Flask vs Django: Know the Differences Between the Two

Updated: Aug 10, 2021
10 min read

Both Django and Flask are used by enterprises to develop websites, single-page applications, app backends, microservices, and APIs in general.

One can use either Django or Flask in a web development project but there are many differences due to which developers choose one over the other in different situations.

Django is a full-stack framework and provides almost everything out of the box to create a full-featured web application. Flask is a microframework with a small core and is used mainly for microservices and APIs development.

In this article, we will cover key differences, similarities, fitment of each framework for different use cases, scalability, performance, learning curve, community support, and much more.

Let us start off with a brief introduction to Flask and Django. Post that we will take the Python Flask vs Django debate forward. 

What is Django?

Django was created at Lawrence Journal-World newspaper by Simon Willison and Adrian Holovaty back in 2005. As of today, it is maintained by Django Software Foundation and available for free public use under the BSD license.

Django is popular among developers for rapid applications development since it comes packed with many ready-to-use components to achieve common programming tasks.

With Django, the key concern of developers generally shrinks down to the business logic and the rest is taken care of by the framework itself.

It wouldn’t be surprising to say that one can put together a fully functional web application in a matter of hours.

Creating an application in a matter of hours, is it possible?

If we park business logic and creativity aside, most web applications offer similar kinds of features, some offer more features than the others though.

Keeping that in mind, Django developers have done a fantastic job and created components to serve almost all features required to build a full-stack web application, including the admin interface.

Talking a bit more about this, Django auto generates an admin interface based on the model of your web application. The generated interface mostly provides all features required for CRUD operations and can be further customized as per the project needs.

Other common website features like RSS feeds, user authentication & authorization, site maps, page cache, etc. are also generated without writing much code.  

Talking about automation around the application model, Django provides an object-relational mapper which is used to define the database layout in a very simple Python code syntax.

The layout can be installed in one click to give you the database schema and rich Python APIs to access the data.

Django is also known for the security features it offers. You get out-of-the-box protection against vulnerabilities like SQL injection, clickjacking, and CSRF among others.

Who uses Django

Speed development and reduced time to market makes Django a framework of choice for enterprises. It is not surprising to see many successful content management systems, high-traffic websites, administrative tools, social networks, computing platform backbends, and scalable open APIs are built using Django.

The popularity of Django can be gauzed from the fact that applications like Instagram, Spotify, Pinterest, Mozilla, Netflix, and Disqus use Django in the overall tech stack to achieve various programming tasks.

django framework

As we continue Flask vs Django debate, you will notice that while both are used in web development, there are major differences in terms of how developers and enterprises utilize these frameworks.

Read more about Django here – Django Official. Find here tutorials and courses to learn Django: Django Tutorials.

What is Flask Framework?

Flask is also a python-based framework, like the mighty Django, and is used heavily in web applications development. It was created by Armin Ronacher back in 2010 and is currently available under the BSD license for free use.

Flask is a microframework and started off as a wrapper around Werkzeug and Jinja libraries, developers have improved and added many more features to Flask over the last decade. WerZeug is a utility library and provides web server interface gateway capabilities whereas Jinja is a templates engine.

Flask is best used for developing microservices and comes with a very small core. Though it allows developers to use the extension modules and scale the application as per the requirements.

A small core with additional extensions can be used to build a full-stack application like what you can do with Django though it would take much more effort as compared to Django. So, you need to be careful about making Flask vs Django comparisons up front.

Who Uses Flask

Flask came into existence five years after Django but is fast becoming the framework of choice for Python web developers. If GitHub stars give you any indication, as of writing, Flask has 56k stars vs 58k stars that Django has garnered. Given the five years gap, Flask seems to be impressing the developers more than Django. 

Flask is also used by enterprises of all sizes. The key reason for higher Flask penetration is its easy fitment in the existing development stack. Many developers choose Flask only to solve part of the puzzle rather than building the entire full stack with Flask.

Airbnb for example has used Flask to build an admin library for the Airflow project. Twilio on the other hand, uses Flask for its backend APIs. Other organizations using Flask include the likes of Uber, Pinterest, and Netflix.

Read more about Flask here: Flask Official. Find tutorials here: Flask Tutorials.

Flask vs Django: Opinionated or Not?

This is one of the key questions every developer must ponder before finalizing the framework.

One calls a framework opinionated if it enforces ways of programming or uses a defined set of components to achieve various programming tasks. The enforced components or ways are generally perceived as best or right, at least per the framework developers.

Unopinionated frameworks, on the other hand, provide a lot of abstraction and do not enforce specific ways to achieve programming tasks. You might still get suggestions or prescriptions from the framework developers, but the abstract nature of the framework allows you to deviate easily.

Django

Modular is the word that best describes the Django framework. Its architecture is such that components are decoupled from each other and allows for plug and play to a great extent.

The above statement can be misguiding though and might make Django look like an unopinionated framework, but that is not completely true.

You would encounter many areas in Django when touching the ways of it is not possible and you have to follow the prescribed approach only.

There are also areas where you can make a choice among the various prescribed options to achieve the given programming task, but you still cannot go beyond the boundaries of Django. 

As a side note, my personal take is that being opinionated or not doesn’t greatly impact Flask vs Django decision in a project but continue reading to make your own opinion.

Over the last decade, Django has evolved and brought in more flexibility, and I am tempted to categorize it as a “somewhat opinionated” framework rather than calling it fully opinionated.

While the best way to speed development is moving ahead with opinionated mode but experienced developers tend to deviate keeping in mind overall project needs and scalability.

The image below is from Django’s official website for quick reference:

Flask

You will find Flask completely different from Django in this regard. Flask developers created Flask at the time when Django was at its peak and already ruling the world of web development.

So, what was the need for Flask? Developers needed a more flexible framework to fit into the existing stack and solve part of the puzzle with ease.

Flask framework

Flask is minimalist and doesn’t enforce on you what extensions or third-party modules you should choose to scale. Developers can pick and choose various third-party extensions to create a full-stack web application. For example, one can choose SQLAlchemy to connect to the databases or may go with other less popular options. 

With Flask, everything is very loosely coupled, highly unopinionated, flexible, and left to the hands of developers. This also happens to be the key difference between Flask and Django among many others.

Learning Curve: Flask vs Django Python Framework

Flask and Django both inherit the ease of programming that Python offers. Both frameworks can utilize various modules and components offered by the Python ecosystem, Flask is much more flexible though!

Developers use Flask to achieve specific tasks like microservices behind mobile, web, and desktop apps. On the other hand, developers use Django to create full-featured large-scale applications. It might become cumbersome to put together a full-stack application that provides an admin interface, front end, RSS feeds and page caching, etc. in Flask. Furthermore, Django is huge and developers need to understand all that to get full control of the application.

For that reason, if we keep aside the size and complexity of the application, Flask is much easier to learn.

Scalability and Application Performance

Scalability depends on the underlying programming language, application construct/architecture, and hardware configuration. Given that both frameworks are based on Python and considering we intend to provide similar hardware configuration, our discussion shrinks mostly to the application structure and architecture.

Furthermore, when we talk scalability, we mean ease of scaling application features by adding more code. Scalability also means ease of adding more developers as well as the capability to handle concurrent user requests.

Keeping it short, Flask is more flexible and lets developers make choices, so the scalability and performance would get down to the choices made by developers.

If you are working on a huge application in Flask, you must make all the right choices to create a scalable application.

Django on the other hand gives you consistent application performance and scalability if you stick to the Django prescription and do not deviate much.

Having said all this, you wouldn’t be able to mark Django as a clear winner over Flask or the other way round.

Django Vs Flask: Quick Comparison

DjangoFlask
Used mainly for rapid applications development, full-stack applications, prototypes, and backend serversMinimalist microframework, used mainly for microservices and APIs development.
Open Source and Free to UseOpen Source and Free to Use
Bigger in size offers more features and is used widely by enterprises to create large-scale applications.The lightweight Flask is arguably the best in SOA, microservices, and small applications
Is mostly opinionated but loosely coupled architecture allows flexibility to developersHighly flexible and unopinionated, developers use extensions the way they want
~60K GitHub stars>50K GitHub stars but catching up fast, given it is 5 years younger than Django
Has a slightly steep learning curveEasy to learn and use
Well documented, great communityCatching up with Django on this aspect

Conclusion

Django is the big brother in both size and age and for that reason has a bigger footprint overall. However, Flask is fast growing in popularity and the rate of growth of Flask is much faster than Django.

With the current trend, Flask can overtake Django in terms of popularity, no of applications, jobs, and salary in the next couple of years itself. 

This brings us to the end of this comparison. We would be happy to see your opinion on the key difference between Flask and Django. So, please do comment and share the knowledge with others via social media channels. Thank You for reading!!

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