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Before you can start learning Django, you must install some software on your computer. Fortunately, this is a simple three step process:
This chapter is mostly written for those of you running Windows, as most new users are on Windows. I have also included a section on installing Python 3 and Django on macOS. If you are using Linux, there are numerous resources on the Internet – the best place to start being Django’s own installation instructions.
For Windows users, your computer can be running any recent version of Windows (7, 8.1 or 10). This chapter also assumes you’re installing Django on a desktop or laptop computer and will be using the development server and SQLite to run all the code in this book. This is by far the easiest and best way to set up Django when you are first starting out.
Python is used by a lot of Windows applications, so it’s possible that it is already installed on your system. You can check this out by opening a command prompt, or running PowerShell, and typing
python at the prompt.
If Python isn’t installed you’ll get a message saying that Windows can’t find Python. If Python is installed, the python command will open the Python interactive interpreter:
C:\Users\Nigel>python Python 3.6.0 (v3.6.0:41df79263a11, Dec 23 2016, 07:18:10) [MSC v.1900 32 bit (Intel)] on win32 Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. >>>
You can see in the above example that my PC is running Python 3.6.0. Django 2.1 is compatible with Python version 3.5 and later. If you have an older version of Python, you will have to install Python 3.7 for the code in this book to work. If you have Python 3.5 or 3.6, I still recommend you install Python 3.7 to ensure you have the latest version installed on your machine.
Assuming Python 3 is not installed on your system, you first need to get the installer. Go to https://www.python.org/downloads/ and click the big yellow button that says “Download Python 3.x.x”.
At the time of writing, the latest version of Python is 3.7.1, but it may have been updated by the time you read this, so the numbers may be slightly different. Once you have downloaded the Python installer, go to your downloads folder and double click the file
python-3.x.x.msi to run the installer. The installation process is the same as any other Windows program, so if you have installed software before, there should be no problem here; however, there is one extremely important customization you must make.
By default, the Python executable is not added to the Windows PATH. For Django to work properly, Python must be listed in the PATH statement. Fortunately, this is easy to rectify – when the Python installer screen opens, make sure Add Python 3.7 to PATH is checked before installing (Figure 2-1).
Figure 2.1: Check the “Add Python 3.7 to PATH” box before installing.
Once Python is installed, restart Windows and then type
python at the command prompt. You should see something like this:
PS C:\Users\nigel> python Python 3.7.0 (v3.7.0:1bf9cc5093, Jun 27 2018, 04:06:47) [MSC v.1914 32 bit (Intel)] on win32 Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. >>>
When you are writing new software programs, it’s possible (and common!) to modify dependencies and environment variables that your other software depends on. This can cause numerous problems, so should be avoided. A Python virtual environment solves this problem by wrapping all the dependencies and environment variables that your new software needs into a file system separate from the rest of the software on your computer.
The virtual environment tool in Python is called
venv, but before we set up
venv, we need to create our club site project directory.
Before we create our virtual environment, we first need to create a project folder that will house not only our virtual environment, but all the code and media for our Django club site.
The project folder can go anywhere on your computer, although it’s highly recommended that it be created somewhere in your user directory, so you don’t get permission issues later on. A good place for your project in Windows is your My Documents folder.
Create a new folder on your system. I have named the folder
myclub_project, but you can give the folder any name that makes sense to you.
For the next step you need to be in a command window (terminal on Linux and macOS). The easiest way to do this in Windows is to open Windows Explorer, hold the SHIFT key and right-click the folder to get the context menu and click on Open command window here (Figure 2-2).
Figure 2.2: Hold the shift key and right-click a folder to open a command window.
Once you have created your project folder, you need to create a virtual environment for your project by typing the following at the command prompt you just opened:
PS ...\Documents\myclub> python -m venv env_myclub
The function of this command is straight forward – the
-m option tells Python to run the
venv module as a script.
venv in turn requires one parameter: the name of the virtual environment to be created. So this command is saying “create a new Python virtual environment and call it env_myclub“
venv has finished setting up your new virtual environment, it will switch to an empty command prompt. When it’s done, open Windows Explorer and have a look at what
venv created for you. In your project folder you will now see a folder called
\env_myclub (or whatever name you gave the virtual environment). If you open the folder you will see the following:
\Include \Lib \Scripts pyvenv.cfg
If you look inside the
\Lib folder, you will see
venv has created a complete Python installation for you, separate from your other software, so you can work on your project without affecting any of the other software on your system.
To use this new Python virtual environment we have to activate it, so let’s go back to the command prompt and type the following:
This will run the activate script inside your virtual environment’s
\scripts folder. You will notice your command prompt has now changed:
(env_myclub) PS ...\Documents\myclub>
(env_myclub) at the beginning of the command prompt lets you know that you are running in the virtual environment. Our next step is to install Django.
Now that we have Python installed and are running a virtual environment, installing Django is super easy, just type the command:
pip install "django>=2.1,<2.2"
If you are not familiar with the
pip command, put briefly it’s the Python package manager and is used to install Python packages (To keep with good programming tradition,
pip is a recursive acronym for “Pip Installs Packages”).
This will instruct
pip to install the latest version of Django 2.1 into your virtual environment. Your command output should look like this:
(env_myclub) ...>pip install "django>=2.1,<2.2" Collecting django<2.2,>=2.1 Downloading .../Django-2.1.4-py3-none-any.whl (7.3MB) 100% "################################" 7.3MB 2.9MB/s Collecting pytz (from django<2.2,>=2.1) Downloading .../pytz-2018.7-py2.py3-none-any.whl Installing collected packages: pytz, django Successfully installed django-2.1.4 pytz-2018.7
To test the installation, go to your virtual environment command prompt, start the Python interactive interpreter by typing
python and hitting Enter. If the installation was successful, you should be able to import the module django:
(env_myclub) ...\myclub_project>python Python 3.7.0 (v3.7.0:1bf9cc5093, Jun 27 2018, 04:06:47) [MSC v.1914 32 bit (Intel)] on win32 Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. >>> import django >>> django.get_version() '2.1.4'
You can also check if Django has been installed directly from the command prompt with:
(env_myclub) ...\myclub_project>python -m django --version 2.1.4
Don’t forget to exit the Python interpreter when you are done.
Once you’ve installed Python and Django, you can take the first step in developing a Django application by creating a Django project.
A Django project is a collection of settings and files for a single Django website. To create a new Django project we’ll be using a special command to auto-generate the folders, files and code that make up a Django project. This includes a collection of settings for an instance of Django, database configuration, Django-specific options and application-specific settings.
I am assuming at this stage you are still running the virtual environment from the previous installation step. If not, you will have to start it again with
From your virtual environment command line, run the following command:
django-admin startproject myclub_site
This command will automatically create a
myclub_site folder in your project folder, as well as all the necessary files for a basic, but fully functioning Django website. Feel free to explore what
startproject created now if you wish, however, we will be going into greater detail on the structure of a Django project in the next chapter.
Django includes several applications by default (e.g., the admin program and user management and authentication). Some of these applications makes use of at least one database table, so we need to create tables in the project database before we can use them. To do this, change into the
myclub_site folder created in the last step (type
cd myclub_site at the command prompt) and run the following command:
python manage.py migrate
The migrate command creates a new SQLite database and any necessary database tables, according to the settings file created by the
startproject command (more on the settings file later). If all goes to plan, you’ll see a message for each migration it applies:
(env_myclub) ...\myclub_site>python manage.py migrate Operations to perform: Apply all migrations: admin, auth, contenttypes, sessions Running migrations: Applying contenttypes.0001_initial... OK Applying auth.0001_initial... OK Applying admin.0001_initial... OK # several more migrations (not shown)
Let’s verify your Django project works. Make sure you are in the outer
myclub_site directory and run the following command:
python manage.py runserver
This will start the Django development server – a lightweight Web server written in Python. The development server was created so you can develop things rapidly, without having to deal with configuring a production server until you’re ready for deployment.
When the server starts, Django will output a few messages before telling you that the development server is up and running at
http://127.0.0.1:8000/. If you were wondering, 127.0.0.1 is the IP address for local host, or your local computer. The 8000 on the end is telling you that Django is listening at port 8000 on your local host.
You can change the port number if you want to, but I have never found a good reason to change it, so best to keep it simple and leave it at the default.
Now that the server is running, visit
http://127.0.0.1:8000/ with your web browser. You’ll see Django’s default welcome page, complete with a cool animated rocket (Figure 2-3).
Figure 2.3: Django’s welcome page