Web frameworks make development as easy as possible for web developers. However, Python, one of the most popular programming languages, has received many contributions in terms of its application in backend development.
Python has many web frameworks. These frameworks fall into either macro or micro categories. TurboGears, Web2Py, Pyramid, and Django are some of the macro web frameworks of Python. Meanwhile Flask, CherryPy, and Bottle are examples of microframeworks.
However, the most used examples in either category are Django and Flask. For that reason, let’s look at both frameworks to help you decide which is worth dedicating more time to learn.
Despite being Python frameworks, the architecture of Django and Flask are entirely different from each other. Let’s take a look at how their architecture affects your choice as a user.
Because of its use in building more complex Python-based web apps, Django has a robust architecture that allows for scalability. It’s Model–View–Template (MVT) structure makes it the perfect framework for full-stack development. So, if you’re looking for a way to get a hand on the frontend and backend aspects of web development, and use Python as the server-side language, Django is still the best option to consider.
In addition to the availability of a wide range of development packages and pre-created Python file structure, Django offers an in-built Object-Relational Mapper (ORM), giving it flexible access to a variety of databases. In essence, you don’t have to write many queries to insert or call objects from the database.
When you create tables via the models of Django, all you need to do is define the attributes of those tables in your database inside individual objects. The raw queries that make these tables are then automatically committed to your migrations file after moving your tables to the database.
Thus, the ORM of Django helps you to deal with the extra work that comes with writing separate queries for your database. And if you want to focus more on making your website work without worrying about configuring any third-party database injection, Django might be a choice.
Flask offers minimal architecture in comparison to Django. It’s a microframework that doesn’t deal with as much complexity as Django. Unlike the MVT architecture of Django, Flask follows the more common Model–Views–Controller (MVC) structure.
However, the Views and Controller of Flask are synonymous with Django’s Templates and Views, respectively. That means, instead of the Views of Django, you get the Controllers in Flask. And the Views of Flask takes up the functions of Django’s Templates.
Unlike Django, when you install Flask in your virtual environment and open your project, you get an empty file directory. That means you need to start making your files manually.
Thus, if you want to avoid the complex structure of Django, Flask is a great choice to consider. However, because it’s lightweight, Flask doesn’t offer as many in-built packages as Django. And for you to use the ORM feature in Flask, you need a third-party database injection package called SQLAlchemy.
In terms of the ease of learning, Django involves a lot of twists that may become boring to you along the line. However, Flask might be more interesting to learn because of the few tweaks that are involved in making your app work.
Because of the complexity and vast application of Django in various development angles, such as the role of its REST framework in browsable API development, the learning curve can become confusing. But considering that, functionality alone might be a good reason to learn Django regardless.
Although Flask has a REST extension for building APIs as well, it still doesn’t offer the full-featured and in-built API structure that Django provides. But taking a look at the ease of picking up either framework generally, Flask is more beginner-friendly.
And because you’re making most of the connections and structuring yourself in Flask, it exposes you to the basic understanding of the workflow of web development with Python. Unlike Django, it’s a straight framework that focuses on building just what you intend to, without necessarily losing control of how your files connect.
If you don’t have much knowledge of Python already, learning Flask might be the perfect way to kick-off. Besides, writing codes in Flask is mostly like writing pure Python.
However, if you aim to pick-up a more challenging Python Framework that gives you more exposure to the standard practices of web development—without minding much about the internal wiring, Django might be the right choice. That doesn’t mean you can’t dive deeper with Flask as well—as pointed out earlier, it’s a great way to start your learning journey with Python web frameworks.
Despite being easy to learn and lightweight, Flask trails behind Django in terms of popularity. The robustness, stability of version release, and rapidity of developing web apps with Django are some of the reasons why it’s the framework of choice for most developers.
And taking a look at their trend on Stack Overflow, Django is a bit more discussed than Flask. That means there is a large Django community to fall back on for help when you run into problems. However, that doesn’t make Flask less of a framework in terms of community support as well.
Besides, the difference between their popularity isn’t so significant. According to the 2020 developers survey, as reported on the JetBrains website, Django takes 49 percent in terms of popularity, while Flask is 46 percent popular. That’s only a 3 percent difference.
That statistic alone should calm your fears and anxieties about the availability of a support community for Flask. So, no matter how stuck you find yourself, there is always a solution to fall back on.
One of the features of Django is that you can create several apps and link them through dedicated URLs. That makes Django a framework of choice for building more complex applications that require future scalability.
However, building complex apps with Flask is possible as well, but that doesn’t go well with its current architecture. It’s more suitable for building simple apps that don’t require complicated infrastructure to move forward.
Although Django offers scalability, you still don’t have full control over its units. Flask, on the other hand, offers simplicity but gives you the flexibility of dipping your hands into its various components. That’s because, in Flask, you tend to write most of the blocks by yourself with minimal dependence on third-party packages.
We’ve discussed both frameworks, without the aim of placing one above the other. So, based on what you now know, the best Python web framework to start for learning depends on your existing abilities and use-case.
However, a better approach is to know the basics of Python. You can then attempt the easy framework first before moving into the complex one. And whatever your choice is, both frameworks have their area of specialty. So, you can decide on that basis as well.