A Python Framework Comparison

January 21st, 2021

There are many types of Python frameworks, and Django and Flask are by far the two most popular among developers in 2021. They give us the support we need to create innovative Python web applications for our clients. At Coretechs, we use Django and Flask for different projects depending on their nature and scope.

What is Django?

Django is a free, open-source Python framework that makes it easy for us to make scalable and complex websites. It is a “full-stack” framework that allows a developer to quickly create web applications without having to “re-invent the wheel” through the use of its’ libraries and tools.

What is Flask?

Flask is a free, open-source Python microframework that we also use to create websites. Because Flask is not a full-stack framework like Django, it doesn’t come with anything built-in. However, it can support tools and extensions and treat them as though they were a part of Flask itself.

How The Python Frameworks Began

Django was initially developed between 2003 and 2005 by a development team that maintained and created newspaper websites. The team could rule out and reuse lots of design patterns and recurrent code after making many of these websites. Popular examples of Django websites and applications include Instagram and Dropbox.

This shared code turned into a collective web development framework called the “Django project” in the Summer of 2005. Since then, Django has undergone many bug fixes and updates to support caching, templates, and databases.

Armin Ronacher, a member of the international Python enthusiast group Pocoo, created Flask in 2004. The microframework first started as an April Fool’s joke that was so popular Ronacher made it into a real application. 

Ronacher made Werkzeug, a comprehensive WSGI web application library, and a template language named Jinja2. He combined the two, encoded the zip file into a .py file, and added some essential functions to create “the Denied Framework,” which he later renamed Flask. The main goal of this new framework was to have a straightforward interface with careful thought towards possible production or compatibility issues and a good testing suite. Flask allows us to essentially build a thin layer on top of Jinja and Werkzeug and has a lot of customization flexibility. Widespread examples of web applications written in Flask are LinkedIn and Pinterest.

How Their Databases Work

An ORM, or object-relational mapper, converts data between incompatible systems. Django uses a powerful ORM that supports many databases as well as a migration management tool. Django’s multi-faceted ORM allows us to create applications or websites without needing to start from scratch. 

A famous phrase associated with Django is that it is “batteries included.” The meaning behind this is the creators provide developers with the most recent resources we’d need to create innovative applications seamlessly.

“Django essentially comes ‘out of the box’ with all of the tools we usually need already built-in or easily accessible as packages most commonly used when building a web app, making the overall development process faster.”

Matt, Lead Project Developer at Coretechs

Django also has a database abstraction layer, an interface that combines the communication between a computer application and databases within the application. Flask does not have a database abstraction layer, any form validations, or any other components where preexistent third-party libraries supply standard functions. 

SQLAlchemy is an extension that is equivalent to using Django’s ORM in Flask that is very popular among programmers. Other than SQLAlchemy, Flask has other libraries and extensions available to help programmers manage their data should they choose to do so. Flask also can support added feature extensions or plugins that can act as tools for web applications, such as form validation and upload control.

How They Are Structured

Django is versatile, secure, scalable, and, most importantly, maintainable. Django’s design principles are geared towards the creation of code that developers can continuously maintain and reuse. It also uses a “shared-nothing” architecture, meaning that each part of the framework’s architectural structure is independent of others. Its design is beneficial for developers because it means we can change out individual components or update them easily when necessary. 

Having a clear distinction between the different working parts means that Django can accommodate increased traffic through hardware such as application servers, caching servers, and database servers. Compared to Flask, it has a steep learning curve. The framework has strict rules that the programmer needs to adhere to, especially when building the web application. 

“Flask makes it easy to prototype or build a proof of concept for apps very quickly, especially if we’re testing something out and don’t want to actually commit to building a full project. We can turn something out very quickly in Flask, and even migrate sites in Flask over to Django.”

Arthur, Developer at Coretechs

Flask allows the programmer to “hit the ground running,” and it can accomplish a lot with minimal code. Overall, Flask is a scalable but straightforward framework, and programmers can do many things with it. Unlike Django, there are no strict rules for the programmer to follow when the web application structure comes into question. The programmer has the freedom to build it out however they choose and can make things as layered or straightforward as they want.

Is Django or Flask Better For Your Project?

Both communities are very active. Developers use Flask on more projects, however, Django is older and has more content to be used. Overall, it’s hard to say which is better. It depends on the project and the developer’s preference and experience. 

Generally, Flask is great for new developers getting into Python programming due to its simplicity. Experienced developers favor Django because of the many tools and features that come with it. As far as education goes, it is almost always recommended that new developers learn Flask before Django. This is because it introduces a programmer to the fundamentals of creating a web application and gives them the ability to get familiar with synonymous features they’ll see in other frameworks.

As far as our skill goes, our team at Coretechs has extensive experience with both Django and Flask. If you need help creating or revamping your Django or Flask project, talk to us today.

Photo by Shahadat Rahman