# Handle dynamic subdomains with Flask's blueprints and nginx !

Note : This post is actually a merge between some of my other posts.

## Part I : Problem !

First of all, why would you even want to do something like that ? Dynamic subdomains I mean. Well for example that's what I used to create MarkdownBlog. Each user that registers on here gets a subdomain of his slugged username. This allows the users to feel more detached from the platform. Like "I got my own .com blog !" and not something like markdownblog.com/user.

Admit it, it's pretty cool right ? So, how are we going to do that with Flask ? The answer is pretty simple. Blueprints !

## Part II : The Flask side.

Note : This tutorial will assume you have the basis of web application development using Flask. If you don't I'd suggest you to read the quickstart page.

### Introduction and minimal application

What are blueprints ? How can you use them ? Do you remember how to create a single-file application with Flask ? Let's start fresh with a single-file app. I chose this way of showing blueprints dynamic subdomains because it's a lot easier to understand. Once the example is complete I'll give a small example architecture for a more modular way of using blueprints (which is after all, the whole point of blueprints).

main.py

from flask import Flask

@app.route('/')
def hello_world():
return 'Hello World!'

if __name__ == '__main__':
app.run()


Now if you run python main.py and head to 127.0.0.1:5000 you should see a pretty "Hello World!" in your browser. That's the most basic web application you can write with Flask, and it's on the front page of the Flask's quickstart guide.

### Modifying the /etc/hosts file

Warning : This operation is only useful for testing on your local/development machine. Don't do that on your server, if configured properly, it already uses bind ! In other words, DO NOT do that on any distant server.

Note : I assume you're running Linux. If you're running Windows or OSX (or whatever really), you're on your own for that part. It's a mandatory step to test blueprints on your local machine.

Before we can go any further and in order to test the subdomain handling, we'll modify the /etc/hosts file. The hosts file technique is pretty limited because you need to declare each and everyone of the subdomains you're going to test. Let's start by adding the following lines at the end of our /etc/hosts files :

127.0.0.1    flask.dev                localhost    silence


Now you can run your Flask server and go to flask.dev:5000 in your browser. Note that we added two other hosts, that are subdomains of our application. Also note that flask.dev is just an alias for localhost or 127.0.0.1. Time to add the following line just under the declaration of our app :

#...
#...


There ! Now we can start using blueprints. If we didn't do these steps, the Flask dev server wouldn't understand the subdomains and wouldn't even bother to use the blueprint we're going to define.

### Using blueprints

from flask import Flask

@app.route('/')
def hello_world():
return 'Hello World!'

# Blueprint declaration
bp = Blueprint('subdomain', __name__, subdomain="<user>")

# Add a route to the blueprint
@bp.route("/")
def home(user):
return 'Welcome to your subdomain, {}'.format(user)

# Register the blueprint into the application
app.register_blueprint(bp)

if __name__ == '__main__':
app.run(debug=True)


Start the server and see what happens when you go to flask.dev:5000 and then test.flask.dev:5000. Same uri, different subdomain, different behaviour ! Now you can start doing some useful stuff. I'm pretty sure you have tons of idea on how to use the user variable you get. And of course, you're not forced to use a dynamic subdomain, you can also declare your blueprint with just a string in the subdomain parameter.

### Example architecture

.
├── app
│   ├── api
│   ├── forms
│   ├── models
│   ├── modules
│   │   └── blog
│   ├── static
│   │   ├── css
│   │   │   └── syntax
│   │   ├── fonts
│   │   ├── img
│   │   └── js
│   ├── templates
│   │   └── blog
│   ├── utils
│   └── views
├── database
└── env


As you can see, the only blueprint I'm using is located in the modules/blog subdirectory. It's organized as a standard application, views, forms, etc...

## Part III : Nginx side.

Note : Remember to change the SERVER_NAME configuration variable to match your actual domain name in production

Your application is ready, you know what to do with your dynamic subdomain. There is still one problem left though. Nginx. What happens if someones goes to www.yourdomain.com ? Your application will think www is a subdomain but it's actually not. So what are you going to do about that ? Simple. Strip the www part and redirect to the url without it but keeping the subdomain. Here is how I did that for MarkdownBlog :

server {
listen 80;
listen 443 ssl;

ssl_certificate /usr/local/nginx/ssl/nginx.crt;
ssl_certificate_key /usr/local/nginx/ssl/nginx.key;

server_name ~^www\.(?<user>.+\.)?markdownblog\.com$; return 301 "$scheme://${user}markdownblog.com$request_uri";
}

server {
listen 80;
listen 443 ssl;

ssl_certificate /usr/local/nginx/ssl/nginx.crt;
ssl_certificate_key /usr/local/nginx/ssl/nginx.key;

server_name ~^.+\.markdownblog\.com$markdownblog.com; location / { proxy_set_header Host$http_host;
proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For$proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
proxy_pass http://127.0.0.1:8085;
}
}


I spent hours on that. The fact is that, the regex was correct but was never executed. As said in the Nginx Documentation about Wildcards Server Names, you can use the .domain.com to match every subdomain. This also includes the www.domain.com, which I don't want, otherwise my application would think www is a user (and a blog url) which is wrong. Fact is that the .domain.com syntax isn't considered as a regex. Nginx executes regex tests if all the over url checks failed. This behaviour made my regex pointless as it was not even executed by nginx. That configuration is used to catch the username part in the url and strip out the www part.