Your successful conquest of the Python programming language’s fundamentals prepares you for the next big step. You will be done experimenting with Python and ready to join the real-world pool of problem solvers. The pace at which the world is evolving is matched by an equal pace of growing challenges that require technological solutions. Python is one of the nominees in this technical solutions package.
Finding technological solutions through programming languages like Python requires an equal fast-paced approach to meet these industrial challenges halfway. There is no better accelerator towards the creation of viable solutions through programming languages than frameworks. It is a container that lets you assembly the different programming language parts in a shortened period. You can think of it as the accelerator of an application’s build-up process.
When you toss a coin to determine an ideal Python framework your project should favor, you will always have to decide between Django and Flask. The popularity of these two Python frameworks will always force them to be on the front line. There continues to be a head-on competition between the two frameworks regarding who is better than the other in the web development industry. Both Django and Flask receive continued commitment and support from their mature communities. Their popularity in application development is in the way they implement a unique app development approach.
The developers only need to concern themselves with an application’s unique parts while these frameworks cater to the core scaffolding, which holds everything in place. Therefore, differentiating Django and Flask means that we have to look at each of their goal-oriented approaches.
A real-world practical example that will clear the first dust when these two bulls lock horns is mobility. Think of the Django framework as a car and the Flask framework as a bicycle. They are both reliable modes of transport, and none is completely superior to the other. There are paths that a car can conquer, but a bicycle cannot, the same way there are paths a bicycle can conquer, and a car will fail. Therefore, they can both get an individual from point C to D but will mimic both similar and distinct approaches—this article quests to uncover the uniqueness of these two frameworks from a developer’s and educational standpoint.
The Two Frameworks’ Philosophy
The design of both Django and Flask frameworks characterizes them as Python-based, open-source, and free. These frameworks’ approach accelerates the development of web applications.
Django framework brags about its “battery included” approach that is absent in Flask. This trait makes it more stable than its nemesis. We can consider these batteries as features, tools, functionalities, and patterns whose provision is out-of-the-box. The rigid and longer release cycles also account for Django’s stability. Each new release of the Django framework will package improved features. Moreover, its strong backward compatibility makes it possible for files and data from an older Django version to be usable in the new version’s environment.
Flask, on the other hand, is a master at core scaffolding. It has a lot of flexibility in templating, URL routing, cookies, requests, error handling, debugging, and unit testing support. Most web applications demand detailed and customized authentication and authorization approaches without forgetting the need for an ORM. The flexibility of Flask lets you decide on the application structure to follow as you build your application. You do not have to adhere to a default structure, like Django’s case, once you initiate a new project. If you are curious about the Flask source code, you will find it easier to review. It has less code than its compatriot Django.
The comparative Django and Flask features we want to look at concern the cores of the two frameworks.
The ORM (Object Relational Mapping) in Django is simple and powerful. The support this ORM offers extends to several out-of-the-box relational databases like MySQL, SQLite, Oracle, and PostgreSQL. Through the migrations in Django, a user can easily generate and manage several databases via ORM. Moreover, with an already existing or created database model, working with views, forms, and templates becomes fairly easy or straightforward. Therefore, if you have a CRUD web application in mind, the Django databases feature will make your app development period less complicated.
Flask does not work with assumptions and, therefore, will not be much helpful in suggesting how you should store your data. However, it supports useful libraries and extensions. Django’s built-in ORM and migrations database tool gives it a great advantage over Flask. A developer has an easier time getting started on a Django project due to the flexibility exposed by its relational database approach. If your choice of ORM is something like SQLAlchemy, its relationship with Django is complicated, and therefore you are bound to run into several hurdles. Moreover, the choice to use such an ORM will deny you the opportunity to benefit from model forms, Django admin, and DRF model serializers Django provides.
Since Django is ORM-specific by default, Flask is the opposite. It lets you roll a dice on which ORM best works for you or perfectly syncs with your web app. However, the cost of this ORM freedom is over the roof. Your learning curve will steepen since you won’t have a detailed direct guide to the approach. Since you are also the mechanic that tries to link and connect these ORM pieces, you will deal with a handful of errors before you get everything working correctly.
Authentication is an approach used by a web app to question the user’s identity trying to access its features. It is the web app’s way of asking a user the question, who are you? On the other hand, authorization is a web app’s way of asking which activities you are supposed to perform on its accessible features. It asks a user the question, what specific activities are you supposed to do here? These functionalities are available in Django with additional sessions’ support and account management. Django implements this feature via the user model.
The sessions support in Flask is cookie-based. As for the authorization, authentication, and account management, Flask’s support is through extensions. Account management and authentication are through the Flask-login extension. Authorization is through the Flask-principal extension. The combination of account management, authentication, and authorization is through the Flask-security extension.
When you work with Django, one of the priceless benefits you will reap regarding this framework is a pre-built functional admin panel. You do not have to bother yourself about creating both the front-view UI of your web app and the admin-view UI for managing your models’ data. This feature hack creates a flexible environment that hastens CRUD operations’ performance linked to your models’ data. Therefore, you save the extra time you would have exhausted to write extra code to bring the admin panel to life.
Flask’s approach does not package this functionality for you. However, the viability of the Flask-Admin extension outperforms Django’s admin panel because of the numerous functionalities at its disposal. Django will automate most of your admin panel functionalities. Flask’s philosophy, however, takes an explicit approach. It lets the developer decide on what admin functionalities need to be initialized. Moreover, Flask’s approach usually requires the developer to craft some boilerplate code in an advanced project setting. This approach is significant in implementing a custom logic on your web app.
Several database backends like Peewee, SQLAlchemy, and MongoEngine are favored by Flask-Admin. These options are in line with you declaring your personalized backends too.
Routing and Views
The two Python frameworks agree on their support for class-based and function views and a matching approach that maps URLs to views.
In Django, the view-route relationship is as follows. An HTTP request will check if it matches with a targeted URL pattern. If true, the HTTP request information held by a request object passes on to its linked view. The request object then invokes the view. Therefore, accessing a requested object means explicitly passing it around until it matches a view it can invoke.
Flask’s core use of Werkzeug enables it to benefit from request/response handling and URL routing. The global trait of Flask’s request object makes it easily accessible after importing it. Flask uses decorators to define its URLs and views side by side. However, you have the option of working with them from different centralized locations.
No web application is complete without forms. We need them to log-in, sign-up, subscribe to newsletters, post data on a web app, among other benefits. Unwrapping Django also reveals the form package. This form caters for client-side and server-side validation, input handling, XSS (cross-site scripting), CSRF (cross-site request forgery), and SQL injection. ModelForm data models cater to the creation of these forms. Their integration with the admin panel is also seamless.
By default, the Flask framework’s support for forms is not automated. However, this Python framework borrows the extension power of Flask-WTF, which syncs it with WTForms. If you need to automate forms creation, consider the use of WTForms-Alchemy, but this operation will only be a success if you are also using the SQLAlchemy models.
This feature directly relates to your project structure. The more you work on a web app the more you have to adapt to its growing complexity. In such circumstances, these two Python frameworks give you the flexibility of breaking down the project structure such that if you have files with linked functionality, you can group them together. A practical instance is grouping all user-related project files with functionalities tied to forms, routes, templates, views, and static assets.
Django implements the use of apps, while Flask implements blueprints when dealing with reusable components. In terms of complexity, Django’s apps surpass Flask’s blueprints. However, Django’s app’s complexity is during its set-up, and once this objective is achieved, it becomes easier to reuse. Django implements a consistent project structure convention under the urls.py, views.py, and models.py project files making it flexible and easier to include new developers who quickly adapt and contribute to a project’s growth. On the other hand, Flask’s blueprints are comparatively less complex and will be up and running with minimal strain.
Templates and Static Files
Both frameworks are a joy for developers that want to embrace a full-stack experience. You get to inject data on a frontend through an easy-to-setup backend dynamically. Django achieves this objective through the use of a templating engine, while Flask uses Jinja2. The feature sets and syntax of Jinja2 and Django’s templating engine have fair similarities. Under this feature, Django has the upper hand as it supports the collection of all static files to a centralized location. It’s useful when you want to deploy your web project to a production environment.
You get to reap the benefits of a test-driven web app development approach from both frameworks. Their testing functionalities are in-built. Python’s unit test framework helps the case where a developer wants to take a unit test approach in building web apps. The two frameworks also support the implementation of a test client. Therefore a developer will be able to inspect and gauge how sent requests behave during an HTTP response.
As already mentioned, Django’s built-in protective feature is a great shield from common attack vectors like XSS, CSRF, and SQL injection. This protective feature in Django is mandatory because of its large codebase. Flask is defined by a smaller codebase making it less concerned about such protective features as there is less surface to explore. It, however, implores the use of third-party extensions to tighten its security vulnerabilities.
Therefore, the security level or status of the extension in use will determine if your web app’s reputation remains uncompromised. These third-party extensions and libraries will need continuous monitoring and evaluation from their development team. You will need to update the extensions you use while mastering their documentation and monitoring their release cycle. One way to gauge the activeness and popularity of an extension is through GitHub issues. Faster responses to critical issues mean the attached developers and maintainers prioritize the reputation of those extensions.
Flask is superior to Django in this comparative aspect of their design. It means that Flask can be extended. Flask’s business-needs approach of adding the required project extensions implies that an active developer will take more time setting up the needed project structures. This project set up aligns with approaches towards permissions, ORM, and authentication. Down the road, Flask becomes more flexible, especially when handling web apps that don’t adhere to Django’s standard model.
However, the freedom and flexibility offered to Flask developers come at a cost. An application’s development cycle will be slow for many developers because such projects are decision-oriented before any major changes are done. Moreover, the flask projects can be structured differently, making it a challenge to project contributors who will first need to understand the project structure before adding their contributive code. An in-depth understanding of scalability and design patterns is also important.
Whether you favor Flask or Django framework, a developer’s perspective would recommend that you begin your Python journey with Flask. It will help you build-up on the fundamentals and best practices to follow as you become an advanced Python guru. It is a lightweight microframework despite the several references that point it out as a framework. Django is trailed by many overheads. Therefore, before you set up everything to explore your first Python project, you might find yourself being more of a Django student than a Python student. However, if you have a foundation from a lightweight framework like Flask, you will easily adapt to a Django environment and not lose sight of your Python programming objectives.
Django is a better choice for a team of developers that will require a lot of collaboration on their project build-up. Flask will help you master the Ins and Outs of Python programming language and strengthen your web app development confidence.
There are no losers or winners when it comes to making a pick between the two Python frameworks. They both have an equal contribution to strengthening your Python programming skills.