Configure Python web apps for IIS

When you use Internet Information Services (IIS) as a web server on a Windows computer (including Windows virtual machines on Azure), you need to configure the Python web application to enable IIS to properly process Python code. The configuration is accomplished through settings in the web.config file for the Python web app. This article describes how to configure the necessary settings.


  • Python on Windows installed. To run a web app, first install your required version of Python directly on the Windows host machine as described on Install Python interpreters.

    • Identify the location of the python.exe interpreter. For convenience, you can add that location to your PATH environment variable.
  • Required packages installed. For a dedicated host, you can use the global Python environment to run your app rather than a virtual environment. Accordingly, you can install all of your app's requirements into the global environment by running the pip install -r requirements.txt command.

Set web.config to point to the Python interpreter

The web.config file for your Python application instructs the IIS web server (version 7 or later) running on Windows about how it should handle Python requests through HttpPlatformHandler (recommended) or FastCGI. Visual Studio versions 2015 and earlier make these modifications automatically. For Visual Studio 2017 and later, you must modify the web.config file manually.

If your project does not already contain a web.config file, you can add one by right-clicking the project directory, selecting Add > New Item and searching for web.config or creating a blank web.config XML file.

Configure the HttpPlatformHandler

The HttpPlatform module passes socket connections directly to a standalone Python process. This pass-through allows you to run any web server you like, but it requires a startup script that runs a local web server. This approach is commonly done by using a Python web framework, such as Flask or Django. You specify the script in the <httpPlatform> element of the web.config file. The processPath attribute points to the site extension's Python interpreter. The arguments attribute points to your startup script that runs a local web server, in this case, and any arguments you want to provide:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
      <add name="PythonHandler" path="*" verb="*" modules="httpPlatformHandler" resourceType="Unspecified"/>
    <httpPlatform processPath="c:\python36-32\python.exe"
                  arguments="c:\home\site\wwwroot\ --port %HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT%"
        <environmentVariable name="SERVER_PORT" value="%HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT%" />

In this example, the HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT environment variable contains the port that your local server should listen on for connections from localhost. This example also shows how to create another environment variable, SERVER_PORT. You can create and assign environment variables as needed.

Configure the FastCGI handler

FastCGI is an interface that works at the request level. IIS receives incoming connections and forwards each request to a WSGI app running in one or more persistent Python processes.


We recommend using HttpPlatformHandler to configure your apps, as the WFastCGI project is no longer maintained.

To use FastCGI, first install and configure the wfastcgi package as described in

Next, modify your application's web.config file to include the full paths to the python.exe executable and the file in the PythonHandler key. The following steps assume Python is installed in the c:\python36-32 folder and the app code is in the c:\home\site\wwwroot folder. Adjust these values for your paths accordingly.

  1. Modify the PythonHandler entry in the web.config file so the path matches the Python install location. For more information, see IIS Configuration Reference (

         <add name="PythonHandler" path="*" verb="*" modules="FastCgiModule"
             resourceType="Unspecified" requireAccess="Script"/>
  2. Within the <appSettings> section of the web.config file, add keys for WSGI_HANDLER, WSGI_LOG (optional), and PYTHONPATH:

       <add key="PYTHONPATH" value="c:\home\site\wwwroot"/>
       <!-- The handler here is specific to Bottle; see the next section. -->
       <add key="WSGI_HANDLER" value="app.wsgi_app()"/>
       <add key="WSGI_LOG" value="c:\home\LogFiles\wfastcgi.log"/>

    These <appSettings> values are available to your app as environment variables:

    • The value for the PYTHONPATH key can be freely extended, but it must include the root of your app.
    • The WSGI_HANDLER key must point to a WSGI app importable from your app.
    • The WSGI_LOG key is optional, but the key is recommended for debugging your app.
  3. Set the WSGI_HANDLER entry in the web.config file as appropriate for the framework you're using:

    • Bottle: Add parentheses after the app.wsgi_app value as shown in this example. The parentheses are necessary because the object is a function rather than a variable. You can see the syntax in the file.

      <!-- Bottle apps only -->
      <add key="WSGI_HANDLER" value="app.wsgi_app()"/>
    • Flask: Change the WSGI_HANDLER value to <project_name>.app where <project_name> matches the name of your project. You can find the exact identifier by looking at the from <project_name> import app statement in the file. For example, if the project is named FlaskAzurePublishExample, the entry appears as follows:

      <!-- Flask apps only: Change the project name to match your app -->
      <add key="WSGI_HANDLER" value=""/>
    • Django: Two changes are needed to the web.config file for Django projects.

      • Change the WSGI_HANDLER value to django.core.wsgi.get_wsgi_application(). The object is in the file.

        <!-- Django apps only -->
        <add key="WSGI_HANDLER" value="django.core.wsgi.get_wsgi_application()"/>
      • Add the following entry immediately after the entry for the WSGI_HANDLER key. Replace the value DjangoAzurePublishExample with the name of your project:

        <add key="DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE" value="django_iis_example.settings" />
  4. Django apps only: In the Django project's file, add your site URL domain or IP address to the ALLOWED_HOSTS entry. Replace '' with your URL or IP address:

    # Change the URL or IP address to your specific site
    ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['']

    If you don't add your URL to the array results, you see the following error:

    DisallowedHost at / Invalid HTTP_HOST header: '\<site URL\>'. You might need to add '\<site URL\>' to ALLOWED_HOSTS.

When the array is empty, Django automatically allows 'localhost' and '' as hosts. If you add your production URL, these host sites aren't automatically allowed. For this reason, you might want to maintain separate development and production copies of the file, or use environment variables to control the runtime values.

Deploy to IIS or a Windows virtual machine

When you have the correct web.config file in your project, you can publish to the computer that's running IIS from Solution Explorer. Right-click the project, select Publish, and then select IIS, FTP, etc.. In this situation, Visual Studio copies only the project files to the server. You're responsible for all server-side configuration.