Developing with Django on your computer

As you start to develop more intricate Django applications, you might find it more convienent to install Django on your local computer and then use github to move your tested code into your PythonAnywhere server so you it is available on the Internet for grading or otherwise sharing.

There are many sources of tutorial material on how to install Python3 and Django on your computer. Since the rest of this material uses the Mozilla Developer Network tutorials, you might as well use it:

You can use a virtual environment or if you have a suitable version of Python 3.x on your computer and can use pip3 to install a suitable version of Django for your whole computer, there is no need to put things in a virtual environment.

Also you should install git on your computer using any of the good tutorials out there.

You know Python and Django are correctly installed when these commands show reasonable version numbers:


$ python3 --version
Python 3.6.0
$ python3 -m django --version

If the above does not work on Windows, try:

> py --version
Python 3.6.0
> py -m django --version

You also need to have git installed and available in the shell / command line.

Why Develop Locally?

There are a number of advantages to doing development work locally:

These instructions assume you that you are already set up using Github and PythonAnywhere and want to edit your applications on your computer and present them on PythonAnywhere. But you can always use the ngrok application to submit your assignments to the autograder if you like.

On Your Laptop

We suggest you make a folder somewhere to store all of your Django projects. This folder should be easy to find so you can use your cool VSCode, Atom, or Sublime text editor.

Linux / MacOS / Windows bash shell:

cd ~
cd Desktop
mkdir django

Windows Command Line:

cd Desktop
mkdir django

Then lets checkout the dj4e-samples repo and get things started:

cd Desktop      # If not already there
cd django
git clone

cd dj4e-samples
python3 migrate            # Makemigrations is already in git
python3 createsuperuser
python3 runscript gview_load
python3 runscript many_load

To run the server get into the folder with and then:

python3 runserver

Then navigate to http://localhost:8000 to see the page.

Then just for fun, open a second terminal / shell / command line and:

cd Desktop
cd django
cd dj4e-samples
python3 runserver 8001

Then navigate to http://localhost:8001 to see the page.

You can abort the runserver applications in the command line, switch to a new folder and start runserver again.

This section shows how to get a Django application working - in the next section we show you to work on your code on two computers and move the changes back and forth.

Moving Code Between Your Laptop and PythonAnywhere

If you want, you can keep a local copy your django_projects synchronized with your copy on PythonAnywhere using github.

If you are already using github to store your projects

Before you start doing this, make sure that your code in the PythonAnywhere shell is fully checked in to GitHub:

$ cd ~/django_projects
$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.
nothing to commit, working directory clean

If you have any outstanding git modifications on PYAW - clean it up and push it to the repo.

If you have not yet put your PythonAnywhere code on github

If you have not yet uploaded your django_projects folder to github, first follow the these instructions to get your application uploaded to github.

Checking your github code out onto your laptop

Once your application is in github, you can simply check it out to your laptop computer using commands like:

cd ~         # or simple 'cd' for Windows
cd Desktop
cd django
git clone

Replacing drchuck with your github account. This should bring a copy of your application from github down to your computer and store it in the folder django_projects.

Note that you should keep the dj4e-samples and django_projects next to each other since they are both in github.

On your laptop:


On PythonAnywhere:


Working on your Code on your Laptop

So you are on your local laptop / computer and are making changes

cd ~         # or simple 'cd' for Windows
cd Desktop
cd django
cd django_projects
cd mysite    # Or whatever project you want to work on
# edit some files :)
python3 makemigrations    # If you changed your models
python3 migrate           # If you changed your
git status
git add ....
git commit -a
git push

Then you can go into PythonAnywhere in a bash shell and type:

cd ~/django_projects/mysite
git pull
python3 migrate         # If the pull included new migrations

Then in the "Web" tab reload your application and visit it.

As long as you follow the pattern of doing git push from your laptop/desktop and git pull from PythonAnywhere, things will go very smoothly.

If you edit two places and push from one of the places, the push will work - but the push won't work from the second place and pull won't work either becausee you have local changes. If this is what you did, there is a simple workaround. On the system where you have un-pushed changes and want to do a pull before pushing, do this:

git stash
git pull
git stash apply

This takes your un-pushed changes and hides them in the "stash", allowing the git pull to work and then the stash apply re-modifies the files.

Most of the time this works if all you did is edited two places and tried to push from both.