Technology

Rails vs Django – differences and which one to choose?

Marlena Walburg
Marlena Walburg

If you are familiar with the terms Rails and Django, then you certainly know their reputation as frameworks for developing web applications is enormous. If you do not know what these technologies are yet, we are here to help! Take a look at our comparison of these two frameworks, which is not as obvious as many may think. We will examine the advantages and disadvantages of both, and help identify which technology will be the better choice and in which case. 

What is Django?

Although some Django may be connected with the character of the famous Quentin Tarantino’s film from 2012, this time, we are talking about the Django framework. It is a free and open-source Python-based web framework that follows the model-template-views (MTV) architectural pattern. It was created in 2003 by Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison and released 2 years later. Django’s main goal is to make it easy to build complex, database-driven websites. The structure emphasizes reusability and “connectivity” of components, less code, rapid development and the don’t repeat yourself principle. Everything in Django is based on Python, one of the most popular programming languages, which is used all the time, in all operations and settings. Django also provides an optional administrative interface for creating, reading, updating, and deleting, which is dynamically generated through introspection and configured through administrative models.

First, let’s talk about the advantages of Django:

  • Scalable – Django allows you to take actions that will affect the further development and scalability of the application in the future without much problem. Such operations are, for example, running separate servers for the database, media and the application itself, or using clusters or load balancing to distribute the application to multiple servers;
  • Built-in admin panel – the framework offers its built-in administration interface. It was developed to facilitate work in production and the entire development process. It is versatile and versatile, and most of all it eliminates the need to create your backend admin interface just to be able to manage data with basic CRUD operations;
  • Battery-included approach – The battery included principle is that the common functionality for developing web applications should come with the frame, and not as separate libraries. Django supports this approach and includes many things out of the box. You can use them depending on your application needs, and instead of writing your code, you just need to import the appropriate packages;
  • Community – the framework prides itself on being one of the best communities that are very helpful and actively working on making the framework more beginner-friendly and stabilizing it. Also, the Django documentation is thorough and is useful as a standalone tutorial.

When it comes to Django cons, there are some. Check them out:

  • Monolithic architecture – Django is a full-stack framework with a monolithic approach, so it pushes developers to certain patterns within the framework. It also means that all components are deployed together, so you can’t select parts and components. For this reason, Django is the most popular choice for large, closely related products;
  • Not suitable for smaller projects – the Django framework is not suitable for smaller projects or products with just a few features. It requires a lot of coding and therefore the processing time by the server is longer. For this reason, Django is recommended for scalable, large-scale projects;
  • Problematic multiple requests handling – unlike most web development platforms out there, Django cannot handle multiple requests simultaneously. These are process-specific requests and take time to complete. Although it gives developers more decision-making and encourages exploration, in this sense, Django does not provide rapid development.

Is Django good for web development?

Django is a powerful and versatile framework. It’s fast, durable, it scales up and down, and can be deployed very quickly. It suits any project, web or mobile, but is not recommended for small projects with a few functionalities. If your web project requires data analysis, complexity or many functions, then Django will definitely meet your expectations. It has everything you need to build an efficient, secure web application.

What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails, most often called RoR, is a free, open-source server-side framework. It is commonly used for rapid web application development. It appeared in 2005. Since then, it has greatly influenced other web frameworks through its innovative features, such as smooth database table creation, migrations, and views scaffolding to enable rapid application development, and many frameworks in other languages borrow its patterns. It was written in Ruby using the Model-View-Controller architecture providing default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages. RoR is based on several main principles, such as the speed, ease, and pleasure of writing code, and don’t repeat yourself. It also represents the Convention Over Configuration approach, which consists of minimizing the necessary configuration by replacing it with ready-made default, recommended patterns. It implies the possibility of using plugins that will quickly expand applications with various functions, such as sending pictures or logging in. 

Ruby on Rails’ perks are:

  • Fast development – coding applications, particularly those smaller ones, is easy with RoR. This is mainly done by relying on code generation and the components that RoR has out of the box. RoR’s component structure, based on plug-ins and gems, lets experienced RoR developers quickly put together efficient applications with less coding;
  • Flexible and easy to manage – easy to modify existing code or add new features to your web application. Once launched, future modifications to the app are quick and easy to make. Due to their stability and predictability, this framework is most effective for long-term projects;
  • Good testing environment – RoR developers can make sure their applications are performing as expected by using built-in testing and debugging tools. RoR makes it easy to create automated tests and check all aspects of the product by providing a truly powerful testing tool within the framework;
  • Massive community – RoR is one of the most popular languages on the GitHub. The community is full of developers who constantly improve the code and serve others in their projects, so if anybody needs some functionality, chances are that someone else has already built something similar or will be willing to help you fix any problem.

Ruby on Rails’ cons:

  • Too flexible – RoR allows you to build a single function in many different ways, so it may take longer to understand how the code works. Moreover, it may take a longer time to speed up projects and pass them on to new teams;
  • Problematic documentation and excess code – RoR is full of redundant code, less experienced programmers may not understand what they are for. Also, good documentation is hard to find, especially for less popular gems. Therefore, developers usually need to study all of the code rather than simply reading the official documentation;
  • The API is more difficult to create – building an API with Ruby on Rails can be very complex. The main reason is that there is no RoR’s equivalent for the Django REST framework.

Why do so many think Ruby on Rails is dying?

The myth of the RoR collapse is caused by misunderstandings and mistakes. The slow operation of RoR is caused mainly by the inexperienced use of the framework and not being adapted to the scale of the project. While RoR-based applications run slower than, for example, Node.js, this only becomes noticeable for large, complex projects. The notoriety also stems from the RoR maturity, which some consider boring. However, it is not always worth following the new, unproven trend. Maturity means stable, polished code and easy-to-maintain web applications, even if they are not written based on a fashionable framework.

Differences between Django and Ruby on Rails

Frameworks differ mainly in languages, mainly when it comes to syntax. Python is designed to enforce the good style and practices on developers, while Ruby is designed to be freely readable, giving the developer as much space as possible.

Django and RoR also have different foundations. RoR is all about convention over configuration, and to achieve the same results as with Django, you need to create less code in RoR because you are skipping the configuration part, which is important in the second framework. Django is largely based on the concept of DRY – Don’t repeat yourself, and is also said to be a framework for perfectionists.

Are there any common grounds between Django and Ruby on Rails?

When it comes to the similarities of the two frameworks, let’s start with the architecture of the languages they are based on. Both Ruby and Python are based on the MVC model and have a good structure, thanks to which the application will be properly organized and will have basic divisions between the layers.

Besides, these languages are object-oriented and dynamically typed and are very different from languages like Java. They are open-source and can count on community engagement and productivity.

There is also not much difference in performance between Django and RoR.

Django vs Rails performance

Django and Ruby on Rails perform on a very similar level. Both use modern programming languages while providing code optimization tools. RoR’s have the advantage of having a rich repository of libraries and plugins that increase the speed, and ultimately the performance of this framework but to a very small extent, compared to Django. However, Django also encourages a quick development process, too. 

Django – when you should use it?

Django will be a great choice if you are looking for a framework that helps you build complex database-driven websites and web applications in less time. Django-based applications achieve high performance in system administration, data analysis and machine learning computations. Also, Django is better if you want more control.

Ruby on Rails – what is the best fit for it?

RoR does a good job of building database-driven web applications, giving developers better usability and freedom. It’s flexible by nature, so it’s the perfect choice for creating effective code. Choose it if you need to quickly create and implement a web application.

Summary

Do you already know which framework will be right for you? Undeniably, either of these two options will meet your web application development needs. You can also always benefit from the support of BinarApps specialists who will not only help you choose the right technology for the application and its requirements but also can accomplish the entire project.

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