With the rise of kubernetes and micro-services architecture, being able to quickly write and deploy a RESTful API service is a good skill to have. In this first part of a series of articles, you’ll learn how to use Fedora to build a RESTful application and deploy it on Openshift. Together, we’re going to build the back-end for a “To Do” application.
The APIs allow you to Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) a task. The tasks are stored in a database and we’re using the Django ORM (Object Relational Mapping) to deal with the database management.
Django App and Rest Framework setup
In a new directory, create a Python 3 virtual environment so that you can install dependencies.
$ mkdir todoapp && cd todoapp
$ python3 -m venv .venv
$ source .venv/bin/activate
After activating the virtual environment, install the dependencies.
(.venv)$ pip install djangorestframework django
Django REST Framework, or DRF, is a framework that makes it easy to create RESTful CRUD APIs. By default it gives access to useful features like browseable APIs, authentication management, serialization of data, and more.
Create the Django project and application
Create the Django project using the django-admin CLI tool provided.
(.venv) $ django-admin startproject todo_app . # Note the trailing '.'
(.venv) $ tree .
1 directory, 5 files
Next, create the application inside the project.
(.venv) $ cd todo_app
(.venv) $ django-admin startapp todo
(.venv) $ cd ..
(.venv) $ tree .
│ ├── admin.py
│ ├── apps.py
│ ├── __init__.py
│ ├── migrations
│ │ └── __init__.py
│ ├── models.py
│ ├── tests.py
│ └── views.py
Now that the basic structure of the project is in place, you can enable the REST framework and the todo application. Let’s add rest_framework and todo to the list of INSTALL_APPS in the project’s settings.py.
# Application definition
INSTALLED_APPS = [
Application Model and Database
The next step of building our application is to set up the database. By default, Django uses theince The second part of this series will look at how to replace SQLite with
The Task Model
By adding the following code to todo_app/todo/models.py, you define which properties have a task. The application defines a task with a title, a description and a status. The status of a task can only be one of the three following states: Backlog, Work in Progress and Done.
from django.db import models
STATES = (("todo", "Backlog"), ("wip", "Work in Progress"), ("done", "Done"))
title = models.CharField(max_length=255, blank=False, unique=True)
description = models.TextField()
status = models.CharField(max_length=4, choices=STATES, default="todo")
Now create the database migration script that Django uses to update the database with changes.
(.venv) $ PYTHONPATH=. DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=todo_app.settings django-admin makemigrations
Then you can apply the migration to the database.
(.venv) $ PYTHONPATH=. DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=todo_app.settings django-admin migrate
This step creates a file named db.sqlite3 in the root directory of the application. This is where SQLite stores the data.
Access to the data
Creating a View
Now that you can represent and store a task in the database, you need a way to access the data. This is where we start making use of Django REST Framework by using the ModelViewSet. The ModelViewSet provides the following actions on a data model: list, retrieve, create, update, partial update, and destroy.
Let’s add our view to todo_app/todo/views.py:
from rest_framework import viewsets
from todo_app.todo.models import Task
from todo_app.todo.serializers import TaskSerializer
queryset = Task.objects.all()
serializer_class = TaskSerializer
Creating a Serializer
As you can see, the TaskViewSet is using a Serializer. In DRF, serializers convert the data modeled in the application models to a native Python datatype. This datatype can be later easily rendered into JSON or XML, for example. Serializers are also used to deserialize JSON or other content types into the data structure defined in the model.
Let’s add our TaskSerializer object by creating a new file in the project todo_app/todo/serializers.py:
from rest_framework.serializers import ModelSerializer
from todo_app.todo.models import Task
model = Task
fields = "__all__"
We’re using the generic ModelSerializer from DRF, to automatically create a serializer with the fields that correspond to our Task model.
Now that we have a data model a view and way to serialize/deserialize data, we need to map our view actions to URLs. That way we can use HTTP methods to manipulate our data.
Creating a Router
Here again we’re using the power of the Django REST Framework with the DefaultRouter. The DRF DefaultRouter takes care of mapping actions to HTTP Method and URLs.
Before we see a better example of what the DefaultRouter does for us, let’s add a new URL to access the view we have created earlier. Add the following to todo_app/urls.py:
from django.contrib import admin
from django.conf.urls import url, include
from rest_framework.routers import DefaultRouter
from todo_app.todo.views import TaskViewSet
router = DefaultRouter()
urlpatterns = [
url(r"^api/", include((router.urls, "todo"))),
As you can see, we’re registering our TaskViewSet to the DefaultRouter. Then later, we’re mapping all the router URLs to the /api endpoint. This way, DRF takes care of mapping the URLs and HTTP method to our view actions (list, retrieve, create, update, destroy).
For example, accessing the api/todo endpoint with a GET HTTP request calls the list action of our view. Doing the same but using a POST HTTP request calls the create action.
To get a better grasp of this, let’s run the application and start using our API.
Running the application
We can run the application using the development server provided by Django. This server should only be used during development. We’ll see in the second part of this tutorial how to use a web server better suited for production.
(.venv)$ PYTHONPATH=. DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=todo_app.settings django-admin runserver
Django version 2.1.5, using settings 'todo_app.settings'
Starting development server at http://127.0.0.1:8000/
Quit the server with CONTROL-C.
Now we can access the application at the following URL: http://127.0.0.1:8000/api/
DRF provides an interface to the view actions, for example listing or creating tasks, using the following URL: http://127.0.0.1:8000/api/todo
Or updating/deleting an existing tasks with this URL: http://127.0.0.1:8000/api/todo/1
In this article you’ve learned how to create a basic RESTful API using the Django REST Framework. In the second part of this series, we’ll update this application to use the PostgreSQL database management system, and deploy it in OpenShift.
The source code of the application is available on GitHub.