Python Web Frameworks Comparison

  • 15 mins read

Python Web Frameworks Comparison

Python web frameworks allow you to run and build websites and web-based applications. When you use frameworks, much of the work is already done for you, and you’re tapping into a pre-existing library of components and functions to get things done quicker.

They tend to increase productivity by making it quicker to achieve the required functionality.

You’ll generally choose between two known categories of Python frameworks: full-stack and micro.

The former provides built-in features and libraries. The latter is more basic and requires the developer to do a bit more work to achieve the desired results.

Frameworks act as a ready-made solution to quickly add complex dynamics since they would otherwise need to be made from scratch.

Let’s break down some benefits and drawbacks of using Python web frameworks, and compare a few of the most popular ones.

Benefits Of Using Python Web Frameworks

To be clear, using a Python framework isn’t exactly necessary for a successful project.

In fact, if you’re a beginner trying to learn Python, it might even be counterintuitive.

Still, using one could be beneficial depending on your needs. If you’re digging your heels into a complex project and want to really see what you can do with Python, there is no denying frameworks offer some cool stuff.

Python frameworks help you:

  • Organize Code – this is especially helpful for projects that require lengthy chunks of code.
  • Increase Productivity – frameworks don’t just cut corners, but rather they leave room for you to do high-quality work more quickly because there’s less manual effort involved.
  • Simplified Web Development Process – frameworks can be especially useful in projects with a lot of moving parts.

Disadvantages of Python Web Frameworks

Python web frameworks are not all sunshine and roses. Sometimes they can get you into sticky situations.

It is important to understand the potential drawbacks of Python frameworks if you decide whether they would be helpful for you. 

These tips are also important to remember when you’re using frameworks for other programming languages like JavaScript.

  • Slower Loading Times – frameworks come with lots of prewritten code, which makes your job easier, but your website or application may have a slower overall loading time as a result.
  • Acts As A “Shortcut” – while incredibly powerful and productive, frameworks might hinder your progress in learning programming languages like Python because they do a good chunk of heavy lifting for you.
  • Inflexible Programming Paradigm – a lot of the inner workings of these frameworks are difficult or downright impossible to drastically change on your own.

Popular Python Web Frameworks

Now that you have a handle on the pros and cons, let’s dig into some of the different options.

There are so many different Python web frameworks that it may be difficult or even daunting to choose the right one for you.

Django

Django is one of the most well-known Python frameworks.

It’s a full-stack framework that gained a lot of its popularity in recent years. Self-described as a “framework for perfectionists with deadlines,” Django is a helpful tool for creating websites.

The framework aims to eliminate redundancy. Its Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) philosophy encourages programmers to write code once and reuse it.

If you’re looking to improve your programming speed, Django is the right Python framework for you.

It also features security programs that you may miss when hand-coding websites and applications.

django python web framework example
In Django, views are associated with URLs via a URL dispatcher (usually found in urls.py), and this code represents a very basic view that returns an HTTP response with the text “Hello, World!” when the /hello/ URL path is accessed.

Flask

Flask is useful for creating applications using Python as your primary programming language.

It’s categorized as a “microframework,” which emphasizes minimalism.

Built on a Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI), Flask provides modules and libraries for high-level app development.

This framework is missing features like an Object Relational Manager, but it does provide support for unit testing.

Its lightweight nature makes it a key tool for building simple applications.

Flask python web framework example
In Flask, the route is defined as a decorator on the view function. When you access the /hello path, it will trigger the hello_world function and return the string “Hello, World!”.

Bottle

Bottle is perfect for your prototypes. It focuses on short-term iterations of your vision.

This is a beginner-friendly microframework with a short learning curve. Everything you need can be found within a single-source file.

It is also WSGI compliant, making it flexible for your project management.

Bottle is potentially one of the easiest Python frameworks to deploy. You can deploy the framework with a few simple clicks.

Plus, it has a built-in engine for rendering data.

Tornado

Tornado allows you to work asynchronously, using a non-blocking network-io.

It’s not WSGI compliant, but it does support some WSGI features via a module.

This framework is a bit different from the other frameworks on our list, mostly due to its asynchronous nature.

It’s very powerful, with the potential to handle thousands of active server connections.

More complex web apps would thrive with the help of Tornado.

Python Web Frameworks: This vs. That

Tornado vs. Bottle

Tornado requires a more advanced understanding of web app development than beginner-friendly Bottle.

Neither framework feature built-in ORM. 

Bottle does not offer built-in security, but Tornado does.

Bottle features an admin dashboard using plugins, but Tornado does not feature one built-in or using 3rd party tools.

Django vs. Flask

Django promotes speedy programming, but Flask promotes minimalism.

Flask can be scaled extensively, but Django offers many tools that are often required for successful projects right out of the box.

Django is all-inclusive, but Flask has more wiggle-room.

While Django makes it easier to program quickly, Flask often features faster loading times for your apps.

Here are a few more differences you might notice:

  1. Simplicity vs. structure: Flask tends to be more straightforward and simple, with less boilerplate code for a basic application. Django, on the other hand, has a more complex structure but comes with a lot of built-in features.
  2. URL routing: In Flask, you define routes by using decorators on the functions that handle those routes. Django uses a separate URLs configuration, where each URL is mapped to its view function.
  3. Extensibility: Django comes with many built-in features like an admin interface, user authentication, database models, and more. This makes it ideal for larger, more complex applications. Flask is more minimalistic and doesn’t come with these features out of the box, making it more flexible and better suited for smaller, more customized applications. But with the help of extensions, you can add many features to your Flask application.
  4. Design pattern: Django follows the MVT (Model View Template) pattern while Flask follows the MVC (Model View Controller) pattern, but with some flexibility. Django’s MVT and Flask’s MVC are quite similar because they both segregate the application’s responsibilities (data handling, user interface, control flow) into separate places, which can lead to better organized code.

Django vs. Bottle

Both Bottle and Django were made for quick programming. They encourage you to enhance your productivity by becoming a faster programmer.

However, Bottle is more lightweight than Django, offering fewer “bells and whistles” right out of the box.

Django has a steeper learning curve than Bottle, though both are decent options for beginners who are starting out with frameworks.

Django has a built-in ORM framework, but Bottle does not.

Bottle does not have built-in security features, but Django does.

Flask vs. Bottle

Flask is your minimalist friend who has a monochrome living room color scheme. Bottle would love to consider itself a minimalist but it loves decorating, so it keeps a pop of color throughout its home.

Both frameworks are fast, but Bottle would likely win in a race–just by a few seconds, though.

Neither have built-in admin panels, but you can get one for Flask via an extension.

Flask might take a bit longer to understand than Bottle. Since both frameworks are popular, there are plenty of resources to learn how to use them available online.

Using a Framework vs. Plain ‘ol Python

If frameworks are actually sounding a little complicated and more trouble than they’re worth, don’t worry.

When your projects start to have more complex functionality, they can speed up the coding process.

Let’s take an example of a simple web application that serves a form and logs the data received from the form.

We’ll use the built-in HTTP server functionality in Python for the plain Python version, then Django, and finally Flask. (We won’t touch Bottle or Tornado in this example – because, I’ll be honest, I’m no expert in them).

Here’s the code in regular Python:

# server.py
from http.server import BaseHTTPRequestHandler, HTTPServer
import urllib

class RequestHandler(BaseHTTPRequestHandler):
    def do_GET(self):
        self.send_response(200)
        self.send_header('Content-type', 'text/html')
        self.end_headers()
        message = '''
        <html>
            <body>
                <form action="/" method="post">
                    Name: <input type="text" name="name"><br>
                    <input type="submit" value="Submit">
                </form>
            </body>
        </html>
        '''
        self.wfile.write(bytes(message, "utf8"))

    def do_POST(self):
        content_length = int(self.headers['Content-Length'])
        post_data = self.rfile.read(content_length)
        data = urllib.parse.parse_qs(post_data.decode())
        print(f"Received data: {data}")
        self.send_response(200)

def run(server_class=HTTPServer, handler_class=RequestHandler):
    server_address = ('', 8000)
    httpd = server_class(server_address, handler_class)
    httpd.serve_forever()

run()

It gets a little heavy, doesn’t it? Anyway, let’s look at the same functionality using Django.

First, you need to set up a Django project. Then you can create an app inside it and define a view to handle the form.

# mysite/myapp/views.py
from django.http import HttpResponse
from django.views.decorators.csrf import csrf_exempt

@csrf_exempt
def form_view(request):
    if request.method == 'GET':
        return HttpResponse('''
            <form method="post">
                Name: <input type="text" name="name"><br>
                <input type="submit" value="Submit">
            </form>
        ''')
    elif request.method == 'POST':
        print(f"Received data: {request.POST}")
        return HttpResponse('Thanks for submitting!')

# mysite/mysite/urls.py
from django.urls import path
from myapp.views import form_view

urlpatterns = [
    path('', form_view),
]

We might as well also look at Flask to give you a little contrast:

# app.py
from flask import Flask, request

app = Flask(__name__)

@app.route('/', methods=['GET', 'POST'])
def form_view():
    if request.method == 'POST':
        print(f"Received data: {request.form}")
        return 'Thanks for submitting!'
    return '''
        <form method="POST">
            Name: <input type="text" name="name"><br>
            <input type="submit" value="Submit">
        </form>
    '''

if __name__ == '__main__':
    app.run()

As you can see, web frameworks make it easier and more convenient to handle HTTP requests and responses, while plain Python involves more manual work.

However, the plain Python version provides more control and flexibility, which might be helpful in some use cases.

What is the Best Python Web Framework?

It’s difficult to narrow down the “best” Python framework to just one.

Each Python framework contains a unique set of pros and cons. Your best framework will vary person by person, and often project by project.

For example, Django may have felt like the best Python framework when you used it to build your first website. However, as you moved forward with your portfolio, you found that you actually really love Flask.

The best Python framework for you will be the one that satisfies your needs during your various projects, complying with client and employer requirements.

How to Choose a Python Web Framework

Choosing the right framework to use for your project will take quite a bit of trial and error.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with many of the popular Python frameworks so you have a better understanding of their inner workings.

Learning how to use the frameworks includes learning the benefits of using the frameworks.

  1. Scale Your Project – identify the size of the project first. You’ll get an idea of how long it would take to complete the project relatively easily. Plus, evaluating the size of the project will give you a good idea of what it would take to complete it, which would make it easier to choose a framework.
  2. Compare Several Frameworks – use a method similar to the one outlined in our article to compare several frameworks against each other. They often have enough similarities and differences to make a sound judgement call based on your project’s needs.
  3. Consider Your Budget – your budget will be a major concern for every project that you take on. They will fluctuate on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, you want to get the most out of your investment. Dedicated hosting may cost more but could help out on larger projects.
  4. Installation – Not all frameworks are installed equally. Some frameworks are very easy to install, while others require a bit of effort on your end. Weigh out the pros and cons of using more complex frameworks in the earliest stages of your project to avoid complications later on.

Learning How to Use Python Web Frameworks

Learning how to use frameworks is a core step in your mastery of Python.

It may be tempting to use frameworks as leverage that essentially cuts corners for you while you’re learning the language.

However, it’s much more effective to learn them at the same time, or even after you’ve gained a deeper understanding of Python.

These days, it’s incredibly easy to find resources for learning Python online.

You can watch tutorials on YouTube, enroll in online classes, and join community forums where people discuss their projects and progress.

Some frameworks are easier to learn than others, but the ones with a steeper learning curve can be beneficial to your work as you gain more confidence.

It’s all about having patience with yourself and the motivation to create the best websites and applications possible.

Your skills will develop over time, just like with anything else!

FAQ

What is the best Python framework?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one Python framework as “the best.” You’ll learn what the best framework is for you based on your experience as you expand your portfolio. Some projects may benefit from one framework, but you may love using a different one on your next project. It all depends on your personal preferences and project requirements.

Is it hard to use a Python framework?

Some Python frameworks are easier to learn than others. Many Python frameworks are more geared toward beginners, whereas others are more advanced and require more experience. It’s important to research your Python framework before you use it so you can get a good idea of whether or not it’s for you.

What is the most difficult part of Python?

There are several very complex, crucial elements of Python that can be hard to learn, especially for beginners. Still, Python is technically considered to be a good language for beginners to try. Subjects like Decorators, Generators, and Multithreading may appear to be daunting if you’re just starting out with the language. Learning any programming language is often more difficult than learning a foreign language because the terms and “vocab words” are unlike anything we typically use in our daily life.

How do you develop a Python framework?

Sometimes, people prefer to develop their own Python framework instead of using one that someone else already made. This can help in situations where a critical element for their project is missing in one of the popular frameworks. You’ll need to first develop a thorough understanding of WSGI and why it’s necessary. Then, you must build a basic framework, develop elements like request handlers, templates, and routes, implement them, test them, and more. It’s a lengthy process but it can be fulfilling depending on your goals.

Which Python framework is the easiest to learn?

Bottle is arguably the best bet for beginners. It is probably the simplest Python framework, too. The way that Bottle implements everything it needs to operate successfully into a single-source file makes it a no-brainer for beginner developers. Plus, it’s super-fast, ensuring rapid development. If you want to be an ultra-fast programmer, and learn the framework quickly while you’re at it, Bottle is the exact right choice for you.

Where can I learn how to use Python frameworks?

If you’re pursuing higher education, many courses and programs will teach you how to use Python frameworks as you develop a deep understanding of the language. Traditional higher education loves teaching Python for a number of reasons, but especially because of its versatility. Otherwise, there are tons of online courses available at low or even no cost for you to use. There are also tutorials available on video streaming services like YouTube. It’s always a good idea to talk to your community, too. Joining community forums is a great way to learn how to use a Python framework.