Spring vs Django: Know the Difference Between the Two

Updated: Dec 11, 2020
10 min read

Django and Spring are used heavily in web development and used by enterprises of all sizes..

Django is a popular Python framework used for full-stack web development, back end development, and a lot more. Spring on the other hand is a leading Java framework, used for Java enterprise applications development.

In this article, we will cover the differences and similarities between the two frameworks, use cases these two serve, performance and scalability, community support, learning curve, market share, and much more.

Let us look at the brief introduction of the two, and then we will take the Spring vs Django debate forward –

What is Django?

Django was initially released back in 2005 for public use under the BSD license. Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison created Django at Lawrence Journal-World newspaper and it is currently maintained by Django Software Foundation.

Developers created the Django framework for rapid application development. And for that reason, Django brings in ready-to-use components to accomplish various programming tasks.

The key reason Django became so popular is that it brings almost everything out of the box to create a fully functional web application in a matter of hours.

You even get an admin interface auto-created by the framework using the model of your application. The admin interface takes care of the basic CRUD operations and can be customized further with minimal effort.

Not only the admin interface, but you also get user authentication, RSS feeds and site maps, etc. auto-generated without the need of writing a single line of code.

From the security perspective also, Django is an absolute breeze to work with. The framework, by default, provides safety against CSRF, SQL Injection, clickjacking, and other vulnerabilities.

With all the above, developers can focus on the business logic of the application without getting into all the frills.

Who uses Django?

Organizations of all sizes use Django, including governments. Developers have built many high traffic websites, content management systems, scientific computing platforms, back end administrative tools, social networks, and much more with Django.

It is quite amazing to know that applications like Disqus, Instagram, Netflix, Spotify, Mozilla, Pinterest, and many more use Django in their overall stack.

Read more about Django here – Django Official

What is Spring Framework

Spring framework was originally developed by Rod Johnson back in 2002 and released for public consumption in 2003 under Apache license. It is currently maintained by the Pivotal team and includes many additional components and modules, apart from the core spring framework.  

Spring is at the core of this huge ecosystem and provides infrastructural backing for developing enterprise applications in Java. Like Django, Spring also focuses on speed development and provides out of the box libraries and modules to build Java applications, including Java web apps. While spring brings in many ready to use components, it also lets you include third-party components in your project.

Given below is a quick snapshot that depicts various components of Spring framework –

spring framework

Dependency injection is one of the key feature of Spring Framework. Developers of Spring also term it as inversion of control, and it gives all the powers to spring framework.

The crux of dependency injection is that it lets you focus on individual components without worrying about dependent components, dependent components are managed or injected by the container itself. We will talk about further details of DI in a separate chapter.

It is worth noting that while we are doing the Spring vs Django comparison, the right comparison would actually be Django vs Spring Boot.

Spring provides a very loosely coupled set of components and leaves everything to the developer and requires the developer to do a lot of configuration to build even a small web application.

Spring Boot on the other hand is a framework built on top of Spring and provides default configuration and includes required components basis of the configuration. All of this gives you a ready to use application with just a few clicks, and for that reason, makes it comparable to Django in many ways.

Check out detailed comparison here: Spring vs Spring Boot

Who Uses Spring (/Spring Boot)

Spring is not as widely used as Django but is not far behind. Netflix is one of the biggest applications built on SOA principles and is backed by Spring Boot. The scale of Netflix is unparallel and that proves the stability and scalability of Spring Boot.

Many other large organizations like Intuit, CRED, Trivago, Platform, Craftbase, and many more also utilize Spring components in their overall stack.

Read more about Spring here: Spring Official

Spring vs Django: Opinionated or Not?

A framework is termed as opinionated if it enforces certain ways of doing development tasks. These ways are often considered as the right or best ways, at least in the opinion of developers of the framework.

Since the right approach to do a task is assumed, it is generally well documented and available for use, out of the box.

Unopinionated frameworks, on the other hand, do not provide a set prescription to accomplish a task, they are generally flexible and let developers do it the way deemed fit.

Django

Django brings in a very modular architecture, and various components are decoupled from each other. From this, it may sound as if Django is an unopinionated framework. That is not entirely true, there are many areas where Django’s structure and construct can not be violated, it even doesn’t let you change the ORM, and there are many other examples.

So, while you can pick and choose some, you must take what is thrown at you for the rest. All of this said I would prefer to classify Django into the category “somewhat opinionated framework” with an option to deviate from prescribed ways in some areas.

Image below from Django official for quick reference.

Spring

Spring core offers a lot of flexibility and allows developers to pick and choose available components, modules and mix those with other third-party libraries in the overall stack.

For example, you can select React for the front-end development and use spring for the server-side while adding spring JDBC for database interactions. You can even drop spring JDBC and use hibernate for that matter. Everything is modular, loosely coupled, and left to the developer. Highly unopinionated approach.

Having said that, talking about spring without spring boot is not fair, specifically when doing Spring vs Django comparison. Spring boot brings in ready to use starter packs to give your application a head start. Spring Boot does a lot of automation by providing a kind of opinionated configuration and saves you time. But you do have the option to replace what is not fit for your application by modifying the configuration.

Using everything default of Spring Boot, you get an opinionated framework much like Django and get the benefits of rapid application development.

Learning Curve: Spring vs Django

Here comes the big question for beginners, which one is easy to learn and use. We all know by now that Java is relatively difficult to master whereas Python is quite easy to learn and code. Given that Django is based on Python whereas Spring is Java-based, it gives Django a core advantage when you build applications that require a lot of code to be written, specifically the business logic layer.

Having said that, being Python-based is not the only reason for Django to be easy to learn. The core philosophy of Django is to provide everything out of the box for full-stack development. For this very reason, it is also called a “batteries included” framework.

On the other hand, spring is difficult to master given that it provides abstract components for developing enterprise applications of all types. Also, the configuration model of spring can be quite cumbersome in large scale applications that require the inclusion of multiple components and libraries.

Spring Boot comes to the rescue with a set of starter packs, but the core of all this remains spring, so apart from using the starter packs, rest everything under the cover remains complex in comparison to Django.

One advantage you get with the Java ecosystem is it scales much easier across multiple teams working on a large and complex project, this brings in some balancing between Spring and Django.

To conclude, from learning standpoint, Django scores higher.  

Scalability and Application Performance

Java shines the most when it comes to concurrency and multithreading, and for that reason, as the application scales, Spring becomes more and more performant as compared to Django.

The results are even skewed towards java when you run complex applications on multiple servers for distributed computing. Java is a clear winner when it comes to application performance against the same hardware.

Furthermore, the Spring core framework brings in a lot of abstraction and lets you derive enterprise-grade optimized code with decent productivity.

If you put together the right software principles, design patterns, and best practices, Spring-based applications will scale well as the user base or requests increase.

But wait, there is a catch.

Scalability, however, cannot just be achieved at the application level, it depends on the underlying hardware. As mentioned earlier, the concurrent, and multithreaded nature of java make it quite easy to scale both horizontally and vertically.

From the above, it might seem that Django will not fit for large scale applications, this, however, is not true. Architects select Django with the philosophy that hardware is much cheaper than the development time. As your application scales, you can keep throwing hardware at it to keep up with the required application performance.

The way Django is designed, you can keep adding hardware at different levels, like at database servers, application servers, or even caching servers.

Furthermore, hardware can be scaled both vertically and horizontally. Vertical scaling is where you keep adding resources on the same machine, and in horizontal scaling, you add machines themselves.

Django’s architecture allows you to build stateless applications. This essentially means that you can pull up the latest state from the database, cache memory, or cloud storage. This gives an opportunity for horizontal scaling and allows multiple machines to serve the incoming requests.

With all said, there is no clear winner. One should take an informed decision around which one to choose. Skill set, application scale, Development time vs hardware cost are some of the key parameters to consider.

Django Vs Spring: Quick Comparison

DjangoSpring
Python-based Full Stack Framework for building web applicationsJava-based Framework for building java enterprise applications. Supports Kotlin also.
Open Source and Free to UseOpen Source and Free to Use
More mature, stable, and used widely for large scale applicationsThe lightweight framework proved mettle in SOA and microservices.
~Supports at least 20x more applications than SpringThough is growing but still far behind Django
Huge community >55K GitHub stars>45K GitHub stars. Growing community but behind Django
Easy to learn and useDifficult to learn as compared to Django
Loosely coupled components but mostly opinionatedLoosely coupled components but largely nonopinionated

Conclusion

Both frameworks are enterprise-grade and popular frameworks. Developers working on Java love the spring framework and swear by its benefits, specifically since Java itself has improved with additional features. Not only that, but you can use Spring with Kotlin also – a JVM based language, which is fast becoming the language of choice for Android and web.

Django on the other hand has proved its mettle over the years, is much more stable and still ranks as the most used framework when it comes to full-stack development. Rapid application development with Django is unbeatable, even when the scale and size of your application grows.

We will close this comparison for now, do share your views with our readers via comments, and spread the knowledge by sharing on social media channels. Thank You for reading!!

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