What is right for your next project?

SeattleDataGuy
Jul 26 · 7 min read
Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Are you looking into developing a website with Python? Then you’ve probably heard of Django and Flask. These two are the most popular web frameworks for Python (of course there are many more). The question now is which one do you use?

This post intends to provide a simple introduction to how both frameworks work, their similarities and differences, and some points you should consider when choosing between them.


I. Quick Introductions

The primary applications based on Python were created using the command-line interface, run on either command prompt or shell scripts. Of course, people wanted to do more with Python than just automate tasks and manage workflows. They soon needed web frameworks.

Django

Django is a Python web framework suited for perfectionists with a time limit. Django offers a full-featured Model-View-Controller framework. Its development is based on a “batteries-included methodology,” which enables the developer to create websites without third-party libraries and tools. With the first release on July 15th, 2005, Django is developed and managed by the Django Software Foundation (DSF). It is free and open-source with more version releases.

Flask

Flask is a Python micro-framework based on doing one thing at a time and doing it well. With the first release on April 1st, 2010, Flask is developed by Armin Ronacher, an Austrian developer. As described in its documentation forward, the micro in micro-framework implies that Flask aims to maintain its lightweight simplicity and still extensible usage. The true power of Flask is its ability to be flexible.


II. Comparison and Contrast, Flask Vs. Django

Below is an in-depth comparison of Django and Flask, using factors like:

  • Popularity: Usage and Use Cases
  • Getting Started: Documentation and Navigation Ease
  • Template Engine and System
  • Routing system
  • User Flexibility
  • Availability of Admin system
  • Speed of Development

Popularity: Usage and Use Cases

Several top websites use Django and Flask. Statistics from GitHub and other sites show Django is more popular than Flask. This popularity is only down to developers’ use of Django’s robust features to build and deploy complicated web applications rapidly. Similarly, developers use Flask to speed up the development of websites that use fixed content. Some well-known projects powered by Django (Bitbucket, Eventbrite, Instagram, Pinterest, and more) and Flask (LinkedIn, Netflix, Twilio, Uber) use these frameworks actively.

User Flexibility

One of the biggest differences between the two frameworks is flexibility.

Django’s batteries-included concept aids developers in creating a variety of web apps without third-party libraries and tools. However, Django lacks the options to effect changes to provided modules. Hence, developers create web applications using built-in features. This means if a developer wants to use a different library for a function that Django already provides, it won’t be easy.

Conversely, Flask uses its extensible web framework to enable the flexible development of web applications using various web development libraries and tools. This allows more experienced developers the freedom to plug and play with the libraries and databases they are comfortable with.

You’re not stuck with what the framework forces you to use. Instead, you can pivot into technical components you’re comfortable with.

Documentation and Navigation Ease

Flask makes extensive documentation available, which covers deployment, installation, QuickStart instructions, and detailed tutorials. Using Python’s package manager, installing Flask with pip is easy.

$ pip install flask

The pip command above installs Flask with its essential packages. Running codes on Flask is quite simple (for instance, displaying “Hi Welcome”). All it requires is creating an instance of the Flask class, followed by a route that displays the “Hi Welcome” string.

from flask import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)
@app.route("/")
def hi_welcome():
return "Hi Welcome"
if __name__ == "__main__":
app.run()

Django’s documentation is much more extensive than Flask’s, which is to be expected due to its complexity. Django can be installed quickly using pip as well.

$ pip install Django

Running code in Django involves the use of an in-built command to create a project, and another command for app creation. Its start-up commands are convenient since it engages a ready-to-use directory structure.

Routing System

Essential to any web application or website is the Routing system, which creates URLs and determines what displays when the URL is loaded.

Flask employs a simple, lightweight web framework with routing done by a route() decorator. Using the “Hello World” sample above, the first line is a decorator. Decorators are the function that takes a callable (a class) as a parameter, followed by modification before returning it. The string used also tells Flask what URL triggers its function. For example, use /(http://127.0.0.1:5000/\), which loads the very first page when Flask is accessed using your browser.

For Django, it applies a batteries-included approach, which makes it easier for developers to accomplish basic web development tasks like database schema migration, URL routing, and user authentication. Custom web application also experiences process acceleration in Django as it offers a bootstrapping tool, built-in template engine, and ORM system. Routing is handled using the urls.py file, which is created when running the in-built djangoadmin startproject command. To define a route entails importing the URL method from Django and creating an instance, specifying each parameter (keyword arguments, existing URLs module, and regex string). The in-built Django URL for the admin site comes by default in the urls.py file. It tells Django where you’re loading the URL from and the specified module.

Availability of Admin system

Django uses an admin system that follows the Object Relational Mapper (ORM) directory structure and a database system. It adds to the all-inclusive experience when it comes to developing with Django as multiple projects have the same directory structure.

Flask lacks these features and may require you to install custom modules to use an ORM as optional to the developer. These options include usage with MongoDB, SQLAlchemy, SQLite, and more. As you can see, this is a tradeoff between flexibility and ease of use. Where Django comes with most of the technical components required to build a website. Flask is more purely only the framework, allowing the end user to make more decisions.

Speed of Development

Django frameworks are known to offer fast speed of development for complex web applications. Since it offers full features, it provides all the necessary tools for implementation.

Flask’s simplicity permits experienced developers to complete smaller applications within short timeframes. A significant advantage of the Django framework is the availability of an active community intended to help with solutions to scale your app or make your job easier with useful content. The Flask community is currently not as big, so finding useful information is not as easy.

Template Engine and System

All web applications have a front-end (user interface) that supports user interaction. Since web apps are not static, they take different approaches to generate HTML dynamically. Django and Flask offer exciting templates engines.

Flask is developed using the Jinja2 template engine. It is a modern and design-friendly template, which allows developers to simulate dynamic web applications with the assistance of an integrated sandboxed environment. Jinja2 templates contain variables as well as tags. Another key characteristic of Flask templates is template inheritance. Below are examples of some commonly used Jinja2 syntax:

comments: {# … #}variables: {{ … }}statements: {% … %} (Similar to normal programming, Jinja2 statements find usage in a variety of cases, like if-else statements, imports, loops, and macros).

Django uses a built-in template engine, which allows developers to define the web application’s user-facing layer effortlessly. Also, developers can use the Django template language (DTL) to write templates in creating custom user interface development. Templating syntax in Django includes:

single-line comments: {# … #}multi-line comments: {% comment %} … {% endcomment %}filters on variables: {{ variable|filter }}tags: {% … %}variables: {{ … }}

The jinja2 template takes inspiration from the Django template language, hence the similar syntax. Django templates feature template inheritance, and more information can be seen at Django template official documentation.


Conclusion

A deeper understanding of the basics is necessary to get started with Flask and Django frameworks. The differences and benefits attached to each framework lie in what kind of project you wish to implement. The main contrasts include:

Flask offers flexibility, simplicity, and fine-grained control. Flask is un-opinionated, letting you decide how you wish to get apps implemented.

Django offers an all-inclusive experience with admin panel, database interfaces, directory structure, and ORM for your web application development.

We hope this helps you make a clear decision on the framework you pick.

Good luck with your future projects!

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

SeattleDataGuy

Written by

#Data #Engineer, Strategy Development Consultant and All Around Data Guy #deeplearning #machinelearning #datascience #tech #management http://bit.ly/2uKsTVw

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade