ordering of some columns?
Prefix these column names with a ‘-‘ sign in the default_order parameter.
Can I rename the parameters passed through the URL to something nicer?
As of the current implementation, paginate does not allow you to do this.
Can I sort columns case-insensitively or change the nulls first/last behavior?
Unfortunately, you cannot do this using the standard paginate decorator.
Paginate stops working on my production server! Why?
Chances are you have set tg.strict_parameters = False in your production configuration (or it is unset, which amounts to the same). Unfortunately, this will strip the paginate parameters from your URLs and breaks paginate. As a workaround, you should add **kwargs to your controller method parameters. For a detailed explanation, see ticket 1889.