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๐Ÿ“š Setting up Django in a Better Way in 5 Minutes and Understanding How It Works

๐Ÿ’ก Newskategorie: Programmierung
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When you are setting up a new Django project, you'll have to configure quite a lot of things depending on the requirements of the project. Starting from database configurations to a custom user model, there are more than quite a few things to be done in between.

There are very useful packages for bootstrapping your Django projects in minutes such as django-cookiecutter and djangox. If you are a seasoned developer I'd highly recommend using one of these instead of what I'm going to show here. But if you are struggling with the project structure of these packages as a beginner to intermediate Django developer and looking to structure your own Django projects in a better way, I have created a lightweight setup that deals with the basics of setting up a Django project with PostgreSQL as database and TailwindCSS as our styling library.

This Django Starter kit takes care of automated creation of virtual environment and installing of Python packages and setting up the database with bash scripts. In addition to PostgreSQL and TailwindCSS, all the sensitive values are taken care of in a .env file using django-environ package. The virtual environment is maintained using pip-tools.

The static files are managed with whitenoise, Gunicorn is used for the WSGI server and Sentry is used for error monitoring and reporting in production.

Since the scripts are in bash, these will only run on UNIX based operating systems like Linux and MacOS. But you can also run this on Windows with Git Bash or WSL.

Before getting started

Make sure you have PostgreSQL and Node.js + npm installed on your local machine. If you don't check the hyperlinks containing the installation instructions.

Quick Setup

Here are the steps to setup this starter kit. Setting this up shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. I'm going to explain all the steps in detail and how it's configured on the later sections so that you have in depth understanding about how this works under the hood (which will take way longer than 5 minutes but I can assure that it's worth the time). By understanding the structure of the project from the later sections, you can create something on your own that suits your needs best.

  1. Clone repo with your project name git clone [email protected]:farhanmasud/django-tailwind-starter-template.git your-project-name
  2. Setup .env file following the example env file
  3. Make all bash scripts executable with find . -type f -iname "*.sh" -exec chmod +x {} \;
  4. Run bash script to remove existing git remote link (of this repo) and update with your on git repo link. Copy your remote URL from GitHub and run the bash script, it'll propmt to enter the new link, paste and hit Enter.
  5. Setup database [requires step 2] with bash
  6. Setup venv and install dependencies with bash
  7. Activate virtual environment with source venv/bin/activate
  8. Install tailwind dependencies with python tailwind install
  9. Run migrations with python migrate
  10. Collect static python collectstatic --no-input

Setup Explanation

1. Cloning the repository

First, clone this repository on your local with git clone [email protected]:farhanmasud/django-tailwind-starter-template.git your-project-name command. If you are going to call this project quick-django-project, the command will be -

git clone [email protected]:farhanmasud/django-tailwind-starter-template.git quick-django-project

2. Updating the .env file

Navigate to this newly created quick-django-project directory and copy the .example.env and paste with the name .env in the same directory.

Open the .env file and update the environment variables as follows.

  1. WORK_ENV=local Since we have different settings file for different environment such as production, testing, staging and local development. We're updating this to local to make sure only packages needed for local development packages are installed and only settings that are intended for the local development environment is loaded.

  2. Generate a secret key for Django and update the SECRET_KEY variable. You can generate Django secret key by following this question from StackOverflow or use this web UI. Let's say our generated secret key is @6jc16lc(+mhjnkfk@^)46xc728u0j&(z)y!qkimo4b#ggnos7 and in our environment file, it'll be SECRET_KEY=@6jc16lc(+mhjnkfk@^)46xc728u0j&(z)y!qkimo4b#ggnos7

  3. Set ALLOWED_HOSTS=localhost, which will allow us to access our Django project on local machine with localhost or

  4. Grab the password for the user postgres on PostgreSQL and use with PGPASSWORD variable. If your password is examplepostgrespassword1234 set PGPASSWORD=examplepostgrespassword1234.

  5. Set your database name, database password and database user as your preference.


And keep the following as is -


Create an account on Sentry and create a project for Django. You can follow the steps on Sentry documentation for Django to get your dsn link and update the SENTRY_DSN variable. Enter the value without quotes here.
SENTRY_DSN=https://[email protected]/0

Setting up the .env file is done. Now let's use these environment variables to setup our Django project.

3. Making the helper bash files executable and running the bash files

There are 4 bash scripts in this starter kit -

  1. script is for setting up the database for our Django project with PostgreSQL
  2. script is for setting up the virtual environment using pip-tools and installing the packages.
  3. pip-tools require a few commands to compile and then install a new package. script runs these commands one by one.
  4. For updating the git origin, you can use

To make these bash script, open your terminal, navigate to the project directory and run find . -type f -iname "*.sh" -exec chmod +x {} \;
Run bash

Now the bash scripts are ready to run.

To start, create a new repository on GitHub and create an empty repository. Copy the git remote origin link and on your terminal, inside your project directory, run bash This will prompt you to enter your git remote origin link, just paste it here with CTRL + Shift + V or CMD + Shift + V and press Enter. Your project is now linked with your GitHub repository.

4. Setting up the Database

We're going to use PostgreSQL for the database here. We'll need to setup the PostgreSQL database and user and tell Django the database, user and user password so that Django can connect to the database. For both of the purposes we'll just update the .env file with the variables (we've already done this on step 2) and run the bash script.

Similar to running other bash scripts, open up the terminal, navigate to your project directory and run bash which will ask for your sudo password of your current user. Press enter after entering the password and the script will setup the database.

5. Setting up the Virtual Environment

This repository has all the packages that you'll need to get up and running with PostgreSQL, Tailwind, managing environment variables, managing static files and so on. To install this package in a virtual environment, this package uses pip-tools. pip-tools requires a couple of commands to collect, compile and install the packages that you need. We have a bash script to create our virtual environment and run all of the commands one by one.

Open your terminal and navigate to your project directory and run bash This will prompt you to enter if you are in development environment or in production. Enter D if you are in development environment or enter P if you are in production environment and press Enter on your keyboard. This will create a virtual environment called venv, install pip-tools and install all the packages required for your development or production environment.

6. Adding further packages

The existing packages in this repository are for getting the Django project up and running only. You'll definitely need a lot more packages while developing the project. The packages are kept within the .in files inside the requirements directory. You'll find three files in the directory -

  1. for packages that will be used both in local and production such as django itself.
  2. for packages that will only be used in development such as django-debug-toolbar.
  3. for packages that will only be used in production such as Gunicorn.

When you need to add a new package, figure out where the package will be used and and the package there.

Then run the bash script using bash command, enter D if you are on your local environment or enter P if you are on your production environment. This will automatically compile the packages and dependencies and install them in the virtual environment.

7. Installing Tailwind

Most of our installation is done but we haven't configured Tailwind yet. django-tailwind is already installed with the required Python packages but we'll need to compile this to fully setup Tailwind and make it ready to work in our local development environment.

To finish the Tailwind configuration, activate the virtual environment that we have created with source venv/bin/activate and run python tailwind install to complete the installation. You must have Node.js and npm installed for this to work.

You'll see a Django app in the project directory called theme and this is the app for Tailwind. Inside this you'll find the static_src>tailwind.config.js where you can configure Tailwind as per your requirements. You'll also see there is a base template (theme/templates/base.html) which is provided by the django-tailwind package. You can use this or make your own following the conventions shown here for loading tailwind. First, you'll have to load the tailwind template tags with {% load tailwind_tags %} at the top of your html file and use {% tailwind_css %} to load the CSS files into the head of your html.

8. Running Migrations

You are probably aware that Django recommends setting up a custom user model for your project before you do any migrations. This starter kit comes with a custom user model that uses email instead of the default username field. The migrations are already made in the accounts app and there you'll find the custom user model Account.

Now we just have to apply these migrations to our database including all other default migrations that Django comes with. With virtual environment activated, run the command python migrate to apply the migrations.

9. Managing Static files

We have some static files coming from the Tailwind package. In your development environment, these will be automatically available when you start the development server. But in production, you'll need to collect the static files using python collectstatic command.

10. Run the development server!

Okay, we are done setting the Django project! With virtual environment activated, run python runserver and the development server will run on the default port 8000 on your localhost. If go to localhost:8000 from your browser, you'll see a 404 Not Found error. But don't worry, this is intentional. This starter kit doesn't come with extra app or template that you'll not need later. Just create your app from here, configure urls and start building models and views as you want.

Structure of the project

Splitting the file

When you create a new Django project, you'll find a file inside your project directory that holds all the settings file related to your Django Project. But in this starter kit, you'll see that there is a directory called config and inside this there is a directory called settings. Inside this directory you'll find multiple settings files -,,,, and The settings file holds all the settings that are applicable no matter which environment your project your running.,, and files contain all the settings related to Local, testing, staging and production environment. Finally, the file dynamically loads the settings from,, and based on what you have provided on the WORK_ENV variable in the .env file and combines the settings with

The reason behind this splitting is that we can safely use packages and related settings only where we need. For example, this starter kit has the package django-debug-toolbar. This is only intended for your development environment and not for your production. This can be very risky if used in production because if your Django project encounters errors, all the debug info will be shown to the user which is a severe security risk. Similarly, for tracking errors in production, we're using Sentry which is not needed in our local environment since we already have django-debug-toolbar. For keeping these settings file separate so that they don't conflict with each other, the settings file is split for serving different environments.

Keeping sensitive data out of the codebase (and version control system)

Data like SECRET_KEY or your database connection details are sensitive and can cause serious security issues if they are not protected. If you keep these (along with other sensitive data like API keys) in your file and commit them in your version control system such as Git, your project can be at risk in production.

To protect these data, it's best to keep this in a separate .env file and keeping it out of the version control system. In this starter kit, we are using django-environ to achieve this. For example, you can see in config/settings/, we are reading the SECRET_KEY with django-environ as SECRET_KEY = env("SECRET_KEY") where we have a variable named SECRET_KEY in our .env file. Obviously, we have to import django-environ and the python os package with

import environ
import os

and configure it with

env = environ.Env()
env.read_env(os.path.join(BASE_DIR, ".env"))

Make sure that your .env file lives at the root of the project directory and you are good to go.

Using pip-tools

When you are working on a Python project, it's best to pin your Python packages in a separate requirements.txt file with the exact version pinned and install them in a virtual environment. Python venv is probably the most popular choice due to it's very easy setup process. Keeping required packages pinned with versions helps in many ways. For example maybe you were working on a project 2 years back and you were using a package that had the version 1.0.0 at that time. Now after 2 years, that package might have been updated to version 3.0.0. If you try to install the version 3.0.0 and try to run your project, there is high chance it won't work because it has changed.

Similarly, if you have that old project that used the package version 1.0.0 and you installed the package globally and try to start a new project with the same package and use version 3.0.0, only one of them will work. If you install version 3.0.0, the one that uses version 1.0.0 won't work and vice-versa.

Python virtual environments solve this issue. You can create virtual environments with venv and keep a simple requirements.txt file with packages and version information that's required in your project. And you can install them in the virtual environment independently so that they don't affect other projects.

Instead of venv, we are using pip-tools in this starter kit. pip-tools take things further in dependency management. Check out what pip-tools does in their official GitHub repo. In short, it helps your project find the best match for the dependent packages. For example, you might need two packages A and B in your project that requires same package C under the hood. But A requires any version of C from 1.0.1 to 1.0.10 and B requires any version of C from 1.0.7 to 1.0.15. Pip tools will automatically compile the version of 'C' that suits for both of your packages.

To keep all the requirements, you'll find a requirements directory in the project. There will be 3 files (two more after they are compiled but we don't keep that in the version control) -, and The idea here is similar how are splitting the file. We are only keeping the packages that are relevant to the related environment. So when you setup the virtual environment with bash or install the packages with bash, you are prompted to enter your choice between development and production environments and with that the bash script compiles the packages with pip-tools from the file as the base and from or as per your choice.

Custom User Model

As Django recommends, we are using a custom user model that you can find as Account model in accounts/ Here we are using the user's email field as the unique identifier instead of the default username. We are also using a custom manager for managing the objects. And in accounts/, the Account model is made compatible with the Django admin so that you can add users from the Django admin.

Finally, Bash Scripts

What we have done setting up the Django project with this starter kit is updating the .env file and running some bash scripts. Bash is a fun scripting tool for UNIX based systems (although it can vary sometime from different UNIX based systems). What is done in the scripts is just telling the computer to run a series of related commands one after another. Bash scripting is a lot of fun (and frustrating) as you can automate many of your workflows with this. If you are interested, you can start learning bash scripting from here.

Well, that's pretty much all. Ended up longer than I had expected even after skipping some details I initially wanted to include. But I hope it helps you give a good insight about structuring a Django project. If you examine the repository on Github, you can get a better idea of what's actually going on which is actually very simple. And from there you can explore django-cookiecutter and djangox to see what suits your needs best and might even create something that works the best for you.


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