Django Channels for Background Tasks

May, 18 2016

Django Channels is the most exciting thing to happen to Django since well Django :).

This little tutorial is what you need to add a background task processor to Django using channels. Our task for this example will just be outputting "Hello, Channels!", but you could imagine running a subprocess on some data or sending an email.

NOTE: channels works on an at-most-once delivery model, so it is possible a message in a channel could be lost, delivery isn't guaranteed. That also means consumers don't have to worry about duplicates. Read more in the docs.

This example will be stripped down to the basic code without much error checking. There are detailed examples one here and here.

We will start with a simple Django 1.9 app without channels

from django.conf.urls import url
from . import views

urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^$', views.home, name='home'),

from django.shortcuts import render

def home(request, template="home.html"):
    print("Hello, Channels!")  # long running task of printing.
    return render(

You will need to define a home.html template where Django can find it, but besides that this simple site should work and synchronously render what is in your home.html and output "Hello, Channels!" on your terminal.

Now for channelification!

First, you will need redis, you can use a built-in broker but redis is pretty easy to install on Linux or Mac (using homebrew at least).


homebrew install redis


apt-get install redis-server

Once that is done you will need to install channels and asgi-redis with pip. This apparently also installs Twisted and zope.interface. The past returns :)

 pip install channels asgi-redis

Make sure redis is running in another terminal


Add channels to your INSTALLED_APPS and add the following to your to tell channel how to run:

    "default": {
        "BACKEND": "asgi_redis.RedisChannelLayer",
        "CONFIG": {
            "hosts": [os.environ.get('REDIS_URL', 'redis://localhost:6379')],
        "ROUTING": "myproject.routing.channel_routing",

Where you replace "myproject" with the name of your project.

You need to create the file—beside your and root file. In it add the channel_routing list, but for now we will leave it empty.

channel_routing = []

This is actually enough to get what we already had to run.

python runserver

This runs workers and the front end server daphne and it will handle Django requests and responses as you are used to.


Stop the server for now with Control-C. Django has grown a new command: runworker

python runworker

This won't run on port 8000, it will just run a worker listening on the default channel layer so you can't connect to it directly. Kill it for now with Control-C.

Channels has a front end server you can run in a separate process called daphne. To use it you need to create a file—beside the file Django created for you, or your file.

import os
import channels.asgi

os.environ.setdefault("DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE", "myproject.settings")
channel_layer = channels.asgi.get_channel_layer()

Here is how you run daphne, should be familiar if you have used gunicorn or similar.

daphne myproject.asgi:channel_layer --port 8000

Now you can connect to but it just times out because there aren't any workers. In a separate terminal window run use the runworker command to start a worker and try connecting again.

Boom! You are back to where you were, but now there are two processes running. Now for the interesting bit, doing something asynchronously.

Background Task

Websockets are the killer feature of channels and other tutorials cover how to use them. Here we are going to make our own channel for our background task of saying hello.

It starts in where we will connect our channel to our new consumer. A consumer is a function which takes a message much like how a view takes a request.

# again
from channels.routing import route
from .consumers import hello

channel_routing = [
    route('background-hello', hello),

This means messages put into the background-hello channel will be handled by the hello callable found in the local file—place it beside your file in your app folder. We need to write our first consumer:

def hello(message):
    print("Hello, Channels!")  # long running task or printing

Unlike views, consumers don't have to return a response, but they can send any number of messages down any number of channels they like.

Finally, we need to use our new background channel in our view, so let's edit

from django.shortcuts import render
from channels import Channel

def home(request, template="home.html"):
    message = {}
    return render(

That should be enough to get "Hello, Channels!" to be printed asynchronously to your terminal.

What is interesting is you didn't have to do anything to get the HTTP request and response channel to work. Including and initializing the channels library is enough for it to create those channels and route based on Everything Django works as it always did.

This just scratches the surface of what you can do with channels, so start using it today!

You can view the code from this blog post on GitHub.

Tweet comments, corrections, or high fives to @amjoconn