Django Quick Setup Guide with GitLab and Heroku

Monday, 15 October 2018

Heroku is a cloud platform for a developer to deploy their apps and express their idea and design straight to URL. It offers multiple plans, but usually the free tier is more than enough for experimenting or personal use.


  • Create a virtual environment in Python
  • Start a Django project
  • Create a Django app and add it to your project
  • Deploy your Django app to Heroku

PART A • GitLab and Heroku

  1. create a new git repository and new heroku app

  2. go to your GitLab repository CI/CD settings and add these to your variables | Variable | Value | | --------------- | --------------------- | | HEROKU_APIKEY | [your_heroku_apikey] | | HEROKU_APPNAME | [your_heroku_appname] | | HEROKU_APP_HOST | [your_heroku_webapp] |

  3. initialize git in your project root folder

git init
  1. set remote origin to your GitLab repository
git remote add origin
  1. set remote heroku to your Heroku app
heroku git:remote -a heroku-appname
  1. get your .gitlab-ci.yml file to activate GitLab pipelines
  2. create a file
# !/bin/bash
python makemigrations
python migrate
  1. create Procfile to specify executed commands by Heroku app
migrate: bash
web: gunicorn your_project_name.wsgi

Note - Procfile without an extension, is an essential file for your Heroku app and must be placed in the app's root directory to explicitly declare a process type from a variety you can choose from. For more information, visit Heroku's article about Procfile

  1. get your .gitignore file before you commit anything

PART B • Python Virtual Environment

We use Virtual Environment to avoid filling our base Python installation with a bunch of libraries we might use for only one project. Some projects might need different versions of the same libraries too, you couldn't possibly install every version of each dependencies, remember what they're for, and hope to always avoid conflicts, right?

Another reason to use this is so that other people could recreate the exact environment for your project if you're going to share it, look for bugs, and all sorts of stuff.

  1. Install Python (I recommend Python3)
  2. If you've installed Python before, make sure you add it to your PATH
  3. Install virtualenv using pip
pip install virtualenv
  1. Install virtualenv using pip
pip install virtualenvwrapper-win
  1. create the your virtual environment
mkvirtualenv your-env-name

Note - To activate your env, use workon your-env-name. To see your envs, use workon

  1. Create a text file called requirements and copy all dependencies in the code block below
  1. Make sure you're working in your virtualenv and install the dependencies from requirements.txt
pip install -r requirements.txt

Tip - If you get an error saying, for example psycopg2 can't be installed, remove it from the text file, install from the text file again, and install psycopg2 manually with pip install psycopg2 and then run pip freeze > requirements.txt to update the requirements.txt

PART C • Django Project

  1. create new project using command
django-admin startproject your_project_name
  1. create new app using command inside your project folder
django-admin startapp your_app_name
  1. Add and modify these lines in your project's settings file
import os
import dj_database_url

# Build paths inside the project like this: os.path.join(BASE_DIR, ...)

BASE_DIR = os.path.dirname(os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__)))
PRODUCTION = os.environ.get('DATABASE_URL') is not None




    'BACKEND': 'django.template.backends.django.DjangoTemplates',
    'DIRS': [os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'templates')],
    'APP_DIRS': True,
    'OPTIONS': {
        'context_processors': [
  • 2 & 8 → for Production in Heroku
  • 12 → registering your app to the project
  • 17 → to use the WhiteNoiseMiddleware
  • 23 → to set the global template in your root directory as a folder called 'template'
# If Using Heroku Environment, then Use Database Setting on Heroku
    DATABASES['default'] = dj_database_url.config()
  • Set Database to Heroku's
PROJECT_ROOT = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__))

# Static files (CSS, JavaScript, Images)


    os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'assets')

STATIC_ROOT = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__))

STATIC_URL = '/static/'

  • 130 → Add the project root directory
  • 135-137 → Set your static files such as CSS, JS, and Images at the root directory in a folder called assets
  1. Add the path to your app in your project's urls file
from django.contrib import admin
from django.urls import include, path

urlpatterns = [
    path('', include('app_name.urls')),
  • 2 → Import include and path for urlpatterns
  • 6 → Direct path to include your app's urls file, which you're going to make

Note - We are trying to build a scalable website and that is why we're giving the url to our app's urls file. If we instead give the paths to all of our templates into the main url file, it would get crowded quickly and become hard to maintain

  1. modify these files in your apps
from django.urls import path
from .views import *

urlpatterns = [
    path('', home, name='home'),
from django.shortcuts import render

def called_name(request):
    return render(request, 'your_template.html')
  1. create folder called templates inside your app folder and fill it with your html files