From Development

Flask vs Django: Pirates use Flask, The Navy uses Django

Using Python for web development can be very beneficial. In addition to adapting quickly to technology changes, Python also stands out for its incredible web development frameworks: Flask and Django.

Both frameworks have conquered developers' attention and are extremely helpful to build a web application. Flask and Django have their advantages and disadvantages, which is why it is not always that easy to choose between both.

This article compares the frameworks' main features and explains which one to learn. Finally, we will also analyze when to use Flask or Django and whether one of the frameworks is indeed better than the other. Keep reading to find out more!

Table of contents

Flask vs Django
    ➤  What is Flask?
    ➤  What is Django?
Flask vs Django: key differences
    ➤  Template
    ➤  Admin
    ➤  Database
    ➤  Development
    ➤  Flexibility
    ➤  Flask vs Django: which one to learn?
Flask vs Django: comparison table
Flask vs Django: when to use?
Which is better: Flask or Django?
Conclusion

Flask vs Django

Flask and Django are both popular frameworks. A framework is a code library used by developers to build and maintain reliable and scalable web applications. Moreover, both Flask and Django are open-source and free Python-based web frameworks.

Flask vs Django - Python Developers Survey 2020

What is Flask?

As explained in one of our previous blog posts, Flask(🌶) is a Python microframework for web development. Despite being built with a small core and considered a very lightweight Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI), Flask stands out for its easy-to-extend philosophy.

Flask was developed by Armin Ronacher and introduced in 2010 on April Fool's day. It was designed to scale up to complex applications and to support an easy and quick start.

What is Django?

Django is a Python full-stack framework for web development. This framework stands out for its "batteries included" system approach, meaning that it provides the most typically required libraries and tools (aka, "batteries") out of the box (e.g., HTTP libraries, Django Admin, Middlewares, template engine, etc.).

This versatile framework was launched in 2005 and developed by Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison. Django helps developers to build and maintain web applications' quality.

Flask vs Django: key differences

(Very) simply put, on the one hand, Django is a full-stack framework with many functionalities, tools, and features already included; while on the other hand, Flask is a lightweight framework with minimalistic features. This is not the only difference between both of them, but it is most likely the one with greater impact when comparing Flask vs Django.

Template Engine

Template engines allow developers to inject information into a backend's page dynamically. Unlike Django, Flask does not have a built-in template engine. Instead, it is based on the Jinja2 format engine. However, it is also possible to utilize Jinja2 with Django, and in terms of syntax, Jinja2 and Django's templating engine are pretty similar.

Furthermore, both Flask and Django provide support to handle and manage static files.

Admin

Flask does not have a feature to manage administration tasks, but it does have an extension - Flask-Admin - that can support various database backends, such as MongoEngine and SQLAlchemy.

Contrarily, Django already comes with an admin panel. This web application offers a user interface for developers to handle data based on their particular models. This interface can be customized according to specific needs.

Plus, Django's admin system enables quick CRUD operations against models, which allows the developer to build an application without requiring to write more code or any external input.

Database

Django has a built-in ORM (Object Relational Mapping) that enables developers to work with several relational database systems (e.g., PostgreSQL, Oracle, and MySQL). The ORM can also support database migrations and other database tasks. It stands out for its practicality and ease of use since it does not have to write long queries and is able to create templates, views and forms according to the specific data models.

Contrarily, Flask, once again, does not provide a built-in solution but has many libraries (e.g., SQLAlchemy, PyMongo, and PonyORM) and extensions (e.g., Flask-Peewee, Flask-Pony, and Flask-Alembic) available for both relational and non-relational databases.

Overall, if the developer is using a relational database, then Django's built-in ORM is a very suitable and straightforward solution. However, keep in mind that it is also possible to use Django with non-relational databases. Still, the solution for non-relational is not built-in, meaning that some extra work is required because it is necessary to implement other solutions instead of using the available ORM out of the box.

In sum, Django's "battery" is very advantageous for relational databases but does not provide built-in solutions for non-relational. Flask offers the developer the freedom to choose and implement the most suitable ORM or ODM for specific applications.

Development

Django stands out for being fast at developing complex web apps. Since it integrates all the "batteries", developers have the required tools at their disposal for quick implementation. Plus, this philosophy makes it easier to scale and maintain web apps.

Django also lets developers split a project into multiple small page applications. The same does not happen with Flask, where each project corresponds to a single application. Still, developers can add several views and models to a single application.

Flexibility

Djangos' built-in features are its biggest advantage and disadvantage. Having many out of the box features can save developers' time tremendously when handling complex applications. However, this benefit comes at a cost: flexibility.

When using Django, developers are not as free to use other plugins and libraries as they are with Flask. Flask enables developers to build and add functionalities to simple applications in a flexible way. Consequently, it makes it easier to extend the application and better respond to projects with dynamic requirements.

Despite its flexibility, Flask usually takes longer to set up, considering that developers must add the appropriate tools and libraries according to each project requirements and specificities.

Flask vs Django: which one to learn?

It is usually better to start with Flask since it is lightweight, requires less coding, and is an excellent framework for learning web development fundamentals. Plus, this framework offers most of the features that other frameworks also have and allows the developer to get acquainted with the different practices, tools, and libraries available. In other words, this framework provides more learning opportunities.

Django has a steeper learning curve. It is a highly complete framework, but it requires the developer to learn all the in-built features at once, leading to some framework confusions, especially in the beginning. Django might be preferred for experienced developers since it allows them to better comprehend the project's architecture if they join mid-way.

Nonetheless, less experienced developers might also decide to go for Django first since it offers straightforward and fast web development. Contrarily, web development might not be as fast in Flask for beginners since they need to decide which components to implement.

In sum, usually, Flask is easier to learn than Django. Ideally, in the long run, it might be more beneficial to learn both frameworks to make the most out of their advantages and easily overcome their gaps.

Flask vs Django: comparison table

Features Flask Django

Type

Lightweight microframework.

Full-stack framework.

Template Engine

Flask is based on the Jinja2 format motor.

Built-in template engine.

Admin

Does not have a feature to manage administration tasks, but it does have an extension: Flask-Admin.

Django already comes with an admin panel

Database

Has many libraries (e.g., SQLAlchemy, PyMongo, and PonyORM) and extensions (e.g., Flask-Peewee, Flask-Pony, and Flask-Alembic) available.

Built-in ORM, that enables developers to work with several relational database systems.

Development

Provides more control over the components the developer wishes to implement.

Since it integrates all the "batteries", developers have the required tools at their disposal for quick implementation.

Flexibility

High flexibility - Flask enables developers to build and add functionalities to simple applications in a flexible way.

Low flexibility - Developers are not as free to use other plugins and libraries as they are with Flask.

Learn

Easier to learn.

High learning curve.

Flask vs Django: when to use?

Now that we have identified the main differences between both frameworks, it should be easier to understand when to use Flask or Django.

Django aims to equip the framework with everything the developer might require to create a web application, which saves developers a lot of time and makes it easier to be 100% focused on improving each project's functionality independently.

Typically, on the one hand, Django tends to be more suitable than Flask for complex and data-driven websites, such as media websites (e.g., The Washington Post), social media websites (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest) and an online marketplace. Since there are many built-in features, it makes it easier to scale and keep the development organized.

On the other hand, Flask might be better for web applications with more static content, but it can also handle complex web applications (for instance, Reddit and Airbnb). However, it might be more complicated because even though there is more freedom over the tools and libraries used, it is also more tricky to keep everything organized.

Which is better: Flask or Django?

First, they are both excellent frameworks with the ability to develop web applications fast. While Flask allows for higher flexibility, Django offers powerful features.

Regarding which framework is better, there is no correct or wrong answer. Choosing which framework to use will depend a lot on the type of project and its size, as well as on the overall web application structure and how customizable or not it should be. Additionally, it also comes down to the developer or development team preferences.

As we have previously mentioned, Flask offers more learning opportunities, is more flexible, and also provides more control over the components the developer wishes to implement. Thus, it prioritizes the overall experience of developing a product component by component.

On the other hand, Django is very focused on the final product itself and offers a straightforward way to create an application by using its built-in solutions.

Therefore, there is not exactly a better framework when comparing Flask vs Django. They are both very admirable frameworks. Flask has 54.5k stars on GitHub, and Django currently has 56.7k stars, highlighting how popular and close in terms of reputation they are.

Conclusion

Both Flask and Django have their merits and their gaps. Thus, it is essential to keep in mind that when choosing a framework, there are some questions to consider first, such as:

  • What is the size and structure of the application that is going to be built?
  • What type of application is it?
  • How will that application grow? Will it have static or dynamic content?
  • Does the application need to be customizable?

The questions could continue to what the web development team usually works with, the database required for the application, scalability concerns, etc.

The most significant difference that is important to highlight is that Django follows a "batteries included" system approach, integrating an admin panel, a template engine, an ORM, and other solutions. Contrarily, Flask is more flexible and allows the developer to have more control over what is implemented throughout the web development process.

As we have explained, both Python frameworks may differ, but each also benefits from large active communities with a lot of relevant content. If you have any question about how we decide when to use Django or Flask, feel free to drop us a line!

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