7. Apply some refinements#

We now have a working application, that functions in multiple environments and takes its configuration for the services it requires from environment-provided variables.

However, there are a number of refinements we can make.

7.1. Set DEBUG using an environment variable#

DEBUG is hard-coded into the application code. This is not a good idea. We want to be sure that we don’t inadvertently go into production with DEBUG = True. So, let’s make it default to False, and overwrite it only where we need it to be True. First, in .env-local:


and change the risky DEBUG = True in settings.py:

DEBUG = os.environ.get('DJANGO_DEBUG') == "True"

Your code can now be deployed with more confidence; only if the environment explicitly declares that Django can run in debug mode will it do that (any other value for the environment variables than True will evaluate to False in the settings).

Test locally; commit your changes once again, and redeploy and test on the cloud.

7.2. Configure ALLOWED_HOSTS#

Earlier, we set ALLOWED_HOSTS to ['*'], which allows any host to serve the application, for convenience. This isn’t ideal - ALLOWED_HOSTS exists to mitigate fake Host header attacks, and even if this risk doesn’t apply in Divio’s cloud hosting environments, it’s a bad idea to bake in configuration to your code that could be unsafe in others. It’s better if we can restrict ALLOWED_HOSTS to the right domains.

Each Divio cloud environment is provided with a DOMAIN environment variable, and (if the application uses multiple domains) a DOMAIN_ALIASES environment variable. These can be used to configure ALLOWED_HOSTS. To determine which environment variables are set, see How to manage your application’s environment variables.

We can use these environment variables to populate ALLOWED_HOSTS. Edit the settings file again:

DIVIO_DOMAIN = os.environ.get('DOMAIN', '')

    for d in os.environ.get('DOMAIN_ALIASES', '').split(',')
    if d.strip()
    for d in os.environ.get('DOMAIN_REDIRECTS', '').split(',')
    if d.strip()


Now, ALLOWED_HOSTS will always contain only the domains specified by the environment variables. On the cloud, these are provided automatically; for the local development environment, we need to add the right ones to .env-local:


7.3. Configure SECRET_KEY#

Django’s secret key is hard-coded in our settings and committed to the repository. This is all right locally, but not in production. However, since each cloud environment is provided with its own randomised SECRET_KEY variable, we can use that by changing settings.py to use that (also providing a fall-back):

SECRET_KEY = os.environ.get('SECRET_KEY', '<a string of random characters>')

7.4. Configure SSL redirects#

In production, it’s almost always better to redirect to HTTPS, when the server supports it. However, we don’t want it when running locally. So, in settings, we will default to redirecting:

# Redirect to HTTPS by default, unless explicitly disabled
SECURE_SSL_REDIRECT = os.environ.get('SECURE_SSL_REDIRECT') != "False"

And in the .env-local, to disable it:


7.5. Add collectstatic to the build#

At the moment, we need to run python manage.py collectstatic manually (and then commit the static files to the repository).

This is a well-defined, repeatable task that is not really worthy of a human’s attention. It would be much more elegant to have it executed automatically. We can do this using the Dockerfile:

RUN pip install -r requirements.txt
RUN python manage.py collectstatic --noinput
CMD uwsgi --module=myapp.wsgi --http=

However, if you try to run docker-compose build now, you’ll run into an error. During the build process, Docker has no access to environment variables - including the ones it’s expecting to use to define settings such as DATABASES. This is how it should be: building a Docker image should not be dependent upon any particular environment conditions.

The solution is to build a fallback into the Django settings by editing the line that determines the DATABASE_URL setting:

DATABASE_URL = os.environ.get('DATABASE_URL', 'sqlite://:memory:')

Now when no DATABASE_URL can be found in the environment, Django will happily use a dummy backend instead. You can test it by building again.

The /staticfiles directory no longer needs to be a part of the repository. Remove it:

git rm -r staticfiles

and add /staticfiles to .gitignore.

Commit and push the code changes, and run a deployment to check results. From now on, even if you add new applications with their own static files, or change the static files in existing applications, they will be collected automatically on deployment.

Serving static files, locally

When working locally, the static files collected by Docker inside the container will be overwritten, because of

  - ".:/app:rw"

as soon as Docker Compose is invoked. This doesn’t matter when you’re using Django in debug mode, because it will take care of static files for you, but if you’re trying to work with DEBUG = False and need your static files to be served, you’ll have to re-create them by running:

docker-compose run web python manage.py collectstatic

This completes the basic cycle of application creation, development and deployment, and how to integrate multiple cloud services into an application. You should now be familiar with the fundamental concepts and tools involved.

Other sections of the documentation expand upon these topics. The how-to guides in particular cover many common operations. And if there’s something you’re looking for but can’t find, please contact Divio support.