How To Use Python Decouple with DigitalOcean Spaces in Django

How To Use Python Decouple with DigitalOcean Spaces in Django


Python Decouple is a Python library aimed at making it easier for developers to separate their configuration settings from code. Originally designed for Django, it is now a generic Python tool for storing parameters and defining constant values separate from your code.

In this tutorial we will go over how to install Python Decouple and how to use it in a basic Django application utilizing DigitalOcean’s object storage solution, Spaces.


In order to be adequately prepared for this tutorial, you will need the following:

With an initial server setup and a DigitalOcean Space and API key, you’re ready to get started.

Step 1 — Set Up a Virtual Environment

Before we begin, if you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to update and upgrade your server.

  1. sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y upgrade

Your server should have shipped with Python 3. Run the following command to verify that it is installed:

  1. sudo apt-get install python3

Next, let’s install pip the package manager for Python.

  1. sudo apt-get install -y python3-pip

Finally, we will need to install the virtualenv module so that we can set up our programming environment:

  1. sudo pip3 install virtualenv

For further guidance and information on the setup and utilization of programming environments, check out this tutorial on setting up a virtual environment.

We are now ready to move into our Python programming environment.

Step 2 — Create Django App and Install Dependencies

We must next create the Django app and install the required dependencies in order to utilize DigitalOcean Spaces and Python Decouple.

While in the server’s home directory, we have to create the directory that will contain our Django application. Run the following command to create a directory called django-apps, or another name of your choice. Then navigate to the directory.

  1. mkdir django-apps
  2. cd django-apps

While inside the django-apps directory, create your virtual environment. Let’s call it env.

  1. virtualenv env

Now, activate the virtual environment with the following command:

  1. . env/bin/activate

You’ll know it’s activated once the prefix is changed to (env), which will look similar to the following depending on what directory you are in:

Within the environment, install the Django package using pip. Installing Django allows us to create and run Django applications. To learn more about Django, read our tutorial series on Django Development.

  1. pip install django

Now let’s create a Django project called mysite using the following command:

  1. django-admin startproject mysite

Next, we need to install Boto 3, an AWS SDK for Python, which will allow us to integrate object storage solutions, like DigitalOcean Spaces, with our Django application.

At the time of writing, Boto 3 has explicit compatibility with S3. Because of Space’s interoperability with S3, Spaces is also compatible with Boto 3. For more details on the comparisons between Amazon S3 and DigitalOcean Spaces object storage read the Spaces docs.

Run the following command to install Boto 3:

  1. pip install boto3

We also need to install django-storages, a collection of custom storage backends for Django and boto3.

  1. pip install django-storages

Finally, let’s install Python Decouple**.

  1. pip install python-decouple

You have setup your dependencies within the environment of your Django app and are now ready to set up static and template directories.

Step 3 — Add Directories and Assets

With our environment set up with all dependencies, you can now switch to the mysite/mysite directory,

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite

Within the mysite/mysite directory, run the following commands to create the static and template directories.

  1. mkdir static && mkdir templates

We’ll next create the subdirectories for images and CSS to live within the static directory.

  1. mkdir static/img && mkdir static/css

Once you’ve made the directories, we’ll download a test file that we’ll eventually add to our object storage. Switch to the img directory since we’ll be downloading an image.

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite/static/img

Within this directory, we’ll download the DigitalOcean logo image using Wget’s wget command. This is a commonly used GNU program, preinstalled on Ubuntu distros, to retrieve content from web servers.

  1. wget https://assets.digitalocean.com/logos/DO_Logo_icon_blue.png

Once you hit ENTER, you’ll see output similar to the following:

Resolving www.digitalocean.com (www.digitalocean.com)..., Connecting to www.digitalocean.com (www.digitalocean.com)||:443... connected. HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK Length: 1283 (1.3K) [image/png] Saving to: ‘DO_Logo_icon_blue.png’ DO_Logo_icon_blue-6edd7377 100%[=====================================>] 1.25K --.-KB/s in 0s 2017-11-05 12:26:24 (9.60 MB/s) - ‘DO_Logo_icon_blue.png’ saved [1283/1283]

At this point, if you run the command ls, you’ll notice that an image named DO_Logo_icon_blue.png now exists in the static/img/ directory.

With these directories set up and the image we’ll be storing downloaded to the server, we can move on to editing the files associated with our Django app.

Step 4 — Edit CSS and HTML Files

We’ll start by editing the style sheet. You should move into the css directory so that we can add a basic style sheet for our web app.

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite/static/css

Use nano, or another text editor of your choice, to edit the document.

  1. nano app.css

Once the file opens, add the following CSS:

body {
  margin: 0;
  background-color: #f1f1f1;
  font-family: "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

.container {
  width: 80%;
  border: 1px solid #ddd;
  background-color: #fff;
  padding: 20px;
  margin: 40px auto;

form {
  margin-bottom: 20px;
  padding: 10px;
  border: 1px solid #ff9900;
  width: 350px;

table {
  border-collapse: collapse;
  width: 100%;

table td,
table th {
  border: 1px solid #eceeef;
  padding: 5px 8px;
  text-align: left;

table thead {
  border-bottom: 2px solid #eceeef;

Once you are finished, you can save and close the file.

From here, navigate to the templates directory.

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite/templates

We need to open a file called home.html and add HTML into it for how our basic web app will be displayed. Using nano, open the file so it’s ready for editing:

  1. nano home.html

Within the document, add the following:

{% load static %}
<!DOCTYPE html>
  <meta charset="utf-8">
  <title>Spaces + Django Tutorial</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{% static 'css/app.css' %}">
    <h1>Spaces + Django Tutorial</h1>
    <img src="{% static 'img/DO_Logo_icon_blue.png' %}">
    <h2>Congratulations, you’re using Spaces!</h2>

Save and close the file. The last file we will update is the urls.py file so that it points to your newly created home.html file. We need to move into the following directory:

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite

Use nano to edit the urls.py file.

  1. nano urls.py

You can delete everything in the file and then add the following:

from django.conf.urls import url
from django.views.generic import TemplateView

urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^$', TemplateView.as_view(template_name='home.html'), name='home'),

With these files set up, we can next work on configuring our settings in order to integrate with object storage.

Step 5 — Use Python Decouple to Abstract Spaces Credentials

Within your virtual environment, navigate to the location of the settings.py file. This is where we will create the settings.ini file to store your credentials separately.

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite

Create the settings.ini file using touch, a Linux command that creates new, empty files in the directory from which it is called.

  1. touch settings.ini

The settings file being created will have an .ini file extension. This file will be looked at by Python Decouple for settings data, and it is also where your settings file will refer to for the API key. You can also use .env as an alternative extension to .ini.

Now, open the settings.ini file using your favorite text editor, such as nano.

  1. nano settings.ini

In this document, we’ll have a section header, [settings], required by Python Decouple, and will add our Spaces credentials by assigning them to variables. Your full file should look like the following:


In order to access these credentials, we’ll need to refer to the settings.ini file from the settings.py file.

In the next step, we’ll go through configuring the settings.py file completely.

Step 6 — Update Settings

Now it’s time to update your settings file with your Spaces credentials so that we can take advantage of the page we’ve setup to display the image.

Ensure that you’re in the correct location to access your settings file.

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite/mysite

Open the file for editing with nano or another text editor:

  1. nano settings.py

At the top of the file, we’ll need to add an import statement in order to use the config module from Decouple.

import os
from decouple import config

Move down in the file to the allowed hosts and add your server IP.

ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['your-server-ip']

Then add storages to the installed apps section of the settings file and remove django.contrib.admin since we won’t be using that in this tutorial. It should look like the following.

# Application definition


Replace and add the highlighted text to the TEMPLATES section of the settings file, so that the project knows where to locate your home.html file.

        'BACKEND': 'django.template.backends.django.DjangoTemplates',
        'DIRS': [os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'mysite/templates')],
        'APP_DIRS': True,
        'OPTIONS': {
            'context_processors': [

Finally, let’s update your settings at the bottom of the file. We’ll be adding the following below the # Static files section. The first two lines add the reference to the settings.ini file, so that it can retrieve the configuration parameters.

Below that, be sure to add your own bucket name. At the time of writing, NYC3 is the only region where Spaces currently are, so that is being passed as the endpoint URL.

For a terminal location, add the directory into which you would like to import your files. You can add a directory through your Spaces interface in-browser.

# Static files (CSS, JavaScript, Images)
# https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.11/howto/static-files/

AWS_STORAGE_BUCKET_NAME = 'your-storage-bucket-name'
AWS_S3_ENDPOINT_URL = 'https://nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com'
    'CacheControl': 'max-age=86400',
AWS_LOCATION = 'your-spaces-files-folder'

    os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'mysite/static'),
STATICFILES_STORAGE = 'storages.backends.s3boto3.S3Boto3Storage'

Now we’ve abstracted our Spaces credentials away from the Python code and our settings file is ready to integrate our Django app with object storage.

Let’s run the Django web application to verify that everything has been setup correctly.

Step 7 — Collect Static Files

Now we’ll run collectstatic and you’ll notice files being transferred, including the image that we’ve saved in our static directory. It will get transferred to the Spaces location that we’ve identified in the settings file.

To accomplish this, let’s navigate to ~/django-apps/mysite/ :

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite

Within the directory, run the following command:

  1. python manage.py collectstatic

You’ll see the following output and should respond yes when prompted.

You have requested to collect static files at the destination location as specified in your settings. This will overwrite existing files! Are you sure you want to do this? Type 'yes' to continue, or 'no' to cancel:

Then you’ll see some more output telling you the file has been copied to Spaces.

Copying '/root/django-apps/mysite/mysite/static/css/app.css' 1 static file copied, 1 unmodified.

At this point, if you return to your bucket from your DigitalOcean Cloud account, you’ll see the css and img directories added to the folder you pointed them to, with app.css in the css directory, and the DO-Logo_icon_blue-.png image in the img directory.

Step 8 — Run the Application

If you have a UFW firewall set up, let’s first allow inbound traffic to pass through port 8000 by issuing the following command:

  1. sudo ufw allow 8000

With your virtual environment still activated, let’s navigate to the location of the manage.py file and run the application, using the following commands:

  1. cd ~/django-apps/mysite
  2. python manage.py runserver <your-server-ip>:8000

In a web browser, navigate to the http://your-server-ip:8000 to see the result of the Django application you’ve created. You will see the following output in your browser:

DigitalOcean Spaces Django and Python Decouple Example App

When you are done with testing your app, you can press CTRL + C to stop the runserver command. This will return you to the your programming environment.

When you are ready to leave your Python environment, you can run the deactivate command:

  1. deactivate

Deactivating your programming environment will put you back to the terminal command prompt.


In this tutorial you have successfully created a Django application that serves files from DigitalOcean Spaces while abstracting away the Spaces credentials from the Python code. In the process you’ve learned about static files, how to manage static files, how to serve them from a cloud service and how to decouple your configuration parameters from your python settings file.

You can continue learning about web development with Python and Django by reading our tutorial series on Django Development.

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Just adding that if you gonna use the CDN url just add the AWS_S3_ADDRESSING_STYLE = 'virtual' to the settings.py.


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