This advanced tutorial begins where Tutorial 5 left off. We’ll be turning our Web-poll into a standalone Python package you can reuse in new projects and share with other people.
If you haven’t recently completed Tutorials 1–5, we encourage you to review these so that your example project matches the one described below.
It’s a lot of work to design, build, test and maintain a web application. Many Python and Django projects share common problems. Wouldn’t it be great if we could save some of this repeated work?
Reusability is the way of life in Python. The Python Package Index (PyPI) has a vast range of packages you can use in your own Python programs. Check out Django Packages for existing reusable apps you could incorporate in your project. Django itself is also just a Python package. This means that you can take existing Python packages or Django apps and compose them into your own web project. You only need to write the parts that make your project unique.
Let’s say you were starting a new project that needed a polls app like the one we’ve been working on. How do you make this app reusable? Luckily, you’re well on the way already. In Tutorial 3, we saw how we could decouple polls from the project-level URLconf using an include. In this tutorial, we’ll take further steps to make the app easy to use in new projects and ready to publish for others to install and use.
A Python package provides a way of grouping related Python code for easy reuse. A package contains one or more files of Python code (also known as “modules”).
A package can be imported with import foo.bar or from foo import bar. For a directory (like polls) to form a package, it must contain a special file __init__.py, even if this file is empty.
A Django app is just a Python package that is specifically intended for use in a Django project. An app may also use common Django conventions, such as having a models.py file.
Later on we use the term packaging to describe the process of making a Python package easy for others to install. It can be a little confusing, we know.
After the previous tutorials, our project should look like this:
mysite/ manage.py mysite/ __init__.py settings.py urls.py wsgi.py polls/ admin.py __init__.py models.py tests.py urls.py views.py
You also have a directory somewhere called mytemplates which you created in Tutorial 2. You specified its location in the TEMPLATE_DIRS setting. This directory should look like this:
mytemplates/ admin/ base_site.html polls/ detail.html index.html results.html
The polls app is already a Python package, thanks to the polls/__init__.py file. That’s a great start, but we can’t just pick up this package and drop it into a new project. The polls templates are currently stored in the project-wide mytemplates directory. To make the app self-contained, it should also contain the necessary templates.
Inside the polls app, create a new templates directory. Now move the polls template directory from mytemplates into the new templates. Your project should now look like this:
mysite/ manage.py mysite/ __init__.py settings.py urls.py wsgi.py polls/ admin.py __init__.py models.py templates/ polls/ detail.html index.html results.html tests.py urls.py views.py
Your project-wide templates directory should now look like this:
mytemplates/ admin/ base_site.html
Looking good! Now would be a good time to confirm that your polls application still works correctly. How does Django know how to find the new location of the polls templates even though we didn’t modify TEMPLATE_DIRS? Django has a TEMPLATE_LOADERS setting which contains a list of callables that know how to import templates from various sources. One of the defaults is django.template.loaders.app_directories.Loader which looks for a “templates” subdirectory in each of the INSTALLED_APPS.
The polls directory could now be copied into a new Django project and immediately reused. It’s not quite ready to be published though. For that, we need to package the app to make it easy for others to install.
Why create a polls directory under templates when we’re already inside the polls app? This directory is needed to avoid conflicts in Django’s app_directories template loader. For example, if two apps had a template called base.html, without the extra directory it wouldn’t be possible to distinguish between the two. It’s a good convention to use the name of your app for this directory.
The current state of Python packaging is a bit muddled with various tools. For this tutorial, we’re going to use distribute to build our package. It’s a community-maintained fork of the older setuptools project. We’ll also be using pip to uninstall it after we’re finished. You should install these two packages now. If you need help, you can refer to how to install Django with pip. You can install distribute the same way.
Python packaging refers to preparing your app in a specific format that can be easily installed and used. Django itself is packaged very much like this. For a small app like polls, this process isn’t too difficult.
Choosing a name for your app
When choosing a name for your package, check resources like PyPI to avoid naming conflicts with existing packages. It’s often useful to prepend django- to your module name when creating a package to distribute. This helps others looking for Django apps identify your app as Django specific.
Move the polls directory into the django-polls directory.
Create a file django-polls/README.txt with the following contents:
===== Polls ===== Polls is a simple Django app to conduct Web-based polls. For each question, visitors can choose between a fixed number of answers. Detailed documentation is in the "docs" directory. Quick start ----------- 1. Add "polls" to your INSTALLED_APPS setting like this:: INSTALLED_APPS = ( ... 'polls', ) 2. Include the polls URLconf in your project urls.py like this:: url(r'^polls/', include('polls.urls')), 3. Run `python manage.py syncdb` to create the polls models. 4. Start the development server and visit http://127.0.0.1:8000/admin/ to create a poll (you'll need the Admin app enabled). 5. Visit http://127.0.0.1:8000/polls/ to participate in the poll.
4. Create a django-polls/LICENSE file. Choosing a license is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but suffice it to say that code released publicly without a license is useless. Django and many Django-compatible apps are distributed under the BSD license; however, you’re free to pick your own license. Just be aware that your licensing choice will affect who is able to use your code.
5. Next we’ll create a setup.py file which provides details about how to build and install the app. A full explanation of this file is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but the distribute docs have a good explanation. Create a file django-polls/setup.py with the following contents:
import os from setuptools import setup README = open(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), 'README.txt')).read() # allow setup.py to be run from any path os.chdir(os.path.normpath(os.path.join(os.path.abspath(__file__), os.pardir))) setup( name = 'django-polls', version = '0.1', packages = ['polls'], include_package_data = True, license = 'BSD License', # example license description = 'A simple Django app to conduct Web-based polls.', long_description = README, url = 'http://www.example.com/', author = 'Your Name', author_email = 'email@example.com', classifiers = [ 'Environment :: Web Environment', 'Framework :: Django', 'Intended Audience :: Developers', 'License :: OSI Approved :: BSD License', # example license 'Operating System :: OS Independent', 'Programming Language :: Python', 'Programming Language :: Python :: 2.6', 'Programming Language :: Python :: 2.7', 'Topic :: Internet :: WWW/HTTP', 'Topic :: Internet :: WWW/HTTP :: Dynamic Content', ], )
I thought you said we were going to use distribute?
Distribute is a drop-in replacement for setuptools. Even though we appear to import from setuptools, since we have distribute installed, it will override the import.
Only Python modules and packages are included in the package by default. To include additional files, we’ll need to create a MANIFEST.in file. The distribute docs referred to in the previous step discuss this file in more details. To include the templates and our LICENSE file, create a file django-polls/MANIFEST.in with the following contents:
include LICENSE recursive-include polls/templates *
It’s optional, but recommended, to include detailed documentation with your app. Create an empty directory django-polls/docs for future documentation. Add an additional line to django-polls/MANIFEST.in:
recursive-include docs *
Note that the docs directory won’t be included in your package unless you add some files to it. Many Django apps also provide their documentation online through sites like readthedocs.org.
Try building your package with python setup.py sdist (run from inside django-polls). This creates a directory called dist and builds your new package, django-polls-0.1.tar.gz.
For more information on packaging, see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Packaging.
Since we moved the polls directory out of the project, it’s no longer working. We’ll now fix this by installing our new django-polls package.
Installing as a user library
The following steps install django-polls as a user library. Per-user installs have a lot of advantages over installing the package system-wide, such as being usable on systems where you don’t have administrator access as well as preventing the package from affecting system services and other users of the machine. Python 2.6 added support for user libraries, so if you are using an older version this won’t work, but Django 1.5 requires Python 2.6 or newer anyway.
Note that per-user installations can still affect the behavior of system tools that run as that user, so virtualenv is a more robust solution (see below).
Inside django-polls/dist, untar the new package django-polls-0.1.tar.gz (e.g. tar xzvf django-polls-0.1.tar.gz). If you’re using Windows, you can download the command-line tool bsdtar to do this, or you can use a GUI-based tool such as 7-zip.
Change into the directory created in step 1 (e.g. cd django-polls-0.1).
If you’re using GNU/Linux, Mac OS X or some other flavor of Unix, enter the command python setup.py install --user at the shell prompt. If you’re using Windows, start up a command shell and run the command setup.py install --user.
With luck, your Django project should now work correctly again. Run the server again to confirm this.
To uninstall the package, use pip (you already installed it, right?):
pip uninstall django-polls
Now that we’ve packaged and tested django-polls, it’s ready to share with the world! If this wasn’t just an example, you could now:
For more information on PyPI, see the Quickstart section of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Packaging. One detail this guide mentions is choosing the license under which your code is distributed.
Earlier, we installed the polls app as a user library. This has some disadvantages:
Typically, these situations only arise once you’re maintaining several Django projects. When they do, the best solution is to use virtualenv. This tool allows you to maintain multiple isolated Python environments, each with its own copy of the libraries and package namespace.