Django is a mature framework written in Python that has been around since 2003. It aims to make software development projects easier to build. Django was initially developed as an in-house framework to manage a series of online news websites.
Why use Django?
Many projects can have a common set of core issues, in addition to project-specific ones. This is where Django comes in. As the Django Software Foundation (DSF) puts it:
“Django makes it easier to build better Web apps more quickly and with less code … so you can focus on writing your app without needing to reinvent the wheel.”
Developers use the Django framework because it has the power to take care of a lot of the “heavy lifting”, so you can focus on the bigger picture. In addition, it is a massive time-saver that can help a developer get projects over the line quickly and efficiently.
History of Django
Django grew organically from real-world applications written by a web development team in Kansas, USA, when programmers began using Python to build applications at the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper.
Their World Online team, responsible for producing and maintaining several local news sites, thrived in a development environment dictated by journalism deadlines. There were three online newspapers owned and supported by the team:
The journalists demanded that features be added and entire applications be built on incredibly short deadlines.
To avoid repeatedly building the same types of pages, the developers set about building a framework that suited their needs under such pressure. They called the framework Django after a shared love of the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Two years later, the developers publicly released its source code, and the Django team developed and contributed to the open-source model.
What can you use Django for?
Because Django was created in a news environment, it has built-in features that are very suited to content management, such as an admin interface where developers and users can add and edit content and elements through a backdoor interface available only for authorised users.
Most data-driven web applications require some administration screens to add and modify data, whether that data includes registered users on the site or products being sold.
In keeping with its DRY philosophy, it allows you to administer your model data through a web page, courtesy of a built-in administration module – thus saving you from having to build your own from scratch. And, to enable the existence of authorised and Authenticated users, Django also comes with pre-built authentication functionality.
But don’t think that Django is limited to just content management. It’s much more powerful and flexible than that.
Django works brilliantly with databases. The framework can take developer-defined Python classes known as models and automatically create database tables and their relationships for us. Also, any changes to models can be automatically reflected in database schemas.
This pattern is known as Object Relational Mapping (ORM). A model is the single, definitive source of information about your data. It contains the essential fields and behaviours of the data you’re storing.
Generally, each model maps to a single database table. To quickly get up and running, Django comes with the SQLite database for development and testing. Like other full-stack frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, etc., Django adheres to the philosophy of “convention over configuration.”
The means that the developer only needs to specify the unconventional aspects of the application. For example, if there is a class called Blog in our model (code), the framework will create a corresponding table in the database that is called “Blog” by default. It is only if you stray from this convention, such as calling the table “the blog table”, that you need to explicitly write the code to do that.
Django and the Python community
Django has steadily become a favourite amongst the Python development community. Djangosites.org lists 5,522 sites built with this framework, the most famous being Instagram and Disqus.
Because it’s a free full-stack framework, Django serves as a perfect starting point if you are new to web frameworks. In addition, its documentation is rich and mature, which is a major plus for anyone trying to tackle the intricacies of a data-driven project. Also, Django’s admin interface is great for data entry and testing during the early stages.
To quote Django’s official website:
“Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Built by experienced developers, it takes care of much of the hassle of Web development, so you can focus on writing your app without needing to reinvent the wheel. It’s free and open source.”
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