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DRF Serializer: Handling OrderedDict and Converting It to a Dictionary or JSON

3 min read

In Django Rest Framework (DRF) tests, when you access, you might encounter an OrderedDict instead of a regular dictionary. This behavior is intentional and reflects the design of DRF's serialization process.

Understanding the Problem

The use of an OrderedDict ensures that the order of fields in the serialized representation matches the order of fields defined in the serializer class. This can be particularly important when you want to maintain a consistent order in your serialized output, which is helpful for testing and other scenarios.

The order of fields in the serialized output matters because APIs often have specific expectations about the order of data in their responses. By using an OrderedDict, DRF ensures that the serialized data adheres to the defined order of fields in your serializer, which helps prevent any unexpected changes in your API responses.

Here's a brief example to illustrate this behavior:

Suppose you have a serializer like this:

from rest_framework import serializers

class PersonSerializer(serializers.Serializer):
    name = serializers.CharField()
    age = serializers.IntegerField()

And you use it to serialize some data:

data = {"name": "John", "age": 30}
serializer = PersonSerializer(data=data)

When you access, you might receive an OrderedDict:

# Output: OrderedDict([('name', 'John'), ('age', 30)])

As mentioned earlier, this order preservation ensures that the serialized data matches the order of fields defined in the serializer class.

In tests, the use of an OrderedDict for helps maintain consistent behavior and expected outputs, making it easier to write test assertions that rely on the order of serialized fields.

Converting OrderedDict to Dictionary

If you prefer to work with regular dictionaries, you can easily convert the OrderedDict to a dictionary.

Using dict()

The simplest way to convert an OrderedDict to a dictionary is by utilizing Python's built-in dict() constructor. 

Here's an example:

from collections import OrderedDict

ordered_data = OrderedDict([('name', 'John'), ('age', 30)])
data_dict = dict(ordered_data)

Using List Comprehension

If you're dealing with a list of OrderedDict items, a list comprehension can effectively convert them to dictionaries.

list_of_ordered_dicts = [OrderedDict([('name', 'John'), ('age', 30)]), ...]
list_of_dicts = [dict(item) for item in list_of_ordered_dicts]

Converting OrderedDict to JSON

If you prefer to work with JSON, you can easily convert the OrderedDict to JSON.

Using the json Library

When the goal is to convert OrderedDict to JSON, the json library comes to the rescue.

Here's how you can achieve this:

import json

ordered_data = OrderedDict([('name', 'John'), ('age', 30)])
json_data = json.dumps(ordered_data)

JSON Conversion in DRF Context

In the context of DRF serializers, you might be dealing with an OrderedDict response within a attribute.

To convert this response to JSON, you can employ a two-step process:

import json

# Assuming serializer contains the serialized data
serializer_data =
json_data = json.dumps(serializer_data)


DRF serializers provide an elegant solution for transforming complex data into a usable format.However, when faced with OrderedDict responses, it's important to know how to convert them into dictionaries or JSON for seamless data manipulation.

By mastering the techniques outlined in this article, you can confidently handle OrderedDict challenges and ensure your DRF-powered APIs deliver accurate and efficient responses.

As you continue to explore the capabilities of DRF serializers, remember that understanding data transformation is key to harnessing the full potential of this remarkable tool.


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