Essential Django Apps for Every Project

🔖 code  django  python 

Django projects have the ability to install apps, which are analogous to plugins in other frameworks.

Some of these apps provide simple functionality: django-gravatar installs a template tag for displaying a user's gravatar in a template. Other apps are large, like Mezzanine which provides an entire CMS framework to your project.

No matter what you are building, you should consider the following apps. I use them in almost all of my projects.

1. Django Extensions

django-extensions is a collection of custom extensions for Django, most in the form of extra management commands. Importantly by installing django-extensions you incur no functional changes so it should be safe to add to almost any project. Here are some of it's best features:

./manage.py shell_plus: Like the reugular shell management command, but uses ipython instead of the standard python shell. So much more powerful and easy to use. Essential.

./manage.py show_urls: Display the full list of URL routes. Honestly I'm surprised Django doesn't have a built in command for this, frameworks like Ruby on Rails have had it for years in the form of rails routes.

./manage.py runserver_plus: Launches a development server using Werkzeug instead of the built in one. Werkzeug has some very cool features, like the ability to interactively debug stack traces directly in the browser.

./manage.py generate_secret_key: Does what it says.

These are just a few of the many features django-extensions brings to your project. Check out the full documentation for more.

2. Django Filter

django-filter allows you to declaratively add dynamic QuerySet filtering from URL parameters. If you want your users to be able to order, search or filter results on a page, Django Filter is going to be a huge help. You write Filter classes which define how objects can be filtered then add them to your views where they will automatically modify your queryset for you. They even generate their own forms that you can use if you want.

This might sound a little confusing, so let's use an example. Suppose you have a Widget model defined in your project:

class Widget(models.Model):
    price = models.IntegerField()
    description = models.CharField(max_length=2000)
    listed = models.DateTimeField()

You have a view where you list these widgets:

class WidgetList(ListView):
    model = Widget

And now you want users on that page to be able to sort by price, search by description, or view all widgets newer than a certain date. You would write a filter that looks like this:

class WidgetFilter(fitlers.FilterSet):
    order = filters.OrderingFilter(fields=['price'])
    description = filters.CharFilter()
    newer_than = filters.DateTimeFilter(field_name='listed', lookup_expr='gt')

Now edit your view to take advantage of your filter:

class WidgetList(FilterView):
    model = Widget
    filterset_class = WidgetFilter

If you want, you can now use the generated form in your template:

<p>Filter results:</p>
{{ filter.form.as_p }}

Regardless, if your view is passed url parameters like this:

http://localhost:8080/widgets/?order=-price&newer_than=2019-03-01&description=foo

The queryset will be filtered accordingly and your user will see the results they expect.

This is just a taste of what you can do with Django Filter. See the full documentation for more features.

3. Django AllAuth

Not every project requires user registration and social authentication capabilities, but many do. django-allauth is an extremely comprehensive package that provides a project with the functions that most users would expect:

  • User sign up flow, including using OAuth providers like Google or Facebook
  • Login/Logout
  • Email confirmation
  • Forgotten password resets
  • “Remember me” session control

This is not stuff most of us want to be hand rolling in our projects. Thankfully Django AllAuth exists and is high quality so we don't have to.

Notable mentions

django-rest-framework If you're writing an API, look no further than Rest Framework.

django-storages For projects that need to store static files and media on cloud providers like Amazon S3. Django Storages makes it easy.

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