As a new developer, you’re probably aware that many tools are available to support Python development. Sometimes it can be confusing to know where to begin. Today, we’ll compare and contrast two of the most popular Python web frameworks: Flask and Django.
Like other major programming languages, Python employs software platforms unique to it called web frameworks. Web frameworks act as the premade skeleton of a website because developers, both front-end and back-end, do not want to spend tedious time reinventing the wheel. Frameworks help minimize the number of tasks involved with launching a website.
These tasks can include:
Flask is classified as a lightweight microframework. The name is fitting because Flask features only provide the essential functions for setting up your website.
These functions include:
Flask is simple, straightforward, and provides developers with plenty of room for flexibility regarding design and website architecture. Scaling up a web application to include more complex operations is left in the hands of the developer, not the software. Flask grants developers absolute control over what features are implemented into their websites as the framework does not enforce any fixed layouts, applications, or tools. It may be a bit unfinished, but that leaves more room for your design creativity to flourish.
Only one task can be processed at a time due to Flask’s minimalistic tools and single sourcing. Third-party modules (web applications and tools) can be added to Flask to scale up the complexity and increase functionality. Adding these modules will open the site to potential security risks, but never fear, APIs are here. Among other features, an application programming interface (API) will add an extra blanket of security between your server and data.
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The Django framework can be described as the overachieving older sibling of Flask. There is a steeper learning curve, but the payoff is well worth the extra effort. The software was named after the famous jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, not the Jamie Foxx character that many of you are probably thinking about.
Django is a complete and complex framework that comes fully equipped with nearly all the applications a website would need, hence the “batteries-included” nickname.
A Django project is typically a much more finished product. The framework is renowned for handling complex features, rapid development, and user traffic. This allows you, as the developer, to spend more time creating advanced applications for your site. Django is also the best option for a website with cross-site scripting, complex features, and heavy user traffic. With Django, any action or application you need from your website can be easily achieved. Be forewarned, with great power comes great responsibility, as it requires a skilled developer to master the larger codebase. You must learn to walk before you learn to use Django.
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As mentioned, Django is a multitasking and sophisticated counterpart to Flask. Flask is less complicated but does less, and Django has greater functionality at the price of greater complexity. For example, Django comes equipped with ORM (object-relational mapping), which allows the framework to convert data between incompatible type systems and languages. Flask does not come stocked with ORM and requires the developer to add it manually. Another example is Django’s preset validators for HTML forms to prevent errored data from entering a server. Flask requires an additional module to perform HTML form validation.
In a Flask vs Django fight, Flask would be well out of its weight class. The Flask framework is ideal for small projects, whereas Django is ideal for a project with plenty of web apps. The most staggering difference between the two frameworks is the lines of code in each. Flask uses roughly 29,000 lines, whereas Django has just about 290,000 lines of code.
With 10 times less code to sift through, Flask can be a much more suitable framework for those new to web development. Also, the benefit of manually adding functionality and applications makes Flask an excellent practice tool for beginners. It is much more convenient to observe the source code to understand what is happening behind the computer screen when there are far fewer lines of code.
Another significant difference is security. With Flask, additional software must be added to introduce more functionality. This can threaten the site’s safety with the inclusion of third-party modules, meaning the added software was written by neither you nor the Python developers.
In Django, the functions that a third-party module adds to Flask are already implemented, reducing the security risk that comes with supplementary modules. These modules are open-source and therefore more vulnerable to hacking and exploitation. These plugins increase the serviceability of the website at the expense of hindering its ability to remain a closed system.
Django and Flask have their differences, but they’re both capable of creating superb routing, request/response mechanics, project structure, and other essential web functions. As Python frameworks, they both connect to web servers via Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI), the Python standard for connecting frameworks to servers. WSGI is a simple interface specification that allows a server to communicate with web applications. An example of a Python server that connects to Django or Flask using WSGI is Gunicorn.
Because Django and Flask both use WSGI, they both rely on the external library Werkzeug to provide utilities to WSGI-supported web applications. Werkzeug provides cookies, debugging, redirects, error pages, and more to develop applications. Flask and Django build on this foundation to compose a complete web framework.
You’re now familiar with the dynamic duo of Python web frameworks. But which framework should you start with? The choice is yours. Many beginners start honing their web development skills with the lighter framework: Flask. You might want to follow their lead and try out Django when you outgrow Flask.
To get started with these frameworks, check out some of our courses:
Both courses contain tutorials and walkthroughs that will have you building websites confidently in no time. Pretty soon, you’ll join other Python developers with a total mastery of whichever framework you use.
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