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Django with SockJS

21 September 2012

Few days ago Peter Bengtsson wrote an interesting blog post on SockJS:

The article is quite brief, let me try to provide step-by-step instructions on how to start your first Django on SockJS project.

Python servers

First, it's important to understand that there are many HTTP (okay, WSGI) servers for Django. SockJS requires pretty deep integration with the web server, and you will need to use a particular web server with SockJS support.

Currently there are a number of SockJS libraries that work with variety of servers (with quality and completeness varying):

I'll focus on SockJS-tornado here. This means that the usual Django deployment instructions will not be fully applicable to our project (as we'll be using Tornado Web HTTP server).

In the mentioned article Peter suggested starting two HTTP servers separately - one for Tornado and one for Django. In this blog post I'll put Django behind Tornado, so a single Tornado web server will handle all the requests.

Step 0: Python requirements

We will need few Python packages - Django, Tornado and SockJS-Tornado. Let's install them into a virtualenv environment:

$ mkdir djangosockjs
$ cd djangosockjs
$ cat > requirements.txt << EOF
$ virtualenv venv
$ ./venv/bin/pip install -r requirements.txt 

Step 1: New project

Let's create a normal Django project and activate the virtual environment:

$ ./venv/bin/ startproject project
$ . ./venv/bin/activate
(venv)$ cd project/project

Step 2: Serving a static file

The Django project will be only a placeholder serving a single static file, without any logic inside. We only want to prove the usage of SockJS with Django using the same codebase and HTTP server.

We will serve a static file - index.html. You need to update TEMPLATE_DIRS in file:


Additionally you need to expose the file from

from django.conf.urls import patterns, include, url
from django.views.generic.simple import direct_to_template

urlpatterns = patterns('',
    url(r'^$', direct_to_template, {'template': 'index.html'}),

Finally, we need to create the index.html file. For simplicity we'll borrow a very simple code from SockJS-node examples.

(venv)$ mkdir templates
(venv)$ cd templates
(venv)$ wget
(venv)$ cd ..
(venv)$ cd ..

Step 3: Tornado code

Our SockJS code will accept any incoming realtime connections and will echo all the received data. Here's the code for the project/ file:

import sockjs.tornado

class EchoSockjsConnection(sockjs.tornado.SockJSConnection):
    def on_open(self, request):
        print "sockjs: open"

    def on_message(self, data):
        print "data: %r" % (data,)

    def on_close(self):
        print "sockjs: close"

def EchoSockjsRouter(prefix):
    return sockjs.tornado.SockJSRouter(EchoSockjsConnection, prefix).urls

Step 4: Tornado server

The last file we need to write, is the Tornado web server wrapper. It will do two things:

The adapted snippet from bdarnell will look like:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from tornado.options import options, define
import django.core.handlers.wsgi
import tornado.httpserver, tornado.ioloop
import tornado.web, tornado.wsgi
import project.echosockjs

define('port', type=int, default=8000)

wsgi_app = tornado.wsgi.WSGIContainer(

tornado_app = tornado.web.Application(
    project.echosockjs.EchoSockjsRouter('/echo') + [
        ('.*', tornado.web.FallbackHandler,
server = tornado.httpserver.HTTPServer(tornado_app)
print "[*] Listening at" % (options.port,)

Put it into a file.


And to start the server:

(venv)$ chmod +x
(venv)$ DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=project.settings ./ 

Finally, visit http://localhost:8000/ and see if the echo is indeed working!

The full project is available on github.

If you wish to use this setup on production, you will be able to get better performance by separating Tornado from Django. Django is blocking, Tornado is asynchronous, it makes sense to scale them separately.