Note The following chapter can be sometimes a bit hard to get through. Persist and finish it; deployment is an important part of the website development process. This chapter is placed in the middle of the tutorial so that your mentor can help with the slightly trickier process of getting your website online. This means you can still finish the tutorial on your own if you run out of time.

Until now, your website was only available on your computer. Now you will learn how to deploy it! Deploying is the process of publishing your application on the Internet so people can finally go and see your app. :)

As you learned, a website has to be located on a server. There are a lot of server providers available on the internet. We will use one that has a relatively simple deployment process: PythonAnywhere. PythonAnywhere is free for small applications that don't have too many visitors so it'll definitely be enough for you now.

The other external service we'll be using is GitHub, which is a code hosting service. There are others out there, but almost all programmers have a GitHub account these days, and now so will you!

These three places will be important to you. Your local computer will be the place where you do development and testing. When you're happy with the changes, you will place a copy of your program on GitHub. Your website will be on PythonAnywhere and you will update it by getting a new copy of your code from GitHub.


Note If you already did the Installation steps, there's no need to do this again – you can skip to the next section and start creating your Git repository.

Git is a "version control system" used by a lot of programmers. This software can track changes to files over time so that you can recall specific versions later. A bit like the "track changes" feature in Microsoft Word, but much more powerful.

Installing Git

Installing Git: Windows

You can download Git from You can hit "next" on all steps except for one; in the fifth step entitled "Adjusting your PATH environment", choose "Use Git and optional Unix tools from the Windows Command Prompt" (the bottom option). Other than that, the defaults are fine. Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings is good.

Do not forget to restart the command prompt or powershell after the installation finished successfully.

Installing Git: OS X

Download Git from and just follow the instructions.

Note If you are running OS X 10.6, 10.7, or 10.8, you will need to install the version of git from here: Git installer for OS X Snow Leopard

Installing Git: Debian or Ubuntu


$ sudo apt-get install git
Installing Git: Fedora


$ sudo dnf install git
Installing Git: openSUSE


$ sudo zypper install git

Starting our Git repository

Git tracks changes to a particular set of files in what's called a code repository (or "repo" for short). Let's start one for our project. Open up your console and run these commands, in the djangogirls directory:

Note Check your current working directory with a pwd (Mac OS X/Linux) or cd (Windows) command before initializing the repository. You should be in the djangogirls folder.


$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in ~/djangogirls/.git/
$ git config --global "Your Name"
$ git config --global

Initializing the git repository is something we need to do only once per project (and you won't have to re-enter the username and email ever again).

Git will track changes to all the files and folders in this directory, but there are some files we want it to ignore. We do this by creating a file called .gitignore in the base directory. Open up your editor and create a new file with the following contents:



And save it as .gitignore in the "djangogirls" folder.

Note The dot at the beginning of the file name is important! If you're having any difficulty creating it (Macs don't like you to create files that begin with a dot via the Finder, for example), then use the "Save As" feature in your editor; it's bulletproof.

Note One of the files you specified in your .gitignore file is db.sqlite3. That file is your local database, where all of your posts are stored. We don't want to add this to your repository because your website on PythonAnywhere is going to be using a different database. That database could be SQLite, like your development machine, but usually you will use one called MySQL which can deal with a lot more site visitors than SQLite. Either way, by ignoring your SQLite database for the GitHub copy, it means that all of the posts you created so far are going to stay and only be available locally, but you're going to have to add them again on production. You should think of your local database as a good playground where you can test different things and not be afraid that you're going to delete your real posts from your blog.

It's a good idea to use a git status command before git add or whenever you find yourself unsure of what has changed. This will help prevent any surprises from happening, such as wrong files being added or committed. The git status command returns information about any untracked/modified/staged files, the branch status, and much more. The output should be similar to the following:


$ git status
On branch master

Initial commit

Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)


nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)

And finally we save our changes. Go to your console and run these commands:


$ git add --all .
$ git commit -m "My Django Girls app, first commit"
 13 files changed, 200 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 .gitignore
 create mode 100644 mysite/

Pushing your code to GitHub

Go to and sign up for a new, free user account. (If you already did that in the workshop prep, that is great!)

Then, create a new repository, giving it the name "my-first-blog". Leave the "initialize with a README" checkbox unchecked, leave the .gitignore option blank (we've done that manually) and leave the License as None.

Note The name my-first-blog is important – you could choose something else, but it's going to occur lots of times in the instructions below, and you'd have to substitute it each time. It's probably easier to just stick with the name my-first-blog.

On the next screen, you'll be shown your repo's clone URL. Choose the "HTTPS" version, copy it, and we'll paste it into the terminal shortly:

Now we need to hook up the Git repository on your computer to the one up on GitHub.

Type the following into your console (Replace <your-github-username> with the username you entered when you created your GitHub account, but without the angle-brackets):


$ git remote add origin<your-github-username>/my-first-blog.git
$ git push -u origin master

Enter your GitHub username and password and you should see something like this:


Username for '': hjwp
Password for '':
Counting objects: 6, done.
Writing objects: 100% (6/6), 200 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
 * [new branch]      master -> master
Branch master set up to track remote branch master from origin.

Your code is now on GitHub. Go and check it out! You'll find it's in fine company – Django, the Django Girls Tutorial, and many other great open source software projects also host their code on GitHub. :)

Setting up our blog on PythonAnywhere

Note You might have already created a PythonAnywhere account earlier during the install steps – if so, no need to do it again.

Next it's time to sign up for a free "Beginner" account on PythonAnywhere.

Note When choosing your username here, bear in mind that your blog's URL will take the form, so choose either your own nickname, or a name for what your blog is all about.

Pulling our code down on PythonAnywhere

When you've signed up for PythonAnywhere, you'll be taken to your dashboard or "Consoles" page. Choose the option to start a "Bash" console – that's the PythonAnywhere version of a console, just like the one on your computer.

pointing at Other: Bash in Start a new Console

Note PythonAnywhere is based on Linux, so if you're on Windows, the console will look a little different from the one on your computer.

Let's pull down our code from GitHub and onto PythonAnywhere by creating a "clone" of our repo. Type the following into the console on PythonAnywhere (don't forget to use your GitHub username in place of <your-github-username>):

PythonAnywhere command-line

$ git clone<your-github-username>/my-first-blog.git

This will pull down a copy of your code onto PythonAnywhere. Check it out by typing tree my-first-blog:

PythonAnywhere command-line

$ tree my-first-blog
├── blog
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├── migrations
│   │   ├──
│   │   └──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
└── mysite

Creating a virtualenv on PythonAnywhere

Just like you did on your own computer, you can create a virtualenv on PythonAnywhere. In the Bash console, type:

PythonAnywhere command-line

$ cd my-first-blog

$ virtualenv --python=python3.6 myvenv
Running virtualenv with interpreter /usr/bin/python3.6
Installing setuptools, pip...done.

$ source myvenv/bin/activate

(myvenv) $  pip install django~=1.11.0
Collecting django
Successfully installed django-1.11.3

Note The pip install step can take a couple of minutes. Patience, patience! But if it takes more than five minutes, something is wrong. Ask your coach.

Creating the database on PythonAnywhere

Here's another thing that's different between your own computer and the server: it uses a different database. So the user accounts and posts can be different on the server and on your computer.

Just as we did on your own computer, we repeat the step to initialize the database on the server, with migrate and createsuperuser:

PythonAnywhere command-line

(mvenv) $ python migrate
Operations to perform:
  Applying sessions.0001_initial... OK
(mvenv) $ python createsuperuser

Publishing our blog as a web app

Now our code is on PythonAnywhere, our virtualenv is ready, and the database is initialized. We're ready to publish it as a web app!

Click back to the PythonAnywhere dashboard by clicking on its logo, and then click on the Web tab. Finally, hit Add a new web app.

After confirming your domain name, choose manual configuration (N.B. – not the "Django" option) in the dialog. Next choose Python 3.6, and click Next to finish the wizard.

Note Make sure you choose the "Manual configuration" option, not the "Django" one. We're too cool for the default PythonAnywhere Django setup. ;-)

Setting the virtualenv

You'll be taken to the PythonAnywhere config screen for your webapp, which is where you'll need to go whenever you want to make changes to the app on the server.

In the "Virtualenv" section, click the red text that says "Enter the path to a virtualenv", and enter /home/<your-PythonAnywhere-username>/my-first-blog/myvenv/. Click the blue box with the checkmark to save the path before moving on.

Note Substitute your own PythonAnywhere username as appropriate. If you make a mistake, PythonAnywhere will show you a little warning.

Configuring the WSGI file

Django works using the "WSGI protocol", a standard for serving websites using Python, which PythonAnywhere supports. The way we configure PythonAnywhere to recognize our Django blog is by editing a WSGI configuration file.

Click on the "WSGI configuration file" link (in the "Code" section near the top of the page – it'll be named something like /var/www/<your-PythonAnywhere-username>, and you'll be taken to an editor.

Delete all the contents and replace them with the following:


import os
import sys

path = os.path.expanduser('~/my-first-blog')
if path not in sys.path:

os.environ['DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE'] = 'mysite.settings'

from django.core.wsgi import get_wsgi_application
from django.contrib.staticfiles.handlers import StaticFilesHandler
application = StaticFilesHandler(get_wsgi_application())

This file's job is to tell PythonAnywhere where our web app lives and what the Django settings file's name is.

The StaticFilesHandler is for dealing with our CSS. This is taken care of automatically for you during local development by the runserver command. We'll find out a bit more about static files later in the tutorial, when we edit the CSS for our site.

Hit Save and then go back to the Web tab.

We're all done! Hit the big green Reload button and you'll be able to go view your application. You'll find a link to it at the top of the page.

Debugging tips

If you see an error when you try to visit your site, the first place to look for some debugging info is in your error log. You'll find a link to this on the PythonAnywhere Web tab. See if there are any error messages in there; the most recent ones are at the bottom. Common problems include:

  • Forgetting one of the steps we did in the console: creating the virtualenv, activating it, installing Django into it, migrating the database.

  • Making a mistake in the virtualenv path on the Web tab – there will usually be a little red error message on there, if there is a problem.

  • Making a mistake in the WSGI configuration file – did you get the path to your my-first-blog folder right?

  • Did you pick the same version of Python for your virtualenv as you did for your web app? Both should be 3.6.

There are also some general debugging tips on the PythonAnywhere wiki.

And remember, your coach is here to help!

You are live!

The default page for your site should say "It worked!", just like it does on your local computer. Try adding /admin/ to the end of the URL, and you'll be taken to the admin site. Log in with the username and password, and you'll see you can add new Posts on the server.

Once you have a few posts created, you can go back to your local setup (not PythonAnywhere). From here you should work on your local setup to make changes. This is a common workflow in web development – make changes locally, push those changes to GitHub, and pull your changes down to your live Web server. This allows you to work and experiment without breaking your live Web site. Pretty cool, huh?

Give yourself a HUGE pat on the back! Server deployments are one of the trickiest parts of web development and it often takes people several days before they get them working. But you've got your site live, on the real Internet, just like that!

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