When developing a web application with Python, there is always the debate about which framework to use. While it's true that you can create your own framework, it is recommended to use some previous existing framework supported and maintained by big communities, to reduce security risks, save time on repetitive tasks, manage databases, serialize/deserialize objects, create APIs, and more. In this article, we explore three important web frameworks in the Python ecosystem: Django, Flask, and FastAPI.
One of the primary goals of Django is to make it easy to develop complex database-driven websites. It is used by some of the giant websites like Instagram, National Geographic, Spotify, and Pinterest.
- Django will automatically track security breaches and enable the security firewall against most of the major cyber-attacks (SQL injection, cross-site request forgery, etc). It comes with multiple specifications, for example, URL dispatchers, ORM, a relational database, and a web templating system. The core of this framework is based on MVC architecture.
- Django also has a powerful toolkit for building Web APIs. It is called Django REST. It is fully customizable and has great community support, it also has a built-in API browser for testing endpoints. Django with rest framework provides the facility of authentication and permission rules with the framework.
- Django is generally not recommended for smaller projects.
- The process of development using Django framework may take longer compared to using more lightweight Python frameworks as more available functionality introduces comparatively more complexity
- A developer needs to find a minor code set from a massive database of complex codes to accomplish smaller tasks. This makes the development slower and more complex.
Flask is a microframework because of no requirement of any particular library or tools in the web development with it. Common functionality is provided by pre-existing third-party libraries.
The primary goal of the flask framework is to develop lightweight applications with lower features in an easy and fast way.
- It is a simple and forgiving framework that can help less experienced developers produce solutions efficiently when the task in front of the developers is not too complex.
- Flask is an incredibly flexible framework. You can add changes at almost any step of the development process.
- Flask offers a modular set of codes that make it possible to develop multiple web applications and servers. This can be distributed over a massive network, with each individual handling a specific task, which makes flask great for developing light web-based applications.
- Unlike other monolithic applications, the flask-developed application is much more scalable.
- The Flask framework has a limited set of tools available, hence a developer may need to look for tools in other libraries and use several extensions to accomplish a project.
- Flask uses Modules, which means that it is more prone to security breaches. It also has no CSRF protection. To address this issue, developers often use the Flask-WTF extension to enable CSRF protection.
- Using Flask for big applications can be incredibly time-consuming. It is better to use it for simple and innovative cases rather than for big projects that require complex features and fast development time.
FastAPI is a modern, fast and robust framework that helps build APIs with python 3.6+ versions
According to Github, FastAPI is one of the fastest Python frameworks for development available. It is built to optimize the development experience so that a team can write simple code to build effective APIs.
- FastAPI is based on the open standards for APIs: JSON Schema, Open API, and OAuth 2.0.
- FastAPI helps in validating the datatype from the developer even in nested JSON requests.
- It offers an autocomplete specification that helps developers to accomplish Python-based web applications more effectively and in less time.
- FastAPI supports asynchronous code out of the box using the async/await keywords. The asynchronous code allows a significant reduction in the execution time.
- FastAPI makes it easy to build a GraphQL API with a python library called graphene-python.
- Open API, Swagger UI, and ReDoc come packed automatically with FastAPI. As a result, all documentation is automatic.
During the development process, you need to tie everything together in the FastAPI application. As a result, the main file can become too crowded.
As FastAPI is a relatively new framework, its community is smaller than Django and Flask communities. For FastAPI there are fewer community guidelines and information available.
Each of the three exposed frameworks has great capabilities, strengths, and also disadvantages. Our recommendation is analyzing for each new project, which is your requirements, how much time you have for developing a minimum viable product, or how you will handle scalability.
Django is the best option for big projects that need to scale, it is a robust and mature framework. Flask is great for smaller and lightweight services, whereas Django can be a waste of time due to its complexity, setting up a Flask application can be done in minutes, while Django it could take hours. It is important to note that even with Django Python development is still often considered comparatively simple and fast when compared to alternatives such as Java/Spring. While FastAPI seems like a great project, it has not been in the market for a long time, and community support is still not as mature as that of Django and Flask. At this moment, we recommend exploring and using Fast API for smaller projects, centered around APIs, for example, APIs supporting OpenAPI, which is not a native feature of Django or Flask.
There is no such thing as a "perfect framework". Everything is relative to the project. Deadlines, team skills, and specific project requirements need to be considered before choosing a framework. Knowing the difference between the available tools out there could be a game-changer for your organization, so choose wisely the best option for each situation your team faces. Of course, QCerris experts would be happy to be your guide on those journeys.