Getting Started With Django


Django is an open-source web framework that enables you to build clean and feature-rich web applications with minimal effort needed and in no time. It is written in Python; a general-purpose language; but is well suited for developing Web Applications. Django loosely follows a model-view-controller (MVC) design pattern, which greatly helps in building clean and maintainable web applications. For introduction purposes, you’ll read about the following,
  • The MVC pattern in web development.
  • Why we should use Python.
  • Why we should use Django.
The MVC pattern in web development
Web development was a tedious task involving the use of CGI for interfacing external programs with the webserver. It was not only difficult but also required a separate copy of the program to be launched for each request. Quite overwhelming right?
A few years ago, Model-View-Controller came into the picture for web-based applications. It separates data (model), user interface (view), and data handling logic (controller), so that one can be changed without affecting the other; benefiting the designers and developers to work on the same application without affecting and worrying about each other’s job. SWEET.
Why Python?
Python is a general-purpose programming language. Although it is well suited for a wide variety of applications, it doesn’t leave the web behind. It’s a clean and elegant syntax plus the support of a large library of standard and contributed modules means it technically covers everything from parallel processing to access a file. Also, its object-oriented model makes it suitable for MVC style development.
If you’re like many people (yeah I’m in too) who first started with C and Java, the fact that Python is easy to learn gets you to jump to the conclusion that Python is not that necessary of programming skill. ‘I BEG TO DIFFER’. Python can actually push you to great heights whether it comes to landing a job or getting to taste the hottest trend in tech like Big Data, Machine learning, etc.
The reason I’m falling in love with Python is that it’s hard to mess up. The beauty of Python; besides its simplicity; is its readability, versatility, it's fast to write and there’re no ‘Black Holes’ in its design.
As far as the performance is concerned, the Python runtime environment is one of a kind. It is known to be the fastest and stably supports most of the famous web servers through modules. Python is also available for all major platforms: Windows, Mac, UNIX/Linux.
Why Django?
Probably as soon as the MVC pattern developed its roots into web development, Python provided quite a few choices for the web frames. Django is one of the available frameworks for Python but the question is; what sets it apart from other frameworks and what makes it popular in the Python community?
If you’re a perfectionist but need to meet those deadlines (yeah I hate them too. Nobody likes the deadlines anyway. Right?) Django is the best option for you as everything falls in place and in no time. It was specifically made for people who want clean code and good architecture for their applications. Below are a few more reasons to consider Django.
Django’s components were meant for integration, reusability, and speed from the start. It started as an in-house framework for managing a series of news-oriented websites but later its code was made public and the Django team contributed its development using the Open Source model. So because of its roots, it provides tight integration between components.
Django comes with Object-Relational Mapper (ORM) which is more like a connection between the data model and database engine. So even if you’re no master at SQL only the basics would work perfectly fine with it. Also migrating data from one database engine to another is just a matter of changing a configuration file.
URL Design
Django provides its users the convenience and flexibility allowing URL to be mapped using regular expressions. You can also define functions to handle each pattern. That means it works both ways; user as well as search engine friendly.
Administration interface
One of the coolest things about Django is that it provides you a ‘built-in’ administration interface. It’s just not only ready to use but also highly flexible and customizable.
Security is the main concern for everyone nowadays. But no worries Django has you covered with its features. It includes advice on securing a Django-powered site including Cross-site scripting (XSS), Cross-site request forgery (CSRF), SQL injection, Clickjacking, SSL/HTTPS protection, and Host header validation. You can read more about the security features at
Internationalization and localization
As the name suggests, Django facilitates a single web application to offer its content in different languages and regions of the world.
Another cool thing is that Django has huge community support and also extensive documentation which has your back in case you run into some mess. No doubt this is why those ‘High Load’ and popular projects like Pinterest and Instagram rely on Python and Django, in particular, to provide users with stable, fast access.
That’s it for the introduction part. Now let’s go ahead and see how to set the things up.
Set up
In order to get started with Django, you’ll need the following,
  • Installing Python
  • Installing Django
  • Installing a database system
Just to be clear as being a Windows user, I’ll only be covering installation on Windows.
Installing Python
Django is written in Python so the very first step towards our development setup is the installation of Python. Visit and download the latest version of Python according to your system. Next, execute the .exe file and follow the instructions. The graphical installer will guide you throughout. After the installation, just to check, open the command prompt and enter the following command
  1. python --version
    If everything worked out perfectly, you should see the version of Python you installed.

    Figure 1: Installing Python
Something about pip
pip is like the package manager for Python. It will make installing and uninstalling Python packages (such as Django) very easy. To get-pip on your machine just enter the following command at a command prompt.
  1. Python –m pip install –U pip
 It will either let you know that pip is up to date or update it for you. For me, it is up to date so it shows something like this.
Figure 2: Installing pip
Installing Django
Now with everything set up, installing Django is super easy. Just enter the command
  1. pip install Django
The above command will get the latest version of Django for you. Or if you want to install a specific version of Django, modify the command like this:
  1. pip install Django==2.0.4
Easy right?
Time out Exception
Watch out. If the above procedure doesn’t seem to work for you (as for me you see so many freaking red lines in response indicating time out exception). First thing; Don’t panic. It happens because there is too short a default timeout set for pip by default. All we need to do is change this default timeout and we’re good to go. Enter the following command:
  1. pip --default-timeout=60 install django //setting the default timeout to 60 (1 min)
  1. export PIP_DEFAULT_TIMEOUT=60
  2. pip install django
You can set this default timeout to whatever suits you. If 1 min doesn't work for you then you can increase it.
If everything worked, go ahead, open the Python shell and get the version of Django. It’s not mandatory but just for checking purposes
Figure 3: Installing Django
Installing Database system
Django supports various database engines like MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL Server, Oracle, and SQLite. But you don’t need to worry about getting your hands dirty. If you are using the latest version of Python, you won't need to install anything, since it comes with the SQLite database management system contained in a module named sqlite3. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just keep it this way.
Now your development setup is all done. The next step is, of course, creating your First Project in Django which I’ll be covering next.