How to setup static files in Django

There are 3 main things to do:

  • set STATIC_ROOT in settings.py
  • run python2.7 manage.py collectstatic (or python3.5 or python3.6 as appropriate)
  • set up a Static Files entry on the PythonAnywhere Web tab.

Optionally, you can also customise STATIC_URL, if you want to use a static URL prefix other than /static/

Set STATIC_ROOT in settings.py

The STATIC_ROOT variable in settings.py defines the single folder you want to collect all your static files into. Typically, this would be a top-level folder inside your project, eg:

STATIC_ROOT = "/home/myusername/myproject/static"
# or, eg,
STATIC_ROOT = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, "static")

The important thing is this needs to be the full, absolute path to your static files folder.

Run pythonX.Y manage.py collectstatic

This command (don't forget to replace "X.Y" with the version of Python your website uses) collects up all your static files from each of your app folders (including the static files for the admin app) and from any other folders you specify in settings.py, and copies them into STATIC_ROOT.

You need to re-run this command whenever you want to publish new versions of your static files.

(Optionally) change STATIC_URL

If you really must, you can change the default STATIC_URL, which is /static/, to being a different prefix, like /assets/, or whatever it may be. You'll probably want to use the {% static %} template tag with this. There's more info in the django docs.

Set up a static files mapping

Finally, set up a static files mapping to get our web servers to serve out your static files for you.

  • Go to the Web tab on the PythonAnywhere dashboard
  • Go to the Static Files section
  • Enter the same URL as STATIC_URL in the url section (typically, /static/)
  • Enter the path from STATIC_ROOT into the path section (the full path, including /home/username/etc)

Then hit Reload and test your static file mapping by going to retrieve a known static file.

Eg, if you have a file at /home/myusername/myproject/static/css/base.css, go visit http://www.your-domain.com/static/css/base.css

Serving static files in development

Django does have an alternative for serving static files during development, which can avoid then need for you to run collectstatic whenever you make changes to your files, but it comes at the cost of putting an extra processing burden on the Python parts of your app. If you really want to use this, you'll find more info in the django docs.

Media files

If you're using Django's default uploaded files handling, then you'll need to set up a similar static files mapping from MEDIA_URL to MEDIA_ROOT...