How to Change the Name of a Django App

Django is a popular Python web framework that allows you to build web applications quickly and efficiently. One of the core components of a Django project are apps – self-contained modules that each serve a distinct purpose, such as a blog, user profiles, etc. When creating a new Django project, you’ll generate one or more apps to house different parts of your site’s functionality.

However, sometimes you may realize the name you initially gave an app no longer makes sense or want to rename it for organizational purposes. Thankfully, Django makes it straightforward to change the name of an existing app if needed. In this blog post, we’ll walk through the step-by-step process.

Back Up Your Project and App First

Before making any major changes to your Django project, it’s wise to back up your code in case anything goes wrong. You can manually copy your project files to another location, or use version control software like Git to commit your current state. That way, if you run into issues renaming yourApp, you can easily revert back to the previous working state.

Update the App Name in the Configuration

The first place you’ll need to change the app name is in your project’s settings.py file. This houses the main Django configuration, including a list of INSTALLED_APPS.

Locate the line in INSTALLED_APPS that references your old app name. Then simply change it to reflect the new name you want for the app.

For example, if you originally had:

INSTALLED_APPS = [
    'myapp',
    ...
]

And want to change it to newapp, update it like so:

INSTALLED_APPS = [
    'newapp',
    ...
]

This ensures Django will now recognize the app by its new name.

Update the App Directory Name

The next step is to actually rename theApp directory in your project. This is the folder that houses the app’s code, models, views, etc.

Using your operating system’s file explorer or command line tools, navigate to the project directory and find the folder with the oldApp name. Rename it to match the new name you want.

For example, renaming myapp to newapp:

myapp/ → newapp/

Update Imports

With the app directory renamed, you now need to update any import statements that reference the old name.

Open up files in the newly renamed app folder – like views.py, models.py, etc. Any imports that refer to the old name should be changed.

For example:

# old 
from myapp.models import MyModel

# updated
from newapp.models import MyModel

You only need to update imports within the renamed app directory. Imports in other apps can remain unchanged.

Update Database References

If you have existing models and migrations for the app, you’ll also need to update some database references to the new app name.

First, open the main django_project/settings.py file. Locate the DATABASES setting, which defines your database connections.

Under the default connection settings, look for an ATOMIC_REQUESTS option and add the new app name:

“`python
DATABASES = {
‘default’: {
# …
‘ATOMIC_REQUESTS’: True,
‘NAME’: ‘newapp’
}
}

This tells Django that database changes for this app should be applied atomically (either fully succeed or fail), avoiding potential issues from a partially completed rename.

Next, you need to update any existing migrations from the old app name to the new one. Navigate to the `migrations/` folder within your renamed app. 

Open each `.py` file and update the `dependencies` list to reference `newapp` instead of the old name. For example:

python

old

dependencies = [
(‘myapp’, ‘0001_initial’),
]

updated

dependencies = [
(‘newapp’, ‘0001_initial’),
]
“`

This updates the migration history to associate those changes with the new app name.

Update Templates and Static Files

If your app has any templates or static files, there are a couple more places you need to update the name:

  • Templates should be moved from a myapp/templates/ folder to newapp/templates/
  • Update DIRS in settings.py to look for templates in the new folder
  • Update any template loading from myapp to newapp
  • Static files should be moved from myapp/static/ to newapp/static/
  • Update STATICFILES_DIRS to point to the new folder
  • Update any references in CSS/JS to load static files from newapp instead of myapp

This ensures assets will be located properly after the rename.

Test Everything Out

With all the references changed, it’s important to thoroughly test your Django project. Run the development server, create new migrations, check admin functionality, and visit any views that rely on the renamed app.

Verify that there are no lingering references to the old name that could cause issues. The Find/Replace tool in most code editors can help double check for any overlooked strings.

If everything works as expected, you can commit the name change in version control. If you run into issues, use your backups to revert any files back until it is working properly again.

Summary

Renaming a Django app takes a bit of work, but following this process will ensure you cover all the necessary steps:

  • Back up project
  • Update INSTALLED_APPS
  • Rename app folder
  • Change import statements
  • Update database with new app name
  • Update templates and static files
  • Test thoroughly

Taking time to cautiously rename apps will help avoid introduced bugs down the road. While it takes some upfront effort, having apps properly named will make your Django project easier to maintain in the long run.