Easy-to-use active URL highlighting for Django


  • automatic highlighting of currently active <a> tags via CSS class
  • automatic highlighting of parent <a> tags for menus
  • removes boring / hardcoded stuff from your life!
  • href=”#” never causes highlighting for compatibility with techniques such as bootstrap nav.


After loading the template library via

{% load activeurl %}

the following code snippet will be rendered like this if request.full_path() starts with /some_page/:

{% activeurl %}
        <li> <!-- this <li> will render as <li class="active"> -->
            <a href="/some_page/">
            <a href="/another_page/">
{% endactiveurl %}

Note: The content of {% activeurl %}…{% endactiveurl %} must have valid root tag (i.e. <ul> or <div>, etc) – otherwise an exception will be raised.


Python 2.7+, 3.4+ are supported.

  1. Install the stable version using pip:

    pip install django-activeurl

    or install the in-development version using pip:

    pip install -e git+git://
  2. In your add the following:

  3. The lxml library is required and thus additional libraries need to be installed to build it:

    • Ubuntu:

      sudo apt-get install libxml2 libxml2-dev libxslt-dev build-essential python-dev
      sudo ldconfig
    • Fedora:

      sudo yum groupinstall 'Development Tools'
      sudo yum install libxslt-devel libxml2 libxml2-devel python-devel
      sudo ldconfig
    • MacOS X:

      brew install libxml2 libxslt
      sudo update_dyld_shared_cache -force
    • Windows: A pre-built lxml binary can be found here

    • Clouds: There’s a 99.99% chance that lxml will build out of the box.


ignore_params =”yes|no” (default: “no”)

ignore_params will ignore GET parameters of URLs, e.g. /accounts/login/ will match /accounts/login/?next=/accounts/signup/.

parent_tag =”div|li|self|…” (default: “li”)

parent_tag defines that a parent element – and not the <a> tag itself – should be declared active when there’s a match in URLs. When you need to change the CSS class of the <a> tag, just enter “self”.

css_class =”<string>” (default: “active”)

Defines what CSS class to add to an active element.


The default options can be set in as well:

    'css_class': 'active',
    'parent_tag': 'li',
    'menu': 'yes',
    'ignore_params': 'no'
ACTIVE_URL_CACHE_TIMEOUT = 60 * 60 * 24  # 1 day
ACTIVE_URL_CACHE_PREFIX = 'django_activeurl'

By default django-activeurl will try to retrieve a previously rendered HTML node from Django’s caching backend before active URLs are looked for and a new HTML tree is built. You can disable the cache with ACTIVE_URL_CACHE = False.

In addition, ACTIVE_URL_CACHE_TIMEOUT can be used to define a timeout for keys to expire. The default value is one day.

The last configuration option is ACTIVE_URL_CACHE_PREFIX (which is django_activeurl by default) and defines which name to use in Django’s caching backend.


pip install tox


Vanilla Jinja2 configuration:

from jinja2 import Environment

from django_activeurl.ext.django_jinja import ActiveUrl

env = Environment(

Options can be omitted:

{% activeurl css_class="active", menu="yes", parent_tag="li", ignore_params="no" %}
            <a href="/page/">page</a>
            <a href="/other_page/">other_page</a>
{% endactiveurl %}

If you’re using django-jinja you need to load the ActiveUrl in

Django 1.8+ Jinja2 environment loader example can be found in tests.


For building the HTML element tree django-activeurl uses lxml, which is one of the best HTML parsing tools around. More info and benchmarks can be found at (in russian). Note that there’s no content rebuilding inside the template tag when no active URLs are found, so there’s no impact on performance.