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Load environment variables from encrypted .env.vault files, with Python 🐍.

β“˜ This guide assumes you are already familiar with python-dotenv. It extends it with python-dotenv-vault.

🌱 Install

pip install python-dotenv-vault

As early as possible in your application bootstrap process, load .env:

from dotenv_vault import load_dotenv

load_dotenv()  # take environment variables from .env.

# Code of your application, which uses environment variables (e.g. from `os.environ` or
# `os.getenv`) as if they came from the actual environment.

πŸ—οΈ Usage (.env)

Development usage works just like python-dotenv.

Add your application configuration to your .env file in the root of your project:


When your application loads, these variables will be available in os.environ or os.getenv:

s3_bucket = os.getenv("S3_BUCKET")

πŸš€ Deploying (.env.vault)

Encrypt your environment variables by doing:

npx dotenv-vault local build

This will create an encrypted .env.vault file along with a .env.keys file containing the encryption keys. Set the DOTENV_KEY environment variable by copying and pasting the key value from the .env.keys file onto your server or cloud provider. For example in heroku:

heroku config:set DOTENV_KEY=<key string from .env.keys>

Commit your .env.vault file safely to code and deploy. Your .env.vault fill be decrypted on boot, its environment variables injected, and your app work as expected.

β“˜ When the DOTENV_KEY environment variable is set, environment settings will always be loaded from the .env.vault file in the project root. For development use, you can leave the DOTENV_KEY environment variable unset and fall back on the dotenv behaviour of loading from .env.

🌴 Manage Multiple Environments

You have two options for managing multiple environments - locally managed or vault managed - both use dotenv-vault.

Locally managed never makes a remote API call. It is completely managed on your machine. Vault managed adds conveniences like backing up your .env file, secure sharing across your team, access permissions, and version history. Choose what works best for you.

πŸ’» Locally Managed

Create a .env.production file in the root of your project and put your production values there.

# .env.production

Rebuild your .env.vault file.

$ npx dotenv-vault local build

Check your .env.keys file. There is a production DOTENV_KEY that coincides with the additional DOTENV_VAULT_PRODUCTION cipher in your .env.vault file.

Set the production DOTENV_KEY on your server, recommit your .env.vault file to code, and deploy. That’s it!

πŸ” Vault Managed

Sync your .env file. Run the push command and follow the instructions. learn more

$ npx dotenv-vault push

Manage multiple environments with the included UI. learn more

$ npx dotenv-vault open

Build your .env.vault file with multiple environments.

$ npx dotenv-vault build

Access your DOTENV_KEY.

$ npx dotenv-vault keys

Set the production DOTENV_KEY on your server, recommit your .env.vault file to code, and deploy. That’s it!


What happens if DOTENV_KEY is not set?

python-dotenv-vault gracefully falls back to python-dotenv when DOTENV_KEY is not set. This is the default for development so that you can focus on editing your .env file and save the build command until you are ready to deploy those environment variables changes.

Should I commit my .env file?

No. We strongly recommend against committing your .env file to version control. It should only include environment-specific values such as database passwords or API keys. Your production database should have a different password than your development database.

Should I commit my .env.vault file?

Yes. It is safe and recommended to do so. It contains your encrypted envs, and your vault identifier.

Can I share the DOTENV_KEY?

No. It is the key that unlocks your encrypted environment variables. Be very careful who you share this key with. Do not let it leak.