Category Archives: Software development techniques

Django Rest Framework API Microservice

I recently completed a small project for Zenstores. They simplify the shipping process for ecommerce sites. Their online service lets online businesses use multiple shipping companies for deliveries.

Each shipping companies offers a different own API, for booking shipments, etc. My client uses a separate microservice for each shipping company. These microservices listen to requests from the main system and translate them to the shipping company’s standard.

My client asked me to use Django Rest Framework to create a microservice which supports a new shipping company. DRF is a popular and powerful library to create RESTful APIs using Django.

The supplier provided me with a sandbox API and extensive documentation. The documentation was somewhat incomplete and out of date. Fortunately their support contact was very helpful all along.

I used Test Driven Design for complex functions where I understood the functionality well. For the rest I used a more experimental approach and added unit tests afterwards. Testing coverage was over 90{d34bf16ac7b745ad0d2811187511ec8954163ba9b5dbe9639d7e21cc4b3adbdb}.

The client has integrated the microservice within their system and the first test shipments have gone through.

Namepy – on the shoulders of giants

Whilst my core skill/tool is Python, I’m always learning new things, either inside or outside the Python ecosystem. I recently had the pleasure of working with Angular and Python/Flask. Here is a playful application based on these, plus Highcharts.

Going through “Python for Data Analysis”, some of the examples use a database of frequency of (US) baby names since 1880. I thought I’d combine this with a bit of Scrabble™.

In the Python world it’s common to add “py” to a word when making up names, so I’m calling this project “namepy”.

Since I’ll be using various frameworks and libraries, all created by others, I’ve subtitled this “On the shoulders of giants”.

Taking small steps often results in faster progress, so that’s what I’m be doing here.

Technical set up

The source code is at, with one branch per step.

Many production sites Content Delivery Networks for serving Javascript frameworks and libraries, usually minified, which helps to take the load of the server and may speed up first page load. To keep things simple and stable over time, I’m using full-sized, downloaded, copies.

I’m using WebFaction (affiliate link) as the host, since they make it easy to create Flask, Django and similar projects. And, as a popular host for developers, you’ll find lots of helpful documentation for developers online.

Getting started

Create a project folder

mkdir namepy
cd namepy

At the start of each of the steps

cd (my folder for personal projects)
cd namepy
git clone -b step1 step1

Note: “-b step1” specifies the name of the branch to clone. The second “step1” is the target folder, i.e. namepy/step1.


Continue to Step 1 – Angular “Hello World”

Django – a very simple unit test

Test Driven Development (TDD) is a methodology for developing programs where you first write the test, and then write just enough code to make your program pass all tests

TDD makes it far less likely that fixing one bug introduces a new one, or that a change reintroduces an old bug. It means that you can continuously test your code

Django has a built-in testing system, with two different approaches: doctests and unit tests. Here is how to create and run a very simple unit test

  1. Create a new app – python startapp testtest
  2. Edit …/testtest/, and add the following lines:
    class SimpleTest(TestCase):
    def test_basic_addition(self):
    self.failUnlessEqual(1 + 1, 2)
  3. python test
  4. This should show “OK”
  5. Change the last line to self.failUnlessEqual(1 + 1, 3)
  6. Re-run the test
  7. You should now get an error: AssertionError: 2 != 3