Before we answer what Django itself is, let’s first try to understand what a framework is.
Frameworks are collections of modules used to simplify web development. Since modules are grouped together, creating apps or websites from scratch becomes seamless with a framework. This is how a single person can develop websites with advanced functionalities like authentication support, contact forms, management and admin panels, etc.
In other words, if you were building a website from scratch with nothing but a programming language, you’d have to create all the individual components by yourself. However, a framework comes with in-built components, so all you have to do is configure them properly to align with your site.
Django is a high-level web framework written in Python that is free and open-source. Created by Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison in 2005, it features a vast collection of classes, libraries, and modules that can be implemented in your individual projects.
Built by experienced developers, Django aims to speed up the development process and encourages pragmatic design. As a result, it saves you from a lot of wasted time and headaches, helping you focus on writing your app without trying to reinvent the wheel.
Furthermore, if you’re wondering, “Is Django frontend or backend?” the answer is that it was created with frontend developers in mind.
Since Django is written in Python, its template language feels comfortable and easy to learn, even for those who are used to working with HTML, such as designers and frontend developers. Nonetheless, it’s also highly flexible and extensible, allowing you to improve the template language as required.
The key point is that the Django framework can offer great value when working with Python for web applications or web design.
When answering the question, “What is Python Django?” we must also try to understand the unique features of this particular framework.
The primary intent of creating Django was to help developers build applications in less time. It’s worth mentioning that a lot of frameworks cover this as their main feature. However, Django offers much more than just making the project implementation phase quicker, which is what sets it apart from its competitors.
Very often, tiny tasks like creating server files for each operation and then connecting them consume half the development time and budget. Nevertheless, they are still integral components of a fully functional website. Django simplifies this kind of work for developers through two principles.
First, Django’s principle of rapid development allows developers to perform multiple iterations at the same time without having to start from scratch. Second, the DRY or “Don’t Repeat Yourself” principle lets developers reuse existing code as many times as they want for a different project or create additional features for the same project.
Therefore, developers can spend less time working on smaller tasks and focus more on creating unique features for their websites. In addition, they can ship the project to market a lot quicker.
To say that Django is extremely secure would be an understatement. Django’s security goes beyond all of the basic security features.
Let’s face it, developers sometimes procrastinate when programming minor development tasks. However, when you’re developing a web application from scratch—especially within a short period of time due to looming deadlines—you run the risk of accidentally introducing security vulnerabilities into the module.
Traditionally, those loopholes were left open for backend developers to work on. But Django comes with an out-of-the-box security system that bridges all security gaps in the development process by default. This means you can rest easy knowing Django will do its job.
Even if you can’t immediately tell the quality and security of work offered by Django, just ask a backend developer. The common security issues covered by Django include cross-site scripting, clickjacking, and SQL injection.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Django offers rapid development without compromising security. The framework frequently releases new security patches that will protect your data. In addition, it quickly responds to vulnerabilities and often alerts other frameworks. It’s typically hard to achieve this level of security at a massive scale with high-level code using other technologies.
Django is a versatile framework that can be used to create a wide array of applications in various domains. It works brilliantly to implement projects of all sizes and capacities—whether you’re looking to build a high-load web application or a simple website.
While Django’s logical project structure and MVT architecture might sometimes seem quite limiting, the truth is that it’s loaded with extra features and offers a solid foundation that can be used to create an application that handles heavy traffic and huge volumes of data. In addition, it’s cross-platform, meaning you can base your project on Linux, Mac, or PC—whatever works best for you.
Furthermore, Django can be integrated with almost any existing technology you’re already working with or any upcoming ones. After all, there’s a reason why Django is said to be the future of web development: it works with almost all major databases. You can work with the ideal database for your project or even use multiple databases simultaneously.
Companies across the world are using Django to create a wide array of applications, such as social networking sites, content management systems, scientific computing programs, and more.
Django is based on the Python programming language, whose syntax is similar to the English language. This makes it relatively easier to master, which is one of the main reasons why a lot of developers choose to learn both this language and framework.
In addition, Django has matured well over the years. It boasts a vast, supportive community that can easily be accessed through various forums, channels, and dedicated websites. So, it’s always easier to find help when you hit a roadblock in your development process or need to find developers for a Django project.
Django also has the best documentation compared to other open-source frameworks on the market. In fact, it already began with excellent documentation, which is only being improved through regular updates and fixes.
Good documentation for any technology is like a massive library—you can search for any desired function seamlessly. Furthermore, the better documented a technology, the easier developers other than its own creators can use it. So, developers can be sure that it won’t be hard for them to figure out Django for a specific use case.
Django features the “Model, View, and Template” framework, also known as the MVT framework. Typically, MVT is considered an alternative to the MVC framework, wherein the C stands for “Controller.”
Now, you may be wondering how MVT is different from MVC and why one is better than the other.
The main difference between the two framework types is that the Django architecture itself serves as the controller and handles all its responsibilities. Or in simpler terms, Django’s templates handle all the controller-related tasks. So, what do the other three components do?
The model is a component that acts as the interface of your data. It links the user interface and the database, and is responsible for maintaining data. The model is the logical brain behind the entire application and is characterized by a database. Some of the most common relational databases include MySQL and Postgres.
Templates make it easy to create a web application from scratch; for instance, when performing a complex operation or function. A template comprises static parts of a specific HTML output and some special syntax that describes how to insert dynamic data.
A dynamic website is capable of sending and receiving changing data. Dynamic data is typically associated with scenarios where users are offered personalized content. For example, transactions in fintech products or social media posts often involve dynamic data.
Before we get to the technical instructions, let’s start by making a distinction between Django projects and Django applications.
A Django project is a high-level collection of configuration files and apps that serves as the logical part governing your entire web application.
A Django application is a subunit of the Django project that is self-sufficient and written to perform business logic. A Django project can be made up of zero to numerous apps.
The peculiar thing about Django apps is that they aren’t linked to or dependent on other apps included under the same or different Django project. So, in theory, you can pick an app from one project and drop it into another with or without making any modifications.
To give you a practical example, think of the Django project as a whole website and Django apps as individual components of that website, such as an app for articles, an app for fixtures and results, and an app for ranking tables. The applications interact with each other through well-documented public classes and accessor methods.
Now that we know what a Django project and app are, let’s dive deeper into the steps involved in creating a basic Django project.
To begin a new Django project, you should run the following command: Django-admin startproject myproject.
Running the command above generates a base folder structure for your Django project, containing five basic files by default. A simple project structure is enough to build a single-page application.
Before moving further, let’s take a look at the five files and what they’re responsible for.
Another great thing about Django is that it comes with a web server installed, making it quite easy to run the project locally during the development phase. You can test the project you created by running the command: python manage.py runserver.
As mentioned earlier, Django projects are made up of Django apps that help you organize the source code. It’s quite important to note that you can’t run a Django app without a Django project. So, now that we’ve created a Django project, it’s time to create a Django app. There are two ways to go about creating such an app.
First, you can use the django-admin command line utility and run the following code: Django-admin startapp <new app>. Second, you can use the manage.py file to execute the startapp command: $ python manage.py startapp <new app>.
After the startapp command is executed, you’ll see a new folder with the name you’ve given it—in this case, “new app”—added to your previous folder structure. The folder will also contain a couple of other Python files.
While creating your web application, the Django app folder is where you’ll be spending a lot of your time. You’ll also be using the settings.py folder often, but you’ll build most of the functionality inside the Django app “new app.”
In your directory, you’ll find additional files at this stage, other than the five basic files we described during the Django project creation phase. Here’s what those files are and what they do:
At this point, you’re done setting up a Django project that contains a Django app. Now, it’s time to start implementing your ideas. From here on out, it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with Django or which unique projects you wish to create.
If you look at Django’s past, you’ll learn that this Python framework was initially developed to power the Lawrence Journal-World, a newspaper publisher’s web application.
With that in mind, it’s obvious that Django can be an ideal framework for projects involving a vast amount of content, media files, or web traffic—and that is exactly where Django was used at first.
Nonetheless, developers soon realized that Django had a huge potential outside the publishing industry. So, they began embracing this framework to build ecommerce websites, travel and booking industry applications, social media platforms, etc.
Currently, Django is no longer limited to a single or even a few industries; it’s being used to create a wide array of projects in almost every sector, as shown below:
It’s encouraging to see a lot of companies around the world embrace Django, and it’s even better to learn exactly what Django is being used for right now to get a better idea of the numerous possibilities you can tap into by leveraging this framework.
Among the most popular websites using Django are:
Other players on the list include Disqus, Bitbucket, National Geographic, and Last.fm. For more examples of Django applications, consider going through the Django Sites database. They have a list of more than 5,000 (!) Django-powered websites.
Before launching a new software project with Django, you should make sure that the framework is a good fit for your objectives. Start by asking yourself what matters to you the most about the new project. Is it versatility? Security? Support?
Your answers to those questions will help you make more informed choices and quite possibly build a great web application with Django.
Most often, organizations that leverage Django for their web applications do so because they’re looking to develop a product quickly. Django works on the design principles and patterns that encourage reusable code. Specifically, it takes the “Don’t Repeat Yourself” principle seriously. Meaning, developers don’t have to perform unnecessary duplication, which reduces the amount of code and allows for quick changes or updates in the future.
Additionally, Django is very efficient at preventing common security breaches. So, developers don’t have to spend their time working on the basic security features of a web application, which means additional savings in development time.
This is how popular web applications like Instagram, Disqus, and Pinterest were able to quickly get to the market, handle the vast inflow of users, and seamlessly add new features and functionalities.
That being said, let’s look at when you should use Django. Go through the statements below and see how many of them apply to your situation. The more statements you agree with, the better Django will be suited for your project.
Even if you strongly agree with all the points mentioned in the section above, Django might not be a good fit for your project in the following cases:
Django features a complete set of tools that can be used to build a wide array of web applications. In addition, it strikes the right balance between rapid development and enterprise features while offering a clean design, which is what makes it a popular and even beloved web framework.
Nonetheless, you should analyze your unique situation before deciding to choose Django for your project. To give you a better idea of whether you’re on the right track, here are a few great tools that could be created using Django:
Awareness of those purposes should help you further determine whether or not it’s a good idea for you to consider Django for your web application project development.
In the last decade, the popularity of Python has skyrocketed, resulting in Django’s wide adoption. Nevertheless, that wasn’t the only reason why various organizations chose to use Django. Three main causes that led to the framework’s rise in popularity involved:
As we’ve mentioned earlier in this guide, a Django project typically comprises several Django apps. So, a web application can be split into numerous reusable apps, which are essentially Python packages that could be further used independently to create other projects.
This helps with code organization and is also time-efficient, as you won’t have to spend time writing code for your Django project from scratch all over again.
An ORM, or object–relational mapper, is essentially a library or a set of tools that connects the web application to its database. For instance, think SQLAlchemy, Sequelize, or TypeORM. The problem with other ORMs is that you have to find a way to bring numerous queries to work together and also handle their migrations, seeding, etc.
At the same time, Django offers all of these to you on a silver platter. All you have to do is plug in your database credentials, and this awesome framework will handle the rest. Meaning, you can express queries and manipulate your database to get results without writing raw SQL code.
Experts call this feature of Django an engineering marvel that takes advantage of complex aspects of Python to make the entire development process fast and error-free.
A lot of frameworks have tried to make their admin panel user-friendly and easy to navigate. However, the Django framework’s default admin panel is different.
Now, some people feel that Django’s default admin panel isn’t very flexible, and customization takes a lot of effort. While this may be partly true when you’re just getting started with the framework, once you get familiar with Django, you’ll find that the slight learning curve is worth the effort.
The default Django admin panel is well-structured and serves as a model-centric interface that allows developers as well as non-technical staff to collaborate on content and processes. As a result, it considerably takes the pressure off your shoulders when managing an application.
Basically, the admin panel is a backend control panel that can save you a significant amount of time by allowing you to create, update, and delete objects in the database. In fact, the panel can be customized to do pretty much anything you want it to.
Depending on your projects, you can use the Django admin panel as-is or replace it with custom templates. In either case, working with the admin panel is rather straightforward. The best thing about it is that you get permissions and authentication modules, which would otherwise take days or even weeks to build from scratch.
Just like Django’s natively supported programming language Python, the framework has grown over the years. The chart above from Google Trends makes that much clear.
Furthermore, according to the 2020 JetBrains Developers’ Survey, the Django web framework was found to be the second most popular Python-based framework after Flask that year.
Fast forward to 2022 and Django’s popularity still hasn’t faded. It was voted the second most popular backend framework after Laravel. Django, with 61,614 repository stars, had managed to not only overtake Flask but also maintain its second position in the last two years.
There’s little doubt that Django’s popularity will ever fade. It has matured very well over the years through various updates and improvements. The most recent version 4.1.3, released in November 2022, fixed a bug from its previous version and presented Django as a complete web application framework.
That combined with the many renowned websites leveraging this fantastic Python framework means there will likely be no end to further development of and support for Django.
“What is Django used for? Why use Django? Is Django backend?”
Those are just some of the questions we answered in this article. We also covered a lot of unique Django features and looked at a few of the best Django apps to give you an idea of what you can do with Django. Finally, we included a small tutorial that should help you create your first Django project and app.
While this mini-Django guide has hopefully given you some insight into why Django is so popular and why you should choose it, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to learn about this great Python framework, which would be hard to cover in a single article.
With an active and supportive Django Community of developers helping each other, there’s no doubt why Django makes for an excellent choice for projects of all shapes and sizes.
In fact, Django is an ideal option for projects involving large amounts of content (media files), high traffic, user interactions, and complex functions or technology (machine learning). At the same time, it’s also simple enough for smaller projects, or if you have plans to scale your project up in the future. This is why many businesses of varying sizes and objectives use Django.
If you’d like to polish your Django skills further, consider going through the following resources on our website:
Last but not least, if you need a customizable, scalable, and secure application built using Django, feel free to check out the Django development services we offer. Also, should you have any other questions about Django, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’d love to help you with that or anything else you may need.