Using InfinitePaginator to improve Django paging performance

Posted April 26, 2010. Tagged coding and django.

One of my favorite Django projects is django-pagination. It provides some tools to make it incredibly easy to add paging support for long lists of objects. There are, however, a few considerations to make before using it in an application. Using it requires adding additional middleware, which imparts additional overhead to all of the requests and responses processed by a Django app. Also, in order to calculate the number of pages, django-pagination counts the number of rows in the model’s table every time.

While my site does not necessarily require screaming performance, I do like to squeeze as much out of my server as possible. For my paging needs, I do not need an exact count on the number of pages available. I provide a monthly archive on the site’s sidebar, so for paging I only really care whether there is a previous or next page available.

Using InfinitePaginator

Luckily, django-pagination provides another option. I took the InfinitePaginator and InfinitePage classes from These allow for easy paging in the cases where it does not matter how many pages there are. To determine if there are any additional pages, it simply performs another SELECT query for one additional object past the current page. If it succeeds, there must be at least one more page. This query can be much quicker than a full COUNT on the database table.

Since I only wanted a small part of the project, I copied those two classes into my own project. Using it then requires no additional dependencies or configuration when deploying to a new machine. Here’s a quick example of how to use it:

from django.shortcuts import render_to_response
from django.template import RequestContext
from django.http import Http404
from mysite.models import Entry
from mysite.paginator import InfinitePaginator

def entry_list(request):
    queryset = Entry.objects.all()

    # Make sure page request is an int.  If not, deliver first page.
        page = int(request.GET.get('page', '1'))
    except ValueError:
        page = 1

    paginator = InfinitePaginator(queryset, 10)
        entries =
        raise Http404

    return render_to_response('entry_list.html',

Pretty straightforward, right? I try and grab the current page from the request, or set it to 1 if no page is specified in the URL. I then create the InfinitePaginator object and set the page. If the page is invalid (such as being out of range), I raise a 404 error.

Next Steps

On the next to last line, I call create_template_context(), which is not a part of the InfinitePage class. I’ll cover what that does in a future post covering improvements and extensions to InfinitePage.

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