What is Django? Aside from Django Reinhardt, the namesake of the framework and unironically a Belgian jazz guitarist, Django is one of Python’s premier full stack frameworks and a high-level solution for building complex web applications.
According to the Python Developers Survey for 2020, Django is the second most popular Python framework, after its smaller counterpart Flask. Keeping that in mind, Python developers must have a good reason for flocking to Django in turn for the other frameworks Python has to offer.
But Django isn’t just any other framework. Proudly advertising itself as the web framework for “perfectionists with deadlines”, Django is determined in its objective and meets that objective — building web apps — in record time.
Django effectively can make or break your project. But when the former occurs, what transpires is great. Surely Django’s potential has caught your eye by now. Ergo: what is Django? Read on to learn more!
What Is Django?
Django is a Python-based, free, and open-source web framework utilizing the model-template-view (MTV) architectural pattern. But before you dive any deeper into Django, you should learn where it all began.
The original authors of Django, Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison, are not only web developers, but journalists.
Lawrence Journal-World, like many information sources of the present and past, relies on a fast-paced working environment to meet deadlines. Building intensive web applications to host digital news is similarly fast-paced. And this was the job of Holovaty and Willison.
While working at the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper, Holovaty and Willison began using Python in 2003 and quickly took notice of the best elements of the language. Carefully extracting these elements, the vision of Django emerged.
By 2005, Holovaty and Wilison had placed the final touches on Django. In the process, they had added another developer by the name of Jacob Kaplan-Moss to the mix. It was at this point that Django revealed itself to the public as an open-source entity.
Django’s software architecture, MTV, slightly differs from most web frameworks that use the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern. These patterns are for designing user interfaces (UI) by separating the concerns of back-end and front-end structures.
In an MVC architecture, the model is the central component. It is independent of the UI and manages the business logic of a web application.
The view is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a presentation layer for the UI logic.
Controllers accept inputs, sending it off as commands for the model or view to receive and update the final output with. Although MTV differs in name, it’s not so difficult to make out a similar foundation behind the pattern. The template exists on the client-side, offering the display logic.
The view, however, is not what you’d expect. Existing on the server-side, this is what handles the business logic of the web application.
Finally, the model, also on the server-side, is for object-relational mapping (ORM). ORM converts data from the database using object-oriented programming.
8 Django Features
Like Python itself, Django has a particular design philosophy that is adamant about enhancing the developer experience.
Django prioritizes several software principles:
With Django, developers can write reusable Django ‘apps’, a piece of code packaged in a convenient container that you can incorporate into different programs whenever you feel the need.
You can write your own Django apps or you can use the directory Django Packages to choose from pre-made reusable apps as well as sites, tools, and other Django projects.
Reusability isn’t an official design philosophy of Django, but the ability to leverage such a principle makes it clear that Django wants developers to take advantage of this concept.
Likewise, pluggability is not an official Django design philosophy, yet it shares many similarities with reusability and plays into other important Django principles.
Thanks to the django-pluggable apps package, Django users can install and configure third-party Django applications.
3. Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)
DRY is a simple but pervasively popular principle in software development. The objective is to reduce repetition in your program by using abstractions such as the concepts of reusability and pluggability elicit, rather than simply rewriting code.
4. Quick Development
With the help of the methodologies described above, Django promises rapid development. Django isn’t in the business of tedious configurations and seeks to make web development a fast and easy process.
5. Less Code
‘Less code’ is another principle of Django that only quickens development. Django wants to inspire developers to take liberties with many of Python’s grounding tenets, such as code readability and simplicity.
Django’s designers specifically point to the idea of introspection, a courtesy of Python itself.
Python’s object introspection allows programs to determine object types at runtime, so developers do not have to spend time and code defining them.
6. Loose Coupling
Loose coupling signifies that Django’s features intentionally lack dependencies. This approach permits pieces of software to be more interchangeable and/or modular. The various layers of the framework are largely independent of each other.
7. Explicit Is Better Than Implicit
Also a core Python principle, this philosophy centers on readability, namely having a means of direct communication between the user and the program.
For example, a statement with no return function is more likely to return the value “None” as this is explicit, rather than simply returning nothing at all.
Django designers want to maintain consistency across all horizons — from the coding style of low-level Python to the experience of high-level Django.
3 Main Advantages of Django
What is Django? Well, now you know. Why Django? Django’s very own website asserts that the framework is “ridiculously fast”, “reassuringly secure”, and “exceedingly scalable”.
Chiefly because of the aforementioned Django philosophies, the Django framework encourages rapid development.
Though Django is great for developing large and complex web applications, the actual development process should not be so convoluted that your application has to suffer.
Just like in a newsroom, moving expeditiously is a key factor in prototyping your applications to make sure it’s viable and also getting it out to the market within a practical time frame.
Web developers and project managers care to speed up development in every way possible, naturally while meeting the project’s requirements along the way.
You can optimize your software development life cycle in a multitude of ways. The lean and agile development methodologies are certainly popular for their capacity in that regard.
However, the software alone should favor the technologies that suit it best. Developers choose Django because it takes them from concept to launch in the quickest way possible.
Django has a full feature set for dealing with the most common security threats, including cross-site scripting (XSS); cross-site request forgery (CSRF); SQL injection; clickjacking; authentication credentials with respect to SSL/HTTPS; and host header validation.
Here is a review of what you’ll be protected from with Django:
- XSS — In cross-site scripting attacks, malicious scripts are embedded into otherwise trustworthy websites. The end-user is unaware that visiting such a web page executes malicious code.
- CSRF — Cross-site request forgery requires a bit of social engineering — that is, the end-user has to fall for it. Essentially, an attacker tricks the user into performing an unintentional action that jeopardizes their security.
- SQL injection — This type of injection works by inserting malicious SQL statements into data-driven applications. SQL is a query language, so this attack relies on infiltrating databases.
- clickjacking — Clickjacking is what happens when a user is misled into clicking a hyperlink buried under legitimate content.
- SSL/HTTPS — Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) work together to ward off malicious network users. SSL certificates encrypt communication between websites and web browsers while HTTPS is a secure extension of HTTP, a protocol for fetching resources such as HTML documents. HTTP is the foundation behind every website on the World Wide Web.
- host header validation — Django’s host header validation uses the ALLOWED_HOSTS setting to provide additional security against host header attacks that exploit the vulnerability of a website. Host headers specify which website or web application takes an incoming HTTP request.
Django has many other security protocols in place and even has a formal procedure for reporting security issues.
Scalability is super important for companies that want and expect their application to grow over time. Starting off small is great, but you always want to leave room for growth.
Growth in terms of scalability generally means that an application has the potential to function well when there is a high amount of user interaction. Sometimes this even means that developers will have to provide updates to their application to ensure this is the case.
Bug fixes and security patches are minor maintenance updates that need to happen to keep your application up-to-date.
But developers should also be able to upgrade their application entirely if they so wish, and the framework they’re working with should be able to accommodate those changes.
Django demonstrates its scalability in its reach. Instagram, Youtube, and Spotify are just a few of the major applications using Django to power them. Needless to say, these applications have millions if not billions of users and still manage to run well.
How Popular Is Django?
Python was the language of the year in 2007, 2010, 2018, and 2020, on the authority of the TIOBE Index. Compared to other classic programming languages like Java, to which Python is 15 years its senior, Python has only increased in popularity.
Python maintains and spurs its ever-growing popularity through modern 21st century frameworks like Django. On GitHub, Django has approximately 57,000 stars surpassing that of similar web frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
Even on Google Trends, the popularity of Django towers over both Ruby on Rails and the PHP-based Laravel — two of the most prominent web frameworks of this time.
7 Companies Using Django
The use of Django by these high-ranking applications should guarantee that Django is a worthy tool to have onboard for your next web development project.
BitBucket is a repository for hosting code. Developers tend to use a version control system (VCS) to collaborate with each other virtually pushing and pulling changes to and from the repository.
Bitbucket is one of the more popular repositories, conspiring with the Git VCS to see that changes appear online as should.
The repository is written in Python, specifically using the Django web framework.
Instagram is another Mark Zuckerburg project. Although Zuckerberg didn’t initially design Instagram, it makes sense that one of the most well-known social media networks is owned by the same person who created Facebook.
For context, Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform written with more than a few million lines of Python code, and enough Django that it’s been a matter of public discussion.
Nextdoor is basically a local version of Facebook. You can chat with neighbors, post on a feed (filled with other neighbors), and even sell or give away items.
Nextdoor has also been open about using Django in their tech stack, along with some other technologies.
Spotify is a digital music service for streaming your tunes. The service mostly uses Python, as they’ve revealed on their own blog, but a few Django apps also went into Spotify’s overall makeup.
5. The Washington Times
The Washington Times is a conservative daily newspaper, not to be confused with The Washington Post which leans liberal, but both are fairly popular.
Through their Github, there is proof enough that Django plays an integral part in The Washington Times.
Mozilla is behind Firefox, though it is not Firefox itself. Instead, Mozilla is a software community that is committed to making the internet a global and accessible resource.
Depending on the project, there is definitely a lot of Django use. As an illustration, Pontoon is a Django project endeavoring to build a community of ‘localizers’ to translate web content.
In case you’re not familiar with NASA, it’s the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Most people imagine that NASA is the big government agency sending satellites and astronauts to space — and also hiding unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
Not everything in NASA is confidential, though. They have a .gov website featuring some of the code they’ve approved common dwellers to see. Spoiler alert: NASA uses Django!
What is Django? Django is a fast, secure, and scalable Python framework that is firmly invested in easing the development process of its users.
If you want to build a web application, Django should definitely be on your list as a potential contender for the technologies you will use.
Using Django can save you time and resources. Looking for qualified Django developers?
Django developers at Trio know the ins and outs of the Django framework and are certain they can meet your project goals.
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