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Django Best Practices

Django Best Practices#

Some Important Rules#

Keep it simple#

When building software projects, each piece of unnecessary complexity makes it harder to add new features and maintain old ones

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo Da Vinci

Fat Models, Utility Modules, Thin Views, Stupid Templates#

Stay away from putting more logic in views and templates

Start with Django by default#

Forget custom modules, keep to standard django as far as possible

Stay Aware of Django design philosophies#

Check django’s design philosophy

12 Factor App#

Be aware and implement The 12 factor app

Coding Style#

Make your code readable#

Readable code is easier to maintain.

  • avoid abbreviating variable names
  • Write out function argument names
  • Document your classes and methods
  • comment code
  • refactor repeated code into reusable functions
  • keep functions short, you shouldn’t need to scroll

Shortcuts come at the expense of hours of technical debt

Write out the entire variable name balance_sheet_decrease instead of bsd


The official python style

There is a linter for your text editor

Also use flake8 for checking code quality and as part of CI

79 Character limit#

The 79 character limit should be adhered to on open source, 99 on closed project projects.


Imports should be grouped in this order:

  1. Standard library imports
  2. Related-third party imports (Imports from django, then those related to django)
  3. Local app or library specific imports

Use Explicit relative imports#

With hardcoded imports, you can’t just change the name of the app, you have to change all the imports as well.

It also helps to tell global imports from local imports

# Use this relative import
from .models import WaffleCone

# Instead of
from cones.models import WaffleCone

Avoid using import *#

# Use
from django import forms

# Instead of
from django.forms import *

because there can be naming collisions like:

    # Don't do this models overrites the forms
    from django.forms import CharField
    from django.db.models import CharField

to overcome naming collisions you can use as

    from django.db.models import CharField as ModelCharField 
    from django.forms import CharField as FormCharField

Django coding Style#

Use django style guide#

Django style guide

Use underscore in url() name#

# wrong
# correct

Also use underscores in template block names ie. content_block

Choose a Javascript or HTML style guide#

Never Code to the IDE or Text Editor#

Never code to the IDE or Text Editor

Development Setup#

  • Use the same db engine in all environments everywhere
  • Fixtures are not a reliable tool for moving data from different environments, they are fine to use for basic data with loaddata and dumpdata though.
  • Dob’t use sqlite3 with django in production
  • Use pip and virtualenv - toptip: use virtualenvwrapper, unfortunately I have found it quite difficult to set up.

Instead of typing something like

    source Users/surfer190/projects/my-project/env/bin/activate

You can simply type

    workon my-project
  • Install django with pip and use requirement files
  • Eliminate differences between environments
    * Operating system differences - windows, osX, ubuntu
    * Python setup differences - python version
    * developer setup differences

How to Layout Django Projects#

Use Cookie Cutter as a reference

  • Top level repo root:, gitignore, requirements.txt
  • Second level: project root: django project
  • Configuration root: settings module

Django App Design Fundamentals#

Write apps that do one thing and do it well

Each app should be tightly focused on its task It should be explained in a simple sentence (with not many ands...)

Naming your Apps#

Your app’s name should be the plural form of the app’s main model: flavours, animals, polls, dreams

There are many exceptions: blog being one

Also be aware of the url so that it seperates which part of the site

When in doubt, keep apps small

Uncommon App Modules#
  • api/ - A package for isolating various modules when creating an API
  • - Option for locating model mixins
  • - App level settings, if there are enough of them
  • - Where we locate decorators
  • db/ - custom db fields or components
  • - used for form fields, sometimes for model fields when not enough code for full db package
  • - where we create test data factories
  • helper functions
  • - Move custom model managers to this module
  • - custom signals (argued against)
  • - same as helpers
  • - view modules can be thinned by putting view mixings here


  • All settings should be version controlled
  • Don’t repeat yourself - inherit from a base settings file
  • Keep secret keys safe, outside version control

Don’t use the as it can cause headaches

Instead of having a single file, use multiple files in the settings/ directory


Each settings module should have its own requirements file

    python runserver --settings=twoscoops.settings.local

Specify the settings file to use

Rather make use of environment settings


Don’t rush into creating models

If an app has more than 20 models, it should be broken down into smaller apps

Avoid multi-table inheritance

The TimeStamed Model#

Adds a created and modified fields for all models, as an abstract class.

No seperate tables are created. The fields are merely added to the new models.

    from django.db import models

    class TimeStampedModel(models.Model):
            An abstract base class model that provides self-
            updating ``created`` and ``modified`` fields
            created = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
            modified = models.DateTimeField(auto_now=True)

            class Meta:
                    abstract = True


    from django.db import models
    from core.models import TimeStampedModel

    class Flavour(TimeStampedModel):
            title = models.CharField(max_length=200)


Make a new migration after each new model

Always put data migration code into version control

Stay normalised and use caching, try and avoid denormalisation asmuch as possible

Null and Blank#

When to use null=True and blank=True

FileField and ImageField use blank

BooleanField, use NullBooleanField