Using Django vs Flask (both python based) really comes down to the use of both the API and web app your building. Flask is a microframework for Python based on Werkzeug, Jinja 2 and good intentions. It is BSD licensed and is intended for beginners use for it has a convenient and easy way of getting started. Meanwhile, Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.
Both Django and Flask are free and open-source. To further elaborate on frameworks, a web framework is software framework designed for web applications development to have a standard way of building and deploying web applications. It consists implementation of the common functionality of web applications which include web services, web resources, and web APIs.
Biggest difference between Flask and Django
Flask does not implement functionalities as much as Django does. The popular micro-framework depends on some functionalities thru add-ons, providing flexibility and control to the developers. On the other hand, D jango gives a lot more built-in functionality, added initially upon installation. Django framework provides admin panel, object-relational mapping layer, database interface, as well as the directory structure of your applications.
Django’s Setup and Installation
We can setup the framework in our virtual environment by running:
$ virtualenv --python=`which python3` ~/.virtualenvs/django_env
After running the above command, we need to activate our Django virtual environment before we can use it. Install the Django once activated.
$ source ~/.virtualenvs/django_env/bin/activate
$ pip install Django
We can now create our Python project.
$ mkdir myproject
$ cd myproject
$ django-admin startproject myproject
If you go to your project directory, it should look like this:
The following describes the contents of our created project:
- manage.py – command line tool for our Python project
- myproject/ directory – Python package of our project code
- myproject /__init__.py – informs Python that our current directory should be considered a Python package
- myproject /settings.py – configuration properties for our project
- myproject /urls.py – a Python file containing the URL definitions of our project
- myproject /wsgi.py – entry for a WSGI web server that forwards requests to our project
We can run our application server for development by running the following command and check http://localhost:8000 to see if it worked.
$ python manage.py runserver
Since we already have our Python project, we now need to create a web application within our project directory.
$ cd myproject
$ python manage.py startapp myapp
If we go check our project directory, new files are generated under the created application. These files are used for managing models, views, etc.
Flask’s Setup and Installation
Just like Django framework we need to set up on our virtual environment by running and activate to start using it.
$ virtualenv –python=`which python3` ~/.virtualenvs/flask _env
$ source ~/.virtualenvs/flask_env/bin/activate
Install the framework once activated.
$ pip install Flask
Once installed, we can start creating our application. Flask doesn’t have a complicated project structure unlike Django. You can create a run-nable Flask app by just a single file:
from flask_ import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)
return “Hello World!”
After creating our Flask app, we can just simple run it by the following command, and it will successfully give you a message:
$ FLASK_APP=hello.py flask run
* Running on http://localhost:5000/
Setup and Installation Comparison
As to setup and installation, Django is best for beginners in a way that it provides all the necessary guides and generated files upon installation. Flask, on the other hand, also is much simpler to run than Django. Flask needs to be manually configured, which is good for the experienced developers who prefer flexible development.
Django is using a conventional project structure while Flask is using arbitrary structure. Although both structures are equally flexible, Django is still more rigid. Django’s matches the standards and does not exclude the flexibility settings of the framework. Eventually, if a project made using Flask will grow, it will still end up with a structure like Django.
Routes are needed to process application request. We should also consider routing when choosing our framework. In Django, regex is used for matching routes and processing request. Hence, you should have knowledge about regular expressions. Flask sets most of the URIs on the view decorate, which is kind of convenient. Flask offers much flexible extraction of URL parameters. However, the centralized configuration is possible for both frameworks.
View, Model, and Template Layers
View layers are an essential part of a framework. This layer sends the request and accepts the response of the request. Both Django and Flask supports function-based views, class-based views, HTTP mode restrictions and view decorators. The only difference here is the transfer of request objects in Django framework wherein each of its view gets a parameter. Flasks request objects is imported from its module, making it look like a global variable. These two frameworks have excellent tools for handling requests.
While Django has ORM support, Flask supports only SQLAlchemy and Peewee. Since there is no ORM for Flask, users must create their own solutions independent from a specific ORM. If we must consider model layers, you should use Flask to enable restrictions to single ORM, and Flask if you want the freedom to choose tools for your application.
Flask and Django both supports templates responses, Jinja2 resources, and context processors. Although some users experience failing templates on Django.
Flask is more convenient than Django when it comes to setting up an application. The framework does not require you to create a directory unlike Django where you must create a directory before you can start creating your application. You can just add your files as to your usage, which generally makes Flask a micro-framework for web application.
On the other hand, Django’s complicated kind of setup causes users to study more about the framework. They will take more time to learn, especially on composing modules with accordance to the framework. But, this will allow users to easily integrate and add third party plugins to be used by their application.
Community behind Django and Flask
It is important to consider the support and documentation of a framework upon choosing one. In cases that we encounter problems during the development, we can ask for help from the community of experts who somehow had already experienced the same thing.
With community, Django has a larger active community than Flask. In fact, Flask is fifteen times smaller than Django. Django has 80,000 questions on Stack Overflow, participated by developers and Django users, while Flask has 5,000 questions only. Django expert developers have lots of FAQ blogs, helping users via the web.
Though Flask community is not as large as Django, considering it as a newer platform than Django, they have their community support via mail and on IRC. Also, Flask leads the status on GitHub compared to Django.
If we are learning the framework, it’s either we are going to use it on our job, or we want to learn it because we want to get a job. On the Information Technology industry, which among these frameworks excel in terms of hiring percentage?
Django has been used widely by companies compared to Flask. Some of these companies have been using Python before and used Django to boost up their applications and the functionalities. Since Django is known for its “battery-included” concept, it much used by industry because of the ready-made resources. Few of the common companies who are NASA, Instagram and Pinterest. Django is more commonly searched among search engines because larger companies have used them in the past.
Flask, meanwhile, is mostly used on micro services. Since it is designed as a micro-framework architecture, companies will less likely to say they are powered by Flask because they have other services that are using a different framework. However, there are hints of companies based on their job postings and tech talks, not confirmed, that might be using Flask somewhere on their back-end infrastructure. LinkedIn and Uber are some of them. Though Django is much more common among most of the companies, Flask is affably much favored by tech-focused companies that are using micro services.
Much lighter php frameworks can accomplish smaller site structures, but if you are looking for a heavy duty application, django might be the correct move to make.
Scope and Limitations
If the project is small and doesn’t need much as Django’s pre-built files, consider using Flask for a simple and easy start. It will only provide basic functionality for you to get started, which means you must create more of the functionalities by yourself. That includes database migration, file handling, and data validations. And since Flask is so small, there is not so much to complain about.
Flask also has some extensions, though not as many as Django. However, if the project is large and requires complex functions, then Django is the framework you should use. Django comes with the basic components needed by a web application. It is much important to evaluate well if your application is large enough to be handled using Django or else you will spend much working time implementing a small application on a complex framework.
Pros and Cons
For us to fully understand the comparison of the two, let’s compare these two frameworks by identifying their pros and cons.
The pre-built files provided by Django makes the framework easy for the developers to dive into web applications since it is almost ready. You can build quickly, with less coding time. Furthermore, below are the pros of Django Framework:
- Mature software with outstanding support from the community of expert developers and users.
- Free and open source
- ORM support
- MVC design
- Numerously available plugins that can be integrated easily into the application
- Rapid development and highly customizable
- Easy to learn
- Has an admin panel
- Simple database management
Meanwhile, Django also has cons as any framework does. The following are:
- Too bloated for small projects
- Underpowered templating and ORM
- Templates failed silently by default
- Auto reload restarts the entire server
- High learning curve
- Documentations does not cover real-world scenarios
- Can only handle single request per time.
- Routing requires some knowledge of regular expressions
- Internal sub components coupling
Flask was launched and started to use since 2010, hence, it is relatively young compared to Django. Some developers tell that Flask inherits more Python standards than Django because it is more explicit. It is commonly the choice for the beginners because of the simple app running. Below are the pros of Flask Framework:
- Simple and minimal
- Easy to build a quick prototype
- Easy to develop and maintain applications
- Very flexible
- Routing URL is easy
- Database integration is easy
- Small core and easily extensible
- Minimal yet powerful
- Lots of resources available online, especially on GitHub
- Considering it a young framework, the official documentation of Flask is complete and thorough
On the other hand, the following are the cons of Flask’s Framework:
- Async may be a little problem
- Lack of Database and ORM
- Thread locals and global variables used everywhere
- Setting up large project requires some previous knowledge of the framework
- Limited features
- Limited support and smaller community compared to Django
Since the complexity of our application is one thing to consider upon choosing between Flask vs Django, we will determine which framework properly fits each type of application.
Django is recommended for online store since it has modules for e-commerce. Blogs and online media also suits well with Django because it has documented examples created in journalistic realities. Also, if you are a beginner in web development who wanted to use the application as soon as possible, Django comes with pre-built functions making it easier to start your applications with lesser configurations. You can also use Django for RESTful APIs.
On the other hand, Flask framework fits those developers who wanted to understand well on how the application project is arranged. Integration of third-party plugins is also a plus when using Flask. And if you wanted to create a complex application but using SQL queries, then you can use Flask.
Can I Use Both Python web frameworks?
Python developers use Flask, to begin with their simple applications and grasps the basics of Python development using a framework. Moving forward, if project complexity demands, they transfer to Django to support other functions that are not available in Flask.
We have considered a lot of factors for us to choose the framework that will fit with our application development. Flask and Django are two powerful frameworks, each one has advantages and disadvantages. The choice of the framework would really base on what you are going to develop. For heavy applications, use Django to support your functionalities. If you want lightweight and easy to run applications, use Flask framework.
If you are still just starting to learn programming, Django is not for you because it will take much of your time to learn this framework. You will need to learn each item, and its usage and importance to your application. You will also need to determine where to put such configurations and codes following the norms of the framework. However, if you are already an expert to this kind of development, then probably you might choose Django. Especially when you are aiming to create a large and complex application.
If you prefer minimal and simplicity, then Flask is for you. Flask will let you have the wheel of building your app and customize it the way your project requires you to. You will be able to understand each item you will be using on your application since you will add them by your own. Flask also is much convenient for getting started, making it much easier for users to run and develop their application. Although flexible, it is also complex because of the manual addition of plugins and third-party packages.
Beginners are also recommended to use Flask because it is a great learning tool to manually learn the modules and libraries. Flask can edge their skills and best when testing for solutions since you will only work on less-structured objects. It would be much easier to learn from scratch then improve your knowledge if you are already familiar with the framework. An application can be improved using Django, especially when it is a product for release.
As to popularity, Django has been used by some known companies. And their applications are undeniably working well. Flask is used on micro services, and other companies might be using it with an additional framework to support other functionalities on their applications.
Overall, consider each of the mentioned things from this article and evaluate which framework benefits you most. Target the factors that you might have problems during the development and try to analyze if what problem you might encounter if you are going to choose this framework. After all, learning starts when you fail and look out for solutions to fix your problem.