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Things I do every time I start a Django project


If you want a batteries-included, zero-config Django + React framework, check out .

It incorporates most of these best practices, along with React server side rendering in addition to regular Django templates.

Full disclosure: I'm the creator.


Tangent comment on JSX/TS/JS and a snippet found on Not a comment on the article or in any way.

> export const Flavor = () => <Select options={flavors} />;

When I read the above, I fear for the new devs. The number of concepts to grasps and the level of parsing and mind bending to do is incredible.

I used to teach code, before arrow functions and React. And I am convinced I would have lost some students to this snippet, especially the "= () =>" segment.

Are we gone too far syntactically for the sake of compactness rather than understandability, allin the name of (fake, IMO) readability?


Some of that shifts with syntax highlighting: drawing the eyes to which bits are more specifically related. The arrow => should highlight as a single operator (just as >= does), for instance. Most people call these "arrow functions" so thinking of "=>" as the arrow operator is a habit that quickly builds.

They are controversial and everyone has different opinions, but I also think this is where programming ligatures come in extremely handy. When => looks more like ⇒ and is even more obviously an arrow, I think that also starts to make it easier to visually "parse" the flow of code like that.

For what it is worth, arrow functions weren't added solely for compactness, but also to fix some historic issues with classic function syntax. (Lexically scoped `this` versus caller scoped `this` being the big one.) A new type of function syntax was desired anyway for those reasons, and the compact syntax was the icing on the cake.

I haven't had the pleasure of teaching such things to students at this point in my career, but I have given a hand to many a junior developer to grasping some of these ideas and I don't think it is that tough, though it can be a shock/surprise if the last JS you touched was many years before. Especially if you are trying to also learn what JSX and/or TSX add on top of all the changes in ES2015+.


No. That's perfectly normal syntax you would use every day. It is not sophisticated or special.

Also, consider functional languages like Haskell or whatever. Their syntax is exceptionally foreign for users of C-like languages, and so are the concepts. Still, they're (relatively) widely used.


Comparing something to something else harder does not move the former into the realm of easy things.

Haskell though requires significantly more work than JS to grasp, for sure.


If you work with JSX daily, which 99% of React developers do, this is not hard to grok. It's a very typical functional composition pattern in React. Since this framework is targeted at those who want to use React, and presumably already use it, I don't see the issue. It's a snippet to show how Reactivated lets you use the React ecosystem, not how to use React - that's what the docs are for.


> Are we gone too far syntactically for the sake of compactness rather than understandability, allin the name of (fake, IMO) readability?

One of the reasons perl faded away, imho


I’m not sure that brand new devs who have trouble reading standard JSX, are exactly the target market for a bleeding edge project that combines two popular frameworks together.

I think the target market is experienced people who want to use both react and Django, and feel that this project saves time on conceiving and writing their own integration.


`() =>` is just the lambda syntax. JavaScript has, by far, one of the most understandable lambda syntaxes.

For instance, look how blocks are declared in Objective-C:


Compactness and understandability are the same thing on a large scale or under time pressure. This example is definitely loaded, but compared to more wordy alternatives it just cuts to the chase.


> Compactness and understandability are the same thing on a large scale

Could you elaborate on that, please? The way I read this, I could not be further from agreement :)


If you're doing server-side rendering, why do it in React SSR instead of Django templates?

I've seen this pattern a lot recently but haven't figured out what the extra complexity gets you


I haven't used this particular framework, but having type safety in React through writing TypeScript, generating bindings to the backend so those are typed as well.

There's also a _ton_ of preexisting React components you can generally drop in and use, which is less true these days with something like a Django template.

You also have the option of doing SSR and then doing more dynamic stuff on the client side, as a sort of optimization (and plain better user experience than making _more_ server requests to get the initial page state loaded).


Thanks for taking the time to reply, but I'm still not really understanding the benefit.

Type safety is incredibly important if you're lots of logic in a language, which is why TS is great for SPAs. Does the type safety of TS get you anything if you're just doing SSR with not a whole lot of logic in TS? All of your application logic will be on the Python side of things.

>You also have the option of doing SSR and then doing more dynamic stuff on the client side

Isn't this just the old-school way of doing things before SPAs came around? i.e you render the page on the server and then add dynamics features using JS. I think the new way of doing this is with htmx, hotwire, etc.


It's because React (and other SPA technologies that also happen to work with SSR) is all the buzz. It doesn't actually necessarily make sense. The risk to a project is usually NOT the technology chosen for frontend.

Django templates are perfectly fine as long as you leverage template tags the way they were intended.


I would agree that "Django templates are perfectly fine"... until:

Of course there's many ways around this, but doing them in a declarative, type-safe way is not trivial when using Django templates.


You can use the same templates on the backend and frontend. That may not matter to you, at least not now, but it's a great reason in many contexts.

Personally I find JSX to be a terrific templating system, much better than anything like Django's, but if you're familiar with both and prefer Django's, this benefit does not apply to you!


Oh wow, this looks really good. I want to say, what I was really hoping to see is a "how does this work?" section. I'll read the source code, but it would be nice to have a quick narrative explanation.

EDIT: Looks like the "Concepts" page has what I am looking for. I would add some of that to the front page.


this is cool, thanks for sharing. this ( fits my bias so i'm def gonna try it. curious how it works at a low level, too


Same, I agree with many of the thoughts there. When you get a moment, would you mind writing a guide on how to deploy it to It sounds like the Heroku of 2022.


Theoretically, the Dockerfile should "just work"™ with as well. Right now I focus on only because their free tier offers PostgreSQL without time limits. Render, I believe, only does so for a period of time.

See here:


Can you link any sample projects that currently uses reactivated?



The docs site itself: . Notice no JS loaded on the client side. It's purely SSR. The code is in the repo under /website.

My personal blog:

And my business:

I don't track others that use it, but hopefully they're out there!


Great thanks.


This looks great!


If you do this a lot you should look into ‘startapp —-template’ which lets you bake in boilerplate like this.

One minor point on app names. They are really hard/annoying to change once you have production data, because your DB tables will always be appname_modelname, and renaming tables is a real PITA. You can set the model to point to a nonstandard table, but then your project has a confusing non-Djangonic wart that will annoy you forever more. For this reason I think ‘core’ is a safer option, unless you are certain what your app should be named. Naming after one domain model is likely to be too specific. (I strongly recommend against multiple apps until you have functionality you need to commonize between projects, as refactoring models between apps is a nightmare if you get the boundaries wrong.)


Regarding apps, I was just thinking you could create a directory structure like this, essentially eschewing the whole concept of Django "apps":

              # Import all model classes (necessary for Django to find them)
            # Define SomeModel class
             # Views for SomeModel
              # Add "<package>" to INSTALLED_APPS
You still need to register the top level package as an app for Django to find things, but then you don't have to deal with Django's concept of apps beyond that. All your tables will be named <package>_<model> by default, which seems nice.

If it turns out later you need resusable "apps" for some reason, you could always add an apps/ subpackage for them.

I haven't tried this in a real project, so I don't know if there are any downsides, but it seems like a decent approach.


Yeah I've played around with this approach in the past while prototyping service boilerplates, I think it's viable. I never got it polished enough to publish as a startproject --template and ultimately went with Flask for microservices, so I didn't finish the prototype.

I found this article useful while I was experimenting:

There are a few different places where little things break and then you need to use an obscure variable to fix them, which makes me a little nervous since it will cause a little cognitive friction for Django-fluent developers joining your project. But I do think it's worth experimenting with.


> For this reason I think ‘core’ is a safer option, unless you are certain what your app should be named.

Yep, this is what I do. It’s rare that I make anything that can be shared cross-app (most Django apps I make are super simple CRUD-types), so every one of my Django apps has a ‘core’. I also recommend this approach.


I would add to this list: convert your template engine to Jinja2. I held out for a long time on this, and now I would not go back. The purist approach ("keep logic out of templates") sounds good, but in practice leads to spaghetti hacks with weird additional template tags to do simple things, a bunch of additional context variables with no meaning, etc.


> purist approach ("keep logic out of templates") sounds good, but in practice leads to spaghetti hacks

This. Exactly this

Go for Jinja2 and don't look back

If there's one defect in Django is the rosy-colored purist view that permeates a lot of its design decisions.

Keeping "logic only in code" made sense in the 90s. And no, I'm not building a new template tag every time I make some stylistic choice.


About the purist view on Django: The django templates don't annoy me that much, but what is really annoying is the avoidance of using thread locals in Django. This makes very difficult stuff that would be trivial in other frameworks (ie flask), like getting the current user.


As another hold-out on Jinja, what pushed you over the edge? Half of the appeal to me in Django is that if you follow the easy path, one project should look like another. Breaking conventions for a few template niceties has not seemed worth it (although, I am not a front end guy, and survive on very barebones presentation).


> what pushed you over the edge?

Using Tailwind without a frontend js framework. I needed a way to create lightweight “components” ala React but on the backend, because otherwise you’re either copy pasting classes like mad or (ab)using tailwind’s @apply.


I had used this project for creating components

Also, for simpler cases I include partial templates.


How do you create your components in Jinja2? Using the include tag?


Straightforward, useful advice. I pretty much do all of these when I start new Django projects.

The need for a custom User model makes me a little sad every time because, well, single `name` fields (rather than `first_name`, `last_name`) and email-for-username do feel to me like more sensible defaults circa 2022.


I'm curious as to why you think a single name field is better than the traditional separate first and last?


Per , names have far too much ambiguity to consider that two fields is necessary or sufficient to encapsulate that information.


Maybe for consumer apps, but for a lot of enterprise apps that have to be compatible with existing APIs or domain-specific data standard that require two name fields, that’s not really a viable approach.


I’ve never really understood the concept of an ‘app’, in some projects I’m sure in makes sense but it not being transparent by default in a new project seems silly.

Am I missing something here?


I used to build everything with one giant “monoapp” and completely ignore that aspect of Django, which worked pretty well. Eventually though you need to split up your models into multiple files, and then your views, and admin, and so on, and it turns out there’s a lot of benefits of just segregating things into “apps” from the beginning. The only real downside I’ve noticed in practice is the omni-file-search feature in my IDE is harder to use, because you now have 7 “” and it’s a bit harder to quickly navigate to the right one. If you split up files without using apps (just normal Python imports), you don't have the same problem with all the names being duplicated.

The pitch that you can "reuse" apps across projects always seemed weird to me, because that's basically never something you actually want to do/can do easily without major surgery.


Protip on separating your models etc out: use modules instead of apps. so instead of a have a models folder with a structure like this

    - models
You can then put all your cheese related models in, and all your spam related models in Then Simply import those models from and django is none the wiser that anything changes. Tada: organized models without having to dive into the broken mess that is apps.

The same trick of course applies to any python file you want to split up. Views, urls, managers, etc etc.


Yeah that works pretty well too. I think there’s some minor advantages of having them in apps, they’re sorted neatly in the admin, you’re forced to split views, models, templates, admin, etc together which keeps things a bit cleaner. But it’s also messier in other ways (you have to sift through too many files to find the thing you want).


Shameless plug, I've given a talk about scaling Django codebases to many apps at PyCon (2021) and PyCon UK (2017). At my previous job we had around 500 apps in our codebase and it was honestly great to work with.


Here's the link to 2017 talk: Couldn't find 2021 talk that fast..


I will sign onto this approach as well. Never expanded beyond a `core` app, which may have duplicated modules as the project grows (models_foo, models_bar, views_foo, views_bar, etc). I have never felt that any one component of the project was isolated enough from the rest of everything that it made sense to firewall off pieces into apps.


I’ve never successfully isolated them in the sense of having no cross imports, but I think there are advantages keeping the code broken up anyway.


Say you want to easily create a comments app or ratings that you can associate with any other model in your project. Write that app once and use in many places. Or maybe something that sucks to write that may be error-prone, like auth, especially social auth which may change frequently. Maintaining one app and sharing it is way better than everyone trying to keep up with the changes themselves.

Or take a look at for examples of apps people like to share.


Can't you just keep the logic for your comments app in the monoapp and use it with everything?

I understand if you want to distribute your app for others to incorporate, but otherwise it felt like the documentation overemphasizes the "app" aspect. It's a reasonable structure but more of a guideline... unless you want to reuse in other codebases


I think many (most?) Django apps only ever need one app. I think the fact that it's front and center in Django is a bit if a distraction that makes people think they _have_ to use multiple apps.


100% agree. It’s a distraction


The name suck, but the idea is they are plugguable: check the django packages site for an idea of the benefit of that. It's essentially a plugin system with autoloading of some resources, such as the model and templates.

Also, apps override each other in the order or import. E.g one app can override the template of another just by using the same name. This means you can plug AND extend.


And also install Django Extensions (

It makes the Django CLI comparable to rails. Notably the reset_db and shell_plus command


shell_plus is fantastic.


Reasonable. Personally I just made a template project to get everything off the ground in one step, even the production environment and repository.


I don't know why no one mentioned this.

I use a modified version of this for all my projects. This one comes with all the goodies


Yup, a custom cookiecutter template saves ton of time.

I created this one to create a production ready Django project in few minutes:

  Things this does:
  - setup readme with development setup
  - Django split settings: split settings for local, testing and production
  - Split requirements: split requirements.txt for local and production
  - Pre-commit hooks: setup pre-commit hooks for black and pyflakes
  - django-envoiron: database config and secrets in environment
  - editorconfig: sensible tab/space defaults for html, js and python files
  - remote-setup: setup hosting on uberspace
  - git push deployment: `git push live` makes the changes live
  - github actions for tests: run tests automatically on Github


Really sensible, straightforward recommendations. Nothing flashy.

Honestly I think these should be defaults (or at least configurable options) of the project generator. I guess you could use cookiecutter, but it's not really worth it.


This depends. If you start a new project often it is much better to use a template.


7. completely rewrite the auth system because it's not sufficiently flexible, chafe at the boilerplate, then port the backend to a different framework + miss the admin system a little


Django-allauth usually got you covered, but in the rare case it doesn't, creating a micro service just for auth is a way better alternative than a complete rewrite.


painfully true


I do pretty much the same, which makes me think it should be django default startup template.

I would also do:

- install django_extensions and django_debug_toolbar

- rename the admin URL route to contain a uuid

- setup black, mypy, pylint, ipdb, ipython, dotenv and doit (I do so for all my python projects)

- createsuperuser

Also, very often :

- setup celery (locally with fs backend)

- setup vitejs

- install sentry and mailtrap plugins

- install django-allauth

- install DRF

And currently exploring:

- replace DRF with django ninja


Using a boilerplate template can really speed things up, and more importantly, avoid forgetting to set up (or change from default) something that's hard to change later, like the user model.

I do a lot of Django+DRF projects and built to help with the initial scaffolding and defining the models (started as my internal tool, later opened it up to the public).