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Radically simplified static file serving for Python web apps

With a couple of lines of config WhiteNoise allows your web app to serve its own static files, making it a self-contained unit that can be deployed anywhere without relying on nginx, Amazon S3 or any other external service. (Especially useful on Heroku, OpenShift and other PaaS providers.)

It’s designed to work nicely with a CDN for high-traffic sites so you don’t have to sacrifice performance to benefit from simplicity.

WhiteNoise works with any WSGI-compatible app but has some special auto-configuration features for Django.

WhiteNoise takes care of best-practices for you, for instance:

  • Serving compressed content (gzip and Brotli formats, handling Accept-Encoding and Vary headers correctly)
  • Setting far-future cache headers on content which won’t change

Worried that serving static files with Python is horribly inefficient? Still think you should be using Amazon S3? Have a look at the Infrequently Asked Questions below.

QuickStart for Django apps

Edit your settings.py file and add WhiteNoise to the MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES list, above all other middleware apart from Django’s SecurityMiddleware:

  # 'django.middleware.security.SecurityMiddleware',
  # ...

That’s it, you’re ready to go.

Want forever-cacheable files and compression support? Just add this to your settings.py:

STATICFILES_STORAGE = 'whitenoise.storage.CompressedManifestStaticFilesStorage'

For more details, including on setting up CloudFront and other CDNs see the Using WhiteNoise with Django guide.

QuickStart for other WSGI apps

To enable WhiteNoise you need to wrap your existing WSGI application in a WhiteNoise instance and tell it where to find your static files. For example:

from whitenoise import WhiteNoise

from my_project import MyWSGIApp

application = MyWSGIApp()
application = WhiteNoise(application, root='/path/to/static/files')
application.add_files('/path/to/more/static/files', prefix='more-files/')

And that’s it, you’re ready to go. For more details see the full documentation.


WhiteNoise works with any WSGI-compatible application and is tested on Python 2.7, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 and PyPy.

DjangoWhiteNoise is tested with Django versions 1.81.10


WhiteNoise owes its initial popularity to the nice things that some of Django and pip’s core developers said about it:

@jezdez: [WhiteNoise] is really awesome and should be the standard for Django + Heroku

@dstufft: WhiteNoise looks pretty excellent.

@idangazit Received a positive brainsmack from @_EvansD’s WhiteNoise. Vastly smarter than S3 for static assets. What was I thinking before?

It’s now being used by thousands of projects, including some high-profile sites such as mozilla.org.

Issues & Contributing

Raise an issue on the GitHub project or feel free to nudge @_EvansD on Twitter.

Infrequently Asked Questions

Isn’t serving static files from Python horribly inefficient?

The short answer to this is that if you care about performance and efficiency then you should be using WhiteNoise behind a CDN like CloudFront. If you’re doing that then, because of the caching headers WhiteNoise sends, the vast majority of static requests will be served directly by the CDN without touching your application, so it really doesn’t make much difference how efficient WhiteNoise is.

That said, WhiteNoise is pretty efficient. Because it only has to serve a fixed set of files it does all the work of finding files and determining the correct headers upfront on initialization. Requests can then be served with little more than a dictionary lookup to find the appropriate response. Also, when used with gunicorn (and most other WSGI servers) the actual business of pushing the file down the network interface is handled by the kernel’s very efficient sendfile syscall, not by Python.

Shouldn’t I be pushing my static files to S3 using something like Django-Storages?

No, you shouldn’t. The main problem with this approach is that Amazon S3 cannot currently selectively serve compressed content to your users. Compression (using either the venerable gzip or the more modern brotli algorithms) can make dramatic reductions in the bandwidth required for your CSS and JavaScript. But in order to do this correctly the server needs to examine the Accept-Encoding header of the request to determine which compression formats are supported, and return an appropriate Vary header so that intermediate caches know to do the same. This is exactly what WhiteNoise does, but Amazon S3 currently provides no means of doing this.

The second problem with a push-based approach to handling static files is that it adds complexity and fragility to your deployment process: extra libraries specific to your storage backend, extra configuration and authentication keys, and extra tasks that must be run at specific points in the deployment in order for everything to work. With the CDN-as-caching-proxy approach that WhiteNoise takes there are just two bits of configuration: your application needs the URL of the CDN, and the CDN needs the URL of your application. Everything else is just standard HTTP semantics. This makes your deployments simpler, your life easier, and you happier.

What’s the point in WhiteNoise when I can do the same thing in a few lines of Apache/nginx config?

There are two answers here. One is that WhiteNoise is designed to work in situations were Apache, nginx and the like aren’t easily available. But more importantly, it’s easy to underestimate what’s involved in serving static files correctly. Does your few lines of nginx config distinguish between files which might change and files which will never change and set the cache headers appropriately? Did you add the right CORS headers so that your fonts load correctly when served via a CDN? Did you turn on the special nginx setting which allows it to send gzipped content in response to an HTTP/1.0 request, which for some reason CloudFront still uses? Did you install the extension which alllows you to serve pre-compressed brotli-encoded content to modern browsers?

None of this is rocket science, but it’s fiddly and annoying and WhiteNoise takes care of all it for you.


MIT Licensed