Since its public release in 2005, Django has become one of the most popular modern web frameworks for its speed, security, and smooth developer experience. This Python-based framework forms the foundation for Instagram, Pinterest, Disqus, and other successful websites and applications.
It also boasts many components for developing full-stack web applications. And if you need additional functions and features, you can explore Django’s rich open-source ecosystem of third-party packages and seamlessly plug them into your project.
This article explores the best Django packages to prepare your modern applications for production.
Understand Django and Its Ecosystem
Django uses the MVT (model-view-template) design pattern. Its rich and intuitive object-relational mapper (ORM) interacts with your Python database, a system of middleware and controller views manage the HTTP request and response cycle, and a frontend templating language renders dynamic server-side web pages. Django’s built-in forms module renders and validates HTML form submissions, and its packages offer user authentication, caching, automated emails, and static file management.
Discover the Top Django Packages
There are over 10,000 Django packages to choose from on the Python Packaging Index. Although sites like Django Packages help curate third-party packages with categories and metrics, it can still be challenging to determine which are best for your project. Let’s examine some helpful, flexible, and well-documented options for supercharging your Django applications.
To install and use third-party packages, simply run the Python
pip install command in your project’s virtual environment, then add the package to your Django project’s
INSTALLED_APPS settings in the settings.py file at the project’s root.
Django Packages vs. Django Modules
In Python, a module is a file or collection of files sharing a namespace that you can import into your programs. Like a folder containing files, the Django framework comprises many smaller modules, such as forms, models, and views.
Python packages are bundles of modules that projects can share. A Django app is a self-contained Python package you can share across Django projects. All Django projects comprise at least one Django app with all the files for building your web application.
The following section explores 15 of the best Django packages.
1. Django REST Framework
The Django REST Framework (DRF) extends your Django project to work with serialized JSON data — or XML, YAML, and more. The framework interfaces directly with the Django ORM to enable representations of relational data and provide user-specific authentications and permission guards.
Its built-in Django views generate RESTful API endpoints to perform create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) operations on your project’s data on the server. It also includes a browsable API to interact directly with the API in a web browser.
2. Django Haystack
Django Haystack incorporates more robust search engine tools into your Django project. Its modular Django app offers a consistent API across any search backend you plug in, so you aren’t locked into one vendor throughout your project’s lifecycle.
You can create unique and finely-tuned search indexes for all your project’s model data and leverage their provided Django views to add backend-agnostic search functionality to your frontend templates.
3. Django Debug Toolbar
Django’s default debug setting offers complete Python stack traces for runtime errors and exceptions, along with metadata representing the state of your local development environment. However, when you need to dive deeper and attack sneaky, hard-to-solve bugs, install the Django Debug Toolbar into your project, and set the
DEBUG setting to
True in Django’s settings.
This package displays highly-detailed, live data about the current request and response cycle, including executed SQL queries, served static files, and data stored and retrieved from your project’s caching mechanism. Use this data to debug and optimize your application’s performance.
4. Django Sentry
When deploying your Django site to production, it’s essential to turn off all the debugging features to protect personal data and your application’s security. But you still need to know if your website’s users encounter runtime errors.
Sentry is a popular open-source solution for monitoring website activity in production with a generous free tier for individual developers and small teams. Use its simple interface to add advanced and highly-configurable monitoring, logging, and tracing features to your Django projects to avoid production issues.
5. Django Cors Headers
When your Django project provides data to a separate web frontend or another web application hosted on a different domain than your server, you enable a web security protocol called Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS).
The Django Cors Headers package simplifies this process by leveraging Django’s built-in middleware system for processing HTTP requests and responses. You can specify a list of allowable external domains to communicate with.
6. Django Filter
Django applications often let users request data based on a set of parameters that map to individual database fields or attributes. The Django Filter package helps you avoid writing repetitive code for these common query types in your Django views.
FilterSet objects that include the model fields to query via URL parameters or through automatically-generated HTML forms in your templates.
7. Django Extensions
You can use Django’s command line utilities, called management commands, to run your development server, create database migrations and run them against your database, build new Django apps, and administer your test suite.
The Django Extensions package augments these commands with additional functionality, such as a script to rebuild your entire project’s database via the Django ORM, automatically importing an interactive shell with all your project’s model files, and exporting users’ email addresses in a readable format.
8. Django Storages
When you’re developing locally, you store your Django project’s media files in the local folder you configure as your project’s media root location. The default development server serves these files.
However, in a production system, you should serve media files via a separate HTTP web server, like Nginx or Apache, or a cloud storage service, such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) or DigitalOcean Spaces. This approach allows your application to scale horizontally without replicating the local folder containing your media files.
The Django Storages package makes configuring your app to use these cloud storage services straightforward, using just a few lines of code.
9. Django Redis
Complex database queries and template-rendering operations are time-consuming. Django’s built-in cache framework improves your web application’s performance by storing the results of these operations. Your application can render most web requests directly from this cache, improving load times.
You can cache results in your project’s database or file system or directly in memory. The Django Redis package helps configure the popular, open-source Redis as your project’s in-memory cache backend. Redis is known for its high performance, scalability, and versatility, making it a popular choice for many applications.
10. Django Guardian
Managing fine-grained permissions programmatically or via the Django admin can be tedious. Django Guardian provides a simple and intuitive API to manage per-object user and group-level permissions with just a few lines of code.
11. Django Channels
Most Django applications operate within the HTTP request and response cycle, loading content for users through an entire web page refresh, AJAX-enabled frontend technologies like jQuery, htmx, or Hotwire, or frameworks like React or Vue. However, real-time features like web sockets, MQTT, chat, and Internet of Things (IoT) protocols require an open connection to the server.
Django Channels facilitate a wide range of synchronous and asynchronous communications. For example, you can set up a live chat server for your website’s administrators to engage directly with customers.
12. Django Celery
Celery is a popular open-source task queue to schedule and run application processes that are too time-consuming, unpredictable, or resource-intensive for the usual HTTP request and response cycle to handle. It can trigger processes to send automated emails to your users, process large text and media files, scrape the web, handle third-party API calls, analyze data, and generate reports.
Its interface lets you define Celery tasks directly in your Django project code and schedule them for specific times or recurring intervals.
13. Django Allauth
Although Django’s fully-featured authentication system helps manage your project’s users, there’s no built-in support for enabling social logins. Piecing together your system using social and local authentication methods introduces complexity and duplicated logic to your Django project.
Thankfully, the Django Allauth package handles that complexity for you, so you can support the full range of social authentication providers alongside local password-based logins with only a little configuration.
14. Wagtail CMS
While you can build your own custom content management system (CMS) for your Django project using the automatically-generated admin interface, the Wagtail CMS package offers highly-customizable page models. Its unique approach to mixed content uses Django’s full capabilities to build content-rich websites.
Wagtail is like the Python-powered answer to PHP’s WordPress, but its degree of control and customization for developers sets it apart from the rest of the CMS crowd. This package is the CMS of choice for many notable organizations such as NASA, Google, Mozilla, and the NHS.
15. Django Compressor
Loading large static files in the browser can create a performance bottleneck for your Django project. Django Compressor makes it easy to compress all forms of static assets in your Django project.
Its template tag works with inline and linked files, and you can configure Django Compressor to work with your project’s caching mechanism for automatic regeneration and cache-forever generated output.
Deploying your app is straightforward with Kinsta, which connects directly to your Django project’s Git repository (GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket). Once you’ve finished some initial environment setup, deploy your web app manually or at every push to your repo.
Kinsta’s hosting costs are affordable for your apps, with the ability to scale on demand in a predictable, transparent, and manageable way. The Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach eliminates the need to manage your infrastructure and system updates.
With the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Kubernetes at work in the background, you know your application is ready for any amount of traffic. You’re free to focus on what really matters — creating the best possible web application for your users.
With Kinsta, you have the best performance with containerized apps running on GCP’s Premium Tier Network and C2 machines, server-level and Edge Caching, and CDN powered by Cloudflare’s enterprise-level integration served from 260+ locations. You also have robust security infrastructure with a strong firewall, DDoS protection and mitigation, and HTTP/3 and TSL 1.3 support.
Django’s full-featured web framework offers plenty of tools to build your application. You can find the additional functionality you need in the vibrant ecosystem of third-party Django packages. The modular Django app and Python package systems let you add functions as your project grows. Save time and energy by using the tried-and-true open-source resources mentioned in this article.
Kinsta applies a similar philosophy to web hosting. You can scale your Django project affordably without worrying about infrastructure. To get the most out of web hosting with Django, try Kinsta today.