Python web development: Django vs Flask in 2018

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A colleague of mine, wrote an article over two years ago, talking about the two top Python web frameworks, Django and Flask. It’s 2018 now, and a lot has changed in the IT world.

There have been a couple of frameworks that emerged or gained popularity in the last 3 years, like Bottle or CherryPy, for example. However, Django and Flask have managed to stand their ground and have continued to remain as the top 2 Python frameworks. Moreover, there have been some major breakthroughs in web application architecture like the rise of Microservices, that has in turn pushed the growth of newer architectures like Serverless and Cloud-Native.

I thought it would be a good idea to present a more modern comparison of these two frameworks, to help you take an informed decision on which one you should be choosing for your application development.

So before we dive into ripping these frameworks apart, let’s briefly go over a few factors we’ll be considering while evaluating them. Here’s what I got in mind, in no particular order:


  • Ease of use
  • Popularity
  • Community support
  • Job market
  • Performance
  • Modern Architecture support

Ease of use

This is something l like to cover first, because I know it’s really important for developers who are just starting out, to assess the learning curve before they attempt to scale it. When I’m talking about ease of use, I’m talking about how easy it is to get started with using the tool in your day to day projects.

Flask, like it’s webpage, is a very simple tool to learn, simply because it’s built to be simple. Moreover, the framework is un-opinionated, meaning that it will allow you to implement things the way you choose to, without throwing a fuss. This is really important when you’re starting out. You don’t want to run into too much issues that will break your confidence as a developer.

On the other hand, Django is a great framework to learn too. While several Python developers will disagree with me, I would say Django is a pretty complex framework, especially for a newbie. Now this is not all that bad, right. I mean, especially when you’re building a large project, you want to be the one holding the reins. If you’re starting out with some basic projects then, it may be wise not to choose Django.

The way I see it, learning Flask first will allow you to learn Django much faster.

Popularity

Both frameworks are quite popular, with Django starring at 34k on Github, and Flask having a slight edge at 36k. If you take a look at the Google trends, both tools follow a pretty similar trend, with Django’s volume much higher, owing to its longer existence.

Django vs Flask

Source: SEM Rush

As mentioned before, Flask is more popular among beginners and those who want to build basic websites easily. On the other hand, Django is more popular among the professionals who have years of experience building robust websites.

Community Support and Documentation

In terms of community support, we’re looking at how involved the community is, in developing the tool and providing support to those who need it. This is quite important for someone who’s starting out with a tool, or for that matter, when there’s a new version releasing and you need to keep yourself up to date..

Django features 170k tags on Stackoverflow, which is over 7 times that of Flask, which stands at 21k. Although Django is a clear winner in terms of numbers, both mailing lists are quite active and you can receive all the help you need, quite easily.

When it comes to documentation, Django has some solid documentation that can help you get up and running in no time. On the other hand, Flask has good documentation too, but you usually have to do some digging to find what you’re looking for.

Job Scenes

Jobs are really important especially if you’re looking for a corporate one It’s quite natural that the organization that’s hiring you will already be working with a particular stack and they will expect you to have those skills before you step in.

Django records around 2k jobs on Indeed in the USA, while Flask records exactly half that amount. A couple of years ago, the situation was pretty much the same; Django was a prime requirement, while Flask had just started gaining popularity. You’ll find a comment stating that “Picking up Flask might be a tad easier then Django, but for Django you will have more job openings”

Itjobswatch.uk lists Django as the 2nd most needed Skill for a Python Developer, whereas Flask is way down at 20.

python developer skill set

Source: itjobswatch.uk

Clearly Django is in more demand that Flask. However, if you are an independent developer, you’re still free to choose the framework you wish to work with.

Performance

Honestly speaking, Flask is a microframework, which means it delivers a much better performance in terms of speed. This is also because in Flask, you could write 10k lines of code, for something that would take 24k lines in Django.

Response time comparison for data from remote server: Django vs Flask

Response time comparison for data from remote server: Django vs Flask

In the above image we see how both tools perform in terms of loading a response from the server and then returning it. Both tools are pretty much the same, but Flask has a slight edge over Django.

Load time comparison from database with ORM: Django vs Flask

Load time comparison from database with ORM: Django vs Flask

In this image, we see how the gap between the tools is quite large, with Flask being much more efficient in loading data from the database.

When we talk about performance, we also need to consider the power each framework provides you when you want to build large apps. Django is a clear winner here, as it allows you to build massive, enterprise grade applications. Django serves as a full-stack framework, which can easily be integrated with JavaScript to build great applications. On the other hand, Flask is not suitable for large applications.

The JetBrains Python Developer Survey revealed that Django was a more preferred option among the respondents.

frameworks

Jetbrains Python Developer Survey 2017

Modern Architecture Support

The monolith has been broken and microservices have risen. What’s interesting is that although applications are huge, they’re now composed of smaller services working together to make up the actual application.

While you would think Django would be a great framework to build microservices, it turns out that Flask serves much better, thanks to its lightweight architecture and simplicity. While you work on a huge enterprise application, you might find Flask being interwoven wherever a light framework works best. Here’s the story of one company that ditched Django for microservices.

I’m not going to score these tools because they’re both awesome in their own right. The difference arises when you need to choose one for your projects and it’s quite evident that Flask should be your choice when you’re working on a small project or maybe a smaller application built into a larger one, maybe a blog or a small website or a web service. Although, if you’re on the A team, making a super awesome website for maybe, Facebook or a billion dollar enterprise, instead of going the Django unchained route, choose Django with a hint of Flask added in, for all the right reasons. 🙂

Django recently hit version 2.0 last year, while Flask hit version 1.0 last month. Here’s some great resources to get you up and running with Django and Flask.

So what are you waiting for? Go build that website!

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I'm a technology enthusiast who designs and creates learning content for IT professionals, in my role as a Category Manager at Packt. I also blog about what's trending in technology and IT. I'm a foodie, an adventure freak, a beard grower and a doggie lover.

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