Customizing Forms

The forms used to edit datasets and groups in CKAN can be customized. This lets you tailor them to your needs, helping your users choose from sensible options or use different data formats.

This document explains how to customize the dataset and group forms you offer to your users, without getting embroiled in the core CKAN code.


This section deals with the form used to edit datasets and groups, not the way they are displayed. For information on customizing the display of forms, see Customization.


This is an advanced topic. Ensure you are familiar with Add Extensions before attempting to customize forms.

Building a Dataset Form

The Best Way: Extensions

The best way to build a dataset form is by using a CKAN extension.

You will firstly need to make a new controller in your extension. This should subclass PackageController as follows:

from ckan.controllers.package import PackageController
class PackageNew(PackageController):
    package_form = 'custom_package_form.html'

The package_form variable in the subclass will be used as the new form template.

It is recommended that you copy the dataset form (new_package_form.html) and make modifications to it. However, it is possible to start from scratch.

To point at this new controller correctly, your extension should look like the following:

class CustomForm(SingletonPlugin):
    def before_map(self, map):
        map.connect('/dataset/new', controller='ckanext.extension_name.controllers.PackageNewController:PackageNew', action='new')
        map.connect('/dataset/edit/{id}', controller='ckanext.extension_name.controllers.PackageNewController:PackageNew', action='edit')
        return map
    def after_map(self, map):
        return map
    def update_config(self, config):
        configure_template_directory(config, 'templates')

Replace extension_name with the name of your extension.

This also assumes that custom_package_form.html is located in the templates subdirectory of your extension i.e ckanext/extension_name/templates/custom_package_form.html.

Advanced Use

The PackageController has more hooks to customize the displayed data. These functions can be overridden in a subclass of PackageController:

_setup_template_variables(self, context)

This is for setting up new variables for your templates:


This defines a navl schema to customize validation and conversion to the database:


This defines a navl schema to customize conversion from the database to the form.

A complex example of the use of these hooks can be found in the ckanext-dgu extension.