Django: How to manage development and production settings?


I have been developing a basic app. Now at the deployment stage it has become clear I have need for both a local settings and production settings.

It would be great to know the following:

  • How best to deal with development and production settings.
  • How to keep apps such as django-debug-toolbar only in a development environment.
  • Any other tips and best practices for development and deployment settings.
4/21/2015 7:35:03 AM

Accepted Answer

The DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable controls which settings file Django will load.

You therefore create separate configuration files for your respective environments (note that they can of course both import * from a separate, "shared settings" file), and use DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE to control which one to use.

Here's how:

As noted in the Django documentation:

The value of DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE should be in Python path syntax, e.g. mysite.settings. Note that the settings module should be on the Python import search path.

So, let's assume you created myapp/ and myapp/ in your source repository.

In that case, you'd respectively set DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=myapp.production_settings to use the former and DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=myapp.test_settings to use the latter.

From here on out, the problem boils down to setting the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable.

Setting DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE using a script or a shell

You can then use a bootstrap script or a process manager to load the correct settings (by setting the environment), or just run it from your shell before starting Django: export DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=myapp.production_settings.

Note that you can run this export at any time from a shell — it does not need to live in your .bashrc or anything.

Setting DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE using a Process Manager

If you're not fond of writing a bootstrap script that sets the environment (and there are very good reasons to feel that way!), I would recommend using a process manager:

Finally, note that you can take advantage of the PYTHONPATH variable to store the settings in a completely different location (e.g. on a production server, storing them in /etc/). This allows for separating configuration from application files. You may or may not want that, it depends on how your app is structured.

2/7/2019 10:41:27 AM

By default use production settings, but create a file called in the same folder as your file. Add overrides there, such as DEBUG=True.

On the computer that will be used for development, add this to your ~/.bashrc file:


At the bottom of your file, add the following.

# Override production variables if DJANGO_DEVELOPMENT env variable is set
if os.environ.get('DJANGO_DEVELOPMENT') is not None:
    from settings_dev import * 

(Note that importing * should generally be avoided in Python, but this is a unique circumstance)

By default the production servers will not override anything. Done!

Compared to the other answers, this one is simpler because it doesn't require updating PYTHONPATH, or setting DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE which only allows you to work on one django project at a time.

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