Django and Ruby on Rails often get compared as they share a few similarities. You, too, might be wondering which framework would be best for your project and we’re here to help, so read on to find out the answer to that question.
Although at STX Next we specialize in Python and, by extension, Django, we recognize that other solutions have plenty of benefits, too. We always analyze our client’s business requirements in-depth before we make any tech recommendations.
Having said that, based on our experience, we can safely say that Django is a great fit for the vast majority of projects, no matter their size or level of complexity.
This universal, flexible, and self-sufficient framework goes hand-in-hand with modern trends such as machine learning and data science, helping you create an end-to-end product rapidly.
Importantly, starting your project with Rails means that you might struggle to switch to another framework later. In the rare case you ever change your mind about Django, you can easily swap it out for another solution in the future.
If you’re still in doubt, this article will help you by giving you an honest overview of both frameworks, and hopefully, by the end of it, we’ll be able to show you that Django is simply the superior option.
Django is an open-source, general-purpose framework based on Python. That means it’s the ideal choice if you want to develop a product in one of the best and most popular programming languages at the moment. But it’s not the only advantage it has over Rails.
Django remains so widely used due to its incredible ease of use that allows for complex projects to be carried out effortlessly. It allows quick, practical development in a way few other frameworks do.
Ruby on Rails is also open source but uses Ruby instead of Python, which limits its versatility compared to Django. Nonetheless, it remains a pretty popular web framework because of its default structures that can save you some time.
The main idea behind Ruby is eliminating the need to repeat tasks—instead, it gives you the tools to easily adapt what you already have to the needs of your project.
What framework you use for your product will determine its cost, speed, and scale, so to thoroughly understand how each of these frameworks can impact your project, it’s important to understand how they differ.
To help you with that, we’ve compiled a list of most important differences between Django and Ruby on Rails in the form of an easy-to-digest, comprehensive graphic that will show you where Django beats Rails.
We’ll once again stress that Django is based on Python, and Rails operates on Ruby. However, we won’t go too deep into the technicalities and explain every minute technical difference between the two languages.
It might seem trivial, but this one trait alone makes the world of a difference.
Ruby is not without its benefits, as it gives programmers some freedom to fine-tune a project to their needs, but due to its declining popularity it might be challenging to ensure the highest quality of your product using it.
Python, however, is much more clear and readable, ensuring that a team of developers can accomplish tasks quicker, but most importantly safer, thanks to numerous updates.
Add the fact that there are over 10 million developers fluent in Python, and you get a language that allows you to assemble an efficient team for whatever project you might have in store much more easily.
From the user standpoint, there’s one thing that both frameworks have in common that really makes them stand out: an incredibly functional UI.
Django and Ruby were both designed with a high-end experience in mind and lots of room for plugins and add-ons to allow for a completely personalized experience.
Both Ruby and Django offer great performance. Ruby on Rails has a slight edge in terms of speed, being 0.7% faster than Django, but the difference is so negligible and both perform so well that we can’t really say this is a solid point against Django.
The process of installation, however, differs quite significantly.
Ruby on Rails requires pre-existing knowledge of its various aspects in order to successfully install them. Django, on the other hand, can be installed in the blink of an eye. It’s much more straightforward, making it the ideal option if you look for a smooth experience.
Security is an incredibly important aspect of operating online nowadays and no website can afford to cut corners when it comes to the security measures. That would mean the risk of facing some serious data leaks, potentially harming those visiting your website as well as you in legal fees.
Django and Ruby on Rails both have impressive security levels. However, Python is used by NASA itself, and there’s no doubt they mean business when it comes to data security. Using middleware, Django apps are protected from XSS and SQL injections, among other online threats.
What’s more, just like we’ve mentioned before, Django is way more frequently updated and as the language evolves, it provides better security.
Ruby has some serious limits to what you can do with it because it’s mostly used to develop web apps. Meanwhile, Django offers a lot more flexibility.
In the end, though, you can still be limited by the information and experience you have access to, so let’s see how well supported the two are.
We’re not going to tell you Rails doesn’t have a thriving community, but the fact is that Django gets to enjoy the advantages of the gigantic community around Python, so there are numerous individuals out there who will help you out at any time.
As an open-source framework, Django has a dedicated base of active users that can provide a ton of tools and libraries that will make your experience much smoother. If you encounter any problem, you can be sure you’ll find a community that has already analyzed similar problems and come up with numerous solutions.
Ruby on Rails also has a community that will offer you support, it’s just that Django’s community is more than twice as large.
So far we’ve shown you some of the most basic differences between these two languages, and this initial analysis has already shown the advantages Django has over Ruby on Rails. Having said that, let’s now focus on what exactly Rails has to offer, and what other shortcomings you should be aware of.
As we’ve already mentioned, Rails is a bit less focused on flexibility and giving you room for bespoke solutions, and instead comes with a lot of defaults that can later be customized.
Ruby on Rails thus allows you to make a lot of shortcuts in the development process, smoothing things out especially if you don’t have a dedicated engineering team. Two terms you’ll see thrown around quite often with Ruby are “plugins” and “gems”—components that work on application and system levels, respectively.
The code used in Rails is rather easy to read and write if you learn with the right resources. What’s more, the code doesn’t require many alterations during migration.
So if you find yourself needing to switch teams around during development or add new members, there will be little need for micromanagement. That being said, this will apply only to the early stages of your project development and we’ll explain why later on.
There are a lot of resources online created by dedicated users that will support you along the way: guides, tutorials, videos, and other resources to get you started, as well as free plugins to help you adjust Rails to your whims.
While it’s not impossible to build an API using Ruby on Rails, the task isn’t exactly the easiest. This wouldn’t be an issue if Django didn’t have REST to rely on to make this aspect much easier.
Rails can be somewhat easy to migrate and modify, and allows for a lot of freedom in terms of coding. However, this freedom has some serious consequences—it is very easy to build up technical debt.
The code gradually becomes more complex and harder to read, making working on a project for an extended period of time harder and harder as time goes on and creating a high entry barrier.
You might soon end up too dependent only on people who know the code inside and out, and realize that training new developers on the now very complex code is extremely time-consuming.
While you’ll find a whole host of plugins and gems online, some are more popular than others. Those less sought after will often have very poor documentation, if any at all, due to Ruby’s declining popularity. In cases like that, instead of just being told what it does and how it works, you’ll have to figure it out yourself by studying the code.
While there’s no denying that Ruby on Rails has something interesting to offer, we can’t hide the simple fact that Django offers significantly more.
It may seem that a lot of the benefits are contextual and will depend on your individual needs, but in reality, Django’s advantages are more noteworthy. Here are some that we consider the most important, along with a couple of downsides you should be aware of.
With that said, it is worth noting that there are only minor disadvantages of working with Django as opposed to the objections we have when it comes to developing with Ruby on Rails.
Django can be safely defined as mature software. It’s been 17 years since its initial release, and it’s enough for the largest online community of all Python frameworks to flourish.
There are so many plugins out there that you can make developing pretty much anything possible, and if you ever have any questions, the same community will come to your aid.
Django’s admin panel is an incredibly useful tool that makes managing your CMS a child’s play. Most importantly, you don’t have to add it yourself—it comes right out of the box.
REST is something totally unique to Django and it may be one of the strongest reasons to choose it over Rails.
In essence, it’s a tool that allows you to create APIs with ease. All it takes is three lines of code and you have yourself an incredibly flexible API.
Add to that plenty of QOL options, such as JSON serializers and deserializers, API routing, documentation, authentication modules, etc., and you’ll have an exceptionally versatile tool at your disposal.
One of the biggest advantages of Django is its exceptional versatility. This framework allows for building all sorts of different things: from scientific and financial platforms or powerful websites, through social networks, to content management systems—and many, many more.
Additionally, Django works remarkably well in such demanding industries like fintech, where products have to be secure, trustworthy, and adhere to both state and international regulations.
Django is incredibly easy to get into straight away, but it’s in part due to its monolith architecture. There’s little room for modification here, which at the same time makes it much harder to mess up the code.
In short, if you need a solution that will let you really look under the hood and deconstruct every little detail, Django won’t let you do that.
If you’re developing in Django, you need to be prepared to write a lot of your own code. In the end, this will pay off with a more personalized result, but you still should take that added workload into consideration.
Thank you for reading our comparison of Django and Ruby on Rails. We hope that it helped you understand the advantage one has over the other.
When it comes down to it, Ruby on Rails has its uses, and you may find some situations where it will be enough. However, our professional experience shows that in most cases, Django would work perfectly where Ruby on Rails would only do a decent job or even won’t do at all.
So why risk frustration when you can simply choose the safest and, at the same time, most attractive option?
With an incredibly large community and tons of resources available online, as well as the ease of use and ability to get projects going sooner, Django is the optimal solution for most projects, no matter the industry.
STX Next is one of the leading Django and Python experts on the market. We’ll gladly share our experience in over 320 Django projects, and support you with services ranging from a code audit to end-to-end development.
If you enjoyed this article, we have other useful resources on Django and Python you might be interested in, such as:
And if you have any other Django-related questions or needs, why not contact us? Take a look at the software development services we provide, then reach out to us and we’ll gladly help you build the digital product you need!