24 July 2020
Jan Vorčák's profile photo, Webscope.io
Ján Vorčák

Slack Tutorial Part 2 - Setting up Django and Heroku deployment v2

In this part of the tutorial, we will set up a Django application.
You can check out the repository's tag: milestone-1 to see the result. At the end of this tutorial, we will have a Django application setup and deployed on Heroku.

Setting up Django

  1. Install Django with it's CLI (pip3 install Django), create new Django project django-admin startproject teamwork, cd teamwork, initialize git (git init)
  2. pipenv install && pipenv shell Let's activate the pipenv environment. Read more about pipenv here.
  3. pipenv install django gunicorn django-heroku Install Django and other dependencies. This should modify Pipenv and Pipenv.lock files.
Your folder structure should now look like this
1(teamwork) ➜  teamwork git:(master) ✗ tree
3├── Pipfile
4├── Pipfile.lock
5├── manage.py
6└── teamwork
7    ├── __init__.py
8    ├── asgi.py
9    ├── settings.py
10    ├── urls.py
11    └── wsgi.py
131 directory, 8 files
If you try to run pipenv run ./manage.py runserver - you should see the application running at, please ignore the warning about unapplied migrations.

Do you need a reliable partner in tech for your next project?

Let's configure Heroku!

Heroku is awesome because with it's django-heroku package, in just a couple of lines, it will configure the simple Django deployment including the database.
  1. Let's create a Heroku project.
a) Create a project
b) Select your preferred region
c) Link with Github
  1. We need to create a Procfile in our root directory to let Heroku know how to serve our Django app.
It's content should look like this
1web: gunicorn teamwork.wsgi
Also, add the following import statement to the top of settings.py:
import django_heroku
add the following statement to the bottom of settings.py:
1# Activate Django-Heroku.
Source: https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/django-app-configuration
  1. Push everything to git and deploy from Heroku console
Congrats, your app should now be deployed! 🎉

Setting up a custom user

Quote from an official Django's documentation says
When you start your project with a custom user model, stop to consider if this is the right choice for your project.
It's absolutely recommended to configure a custom user model at the beginning of your project. You can read more about why here.
  1. pipenv run ./manage.py startapp core - this will create an application with name core
  2. Add core string to INSTALLED_APPS in your settings.py
  3. Create CustomUser class in core/models.py
    1from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractUser
    4class User(AbstractUser):
    5    def __str__(self):
    6        return self.username
  4. And specify AUTH_USER_MODEL = 'core.User' in your settings.py

Database configuration

  • One more thing though. Heroku automatically created a db and attached it to your deployment. If you want to work with this database remotely, you need to pass DATABASE_URL to your process (or differently set it for Django).
  • Open Heroku, go to Settings > Config Vars > Reveal Config Vars
  • You'll find a Postgres URL as DATABASE_URL. You can copy this value and pass it to your commands like this DATABASE_URL=<value> pipenv ./manage.py <cmd> or optionally set it in your environment.
  • Now, make sure you apply migrations to this database.
  • DATABASE_URL="postgres://...." pipenv run ./manage.py makemigrations && pipenv run ./manage.py migrate
  • For the sake of readability, we will omit passing DATABASE_URL in this tutorial and expect you to pass the correct value.
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