Python Chat Tutorial with Django and React

This tutorial will explain how to build a chat application with Python, Django and React.

Unlike other tutorials, I’m not using Python/Django for WebSocket connections. While doing so may seem cool from a tech perspective, it's pretty sluggish and expensive – especially if you have a halfway decent number of users. Languages such as C++, Go and Elixir are much better at handling the core of chat.

In this tutorial, we will use Stream, an API for chat that takes care of WebSocket connections and other heavy lifting using Go, Raft and RocksDB.

Step 1 – React Chat Demo UI

Before we start thinking about the Python chat side of things let's spin up a simple React frontend, so we have something nice and visual to look at:

$ yarn global add create-react-app
$ brew install node && brew install yarn # skip if installed
$ create-react-app chat-frontend
$ cd chat-frontend
$ yarn add stream-chat-react

Replace the code in src/App.js with:

import React from "react";
import {
} from "stream-chat-react";
import { MessageList, MessageInput } from "stream-chat-react";
import { StreamChat } from "stream-chat";

import "stream-chat-react/dist/css/index.css";

const chatClient = new StreamChat("qk4nn7rpcn75"); // Demo Stream Key
const userToken =
  "eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoiY29vbC1za3ktOSJ9.mhikC6HPqPKoCP4aHHfuH9dFgPQ2Fth5QoRAfolJjC4"; // Demo Stream Token

    id: "cool-sky-9",
    name: "Cool sky",
    image: ""

const channel ="messaging", "godevs", {
  // image and name are required, however, you can add custom fields
  name: "Talk about Go"

const App = () => (
  <Chat client={chatClient} theme={"messaging light"}>
    <Channel channel={channel}>
        <ChannelHeader />
        <MessageList />
        <MessageInput />
      <Thread />

export default App;

Next, run yarn start to see the chat in action!

Step 2 - Django/Python Setup (skip if you already have it)

Make sure you have Python 3.7 up and running.

$ brew install python3

$ pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper
$ export WORKON_HOME=~/Envs
$ source /usr/local/bin/
$ mkvirtualenv chatexample -p `which python3`
$ workon chatexample

If that does not work, please try this snippet:

$ python3 -m venv chatexample
$ source chatexample/bin/activate

Now that you’re in your virtual env you should see python 3 when you run:

$ python --version

To kick off a new Django project, use the following snippet:

$ pip install django
$ django-admin startproject mychat

And to start your app:

$ cd mychat
$ python runserver

Now, when you open http://localhost:8000, you should see this:


Step 3 - User Auth

As a next step lets setup Django’s user auth.

$ python migrate
$ python createsuperuser
$ python runserver

Visit http://localhost:8000/admin/ and login. Voila!

You should see the Django admin screen as shown below:

Django Admin

Step 4 - Django Rest Framework

One of my favorite packages for integrating react with Django is Django Rest Framework. To make everything work, we will need to create endpoints for:

  • User Signup
  • User Login

We could build those ourselves; however, there is a package called Djoser that has already solved this problem. It configured the necessary API endpoints for user registration, login, password reset, etc.

To install Djoser, use the following snippet:

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