How to create objects from a one-to-many relationship with Factoryboy.


[Factoryboy] is used to replace fixtures with factories for complex objects. It already comes with solutions to handle one-to-one and many-to-many relationships, but it lacks documentation for setting up one-to-many relationships, which is what we will see in this guide.

There are two simple strategies for setting up this kind of relationship:

  1. Using Factoryboy’s post generation hooks
  2. Create the relationship objects “manually”

Just Show me the code

You can check this guide full source code at repo.

Setting up the example

The following examples will be based in Django models with the following relationship (in myapp/

from django.db import models

class Player(models.Model):
    Model representing a player of a team
    team = models.ForeignKey(
        'team', # class name
    first_name = models.CharField(max_length=200, help_text="Player's first name")
    last_name = models.CharField(max_length=200, help_text="Player's last name")

class Team(models.Model, LineMixin):
    Model representing a text Team.
    name = models.CharField(max_length=200, help_text="Team name")

Having the above Django models we create a factory for each model, in myapp/

The Player’s factory is straightforward, having its team’s related field set up with factory.SubFactory, which calls the related factory, in this case: team = factory.SubFactory(TeamFactory).

import factory
from . import models

class PlayerFactory(factory.django.DjangoModelFactory):
    class Meta:
        model = models.Player

    team = factory.SubFactory(TeamFactory)
    first_name = factory.Faker('first_name')
    last_name = factory.Faker('last_name')

SubFactory definition:

class factory.SubFactory(factory, **kwargs)

This attribute declaration calls another Factory subclass, selecting the same build strategy and collecting extra kwargs in the process. The SubFactory attribute should be called with:

  • A Factory subclass as first argument, or the fully qualified import path to that Factory
  • An optional set of keyword arguments that should be passed when calling that factory


Now we can define the Team factory in one of two ways.

Using post generation hook

To performs actions once the model object has been generated we use the factory.PostGeneration hook.

In this case we will create a random amount of Player instances for one Team, or a specific amount of Player’s if passed an argument.

To set up the post generation hook we use the @factory.post_generation decorator and define a function whose name will be used when calling the factory, like this

def players(line, create, extracted, **kwargs):

Now we can call it like: TeamFactory(players=4) it generates a Team with 4 players.

If we call it without players it generates a random amount of Player’s.

In models/

class TeamFactory(factory.django.DjangoModelFactory):
    class Meta:
        model = models.Team

    name = factory.Faker('sentence', nb_words=3, variable_nb_words=True)

class TeamWithPlayersFactory(TeamFactory):
    def players(obj, create, extracted, **kwargs):
        If called like: TeamFactory(players=4) it generates a Team with 4
        players.  If called without `players` argument, it generates a
        random amount of players for this team
        if not create:
            # Build, not create related

        if extracted:
            for n in range(extracted):
            import random
            number_of_units = random.randint(1, 10)
            for n in range(number_of_units):

Then we can create some tests to show how it works (in myapp/

from django.test import TestCase

from myapp.factories import TeamFactory, PlayerFactory, TeamWithPlayersFactory
from myapp.models import Team, Player

class FactoriesTests(TestCase):

    def test_create_team_with_players(self):
        team = TeamWithPlayersFactory.create()
        self.assertIsInstance(team, Team)
        players = team.players.all()
        self.assertTrue(len(players) > 0)
        for player in players:
            self.assertIsInstance(player, Player)

Specify amount of players to create

And to specify how many players we want, we pass the players argument: TeamWithPlayersFactory.create(players=5).

    def test_create_team_with_fixed_amount_of_players(self):
        team = TeamWithPlayersFactory.create(players=5)
        self.assertIsInstance(team, Team)
        players = team.players.all()
        self.assertTrue(len(players) == 5)
        for player in players:
            self.assertIsInstance(player, Player)

Manually creating objects

Without using the post generation hook, we can still create them making sure we create a team before starting to create the players, so we assign the same Team to all players, like:

team = TeamFactory.create()
player1 = PlayerFactory.create(team=team)
player2 = PlayerFactory.create(team=team)

An example with shell:

$ python shell
Python 3.6.4 (default, Feb  5 2018, 16:52:44) 
[GCC 7.3.0] on linux
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
 >>>  from myapp.factories import TeamFactory
 >>>  from myapp.factories import PlayerFactory
 >>>  team = TeamFactory.create()
 >>>  from myapp.models import Team, Player
 >>>  PlayerFactory.create(team=team)
 < Player: Amber Marshall >
 >>>  PlayerFactory.create(team=team)
 < Player: Cynthia Howard>
 >>>  team.players.all()
 < QuerySet [ < Player: Amber Marshall>, < Player: Cynthia Howard>] >

In myapp/

    def test_create_players_with_same_team(self):
        team = TeamFactory.create()
        player1 = PlayerFactory.create(team=team)
        player2 = PlayerFactory.create(team=team)

        self.assertIsInstance(player1, Player)
        self.assertIsInstance(player2, Player)
        self.assertEqual(, team)
        self.assertEqual(, team)


Using the post generation hooks, is a bit harder to set up but makes it easier to use the factory in your code.

Marcelo Canina
I'm Marcelo Canina, a developer from Uruguay. I build websites and web-based applications from the ground up and share what I learn here.