Django Best Practices: Optimizing Project Configuration

The file in a Django project is the heart of your application’s configuration. It contains essential information and settings that control various aspects of your Django application, such as database connections, security, middleware, and much more. Properly configuring your file is crucial for building a robust and maintainable Django project. In this blog post, we’ll explore some best practices for managing your Django project’s file efficiently.

1. Use Environment Variables for Sensitive Information

Sensitive information like secret keys, API tokens, and database passwords should never be hard-coded directly into your file. Instead, use environment variables to store and access this information. This practice enhances security and makes it easier to manage different configurations for development, testing, and production environments.

Here’s an example of how to use environment variables in

import os

SECRET_KEY = os.environ.get('DJANGO_SECRET_KEY')

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql',
        'NAME': os.environ.get('DB_NAME'),
        'USER': os.environ.get('DB_USER'),
        'PASSWORD': os.environ.get('DB_PASSWORD'),
        'HOST': os.environ.get('DB_HOST'),
        'PORT': os.environ.get('DB_PORT'),

By using environment variables, you can easily change configurations between environments without modifying your codebase.

2. Separate Settings for Different Environments

It’s common to have separate configurations for development, testing, and production environments. To achieve this, create multiple settings files, each tailored to a specific environment, and then import them into your main file.

For example, you can have,, and, and import them like this:

from .settings_common import *

# Development settings
    from .settings_dev import *
except ImportError:

# Testing settings
    from .settings_test import *
except ImportError:

# Production settings
    from .settings_prod import *
except ImportError:

This approach keeps your settings organized and makes it easier to maintain distinct configurations for different stages of your project.

3. Use for Local Development

For local development, you can create a file to store your environment-specific settings. This file is not tracked by version control and is used to override settings in your primary file.

Here’s an example of how to include

    from .settings_local import *
except ImportError:

This allows you to have development-specific settings like debug mode, local database credentials, and other non-sensitive information separate from your main settings.

4. Keep Secrets Secure

When using environment variables for sensitive information, ensure that you manage these variables securely. Use a tool like python-decouple or python-dotenv to manage your environment variables in a separate .env file or use a secret management service like AWS Secrets Manager or HashiCorp Vault.

Read our Blog on How to Protect Sensitive Data in Python Projects like Django and Flask

5. Version Control .env Files

While your .env files may contain sensitive information, it’s essential to version control them with your project. However, it’s crucial not to include actual secrets in your version control system. Instead, include a template or sample .env file with placeholders for variables and provide clear instructions for team members on how to create their own local .env files.

6. Document Your Settings

A well-documented file can save you and your team a lot of time and effort. Include comments that explain the purpose of each setting and any relevant details. Proper documentation makes it easier for newcomers to understand your project and for your team to troubleshoot issues.

7. Use Django Extensions

Consider using the Django Extensions package, which provides helpful tools for Django development, including the show_settings management command. This command displays all the settings used in your project, making it easier to audit and review your configuration.


Managing your Django project’s file effectively is crucial for maintaining a secure, maintainable, and scalable application. By following these best practices, you can create a solid foundation for your Django project, ensuring it remains flexible and secure as it grows and evolves. Remember to adapt these practices to your project’s specific requirements and constraints, and always prioritize security and maintainability.

Blogs You Might Like to Read!