Debugging and Monitoring

Using Django Debug Toolbar

When running locally it is possible to enable the Django Debug Toolbar by defining the ENABLE_DEBUG_TOOLBAR environment variable:


This tool exposes various useful pieces of information about things like HTTP headers, Django settings, SQL queries, and template variables. Note that running with the toolbar on may have an impact on local server performance.

Logging database queries to console

To log database queries to the console when running locally, define the ENABLE_SQL_LOGGING environment variable:

$ ENABLE_SQL_LOGGING=1 cfgov/ shell
>>> from django.contrib.auth import get_user_model
>>> User = get_user_model()
>>> User.objects.count()
(0.004) SELECT COUNT(*) AS "__count" FROM "auth_user"; args=()

This will log any database queries (and time taken to execute them) to the console, and works with any Django code invoked from the shell, including the server and management commands:

$ ENABLE_SQL_LOGGING=1 cfgov/ some_management_command

Monitoring using New Relic

This project can be configured for real-time monitoring with New Relic. This requires an active New Relic account and a valid license key.

First, you'll need to install the New Relic Python Agent from from PyPI. This package is not part of the standard development requirements but is included in the requirements/deployment.txt file. It can be installed into your Python environment using the following command:

$ pip install newrelic

New Relic monitoring is implemented by wrapping every request to the Django web server with a call to the Python agent. This agent records information about web requests and reports it back to New Relic's servers. Additionally, and depending on configuration, the agent also injects a bit of JavaScript into every page header allowing for monitoring of client-side performance in the web browser.

The New Relic Python agent has many configuration settings that control the information that gets recorded about web requests. This project includes a default newrelic.ini file that enables New Relic's high security mode to limit the recording of potentially sensitive information.

To activate New Relic monitoring of your instance of, you'll need to set two environment variables:

  • NEW_RELIC_LICENSE_KEY: a valid New Relic license key
  • NEW_RELIC_APP_NAME: a unique identifier to describe your running application

Make sure to choose a unique application name to help distinguish your web traffic from any other users who may be running against the same New Relic account.

This project's .env_SAMPLE file contains placeholder entries for these two variables.

Once you've set these two variables, start or restart your local web server.

When you make your first web request, you'll see messages in the console indicating that the New Relic Python agent has been activated. You should see a message indicating your select application name:

Successfully registered New Relic Python agent where app_name=' myname python'...

as well as a message indicating the use of high security mode:

High Security Mode is being applied to all communications between the agent and the data collector for this session.

You should now be able to navigate to the New Relic console and, after a few seconds, see your web server traffic in New Relic APM and New Relic Browser.