Setup environment variables in Django

Haris Bin Nasir Avatar



In this article, we’ll take a look at how to setup our Django project to utilize environment variables. Hence, our Django application can use environment variables to retrieve sensitive information that it requires for correct operation such as SECRET_KEY.

Simply explained, environment variables are a collection of dynamically named values that are kept in the system and utilized by applications. You may use these variables to change how individual apps and services interact with the system. Each variable has a name and a value associated with it. Usually, the name is in UPPER CASE, and the values are, of course, case-sensitive.

It’s crucial to keep critical code, such as API keys and passwords, out of the hands of inquisitive eyes. It’s better not to put them on GitHub! Securing your environment variables will create good habits and prevent bothersome emails from GitGuardian, even if you’re working on a personal project with no real users.

How to setup Environment Variable In Django?

Install Django Environ Package

In your terminal, inside the project directory, type:

pip install django-environ

Import environ in

import environ

Initialise environ

In my Django application I’d like to access environment variables in my file. Hence, in my file I’ll do the following.

import environ # Initialise environment variables env = environ.Env() environ.Env.read_env()

Create your .env file

Create a file named ‘.env’ in the same directory as

environment variables Django

Declare your environment variables in .env

NOTE: Make sure you don’t use quotations around strings.

SECRET_KEY=h^z13$qr_s_wd65@gnj7a=xs7t05$w7q8!x_8zsld# DATABASE_NAME=postgresdatabase DATABASE_USER=alice DATABASE_PASS=supersecretpassword

IMPORTANT: Add your .env file to .gitignore

Create a.gitignore file at the project root if you don’t already have one.

Make sure your.env file’s name is included.

If you’re not sure what other file types should be in the.gitignore, have a look at this example.

Utilize the env() function to access environment variable

I’d like to access the DATABASE_NAME, DATABASE_USER, and DATABASE_PASS enviroment variables in my file for my Django app. Hence, I use the env() function to achieve this result. The env() function comes from the environ package we installed, and you should have had initialised the environ package already. As I did in my previous steps for our file.

DATABASES = { ‘default’: { ‘ENGINE’: ‘django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2’, ‘NAME’: env(‘DATABASE_NAME’), ‘USER’: env(‘DATABASE_USER’), ‘PASSWORD’: env(‘DATABASE_PASS’), } }

And also in


That is it you’r done.


In this article, we took a look at how to work with environment variables in your Django app. Now you should feel at ease dealing with scenarios where you’r required to use environment variables with your Django app, such as the file. As always, If you have found this article useful do not forget to share it and leave a comment if you have any questions. Happy Coding :).

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