When starting a new Django project, one of the first things you’ll need to do is determine how to structure your directory and files. While Django doesn’t enforce a specific project layout, adhering to some best practices can make your project more organized and maintainable as it grows. In this post, we will go over some tips for setting up clean, effective directory structure for your Django project.
Follow Django’s Default Conventions
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that Django Looks for files in predetermined locations. For example, it will look for templates in a ‘templates’ directory and static files in a ‘static’ directory within your project. So be sure to follow Django conventions when setting up your initial file structure. That being said, there are still some decisions to make when organizing things within your project.
Aim for an Intuitive, Modular Structure
When designing your project directory structure, you should aim for an intuitive setup that makes sense to you and other developers. Some common top-level directories include a ‘media’ folder for user uploads, an ‘apps’ folder for your Django apps, a ‘config’ folder for configuration files, and a ‘docs’ folder for documentation. Within your apps, it’s common to have folders like ‘models’, ‘views’, ‘forms’, etc to organize your code.
Break Your Project Into Discrete Reusable Apps
Speaking of apps, it’s considered a best practice to modularize your project by breaking it into discrete apps. For example, you may have one app for blog posts, one for accounts, one for e-commerce, etc. Keeping apps small and focused makes them more reusable and allows for easier maintenance down the road.
Maximize Cohesion & Minimize Coupling
When structuring your apps, aim to maximize cohesion within the app while minimizing coupling between apps. Each app should contain closely related features and functionalities that belong together. At the same time, you want to minimize interdependencies between apps as much as possible. This makes it easier to reuse or even remove an app without impacting the rest of the project.
Use Standardized Naming Conventions for project
In terms of file naming, it’s recommended to use lowercase with underscores for separation. This matches Python’s preferred naming convention and keeps things standardized across files. Some examples would be ‘urls.py’ for url routes, ‘models.py’ for database models, ‘forms.py’ for forms, etc. Consistent naming makes files predictable and easy to locate within an app.
Favor Depth Over Width in project
When it comes to overall project structure, depth is preferable to width. This means you want to avoid having tons of top-level directories and instead nest files within sub-directories when it makes sense. For example, keep all email templates within a ‘templates/email’ folder rather than having them all at the root level. Aim for no more than one level of nesting to prevent your directory tree from getting too deep.
Use Django’s Built-In Utilities
Lastly, make use of Django’s utility scripts when you can. The ‘startproject’ and ‘startapp’ commands will generate a basic file structure for you to then customize. Use these as a starting point so you don’t have to set up all your files and folders from scratch.
Organizing your Django project directory may take some trial and error. The key is to aim for an intuitive structure that makes sense for your use case. Modularize your code into discrete reusable apps, maximize cohesion and minimize coupling, standardize naming conventions, and utilize nesting and utility scripts to eliminate duplication and redundancy. Following these best practices will set your project up for maintainability and scalability down the road. With a clean project structure, your code will be easier to navigate, understand, and extend over time.