Introduction to Trees

If you’re unfamiliar with trees as an abstract data type, you might want to review the concepts involved.

As a web developer, though, you probably already have a good understanding of trees as filesystem directories or paths. Wagtail pages can create the same structure, as each page in the tree has its own URL path, like so:


The Wagtail admin interface uses the tree to organize content for editing, letting you navigate up and down levels in the tree through its Explorer menu. This method of organization is a good place to start in thinking about your own Wagtail models.

Nodes and Leaves

It might be handy to think of the Page-derived models you want to create as being one of two node types: parents and leaves. Wagtail isn’t prescriptive in this approach, but it’s a good place to start if you’re not experienced in structuring your own content types.


Parent nodes on the Wagtail tree probably want to organize and display a browse-able index of their descendants. A blog, for instance, needs a way to show a list of individual posts.

A Parent node could provide its own function returning its descendant objects.

class EventPageIndex(Page):
    # ...
    def events(self):
        # Get list of live event pages that are descendants of this page
        events =

        # Filter events list to get ones that are either
        # running now or start in the future
        events = events.filter(

        # Order by date
        events = events.order_by('date_from')

        return events

This example makes sure to limit the returned objects to pieces of content which make sense, specifically ones which have been published through Wagtail’s admin interface (live()) and are children of this node (descendant_of(self)). By setting a subpage_types class property in your model, you can specify which models are allowed to be set as children, and by setting a parent_page_types class property, you can specify which models are allowed to be parents of this page model. Wagtail will allow any Page-derived model by default. Regardless, it’s smart for a parent model to provide an index filtered to make sense.


Leaves are the pieces of content itself, a page which is consumable, and might just consist of a bunch of properties. A blog page leaf might have some body text and an image. A person page leaf might have a photo, a name, and an address.

It might be helpful for a leaf to provide a way to back up along the tree to a parent, such as in the case of breadcrumbs navigation. The tree might also be deep enough that a leaf’s parent won’t be included in general site navigation.

The model for the leaf could provide a function that traverses the tree in the opposite direction and returns an appropriate ancestor:

class EventPage(Page):
    # ...
    def event_index(self):
        # Find closest ancestor which is an event index
        return self.get_ancestors().type(EventIndexPage).last()

If defined, subpage_types and parent_page_types will also limit the parent models allowed to contain a leaf. If not, Wagtail will allow any combination of parents and leafs to be associated in the Wagtail tree. Like with index pages, it’s a good idea to make sure that the index is actually of the expected model to contain the leaf.

Other Relationships

Your Page-derived models might have other interrelationships which extend the basic Wagtail tree or depart from it entirely. You could provide functions to navigate between siblings, such as a “Next Post” link on a blog page (post->post->post). It might make sense for subtrees to interrelate, such as in a discussion forum (forum->post->replies) Skipping across the hierarchy might make sense, too, as all objects of a certain model class might interrelate regardless of their ancestors (events = EventPage.objects.all). It’s largely up to the models to define their interrelations, the possibilities are really endless.

Anatomy of a Wagtail Request

For going beyond the basics of model definition and interrelation, it might help to know how Wagtail handles requests and constructs responses. In short, it goes something like:

  1. Django gets a request and routes through Wagtail’s URL dispatcher definitions
  2. Wagtail checks the hostname of the request to determine which Site record will handle this request.
  3. Starting from the root page of that site, Wagtail traverses the page tree, calling the route() method and letting each page model decide whether it will handle the request itself or pass it on to a child page.
  4. The page responsible for handling the request returns a RouteResult object from route(), which identifies the page along with any additional args/kwargs to be passed to serve().
  5. Wagtail calls serve(), which constructs a context using get_context()
  6. serve() finds a template to pass it to using get_template()
  7. A response object is returned by serve() and Django responds to the requester.

You can apply custom behaviour to this process by overriding Page class methods such as route() and serve() in your own models. For examples, see Recipes.

Scheduled Publishing

Page publishing can be scheduled through the Go live date/time feature in the Settings tab of the Edit page. This allows you to set set up initial page publishing or a page update in advance. In order for pages to be published at the scheduled time you should set up the publish_scheduled_pages management command.

The basic workflow is as follows:

  • Scheduling a revision for a page that is not currently live means that page will go live when the scheduled time comes.
  • Scheduling a revision for a page that is already live means that revision will be published when the time comes.
  • If page has a scheduled revision and you set another revision to publish immediately, the scheduled revision will be unscheduled.

The Revisions view for a given page will show which revision is scheduled and when it is scheduled for. A scheduled revision in the list will also provide an Unschedule button to cancel it.