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456 points by b_mc2 37 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 167 comments



I really feel like Python has an embarrassment of riches in terms of web frameworks. Django, Flask, and even FastAPI are master classes in how to build great open source projects that will survive the test of time. In my opinion they're a huge reason why Python continues to be a popular language for backend development.


Why not the other way around?

What did Python have relative to other languages that inspired these developers to devote so much energy into their projects?

They could have chosen PHP, Ruby, Node, Go, Java, etc.

If I think back to ~2012 I remember that compared to other languages Python had:

1) Decent package management and "virtualization" (via virtualenv)

2) Nice balance of expressiveness and strictness

3) Was fun to write, hard to explain but it was the vibe

4) Decent enough performance for most things

5) Lots of developer tooling for debugging and stuff

It felt like the least messy of the scripting languages.

- Everyone knows all the issues PHP had, no need to list it all here

- Ruby was cool but there were a thousand ways to do the same thing

- Node was inheriting that weird web language with all its quirks

- Go was just in its infancy

- Java was the kitchen sink


"Back in 2012", Django was already 7 years old and had taken most of the market share of the first generation of Python web libraries and frameworks. This included that strange beast that was once considered the "standard" Python web system, Zope. Bluntly, Django had a much better development experience overall than the older web options.

(Mind you, the likes of Zope and CherryPy are still out there and under development. You just don't hear about them much.)

Up until about 2010, web dev in Python was converging hard on Django. It took Flask and similar small frameworks to bring back variety, and all of those had to meet the requirement of better than Django in at least some narrow sense, if only in being much lighter, to get any uptake.


don't leave Pyramid out of the picture, it powers key infrastructure pypi.


There were many early Python web systems that are still in active development, so I kinda do have to leave someone out. But good call in mentioning Pyramid. :)


Python had PyPI and scientific packages.

It’s an attractive language for people who want to integrate existing packages into a solution instead of creating everything from scratch.

Poorly written software that correctly implements science/physics tends to be more valuable than expertly written software that encodes a science/physics defect.


People who aren’t software engineers don’t really care about exotic language features. They care more about packages, developer experience, documentation, tutorials, and how difficult it is to share code with teammates.


I mentioned this in another comment below, but scientific packages were often ignored when building web services and APIs and that's the context in which Django/Flask were built.

At the time the scientific packages were extremely heavy and best avoided in production environments. Some people did it anyway but removed it once they needed to scale. Simply installing these packages was a huge pain and blocked one's ability to provision new machines, for example.

PyPI was indeed a big benefit. Ruby Gems are also what made Ruby so competitive at the time.


Slapping some scipy, sklearn, or pandas stuff into Django was a pretty workable solution even back when. Just want to sing the the praises. I've slayed a lot of normal size (as opposed to big) data problems with Django/Flask. Rub some JS charting on top of it and people thought you were a wizard.


Oh it was workable. Until it wasn't. I specifically remember extricating a high throughput web service from pandas. Having to scale made that stuff harder. If it was some app that a few thousand people were using, no problem.


> If it was some app that a few thousand people were using, no problem.

You’re right, scale is absolutely an issue for companies that sell software or that are very large.

Also important to consider that most companies use software internally instead of selling b2b or b2c. Fewer than 500 businesses in the US employ more than a few thousand employees* (https://fortune.com/fortune500/2020/search/?f500_%20employee...) and there are over 17.5 million businesses (https://www.naics.com/business-lists/counts-by-company-size/).

* I may be wrong in my assumption that the Fortune 500 companies are the largest employers


Even then, scaling is an almost self-solving issue, as it usually comes with money attached, which buys quite a lot of engineering hours spent on scaling things. Overscaling in advance on the other hand with all of its associated complexity and slowdown killed many, many companies.


Inability to scale because the application was fundamentally unscalable has also killed many companies. And for those it didn't kill it significantly hurt their earning potential (and ultimately everyone's payout).

There's a balance and it's more delicate than people give it credit these days. Don't get me wrong though... over-engineering and/or premature optimization is just as bad. But there is an opposite extreme as well.


Ruby had all of your points 1-5. I don't think the difference was 'a thousand ways to do the same thing' (python has many ways to do the same thing also, and ruby's approach made it 'more fun') but some of the core libraries - especially things like numpy, pandas, scipy, etc. that both increased performance, simplified a wide variety of tasks and also attracted a broader range of users (mostly the 'scientific community').


This is anecdotal, but my experience was that Ruby was fashionable in the wrong kind of ways.

For example...

Ruby doesn't have primitive data types. Everything, including strings, are just objects. This level of purity is quite nice and "cleaner" in a conceptual sense. Until you encounter a large codebase with hundreds of monkey patches. Or, something I saw a lot, the extending of "base" data types such as String.

I must admit that my memory is a little hazy here, but I remember that it was impossible to find language tooling that allowed me to "jump to definition" of anything I encountered. Ruby was so free-form with so much ambiguity that at the time it just didn't exist. I'm sure this has been resolved by now. In Python we had "Jedi" and other tools that worked really well for this purpose.

You'd be browsing a Ruby codebase, see `some_str.foo`, and wonder:

1) Is foo a method or a property? In Ruby a function call doesn't need parenthesis if it takes no arguments.

2) Where is foo? I don't remember it being part of the standard library. Where is it defined?

3) If I do find foo, did something else monkey patch it? How would I know?

4) If I need to pass an argument into foo, should I factor it out of String? At what point am I overloading a base class like String with too much functionality?

These are very real questions and the answers are important. Come across enough of these scenarios (remember this is just one example w/ Ruby) and you eventually give up trying to understand the codebase at that level. Everything becomes a black box, everything is magic.

Do these footguns exist in Python? Sort of. You can't extend primitive types and monkey patching doesn't fit so cleanly into a normal program (think of it as "friction"). There was less ambiguity in Python's syntax. And the language community promoted a list of idioms which was helpful for discouraging bad practices.

These things may seem subtle but they made a pretty big difference at the time.

> especially things like numpy, pandas, scipy, etc

These libraries were generally avoided when building web services, APIs, etc. The context of this discussion is Flask and the engineer(s) who built it were generally working in the world of live services. Dropbox, Reddit, and other YC companies made heavy use of Python as live service type software. Data analytics stuff def existed but different context.

The reason numpy and friends were avoided was due to the complexity of installing them. The dependency list was enormous and some of those dependencies needed to be compiled on the fly. Scientific packages also typically shipped with very large datasets to support whatever complex computing they were doing (think training data).

The 'scientific community' played a small part in the creation of the frameworks discussed here. If they did, it was more that Python was one of the first languages that the creators picked up in University.


Ruby has comparatively crappy documentation (still does, arguably worse now because the Pickaxe is no longer updated), and also had a very weak non-Rails English-language community, but comparison to Python (by rumor, it had a much stronger Japanese language community, but I can't attest to that.)

If you were doing something nontrivial where the interesting part weren't the kind of things Rails/ActiveSupport addressed, those factors alone (before even considering language/library features) made it a lot more of an uphill climb with Ruby.


Go and Node were infants back then

Java was (and still is) insanely heavyweight

Ruby was tied to the hip with Rails despite being more than capable on its own and being much more expressive than Python (IMO). Python is faster though.

PHP was (and still is) PHP


We were shipping Go services all the way back in 2011! A bunch of my friends were working at other well known companies (of the time) and shipping Go stuff. Service based architecture was pretty popular and people were experimenting a lot.

Walmart picked up Node.js in 2012. Not for their core stuff obviously but they were running a bunch of internal services with it.

LinkedIn was evaluating it alongside Ruby (EventMachine) and Python (Twisted). They ended up picking Node for some of their services.

Highly concurrent green-thread-ish type stuff was all the rage. Go and Node were the front runners. Python was the conservative choice. Ruby was hipster choice :P


Love Ruby method chaining and .tap(). Ruby was the language I could most “think in” and write a lot of stuff then have it just work like I figure it would. Python makes me roll my eyes having to explicitly handle a bunch of random small errors, like it’s being overly pedantic. I’m also not a fan of significant whitespace, which is another reason I prefer JSON to YAML (along with always having to look up if I need a hyphen on a line or not).


Ruby has Sinatra, which is much closer to Flask than to Rails.


> What did Python have relative to other languages that inspired these developers to devote so much energy into their projects?

Not a popular opinion, but Python had Google.


Google App Engine was ahead of it’s time, but unfortunately not very good if you weren’t trying to write a webapp with the intention of scaling it on Google hosting.


Sadly Python has stood still in the interim, focusing mostly on completing the migration from 2 to 3, by which point the competition was much farther along and continuing to innovate at a rapid pace (performance, package management, type system, tooling, etc).


Honestly, I'm having a hard time buying this opinion. Python3 has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and much of those changes have been for the better.


I guess I’ll preface by saying I’ve been developing and operating Python services for about a decade, and I did a bunch of Python before that in various capacities. I’ve made a lot of money with Python, and I’m not one of the people who tars a language without having used it in anger.

Those changes have largely been incremental and/or questionable.

Python has async now, which is cool, but anyone calling a sync call or some poorly optimized algorithm anywhere in the stack can bring the entire application down.

Type hints are moving slowly in the right direction, but they’re still really cumbersome and mypy is still a pain to use (publishing type hints, recursive types, loading type hints, etc). Last I tried it (admittedly it’s been a year since I was deep in the Python game) it was still pretty beta quality.

Package management still sucks.

Deployment still sucks. Yeah, Docker helps, but it also makes some things worse, like local dev and build times and so on. And there aren’t many good solutions for distributing CLIs and other apps to users—some of the zip things work okay but they don’t close over the runtime, stdlib, or shared objects. Moreover, Python dependency zips can be huuuge—we were busting the 250MB lambda limit (compressed—this was back when lambda had a limit, pretty sure they upped/removed it since) meanwhile a comparable Go binary weighed in at 6MB.

Performance still sucks. Yeah, the 3.11 improvements will feel big to a Python programmer, but 40% (made up number) faster than 1000X slower than Go is still really slow (yeah, “just write the slow parts in C/Numpy/multiprocessing/whatever” works once in a while, but very often it doesn’t and it’s basically impossible to know from the project’s outset whether all of its bottlenecks will be amenable to that particular optimization).

So to summarize areas where Python has been left in the dust (probably an incomplete list):

* Performance

* Package management

* Static type system

* Deployment

* Async


Async took forever too. Node was already being evaluated against Python/Twisted back in the early 2010s (and winning!).

Great point about package management. Go already had it figured out. Node was busy figuring it out (npm shrinkwrap; still sucked but less so).

Any time I talked to people about Python the conversation was about 2to3 and core team drama lol


Go really didn't figure package management until very recently.


Well, 2018, or about 6 years after 1.0. Granted it took some time to polish rough edges and get the ecosystem moved over to it.


And on top of that, if you’re using Django, async support is still incomplete and will be for at least another year


I was pondering this for quite a while, and overall I'm struggling to see why would it be more than "nice to have". Minor performance gains that very few companies would actually need? That's pretty meh. Chats and SSE and reactive stuff? Even with async, django doesn't fit those applications well. Other than getting on with the cool kids, why do you feel that async support in Django is particularly important?


You are 100% correct.

For the types of applications built with Django, async is actually more of a hinderance than a benefit. Async I/O can create massive back pressure in a distributed system.

A simple example would be a web service that gets a massive influx of traffic (organic or DDoS, doesn't matter). If the web service is using async I/O to manage database connections with an unlimited connection pool (often the default) then it will happily accept all incoming requests and push all of that pressure onto the database. The database gets overwhelmed because it's inherited all of that traffic. The database starts refusing connections not just to the web service but any service that connects to the database. And boom, you have system wide outage.

Obviously the database should guard against this kind of overwhelming traffic but that's often thought about last.

Diagnosing the problem becomes a lot harder since your bottleneck is further downstream. It gets messy.

Synchronous services on the other hand create a nice throttle. Your Django app is never going to achieve the kind of throughput that your database will. So, by design, your Django app will get overwhelmed first because it won't accept new connections (eg: maybe it runs out of memory).

That being said I still think it makes sense for Django to support it. Not for a chat app, but say... web sockets. You may want a websocket connection that pushes notifications back to a single-page-app. The notifications will contain a bunch of contextual data that the Django framework provides easy access to (think ORM, templates, etc). Obviously you could build the websocket thing as a separate service but then you lose all the goodies that Django provides to you.


Same with many SDKs. I haven’t looked into it recently, but IIRC there is mo official async AWS SDK. I’m pretty sure there also is no async Kubernetes SDK either.


Has node got it figured out.

"Delete node-modules and try again" seems to be all to common in our developer chat system


The whole Node “works on my laptop” thing can be mostly resolved by ensuring that unit / intg tests run as a prerequisite for merging on a separate CI system with a clean (as in no existing node_modules) build workspace each time. It’s almost always down to bad package.json / package-lock.json practices // mixing in global packages.


F-strings and defaultdict make me dislike Python about 50% less. Date math still sucks compared to JS, and comprehensions tend to be less comprehensible reading code someone else wrote, but Python wasn’t really meant to be a functional lang.

All that said, I strongly believe that solving the right problem and working in a language that more of the dev team / company are comfortable with deploying / supporting / integrating with are way more important. I’ve seen far too many times what happens when a team at a BigCo “goes rogue” and wants to use something nonstandard, then has to re-solve dozens of solved problems because of that decision. It’s never been worth it in my experience. M


At the time, Python was the best choice, and nowadays since Python has all these frameworks that solve the problem there's less demand for an alternative in a different language if you can use the thing that already exists and has over a decade of battle-testing.


Core Python didn't include pip until a few years after that; package management with Python in 2012 was a confusing mess.


it has that xkcd comic.

no joke.


    import antigravity


exactly. check this out:

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=%...

see the inflection date? end of 2007. guess when that comic[0] was published

2007-12-15

mic drop

[0] https://xkcd.com/353/


It definitely had a minor positive effect on my feelings about learning Python later, when I was offered the professional opportunity.


Something not often mentioned: WSGI and ASGI do a great job at providing a common, well-thought abstraction to library writers.


I disagree about FastAPI in this list of frameworks. Django and Flask have great documentation, FastAPI does not. There is no API reference for FastAPI, so often you will have to read the source code to understand what options are available and how to use them. Also the FastAPI explanation about concurrency (https://fastapi.tiangolo.com/async/#concurrent-burgers) is terrible. It's filled with emojis and seems to be written for children.


It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in documentation. It made it really hard to take the entire project seriously.


I built a production app in Django last year, and I loved a lot of things about it, but I felt some important shortcomings.

Async support was clunky at best... The Django way of doing things has traditionally been to either use a queueing system like Celery or multi-threading, but I find first-class async like in Node is much easier for many typical web tasks (database I/O and calling external services).

I also faced issues with libraries for menial tasks. My setup was Django + React and JWT was poorly supported - the most popular auth library needed quite a bit of manual patching in code to make it all work. This was very surprising... I walked away with the feeling that some of the libs for what should be common use cases nowadays are not "production-grade".

DRF while powerful and well-documented also had a decent amount of quirks for things that were not so far at the edges.

Raw deployment on PaaS like Heroku and Elastic Beanstalk (tried both during the project, ended up settling on the latter) without Docker or K8s, also a bit messier than I'd have liked at times, but ultimately OK.

Things I really liked: models and the ORM (again the occasional niggle at the edges but good 98% of the time), most of DRF, Python itself, Python types, the admin panel, management commands, the custom commands "framework", testing.

But as it stands, with my qualms above, I think for the next project that deserves a full-batteries framework, I might give something like .Net or Spring + Kotlin a chance.


Just a few observations:

- Async... The Django way of doing things... Celery -> it's a background task system which is like bringing a bazooka to kill a fly for what you wanted to do (I assume proxying the request to an external API).

- database I/O and calling external services -> Use gunicorn gevent worker type that brings up the pseudo threads.

- JWT was poorly supported -> There's at least 5 battle tested libraries that you can use to implement JWT alone (simplejwt comes to mind first)

- the most popular auth library needed quite a bit of manual patching in code to make it all work -> Which one? There's few that are standard and most are easy to customize via global settings.

- Raw deployment on PaaS like Heroku and Elastic Beanstalk -> that's more on the platform rather than Django itself

- DRF -> I agree, DRF has it's own way of doing things and deviating from them can give you massive headaches.


> it's a background task system which is like bringing a bazooka to kill a fly for what you wanted to do

We actually used for things that were close to its purpose. Mainly scheduled background tasks. However, from what I could see in the Django world, sometimes there's also a temptation to use it for heavy CPU or network bound tasks.

> Use gunicorn gevent worker type that brings up the pseudo threads

My point still stands, more complex than async in Node.js, C# or Spring for example.

> There's at least 5 battle tested libraries that you can use to implement JWT alone (simplejwt comes to mind first)

Exactly what we used: dj-rest-auth (the supported one) with simplejwt plugin. And we encountered problems on a very simple use-case: simply sending the JWT to the client. I had to patch some code found in an obscure GitHub issue for the repo, which I cannot find right now, otherwise I would link to the issue itself.

> that's more on the platform rather than Django itself

Yes, mostly, I don't blame Django itself, but support for deployment is important for me and at the end of the day I do factor it in.

> DRF -> I agree, DRF has it's own way of doing things and deviating from them can give you massive headaches.

I would add, sometimes the way of doing things was not that clear... It was not always clear whether the convention was to annotate some data or do some intermediate computations in the models or in the serializers, and opinions on the internet varied wildly. But overall that comes with the territory in software development, again I don't think DRF itself was to blame, it does many things extremely well, and does offer many clear conventions.


> the most popular auth library needed quite a bit of manual patching in code to make it all work

Which one did you use?


It was dj-rest-auth, the version that continues to be supported, with the jwt plugin.


Definitely, the biggest hiccup has been the py3 migration. But generally, once a framework is stable on a major version, it seems to have very minor necessities for upkeep (though, changes for new features definitely can improve the functionality).

As to flask, I would love to see it reach the milestone that Openbox has achieved of “being done” and only really being updated for bug+security fixes or base language feature updates. As a “micro framework”, it has perfectly filled it’s necessary niche.


Sadly, if it were “done”, a lot of devs would complain that it was dead and stop using it.


> Sadly, if it were “done”, a lot of devs would complain that it was dead and stop using it

Both pessimistic and incorrect.

You can observe the vast number of libraries across all ecosystems that are in use, as reliable libraries, well into functional obsolescence. Not to say some niche software doesn't suffer the fate of "nothing new, so it's dead" but that's not the norm.

Web frameworks are never feature-complete, per se. There are always new technologies and workflows to support. Frameworks are usually considered dead when the development halts in exhaustion or in transition to another project (as individuals, the development team members drift to these modalities), not when they are "done" by some finite collection of features.


Django was the first web framework I took the time to learn about a decade ago.

I've learned a lot of different languages and done various types of projects, but whenever I get free time to start a personal project that has a web component in my favorite language at the time, I'm always a little bit sad I inevitably have to build out something that was just included in Django a decade ago.


Why not build the web component in Django, and the rest in your language of choice?


nodejs is still in bad shape in my opinion in this regard. There are many frameworks, but most of them are things that do not work stable or their features are not fully settled. maybe the problem is directly related to javascript, i don't know.


Not JavaScript but the way Node was originally designed.

When your business application reaches a point of "non-triviality" (for lack of a better term) you'd (hopefully) realize that you need to ditch Node ASAP or face growing pains.

To understand why requires some historical context.

During the time when Node was becoming popular most scripting languages had weird bottlenecks at the request level.

PHP: When a request was received, your whole application would load into memory. You know how an application might read a config file on startup? Yea, every single request would load that file. There was no concept of "global variables across all requests". That's one OS process per request. Sometimes process forking was used to make that faster but it didn't matter that much because your entire application needed to load for every request to be handled.

Python: You'd use a toolkit like uWSGI to launch N number of processes when your server started. The processes would stay up and continue to serve requests. You'd avoid the overhead of initializing your app on every request, but you were still locked to one process per request because of the GIL.

Ruby: Basically the same as Python.

Java, C++, Go, etc: Too slow to develop in, too complicated for rapid iteration. Type systems scary. Weak dynamic typing fun. Productivity was king and you needed some time in the hard languages to git gud.

Okay so the fundamental problem with PHP/Python/Ruby was that you needed to tie up a single OS process per request. Let's say you wrote an HTTP API that would fetch the current time from time.gov or something. While your HTTP handler was fetching data from time.gov that OS process would be STUCK. It's sitting around and doing nothing while holding your whole application state in memory just for that one request you're serving.

This wasn't actually a problem, not really. You could serve an ridiculous amount of web requests using this model. Computers are fast! Until... you needed concurrency... like a chat app. Because in a chat app you need to keep a TCP request open for every single user in the system. 500k active users? 500k OS processes just sitting there doing nothing with all of your application state in memory. Not a good fit for PHP/Python/Ruby where every open request was tying up all those resources.

So how would you solve it in C++/Java/etc? Easy, you'd use non-blocking IO. With some fancy connection pooling, threading, and use of the epoll_wait syscall (or whatever) you could handle all 500k users with a SINGLE OS process. That's because your chat app is really just routing bytes between client applications. Most of the time is spent in I/O, not in your application.

Except non-blocking IO is not easy. Threading is not easy. Connection pooling is not easy. Type systems, code compilation, etc etc are not easy.

Enter NodeJS.

The premise is simple. Node is a single threaded runtime environment that does all IO using non-blocking IO. All accessible via a well known language called JavaScript. No memory management, no types - oh and functions are first class primitives. Nice. Oh and don't try to calculate the Nth prime number because that'll block your whole single threaded application even if it's serving 500k requests.

All of the early demos of Node (that I saw) were basically chat apps. Applications with very little business logic that spend most of their time doing IO. It was more of a glorified router of bytes...

But then people realized that CPUs are actually really fast and you could start modeling basic web apps. All you're doing in most web apps is pulling some data out of a DB, decorating that data, and pushing it out of NodeJS. Single threading is no problem. So people starting building on it... and building on it... until they needed to scale for real.

Some unfortunate souls didn't realize any of this and built complex business applications in Node. They struggled a lot with the single-threaded nature of this environment. That's when you started seeing things like Node Cluster which basically used threading under the hood to distribute some of that CPU load. Over time better alternatives came along.

So the reason you don't see big complex frameworks in Node is because Node doesn't need them. Using a big complex framework means you're shoving way too much business logic into a technology that wasn't designed for it.

Express and Koa are basically peak Node "frameworks". They're effectively just syntax sugar for cleanly routing your requests somewhere else. Need something more than that? Look elsewhere or you'll regret it later!

EDIT: Fixed a bunch of typos. Did not expect to write so much.


The larger the codebase, the greater the need for stronger typing.

When dealing with JS this typing should be in the head of the developer. Too hard and too unreliable.

Typescript seems to be having it's heart in the right place though.


Call me old but I remember in the early 00s just unbelievably fragmented and difficult it was to use python on the web.

And then you had PHP, where you didn’t need any middleware and could just drop a file into your webroot and it just worked.


After a cursory browse of the last few months of issues, this looks legitimate and not even a case of "ornery maintainers close everything as won't fix." (Not that it isn't their right to do so, but I did wonder.)


Yeah, 21 PRs (from 8-10 different contributors) & 32 issues closed during the last month, pretty great stats from a FOSS project that seems to mainly be maintained by just one or two developers.


It speaks to organization.

When I see a project this well kept I'm likely to assume there's a plan and it is being efficiently executed on.

When a project is a huge backlog of unattended issues and PRs, it is much more likely that progress is slow and there's duplication effort.


I've used Flask for years and it's been the least troublesome / biggest thing in my stack through everything. Every time I'm like, "I Wish Flask did that," I go to the docs and find out someone already thought about it, implemented it, and documented it. Coding around Flask is so boring I get excited every time.


I had pitchforks at the ready if I saw any appearance of stale-bot, but you're right, it's legitimate.


Just echoing what a lot of people here have said – I love Flask. It was the first time I ever could relax and just enjoy programming. It was beautiful, simple, easy, thoughtful. I had been programming for years, and it just felt like a breath of fresh air at the time.


The only problem I have now is FastAPI is so much better I cannot justify continuing with flask :(


what orm do you use with FastAPI?


Sqlalchemy, I just follow the pattern recommendation in the FastAPI tutorial.


I’ve been working with it lately and I like that it (mostly) gets out of your way. There are a few ways to get yourself into a hole as a project grows with it but for the most part it’s tough to find a more concise way to have a simple and approachable REST app


Coming from Java, flask felt effortless. Import the package, tack on an annotation to whatever function you want and voila you have a rest api? Fantastic! Kind of helps that a lot of complexity is shoved into the application server like gunicorn though (which is equivalent to Java's Tomcat?).


Ironically, what you've written there applies to modern Java frameworks too.


In trivial cases you can, IME, make clean Java REST APIs with few hurdles and not much setup effort. Expand out from there to do something meaningful and you may find yourself dealing with a mess of boilerplate and complexity that exists for corner-cases no one cares about anymore, or possibly never did. I think the modern JVM is impressive, for sure, and how much they've improved the language, too, but am also consistently impressed with how much over-thought and quirkily-named Java-specific nonsense is out to waste my time whenever I work with it. That said, I should get caught up on the latest developments...


You should also take a look at Bottle. It's like mini-Flask, except the library is a single .py file. Great for doing one-off web dashboards, embedded web UI etc.

https://bottlepy.org/docs/dev/


Fully developed Flask projects tend to be significantly more hairballish and custom compared to something like Django, but it's extremely hard to kick the habit and convenience once something has initially been prototyped in Flask (or Bottle, same deal). Commercially I'd much rather encounter an existing Django project, but at home 90% of the time I'll reach for Flask first, the rest being cases where there are some off-the-shelf Django components that will definitely save a ton of time, and the ceremony is worth paying.


I am not sure if thats so hard. I had a commercial app based on Flask, about 20 endpoints and 1MB of source code, and it took me a whole 1 day to port it to FastAPI. IMHO Flask is quite elegant if used properly.


Flask is tight and elegant, the parents point is that unlike Django which is far more batteries included that large Flask projects end up half implementing Django but worse.

And it’s no dig on Flask specifically, you can play this game with Django too, large Django projects end up half implementing ActiveJob and ActiveSupport but worse.


I've seen enough "hairball" Django projects in my time. That's not to knock either Flask or Django (or FastAPI for that matter), they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but there is little defence against a developer determined to avoid best practices and reading the documentation even for a framework as mature and well-documented as Django.


I've been doing similar projects (ecommerce apps) with both Django and Flask. I would choose Django over Flask anytime. MUch less fiddling.


I love flask so much. Along with requests it has been among the two single most useful things about Python for me and the things I typically reach for Python for.


Fully seconded, I just want to add for those of you in the asyncio world, aiohttp and FastAPI provide nearly identical APIs to requests and Flask (respectively), and for those of you familiar with these tools, they're a great way to be productive with asyncio almost immediately.


What's the advantage over using Flask's built-in support for async described here? https://flask.palletsprojects.com/en/2.1.x/async-await/

This is an honest question; I don't know much about python async yet.


I wasn't aware of this support! That would certainly be a more natural choice if you were already familiar with Flask.

To me the biggest advantage of FastAPI is the excellent integration with type hinting. It permeates the entire framework and makes things really productive.

When I saw how you could use Pydantic models to define the schema of your request and response body, and then have that autogenerated into documentation - there was no going back. https://fastapi.tiangolo.com/tutorial/body/

But I would like to stress that, though it has displaced Flask in my workflow, I think of FastAPI as a spiritual successor to Flask, and would never say an ill word about Flask.


I looked at Flask's docs again for the first time in a few years.

And I do miss having such industrial grade documentation for my framework. I miss it real bad.


except for the autogenerated docs, you can also make use of Pydantic in Flask easily to validate your models with Flask-Pydantic[0]

[0]: https://github.com/bauerji/flask-pydantic


I’d still choose FastAPI for its dependency framework which is so much better than the god awful ‘g’.


Another advantage of FastAPI is the pydantic integration for data validation. That being said, I think FastAPI needs to find a community governance model because there are a lot of long-standing issues that the community has tried to fix only to find those fixes languishing with no official response.


What are some of the long-standing issues with FastAPI?


Fastapi and sqlmodel both suffer from this (same author).


Flask async still uses individual workers for their "async views". So, suppose your db has a bad moment and freezes for 20 seconds. All your flask worker threads become frozen on this IO - say, you have 50 of them. Your backend will time out on the 50 requests and won't even accept the 51st. Depending on how you are hosted, you may begin to autoscale aggresively because your (limited) worker threads on every node are locked. If you get lots of request you will soon find yourself running with hundreds of nodes, all of them waiting for the DB to get unstuck - and costing you money.

With a proper async framework, you will keep accepting all the requests as they come -- a single node can take thousands of those requests and time out on them gracefully, as they are just lightweight entries in the event loop, and you can have lots of those compared to # of worker threads.

Of course, fully async framework requires all your code to be fully async, which in practice means minimizing the # of dependencies since its hard to trust them. And problems with SDKs, like for instance on GCP where Google keeps lacking async support (!) for most of their things. So with the "hybrid" async you get from Flask you can still choose to use sync code for some things and async for others.


Flask still uses WSGI while other options use ASGI or other async interfaces.


Try httpx if you want an async web client has a more identical API to requests.

https://www.python-httpx.org/


I learned about this thanks to you. Looks great.


Interesting. I have used Quart in the past for “Flask with asyncio support” and it was a great experience. Everything even played well with an asyncio MODBUS library that was part of the same project.


Agreed with both of these. Flask and HTMX has been an awesome combination.


This is the first time I hear of HTMX. Thanks for the heads up on it.


HTMX has been great because I've just added a single endpoint in Flask that HTMX pings and makes it feel and respond like a single page application. You can have a flask endpoint, use Jinja to create the HTML and plug it into your page with HTMX. really nice and simple.


Flask + HTMX is the new hot sauce.


Really anything + htmx. That's part of the beauty of it.


Add SQLAlchemy to that list!


It's just the right level of being able to get a lot of stuff done but without too much "magic".


Agreed. Personally, I find that too much magic impedes my learning process. So when I was first learning Python, I was able to understand how Flask works fairly quickly. The documentation is also excellent imo.


Flask ain’t going anywhere, but i’m a serious FastAPI devotee now.

pydantic validation throwing a 422 with what’s wrong before my endpoint ever gets hit is a fucking superpower.


I'm so spoiled by pydantic/fastapi spelling out exactly where my payload schema is wrong. I was interfacing with some google calendar API and it was constantly giving me a super vague "Bad Request" and I'm messing with the fields until finally I figure out I need a strict datetime string with four-digit timezone, no Z allowed. Like, it's delicious to be told exactly what you need to tweak to get it to accept.


Really awesome feat.

As a side note, not sure if it's just me, but I feel a sort of "tip jar effect" with projects that have no open PRs/issues. I feel like I'd be far less willing to submit one if there's no others there. Like all eyes would be on me if I were to do so. Something about adding your issue to the pile just feels a little more welcoming. Just me?


Well, you can look at history. The jar is never empty.


I've been similarly impressed by the quality of Sequel [1], a database toolkit for Ruby that accomplishes a similar feat. 0 open / 1150 closed issues, 0 open / 672 closed PRs.

[1] https://github.com/jeremyevans/sequel


Go to for me has been a simple Flask framework and HTMX to make my sites seem and feel more dynamic, and then deploy the whole thing with Zappa as an AWS Lambda function. Super simple to add a new endpoint in Flask and ping it with HTMX.


I've been using flask for 10+ years now, mostly for prototyping webapps, but it's cool to see those projects which never got too large for needing something more scalable or apt to complexity that are still up and running with minimal maintenance needed to be done on them. I think that most of the problems in flask programs I might have encountered are just problems with the language it's written in, and the tradeoffs you have to make in a dynamically typed language in terms of tooling, but those are just things you get used to as a developer wielding double edged swords all over the place.

It just does an incredible job of staying out of the way and never having become some bloated beast which ends up causing problems due to some misplaced voracious appetite for eating as many batteries to include as possible.



I'm not a big Python user but Flask keeps making my radar for being a good product.


Read the code some time! It is a remarkably well done project.


I started with, and still normally use Django if I'm doing web, but I have used Flask and quite like it. In many ways it reminds me of early Django, when it did just a few things, well. I bet it's part of how Flask's maintainer was able to get to such a "no open issues" state. We need more software like that.


If only FastAPI could achieve the same…


FastAPI has 50% as many issues open right now, as Flask has had in total (1.1K vs 2.3K), and ~500 open PRs currently while Flask has had ~2.2K PRs in total.

Yet, both repositories have closed the same amount of issues during the last month, but FastAPI only merged 2 PRs while Flask has merged 21.

Popularity probably plays into this a lot, but it's also just very clear that whoever is doing the management of Flask, is doing an excellent job! Kudos.


I personally have a PR ready to go which adds documentation for API Key Auth (missing page till now, very requested by community[1]), which has been ready since early May, stagnant for almost 3 months now[2], don't know how to bump without spamming.

It's unfortunate, because FastAPI is one of the best libraries I know of otherwise in terms of capabilities for time spent writing code. Nowadays, though, when recommending this lib at work, I need to add "but pray you don't hit a bug or missing docs, or you're on your own".

[1]: https://github.com/tiangolo/fastapi/issues/142 [2]: https://github.com/tiangolo/fastapi/pull/4818


FastAPI has a lot of straight-up low-effort, borderline spammy questions. I think it's a community /communication thing. Somehow flask keeps the riff-raff down, or at least in the discussion and out of issues. So however they do that, FastApi needs to do as well.

On top of that it definitely is in need of more top-down organization, delegation, and coordination.


It is also easier to manage for Flask - it is very mature and we fixed most of the issues present in FastAPI many years ago.


I'm not saying it's a bad or good thing, but FastAPI is run like a personal project. Most issues are ignored into oblivion.


For this reason I wouldn't recommend FastAPI for anything serious. If it works, fine, but if you hit an edge case... prepare for a world of trouble. I wouldn't build my stack on top of it.


Don’t hold your breath. The most common updates are changes to who sponsors the damn thing.


Node/JavaScript frameworks: are we a joke to you?

Lol


I love the Python web framework community and how friendly it is. The first two replies are congratulations from major Django contributors (Jeff Triplett and Andrew Godwin).


I love flask. I use restful flask on every project and I experimented with flask restplus and flask restx. I don't feel technically limited with Flask or it's derivative API frameworks.

Flask will always be my go to framework but I am looking forward to actually sitting down learning Fast API and Nestjs with Typescript.

FastAPI for my usecase doesn't offer anything new but the hype is defeaning and Typer CLI seems like a good way to build CLI projects.

and Nestjs is something I should learn because I should learn. I didn't enjoy django but I need to learn a "professional" backend framework and also Typescript.


Flast-Restful/Flast-Rest-X are unmaintained... the OPENAPI/Swagger implémentation is riddled with bugs

I wish Flask could be a little bit more battery included on that front. Wouldn't hurt the lightedness of the project to have automatic OPENAPI documentation, none are currently viable... That's why I switched to FastApi but I miss @app_context, and Flask Security...


After I came across OpenAPI in a Nestjs project I thought I was stuck in the stone age with Flask. But after I continued the project I didn’t feel I was missing out too much because I don't build large web apps.

Flask with another batteries included framework is a nice combination. In my opinion, they both serve distinct use cases.


> I didn't enjoy django

What didn't you enjoy about Django?


I am not a fullstack/web developer more like a general purpose developer. So my approach of building things is hacky and straight to the point.

Compared to flask there was a bit too much boilerplate involved in Django to essentially build very barebones APIs. My usecase of a backend framework involves processing data on command and serving that data. I need a few API endpoints that trigger other Python files. I build internal use APIs. So flask, particularly RESTful flask is perfect for me.

I am not the intended user of Django. I was part of a few Django projects and I saw people investing more in configuring the framework right than to focus on the actual functionalities of the application. Even though they were building MVP, the initial investment in foundation building with the hopes of scalability for proof of concept project just feels wrong to me.


I had opened issues and MRs with projects that David Lord was a maintainer (since he's been handling lots of Pallet Team's open source projects now). Wasn't very impressive with his "my way or the high way" approach.

Take a look them yourself:

https://github.com/pallets/flask/issues?q=is%3Aissue+is%3Acl...

I am quite disgusted by his self-congratulatory tweet like that, TBH.

Those tickets that the community posts questions and asked for help, he just shut people down.


what, like this: https://github.com/pallets/flask/issues/4661 where he straightforwardly explains the problem, why it's complex to port the whole Flask ecosystem, offers a potential solution, and invites contribution both from the asker and invites the other person in the thread to their collaboration channel?

That was the first issue I clicked on, and if that's being rude I wish every maintainer was as rude.


I came upon a similar situation recently with the guy who owns pre-commit and related projects too. Valid use cases being closed as won’t fix even though there are legitimate issues being brought up by the community. And I’ve never interacted with the person in this case, just come across issues where he has responded.

I don’t blame these people for that kind of behavior though, I feel like shrugging your shoulders and saying “If you want that feature, pay to sponsor the project” is a legitimate response. I just think that actively shutting down discussion is going a little bit too far.


I don't know the context of the project you're talking about, but in general I think it's fine to not cover all the possible use cases, even if they're valid and reasonable – not everything needs to solve all use cases.


Issues are not a help forum, they are a way of reporting definite problems with a piece of software.


I think there's been some wear and tear on your relationship with him, the tweet seems fine and I picked 5 random issues, all look like fine engagement, if not always saying yes. (Which is good! This is how you maintain a good workload)


I thought you were just some disgruntled person. I clicked one of the recently closed issues at random. Oh boy. Closed without even a discussion about expected behavior and documentation, never followed up on.

https://github.com/pallets/flask/issues/4653


Went into that expecting something terrible - but he closed the issue because his implementation of JSON parsing conforms to what is actually valid JSON. Post issue closure a documentation update was suggested. It seems pretty reasonable to me for someone to close an issue asking for a deviation from valid JSON parsing behavior and it seems unreasonable to me to expect him to have been able to fortell the future, being aware of the comment that would be brought up after this closing of the issue.


Well done, Flask! I always enjoy Flask. I don't like using Flask for a full-blown complex website, but for most of our API work, we use Flask and it's almost perfect fit.


What a feat! Great work, I use Flask somewhat often. I am not surprised they’ve managed to do this, considering how rock-solid the module seems.


I've never used Flask before and come from mostly PHP/JavaScript.

One of the first things that struck me reading the tutorial was the use of "g" which seems to stand for "global" and is used to access things like the DB via "g.db".

This seems similar to using $GLOBALS['db'] in PHP which would be a code smell and I think it's impossible as of PHP 8.1.

If I saw this in a PHP Framework I would assume it was made by an amateur. Can anyone explain if this is common practice in Python and perhaps why it's different and not a worry?


usually there is a single interface to a DB. whether that's supplied via import / dep injection / global is specific to the language / framework. there are pros and cons with each.


if david is watching this thread: how in the HELL do you maintain Flask AND Jinja while having a life?


I think they're just focused and mature.


Congrats to the maintainers!


Wish Flask had a better ecosystem of extension around it So many extensions are unmaintained like flast-restful/openapi...


> Wish Flask had a better ecosystem of extension around it So many extensions are unmaintained like flast-restful/openapi...

There's not much we can do about it I think. It's the blessing and curse of Flask.

For example you can combine Flask + Flask-Classful + Flask-Marshmallow + Flask-JWT-Extended to build an API in a really really nice way IMO, but OpenAPI specs are lacking because these are 4 distinct tools that are being glued together.

If generating OpenAPI specs is a top priority someone would need to bundle together the major components of an API (routing + serialization / validation + authorization) into 1 library in such a way that it's better than combining a few smaller libraries together. But if you're looking to build such a large library then it kind of goes against Flask's philosophy of being a micro-framework where you bring your own batteries.

If you want full blown batteries included for an API based app then you're probably better off using Rails (even for building APIs) or Django with DRF.

I'll admit it's not a great outcome tho. I really do think Flask-Classful + Flask-Marshmallow + Flask-JWT-Extended is a great combo but as someone who has been using Flask for 7+ years, have courses on Flask and have built a ton of apps with it when a client wants to build an API driven app where OpenAPI specs are important then I've gone with other solutions. Thankfully most of the apps I build return HTML and Flask is still great for building non-API based apps.


I used Flask a long time ago, and never had any complaints. It was, and still is apparently, a great framework


Does the lack of async still make Flask a good choice for non-hobby web projects?


A relatively small minority of web projects really benefit from async. There's a performance benefit that comes at the cost of going all-in on the async ecosystem andunless you have a very high-traffic website where hosting costs a significant part of your IT budget, or you need lower latencies or a few other situations it likely won't be worth it.


Yes. Choosing an async framework over Flask when you don't need it is a huge mistake.


"When you don't need it"

If you're doing any kind of database / external network calls - won't you gain a huge amount of requests per second?

I ask partly because on one of my projects, we have a fastapi app, but it's not using async, and I have been toying with the idea of converting it to async. It will take some work though because it uses libs that don't support async.

I thought the advantages would be worth it because we hit postgres and/or redis on all requests.


The only reasonable use case for asyncio is an API gateway or similar, when you issue a huge amount of HTTP requests, do very little CPU intensive tasks and waiting for I/O all the time.

Any other use-case you are better off going with the simplicity of a sync framework like Flask. For databases you are way worse with async, see why from the Python database god himself: https://techspot.zzzeek.org/2015/02/15/asynchronous-python-a...


Flask has historically been used in combination with gevent/eventlet which are greenthreaded async frameworks that predate python's async/await support. These still work and are still a great choice for an async server with many concurrent requests. The big downside is just lack of compatability with the new async ecosystem.


The usecase for async is spidering web pages or keeping a thousand chat sockets up, not for talking to a local database.


I think I'm in a similar situation with you, and asyncio has been great.

Not sure what libs you use, you'll probably need to switch libraries, it's not common for one lib to support both sync/async. I'm using aiohttp for http/websockets and asyncpg for postgres, running on uvloop as the base event loop.

Something which is trivial with asyncio: I receive 10 consecutive heavy websockets requests, I spawn a task to handle each one of them and they will be served back out of order as Postgres returns results. With no locking or messing with threads.

Another benefit is knowing for certain your code won't be interrupted unless you call "await", this simplifies a lot using shared state without requiring locks.


Why not run multiple processes? This has been the way for over 20 years.


Green Unicorn and the like do this and do it very well.


Flask is a multi-threaded server, so while only one thread can execute Python code at a time (due to the GIL), you still get concurrency with respect to IO. Not to say that e.g. FastAPI won't get you more RPS, but it may or may not be as dramatic as you would expect.


> If you're doing any kind of database / external network calls - won't you gain a huge amount of requests per second?

Only if they can be parallelized. I'm not sure if I would choose Flask if I had such a complex application.


> Does the lack of async still make Flask a good choice for non-hobby web projects?

[ed: the lack of async probably means little for how good flask is for a new project - it's a great little framework].

However, with the birth of fastapi - I would be hard pressed to name a greenfield project/situation where I would recommend flask over fastapi. And the support for async in fastapi have nothing to do with that.


I haven't used it, so can't vouch for it from personal experience, but another commenter indicated that Flask does support async: https://flask.palletsprojects.com/en/2.1.x/async-await/


Flask supports async, see https://flask.palletsprojects.com/en/2.1.x/async-await/.

Also see Quart https://github.com/pgjones/quart (which is Flask re-implemented with async-await) and Quart-Schema, https://github.com/pgjones/quart-schema for swagger docs.


Meanwhile well-known nodejs packages are being shipped with malware by their maintainer/authors.


I think the npm ecosystem has massive systemic flaws, but comparing an entire ecosystem to one package is unfair. If express was shipped with malware, maybe that would be more comparable.


Search for node-ipc and colors (packages)


I think we’ve established that there is malware in npm?


Issue Zero, it's possible. TIL.


This is the real "Dynamic Zero" policy.


Is this one of those repos that auto-close any issue, regardless of the topic, after a few weeks of inactivity? Those always have so many closed issues!

Wontfix is the new completed, from what I can tell.


This post inspired me to check on Bottle, and it can't say the same: https://github.com/bottlepy/bottle




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