Custom Django Apps

The functionality of the Airavata Django Portal can be extended by adding custom Django apps that can provide completely custom user interfaces while leveraging the Airavata Django Portal REST API. This page documents how to get started with creating a custom Django app that works with the Airavata Django Portal and how to make use of functionality provided.

Getting Started

Creating a custom Django app requires creating an installable Python package with metadata describing that it is a Django app meant to be automatically installed into the Airavata Django Portal when it is loaded into the virtual environment.

We'll use a project code generation tool called Cookiecutter to generate all of the necessary files and configuration. These steps will show how to use Cookiecutter. Then we'll take a tour of the generated code.

  1. Install the Airavata Django Portal if you haven't already. See the for instructions.
  2. With the Airavata Django Portal virtual environment activated, install cookiecutter.
pip install -U cookiecutter
  1. Navigate to a separate directory outside the airavata-django-portal, where you'll create your custom django app. Use cookiecutter to run the Airavata Django app template.

You'll need to answer some questions. The project name is the most important one. You can name it whatever you want. For these instructions I'll name it Custom Django App. For the rest of the questions, you can simply accept the defaults:

project_name [My Custom Django App]: Custom Django App
project_slug [custom_django_app]:
project_short_description [Custom Django app with everything needed to be installed in the airavata-django-portal]:
app_config_class_name [CustomDjangoAppConfig]:
version [0.1.0]:
  1. The generated code is placed in a project directory. The directory has the same name as the project slug. In my case that is custom_django_app.
(venv) $ cd custom_django_app/
(venv) $ find .
  1. To install the custom django app in your local Airavata Django Portal instance, use pip to install it.
pip install -e .
  1. (Optional) If you want to use Git source control for this project, then this directory (the one with setup.cfg and pyproject.toml) is where you should initialize the Git repository.
$ git init

Now we'll take a tour of the generated files.

In the root directory are several Python project files: pyproject.toml,,, and setup.cfg. setup.cfg is the most important of these since it defines Python package name, version, description, dependencies, etc. In the custom Django app module directory (custom_django_app in the example above) are where you will find the generate Django Python and HTML code. Here are some things you may need to update as you develop your custom Django app:


  • name: you can update the name, but this really only affects the name of the Python project when installing it from a repository like
  • description: this is the Python package description. Like the name, really only affects package repositories like
  • version: if you push your custom Django app to, then you'll want to increment the version number.
  • install_requires: this is where you list other Python packages on which your custom Django app depends. As an example, see the Custom UI tutorial when cclib, numpy and matplotlib are added to setup.cfg for the GaussianEigenvaluesViewProvider.
  • options.entry_points: this is metadata that describes where this custom Django app's AppConfig class is located so that the Airavata Django Portal can load it. In the Django framework, the AppConfig class is the entry point to the app. Normally you won't need to update this, but if you decide to change the Django app's Python module name or the name of the AppConfig class, then you'll need to update these to remain consistent.

This file defines the custom Django app's AppConfig class. This the main metadata for this custom Django app. Besides the normal metadata that the Django framework expects, this also defines a display name (verbose_name) and an icon (fa_icon_class) to use for this custom app. See AppConfig settings for details on available properties here. Note that app_order isn't supported for custom Django apps. Only name, label and verbose_name are required. See Django project documentation on AppConfig for description of these properties. Additionally, custom Django apps can specify the following properties:

  • url_prefix: specify the URL prefix for all of the custom Django apps URLs. By default, the app's label property is used as the URL prefix, but by setting url_prefix you can override that. (Example: SimCCS)

This is where you define your Django views. Views are functions or classes that take as input an HTTP request and generate an HTTP response. See part 1 of the Django tutorial for more information.

In the generated file there is simple view function called home that simply renders the home.html template. There is also some commented out code that shows how to, for example,

  • make Airavata API calls with the Airavata Python SDK
  • manage the user's data storage with the Airavata Django Portal SDK

Also note that if you want to require authentication for your view, just add the @login_required decorator.

templates (home.html)

HTML templates are added to the templates/ folder. The standard convention in Django is to create a directory in the templates/ folder with the name of the Python module and put your template in there, as a way to namespace the names of an app's templates.From the Django docs:

It’s possible – and preferable – to organize templates in subdirectories inside each directory containing templates. The convention is to make a subdirectory for each Django app, with subdirectories within those subdirectories as needed.

The generated home.html file uses a couple of Django template features. First is the use of named blocks that extend a base template. By extending the base.html template, your custom Django app will fit into the over Airavata Django Portal. There's a block for adding the main content, called content, and there is a block for JavaScript code called scripts and a block for CSS called css. Also, the home.html template references a context variable, {{ project_name }}, a variable that is placed in the context by the home view function defined in To learn more about Django templates, see the Django tutorial, part 3.

home.html also has some commented out example code showing how to use the JavaScript SDK. The JavaScript SDK allows you to write frontend code that interacts with the Airavata API via the Airavata Django Portal REST API.

To map your view function to URLs, you add a URL pattern to The generated already has a mapping for the home view function. As you add additional view functions, you'll want to add a mapping to a URL pattern here.

static files (images, CSS, JS, etc.)

Put static folders into the static/custom_django_app (or whatever you named your django app) subdirectory. You can then reference a URL to one of these static file in a template by using the static template tag, like so:

<script src="{% static 'custom_django_app/some_script.js' %}"></script>

See the in the static/ subdirectory for more information.


This is the folder where you can define output view providers. An output view provider is a Python class that creates a visualization of an output file by generating an image or other appropriate data from the output file.

Viewing the custom Django app

Now when you log into the Django portal at http://localhost:8000 you should see the custom app in the dropdown menu in the top of the page (the one that defaults to Workspace when you login).

Next Steps

AiravataAPI JS library

To use the airavata-api.js JavaScript library to call the Django portal REST API (which in turn calls the Airavata API), you can include it in your templates in the scripts block:

{% block scripts %}
<script src="{% static 'django_airavata_api/dist/airavata-api.js' %}"></script>
    const { models, services, session, utils } = AiravataAPI;

    // Your code here ...
{% endblock scripts %}

For more information on the AiravataAPI library:

Custom Django apps

There are now several examples of custom Django apps that can be learned from: