Is virtualenv (venv) necessary for Django?

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If you have Python installed on your system, you really do not need to install other third-party tools for setting up virtual environments. That’s because Python does come with a built-in tool, venv, that helps you create new virtual environments easily.

As Django is a Python web framework, it will only work if you have Python installed. Thus, with every Django project, you have access to the python3 -m venv command that you can use to isolate each of your Django installations.

Isolating your Django environments from the global/base Python environment is important when you are:

  1. Working with more than one Django project in your system
  2. Creating multiple Django web applications that require unique third-party Python packages or dependencies
  3. Working with different Python Django projects that require different versions of Python between themselves or the standard base Python version.

Because of the need to produce multiple Django projects in one system requiring different versions of Python and third-party Python packages/dependencies, virtualenv is necessary for Django.

Does Django need venv?

When working with Django, it is recommended to use a virtual environment because it helps to have stable, reproducible, and portable environments. Isolating the Python environment for a project from the rest of the system ensures that the dependencies for each project are consistent and can be easily replicated across different environments.

Here are the advantages:

  1. Stable Environments: A virtual environment provides a stable environment for your project by isolating the project’s dependencies from the rest of the system. This means that changes to the system or other projects on the system will not affect the stability of your project. By using a virtual environment, you can ensure that your project remains stable and consistent across different environments.
  2. Reproducible Environments: With a virtual environment, you can create a reproducible environment by specifying the exact versions of Python and other packages required by your project. This means that you can easily recreate the same environment on different systems or at different times, ensuring that your project runs consistently regardless of the environment it is running in.
  3. Portable Environments: A virtual environment provides a portable environment for your project by isolating the project’s dependencies from the system. This means that you can easily move your project to different systems or share it with others without having to worry about dependencies or conflicts with other projects on the system. By using a virtual environment, you can ensure that your project is portable and can run consistently across different environments.

One good approach to creating a virtual environment to isolate your Django projects from the system or from other Django installations is to use the built-in virtual environment tool called venv. To create a new virtual environment with venv, you just need to have Python installed in your system and execute the command: python3 -m venv env_name

For a detailed step-by-step process, check this tutorial I have for you: How to install Django in a virtual environment

In summary,

Using venv helps to

  • Isolate the dependencies required by packages in your Django project from the rest of the system
  • Ensure you have an easier experience when managing versions of packages used by your Django project
  • Ensure your Django project is replicable across different platforms or operating systems. Thus, it makes sure that your Django project environment has the same requirements when copied over to a different OS.


What can I use instead of venv in Python Django?

While it is recommended to use venv to create virtual environments for Python and Django projects, there are other tools available that can be used instead of venv.

If you find it “not for you” when dealing with venv to create virtual environments, you have other options. These options come in form of third-party tools or built-in IDE tools that help you create virtual environments for your Django projects.

IDEs such as Pycharm allow you to create Python virtual environments without the need to install third-party tools for creating virtual environments.

If you do not have Pycharm as your preferred Python IDE, you can still use these tools to create virtual environments for your Django development processes:

  1. virtualenv: virtualenv is a popular tool for creating virtual environments in Python. It allows you to create multiple virtual environments with different Python versions and dependencies on the same system.
  2. pipenv: pipenv is a popular tool for managing virtual environments and dependencies in Python. It combines the functionality of pip and virtualenv into a single tool, making it easy to create and manage virtual environments and install dependencies.
  3. conda: conda is a cross-platform package management system and environment management system for installing and managing packages and dependencies. It provides a similar function to virtual environments but with additional features such as dependency resolution and binary distribution.
  4. poetry: poetry is a dependency management and packaging tool for Python. It provides a simple and elegant way to manage project dependencies and package your Python applications. It also allows you to create virtual environments for your projects.
  5. Docker: Docker is a popular platform for creating and running containerized applications. With Docker, you can create isolated containers that contain all the dependencies and configurations required to run your Django application.

It is important to note that while these tools provide similar functions as venv, they may have different features and requirements. The choice of tool to use will depend on your specific requirements and preferences. However, venv is a built-in tool in Python 3, and is recommended for creating virtual environments for Python and Django projects.

The best virtual environment tool to use for your Django project is the Python venv. It comes preinstalled, is lightweight, and easy to use.

When should I activate a virtual environment in Python?

You should activate a virtual environment in Python whenever you want to work on a specific project and use the packages and dependencies specific to that project.

Activating a virtual environment creates an isolated environment where you can install packages and dependencies without affecting the global Python environment or other projects on your system.

To activate a virtual environment in Python, you need to first create a virtual environment using a tool such as venv, virtualenv, conda, or pipenv. Once you have created a virtual environment, you can activate it by running the appropriate command for your chosen tool.

Here are some examples:

  • venv: source <venv_folder>/bin/activate on Linux/Mac or <venv_folder>\Scripts\activate.bat on Windows
  • virtualenv: source <venv_folder>/bin/activate on Linux/Mac or <venv_folder>\Scripts\activate.bat on Windows
  • conda: conda activate <env_name>
  • pipenv: pipenv shell

Otherwise, you can use a global virtual environment when working on a single Django project that does not require too many dependencies or a different Python version that is not compatible with your system.

Follow this link to an article on how to set up Django globally/in a system-wide environment: Should I install Django globally? (Without a virtual environment)

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Badi here, creator of— A website dedicated to providing helpful information and how-to's of web development and hosting. Inspired by a fascination to write the most efficient code to make a computer laugh, & humans, Steve has a passion for organizing characters to create code and informative content.
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