Client side JS (e.g. AngularJS) + Django REST Backend: Deploy onto single PaaS?

All we need is an easy explanation of the problem, so here it is.

Basically I’m structuring my app similar to this GitHub project:

Is it possible to deploy both the backend and frontend onto a single PaaS such as Heroku/Elastic Beanstalk?

Having a separated REST backend and JavaScript frontend seems like a cleaner/more scalable way to do things rather than trying to mix them together like [django-angular]: (, or having a REST backend mix with the Django app like

If it is not possible to deploy it easily onto Elastic Beanstalk, is there an easy way to deploy the Django backend onto Elastic Beanstalk, and AngularJS frontend to Amazon EC2/S3 with minimal configuration?

I realize there’s a similar discussion before this: Client JS + Django Rest Framework
but it lacks more specific details.

How to solve :

I know you bored from this bug, So we are here to help you! Take a deep breath and look at the explanation of your problem. We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first method because it is tested & true method that will 100% work for you.

Method 1

I’m in the exact same boat with AngularJS as my client and django-rest-framework as my service. I also have the same type of git setup where the server and client code are siblings in the same repository. I don’t have any experience with Heroku and I’m new to beanstalk but I was able to deploy my site and it’s working on AWS beanstalk.

With beanstalk there are two ways I know of to deploy your code.

  1. Use eb and git described here.
    • Works well if you want to push your source code directly.
  2. Create your own zip to upload to beanstalk via the AWS management console. Amazon has a walkthrough on it here.
    • Route I chose so I can ‘grunt build’ my client and zip with server code before deploying.

I automated the zip creation using a python script. Amazon’s walkthrough provides an example python zip. You have to structure it properly, mine looks roughly like this
  /app/     <-- my django-rest-framework project (,, etc.)
  /restapi/ <-- my django-rest-framework application (my api)
  /static/  <-- AngularJS results of 'grunt build' put here

I know you didn’t specifically ask but the .config file inside .ebextensions/ took me way too long to get working. It can be formatted as YAML or JSON (can be confusing at first as every blog shows it differently). This blog helped me out quite a bit just be careful to use container_commands: and not commands:. I lost a few hours to that…

  command: " syncdb --noinput"
  leader_only: true
  "DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE": "app.settings"
  "WSGIPath": "app/"
  "StaticFiles": "/static/=static/"
  "/static/": "static/"
  "AWS_SECRET_KEY": "<put your secret key here if you want to reference from env variable>"
  "AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID": "<put your access key here>"
  "AWS_S3_Bucket": "<put your bucket here>"

In the zip you create (if you follow the beanstalk guides on django) the client code in your /static/ folder is automatically pushed to s3 when you deploy.

This setup isn’t perfect and I plan on fine tuning things but it’s working. Here are some downsides I ran into that I haven’t solved yet:

  • Since I put my client code in the static/ folder my site sits under Ideally I’d want it to be served as the root at with my django-rest-framework content under
  • If you use the self describing api on beanstalk by default the assets won’t be pushed since they sit in your python directory and not with your source code.

UPDATE 4-17-2014

I further refined this setup so I no longer have to go to to load my index.html. To do so I used a django class based view to map index.html to the root of my site. My looks like

urlpatterns = patterns('',
  (r'^$', TemplateView.as_view(template_name="index.html")),

and in my I configured TEMPLATE_DIRS as follows

  os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__) , '../static').replace('\\','/')

I use ../static because my static directory is a sibling of my app directory.

The last piece was to update my Gruntfile.js so ‘grunt build’ prefixes all the relative URLs in my angular code with the static folder. I used grunt-text-replace for this. It’s the last task that runs after my code is sitting minified in a /dist folder. The downside to this approach is I’ll have to update this task if I ever add static content to a new subfolder besides scripts, bower_components, styles, etc.

replace: {
    replace_js_templates: {
        src: ['dist/scripts/*.js'],
        overwrite: true,                 // overwrite matched source files
        replacements: [{
            from: /templateUrl:\s*"/g,
            to: 'templateUrl:"static/'
    replace_index: {
        src: ['dist/index.html'],
        overwrite: true,                 // overwrite matched source files
        replacements: [{
            from: /(src|href)="(bower_components|styles|scripts)/g,
            to: '$1="static/$2'

Now django will serve my index.html page but everything else in my /static/ directory can benefit from a CDN.

Note: Use and implement method 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

Leave a Reply