Python web development is not always the primary choice for building the server-side of websites. This language is multipurpose, meaning that it is usable in the majority of programming fields.
For instance, experts promote Python as the ideal language for machine learning and creating neural networks. Additionally, Python is also the standard choice for conducting analyses of large-scale datasets to find out market tendencies, average prices, and predict future patterns.
However, Python for web development is a solid option as well, luring people with its simple syntax, a variety of frameworks, and an overall strong ecosystem. Instagram, one of the dominant social networking sites, uses Python for its platform, receiving millions of visitors per day.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why creating a website with Python is a reasonable decision (and why it is not).
Python web development: pros
Building a website with Python means that you produce code responsible for running in the server rather than in the browser. Creating the server-side or the backend for your website is crucial for storing user information (as one of the examples).
The backend also manages the way information travels to and from the server. Additionally, Python for web development will be the one controlling the authentication of users. Constructing the server-side is not a complicated task, but reassuring the stability and security of the procedures can be time-consuming. Therefore, frameworks are especially useful for covering all of these aspects.
If you want to start learning Python for web development, you can check out this course on web server programming, databases, and the Flask framework. In case you are a beginner, you should learn about the principles and programming styles of Python before starting to use it for real projects. We recommend taking a look at this course, specially designed for those who want to learn the basics of Python.
Easy syntax: the lower learning curve
Common prejudices aside, Python is excellent for working on web applications with several colleagues. The code is usually simplistic, meaning that your partners-in-crime won’t need to work hard to understand your input.
The easy syntax of Python is also an advantage for building detailed and complicated systems. Developers will find it easier to recognize relationships between elements and indicate structures.
The variety of frameworks
One of the most notorious features of Python is its ecosystem. Specifically, the number of frameworks that are available. Since the use of Python web development has significantly increased, there are many web-oriented modules designed for helping people produce functional websites.
When it comes to frameworks, there is no best Python web framework that everybody needs to learn to make web development with Python possible. You can detach yourself from the existing modules and build the server-side individually. However, frameworks are highly useful due to the fact they expedite the development process.
Another important aspect is that the most feature-rich framework might not be suitable for everyone. If you select frameworks according to their popularity and user communities, you might waste time on learning a module that does not even provide the features you need.
In the Python web development sphere, there are several dominating frameworks: Django, WebApp2, Pyramid, Flask, TurboGears, Bottle, and CherryPy. We will briefly review some of them.
Building a website with Python frequently occurs with the help of Django. It is a web-oriented framework offering some of the main components of intricate programs: authentication (signing up, signing out), management panel, a structure for uploading files, template engine, and URL routing. In Django, all of these features are available for use immediately after you set up the framework. Without the module, you would need to write all of these features manually.
Django is not the most flexible Python web framework, but its methods are secure and tested. It provides you with the core components of the website and lets you focus on the unique aspects of websites.
You can learn the basics of the Django web framework in this course. However, the best practice of learning is to practice. Therefore, we give you the chance to practice writing Python code with Django in the following courses:
Flask is another supporter of Python web development. All of the components in this module are for running in the server context. Additionally, Flask is a micro-framework, meaning that it shows no or a little dependence on other libraries. Thanks to this, Flask is more lightweight than Django, but one disadvantage is that Flask will have a limited number of features.
Therefore, developers face a dilemma: whether to preserve the lightweight aspect of Flask or to install additional plugins to extend the functionality of this framework. For instance, you won’t find form validation support in Flask, meaning that you will have to write the code yourself or retrieve it through plugins.
Pyramid is the next most popular Python web framework. It provides more features than Flask but is nowhere near the full range of capabilities of Django. However, the Pyramid is one of the most flexible frameworks since it does not force you to use a specific approach for completing a task. The module will supply you with authentication and URL routing support, but you need to connect to a database or storage by using external libraries.
TurboGears is a highly scalable framework for building both large-scale and small-scale web projects. This module offers a variety of features, starting from identification and authentication, authorization, caching, pluggable applications, and management of sessions. TurboGears also follows the MVC model, which divides the application into three parts: model, view, and controller.
Bottle is an extremely lightweight and flexible Python web development framework. It is best for small-scale projects that do not require unique features. Bottle is a WSGI-compliant single-source library, meaning that all of its code is in one .py file. While this might mean that this framework is easier to understand for beginners, more advanced developers can find it bare-boned. Of course, it is excellent for experimenting since Bottle is very unopinionated (differently than more large-scale frameworks such as Django).
One of the advantages of using Python for web development is its approach to the programming style. For instance, some languages are strictly object-oriented, meaning that you won’t be able to switch to another approach randomly.
In Python, you can write according to the functional, imperative, procedural, or object-oriented way. Therefore, Python offers flexibility, as you will be able to select which programming paradigm suits your preferences.
Why should you choose a different language?
The speed question
Python is an interpreted language, meaning that it is slower than compiled languages. Therefore, it might be better to choose compiled languages for performance-critical web applications. For instance, Java is a reliable option. However, other languages for web development are also quite slow.
The dynamic issue
Python is a dynamically-typed language, meaning that it signals errors and other problems at runtime. It is different from statically-typed languages such as Java that catch errors at compile time. Therefore, some developers are dissatisfied with the fact that their flawed Python web application might be compiled even though it has issues that will prevent the program from running correctly.
Python web development is one of the main use cases of Python. It is applicable for the backend development only, meaning that it will connect to the database, and send or retrieve data from the server. Basically, Python will construct the logic behind the procedures that happen under the hood. When it comes to modules, the best Python web framework is the one that suits your needs, skills and the requirement for flexibility.
Therefore, Python is not an option for frontend development. In other words, it is not responsible for the layout and appearance of your website. Python will create structures for uploading files to your website or deal with the authentication of users. For frontend development, we recommend this course that discusses all four components that construct the shape and appearance of your website.
While web development with Python is possible, the chances of getting such a position in a company are slim when compared to PHP or Java. One of the main reasons is that Python is not widely used in this sphere of development.
If you want to set a wider net, you would probably need to learn either PHP, Java, or Node.js. However, learning Python is an excellent option, even if you won’t use it for web development.
Consider mastering this language for machine learning or data science as well. However, for beginners who hesitate to learn more complex syntaxes, Python is a suitable language to start programming. After you get comfortable with Python, you can look for languages that reflect your needs more.