Django vs. Flask: Which Python Framework To Choose in 2021?
Django vs. Flask compares two Python frameworks that can help you jumpstart your next web development project.
With Python placing in the top 15 of the most popular programming languages for over a decade, it is a frequent favorite for software developers. But this means even more scrutiny when it comes to choosing Python frameworks; such is the case with Django vs. Flask.
Through this Django vs. Flask side-by-side you will find that Django carries many advantages over Flask when you analyze their performance in the following nine categories:
- Admin Panel
- Web Framework
- Usage & Community
- Template Engine
- Reusable Components
Learning more important details about each framework will guide you along in making the decision that will best suit your business for the long-term. Keep reading just below!
Django vs. Flask: Side-by-Side Comparison
The following side-by-side compares and contrasts Django and Flask. Both are Python-based, free, open-source web frameworks.
A framework’s admin panel is important when giving different professionals on your software development team access to certain privileges.
Django comes with a ready-to-use admin panel. Developers can customize their admin interface and perform tasks related to user management and website control.
The equivalent of this is not readily equipped for Flask, although there is a Flask-Admin extension. This look-a-like extends much less configuration than its Django counterpart.
→ Django vs. Flask for admin panels: Django wins.
Note that Flask and Django are both Python frameworks, but have very different intentions.
Flask is a microframework with little to nothing in its box besides the framework itself. The benefit of this is the framework’s lightweight build. It does not require tools or libraries, encouraging the development of simple web applications.
Django is more or less Flask’s opposite. The design of Django emphasizes a batteries-included approach where you get everything you need right out the box. Resulting from this approach is the rapid development of complex web applications.
Evidently, Django and Flask differ, but their primary motivations do not make one framework better or worse in this regard. The most important factor is figuring out what works for you and your business.
→ Django vs. Flask for web framework: It’s a tie.
Databases store information for your web application or website. No doubt, this is an important part of managing a website, from collecting inputs to saving user data.
Django uses object-relational mapping (ORM), a programming technique that allows developers to query and manipulate data via an object-oriented paradigm.
In Django, you can use its ORM systems with relational database management systems (RDBMS), namely Structured Query Language (SQL) and its posterity such as PostgreSQL or MySQL.
Flask, in its effort to remain light, does not come with a database system in its original packaging. However, this leaves developers with the flexibility to use whatever extensions and libraries they may need to accomplish any data-related tasks.
The downside to Flask’s way of doing things is that there’s a high learning curve involved in having to set up and manage your own databases. Flexibility comes at the price of knowledge.
→ Django vs. Flask for databases: Django wins.
Lightweight frameworks often outperform larger frameworks. Because of their size, speed is a natural perk. In essence, this means Flask is faster than Django, though the difference is negligible.
Both frameworks are deployed on high-traffic websites. And Django has specified capabilities promoting rapid development.
→ Django vs. Flask for performance: It’s a tie.
Django has built-in protection against the most common attack vectors: cross-site request forgery (CSRF), cross-site scripting (XSS), and SQL injection.
CSRF is an attack that coerces end-users into performing unwanted actions on an authenticated website. XSS is a similar attack that injects malicious code into trusted websites. SQL injection does the same, but with databases.
Flask relies on third-party extensions, giving developers the freedom to set up their own security protocols. Flask-Security library provides the same protections as Django, but it isn’t standard to the framework, meaning more work for the developers who set it up.
→ Django vs. Flask for security: Django wins.
Flask is more flexible by design. There’s not much to contest here. The framework is meant to be extensible and leverages control through its simplicity. By design, Django has directly opposing intentions.
→ Django vs. Flask for flexibility: Flask wins.
Usage & Community
Naturally, this means Django has a larger community, as it has several years of history behind its back.
As of March 2021, Django has about 260,000 Stack Overflow questions whereas Flask has 45,000 questions with its tag. The ratio of Django’s popularity to Flask’s in this instance is nearly 6 to 1. These numbers also indicate that more people are using Django.
→ Django vs. Flask for usage and community: Django wins.
Django has its own template engine which is said to save developers lots of time in development. Flask uses Jinja2 which ironically is based on Django’s template engine.
→ Django vs. Flask for Template Engines: It’s a tie.
Both Django and Flask have reusable components. Django’s interpretation of reusable components is called apps; Flask’s is called blueprints.
As should be expected, Django apps are more complex than Flask blueprints. But once they’re set up they are often easy to use and re-use. Flask blueprints are easier to set up in the first place.
Given these nuances, neither Django nor Flask stand out for how they tackle reusable components.
→ Django vs. Flask for Reusable Components: It’s a tie.
Now that you know how Django vs. Flask compare in several categories, perhaps it’s time to see how each framework maps out without the burden of contrast.
Read on to find out more about Django and Flask.
Related reading: Python vs. Java - Side-By-Side Comparison
What Is Django?
Django is a web framework for fast-moving application building. Its origin story starts in 2003 when Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison — two programmers at the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper — got tired of PHP and switched to Python.
Originally intended to be merely a content management system (CMS), Django was an attempt at making Python more scalable for the long term. They called the project Django after guitarist Django Rheinhart, and you know the rest.
Django utilizes a model-template-views (MTV) architectural pattern. The pattern prompts lots of questioning from developers who recognize the architecture as more or less the same as the popular model-view-controller (MVC).
Except in this configuration, the template of MVC corresponds to the views of MVC, and Django’s views correlate to the controllers.
Django designers simply explain this as a matter of perspective and most objective sources hold that Django’s architectural pattern is close enough to MVC to be categorized as such.
So how does MTV work? Essentially, it’s a software design separating the business logic from the graphical user interface (UI). The model handles data while the template covers the UI. The view executes the logic, working with the model to carry data and rendering the template.
Other than its architecture, Django prioritizes the reusability and pluggability of components, less code, low coupling, rapid development, and the principle of ‘don’t repeat yourself' (DRY).
Low coupling ensures that developers can make changes to modules without impacting related modules. And DRY focuses on eliminating repetition in logic by the means of automation and abstraction.
It’s also important to note that Django is based on Python, a language founded on the philosophy of simplicity and code readability.
What Are the Advantages of Django?
The Lawrence Journal-World newspaper is still up and running online, but since its development others have decided to use Django too. Here's why.
Django brings a lot of high-traffic websites to its doors, and for good reason. There are many actions developers can take in regard to scalability. This includes running separate database servers, clustering, and load balancing.
Clustering allows developers to configure servers as a group providing extra availability and preventing data loss. From clustering, developers beget load balancing, where workloads are distributed evenly amongst multiple servers.
Like most open-source and free technologies, Django has a dedicated and enthusiastic community. Being active for over a decade, in consequence, Django is mighty popular. Use one of several vessels to learn and discuss Django and related topics like its mailing list, IRC channel, blog posts, and Stack Overflow.
Django protects against a number of attack types — XSS, CSRF, SQL injections, and more. The framework’s authentication system is also noticeably useful for developers.
Again, Django is a batteries-included framework. In software, this means that you get almost everything you need right out of the box. This convenience is based on another popular software principle — ‘convention over configuration’ (CoC).
The CoC methodology works by including common conventions in software frameworks like Django so you can worry less about the configuration process and more about actual development.
For Django, the result is complimentary perks such as packages for auth, admin, Sessions, Messages, Postgres, and Sitemaps.
When Is the Use of Django Recommended?
Django enables rapid development for your web applications. Using Django, you can speed up complex web development for your next project. The Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey even found that Django was among the top ten frameworks for web development.
Python, in particular, is suitable on both the back-end and the front-end, meaning it is effectively a full-stack framework. Developers can build UIs with Django as well as work on back-end processes like server-side scripting, database querying, and application programming interface (API) building.
What Companies Use Django?
To better understand Django vs. Flask, you may want to know how other companies are using each framework. The companies using Django, for instance, are quite well-known.
Instagram is a massive social media network and app connecting people through photos, video clips, and daily stories featuring either medium. The platform is responsible for Django’s largest deployment.
After choosing Python because of its practicality and simplicity, Django was one of the only technologies that could increase the efficiency of the app once Instagram needed to scale.
National Geographic is an educational television network with a corresponding magazine spanning subject matter from history to science.
Their website uses Django to manage their website with their custom-built CMS. The CMS organizes images, advertisements, modules, and whatever else comprises the website.
Pinterest is another social network except users share pins emphasizing aesthetics and inspiration. The content users share is less personal but related to niche topics like cooking or fashion.
Django emboldens Pinterest to operate at a highly performant level with the capacity to scale where necessary.
What Is Flask?
Flask is a micro web framework. Like Django, the framework is written in Python. The gist of the framework is that if a third-party library can provide a specific function, then that function or library is not pre-equipped in Flask.
Consequently, Flask has no database abstraction layer, no form validation, or other standard functions. Armin Ronacher was a member of Pocoo, an international group of Python enthusiasts, when Flask was first created.
Initially, Flask was developed as an April Fool’s joke called deny.py. It was a single file with no installation or configuration required.
The fact that the project got traction, however, proved that there was merit in a framework that sported little to no dependencies. Hence Flask emerged.
What Are the Advantages of Flask?
Being built with Python, it goes without saying that Flask is easy to understand and use. But the best part is that it can get even simpler than that. The point of Flask is to be non-complex. Thus, the framework itself enables developers to navigate and create web applications with ease.
Because Flask is made to be extensive, this offers more control to developers to build their website or application exactly the way they want. Every part of your configuration and application is open for change, making for the ultimate of customizability.
Flask is uber lightweight. Smaller frameworks generally run faster and perform better than bulkier frameworks with similar functionality. Its minimalistic design makes it a great choice for developing a minimum viable product (MVP).
Ronacher built Flask keeping in mind that testing is paramount. Leading with the tenet, “Something that is untested is broken,” Flask permits developers to write unit tests for their applications using a pytest fixture named client. Flask also has a fast debugger.
When Is the Use of Flask Recommended?
Flask is a framework for back-end web development. Therefore developers should use Flask for building server-side software.
The main advantage of Flask is having the opportunity to build from the ground up. The modularity that follows makes development and testing more efficient.
Reduced time spent in development, not to mention faster-run speeds, are just a few of the benefits a micro framework like Flask can promise.
Which Companies Use Flask?
Having an idea of what type of companies use Flask could make choosing between Django vs. Flask a little bit easier.
You probably already know what Netflix is but just in case, here’s a review. Netflix is a streaming service proffering a wide variety of TV shows and movies to its subscribers. Much of the more analytical and infrastructure side of Netflix depends on Flask APIs.
Reddit is a bit harder to explain. It is a site hosting thousands of communities for conversation and connection between internet strangers. The concept is simple enough for Flask to be of use yet expansive enough that Flask still makes sense.
Lyft is a ride-sharing app getting people from point A to point B whereas available drivers can be found in minutes. Flask is part of Lyft’s tech stack, embedding its microservices architecture.
Microservices is a software build that employs a suite of small services to deliver a more complex, singular app.
Python is a programming language delivering smooth sailing for developers who want ease and simplicity. But even within Python, certain frameworks can lay a foundation for your application which can lead to an increase in productivity and expediency.
Django and Flask are two sides of the same coin, and yet they face comparison regularly. If you’ve learned anything today, it’s that the best framework lies entirely in the goals for your project; to be sure, it’s about whether you want something small or complex.
That said, if you really can’t decide, the information here should be of use. The Django vs. Flask side-by-side comparison draws a lot of conclusions. Namely, Django does better than Flask in more categories than otherwise.
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Frequently Asked Questions
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Django is a web framework for fast-moving application building. Django was an attempt at making Python more scalable for the long term.
Flask is a micro web framework. The gist of the framework is that if a third-party library can provide a specific function, then that function or library is not pre-equipped in Flask.
Django enables rapid development for your web applications. Using Django, you can speed up complex web development for your next project.
Flask is a framework for back-end web development. Therefore developers should use Flask for building server-side software. The main advantage of Flask is having the opportunity to build from the ground up.