tl;dr; I wrote my own extension to
django-pipeline that uses Zopfli to create
.gz files from static assets collected in Django. Here’s the code.
Nginx and Gzip
What I wanted was to continue to use
django-pipeline which does a great job of reading a
settings.BUNDLES setting and generating things like
/static/js/myapp.min.a206ec6bd8c7.js. It has configurable options to not just make those files but also generate
/static/js/myapp.min.a206ec6bd8c7.js.gz which means that with
gzip_static in Nginx, Nginx doesn’t have to Gzip compress static files on-the-fly but can basically just read it from disk. Nginx doesn’t care how the file got there but an immediate advantage of preparing the file on disk is that the compression can be higher (smaller
.gz files). That means smaller responses to be sent to the client and less CPU work needed from Nginx. Your job is to set
gzip_static on; in your Nginx config (per
location) and make sure every compressable file exists on disk with the same name but with the
In other words, when the client does
GET https://example.com/static/foo.js Nginx quickly does a read on the file system to see if there exists a
ROOT/static/foo.js.gz and if so, return that. If the files doesn’t exist, and you have
gzip on; in your config, Nginx will read the
ROOT/static/foo.js into memory, compress it (usually with a lower compression level) and return that. Nginx takes care of figuring out whether to do this, at all, dynamically by reading the
Accept-Encoding header from the request.
The best solution today to generate these
.gz files is Zopfli. Zopfli is slower than good old regular
gzip but the files get smaller. To manually compress a file you can install the
zopfli executable (e.g.
brew install zopfli or
apt install zopfli) and then run
zopfli $ROOT/static/foo.js which creates a
So your task is to build some pipelining code that generates
.gz version of every static file your Django server creates.
At first I tried
django-static-compress which has an extension to regular Django staticfiles storage. The default staticfiles storage is
django.contrib.staticfiles.storage.StaticFilesStorage and that’s what
But I wanted more. I wanted all the good bits from
django-pipeline (minification, hashes in filenames, concatenation, etc.) Also, in
django-static-compress you can’t control the parameters to
zopfli such as the number of iterations. And with
django-static-compress you have to install
Brotli which I can’t use because I don’t want to compile my own Nginx.
So I wrote my own little mashup. I took some ideas from how
django-pipeline does regular
gzip compression as a post-process step. And in my case, I never want to bother with any of the other files that are put into the
settings.STATIC_ROOT directory from the
Here’s my implementation: peterbecom.storage.ZopfliPipelineCachedStorage. Check it out. It’s very tailored to my personal preferences and usecase but it works great. To use it, I have this in my
STATICFILES_STORAGE = "peterbecom.storage.ZopfliPipelineCachedStorage"
I know what you’re thinking
Why not try to get this into
django-pipeline or into
django-compress-static. The answer is frankly laziness. Hopefully someone else can pick up this task. I have fewer and fewer projects where I use Django to handle static files. These days most of my projects are single-page-apps that are 100% static and using Django for XHR requests to get the data.