Django: The Secret Weapon of Python Developers

Are you interested in building websites or web applications, but have little or no experience with computer programming? Many newbies look no further than Python. Python is a versatile, easy-to-learn programming language that is an excellent choice for beginners. Even better, learning Python can set you on the path to creating dynamic web applications using the flexible and scalable Django framework. So what is Python Django? Read on to learn the basics of Python programming, the key features of the Django framework, and how they work together to create powerful web applications.

A Couple of Definitions

Python is a type of computer language that is used to write computer programs. It is often used by programmers to create websites, games, and other types of software. Python is known for being easy to learn because it uses straightforward syntax in plain English (think: grammar for computers that tells them what to do), so developers spend less time writing code compared to other languages. It also has a massive user community, is extremely versatile, and is easy to debug. Python can be a great choice for beginners or people who are new to programming, and in fact is the language of choice of Hackbright Academy’s courses and education philosophy.

Django is a type of web framework that is built using Python. A “framework” means it comes with a set of tools and instructions in pre-written code libraries and takes care of the common tasks of web development to help programmers create websites and web applications more efficiently. Because Django is built using Python, it uses the same language, making it relatively easy to learn.

While this article will focus specifically on what is Python Django, it is important to know that there are numerous frameworks using Python that benefit from the language’s easier learning curve. Flask and Bottle are lightweight and great for small-scale projects, meaning they are great for getting a proof of concept up and running quickly or for a software development approach called “microservices,” which is an architecture of smaller scale, independent services working together with APIs. Tornado can handle a large number of concurrent connections and is useful for real-time web applications such as chat apps and online games. CherryPy is highly customizable and geared towards web applications, RESTful web services, and APIs.

Understanding Django 

Beyond its relative ease of use, Django is a powerful and high-performing Python framework because of the way it is built, which includes important security features and extensibility. 

Django follows the model-view-controller (MVC) architectural pattern. MVC separates an application into three interconnected components—the model, the view, and the controller—making it easy to organize and maintain code while working on each component independently.

One of the most important features of Django is its built-in administrative interface. The easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) allows authorized users to easily manage the data and functionality of their web applications without having to write extra code.

Additionally, Django has a built-in Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) system that makes it easy to interact with databases and perform common database operations naturally and intuitively, such as inserting, updating, and retrieving data.

Another important aspect of Django is its security features. The framework has built-in protection against common web application vulnerabilities and threats such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection. These protections make Django an ideal choice for building secure web applications and helping prevent data breaches or loss of sensitive information.

One more feature that Django developers should know is that it is highly extensible. Extensibility in software engineering means developers can easily expand a system or application with new features or functionality. The framework has a large and active community, which means that developers have access to a wide range of tutorials, documentation, and third-party libraries.

All in all, Django is a powerful and versatile web framework that is well suited for building high-performance, secure, and scalable web applications. If you’re an aspiring or established computer programmer, learning Django is an excellent way to gain the skills you need to build professional-grade web applications.

Who Uses Django and Why?

  • Instagram: One of the most popular social media platforms, Instagram uses Django as its backend framework. The platform’s massive user base and high traffic levels make Django’s scalability and reliability a perfect match.
  • Disqus: A commenting system used by websites around the world, Disqus is built using Django. The framework’s built-in tools for handling user authentication and database management make it an ideal choice for a service that handles such a large amount of data.
  • NASA: The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses Django to build and maintain a number of its websites, including NASA.gov. The organization’s use of Django is a testament to the framework’s ability to handle large, complex projects that require a high level of security.
  • The Washington Post: One of the most well-known newspapers in the United States, The Washington Post uses Django as the backend framework for its website. The framework’s ability to handle high traffic levels and scalability make it an ideal choice for a news website.
  • Moz: A leading provider of SEO tools and software, Moz uses Django to build and maintain its web-based products. The framework’s built-in tools for handling user authentication and database management make it an ideal choice for a software-as-a-service company.
Django can also be deployed in cloud computing environments using platforms like PaaS, IaaS, and other cloud services for databases, CDN, and monitoring, allowing developers to build and scale web applications efficiently. (Read more about models and types of cloud computing.)

Getting Started With Python and Django

If you want to learn Django web development with Python and have no coding experience, there are a few steps you can take to get started.

  1. Learn the basics of Python: Before diving into Django, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the Python programming language. There are many resources available online, such as tutorials and online courses, that can help you learn the basics of Python. Some popular resources include Codecademy, Sophia (a Hackbright Academy affiliate), and edX. One way Hackbright Academy can help is through the Prep course, which teaches Python fundamentals over five weeks of live, online, classes, two evenings per week and Saturday mornings. Since it’s hands-on and has 1:1 instructor support, Prep provides the structured learning environment many students need to get started.
  2. Practice writing Python code: Once you have a basic understanding of Python, it’s important to practice writing code. You can try doing small coding exercises or working on personal projects to get a feel for the language and to build your skills.
  3. Learn the basics of web development: To work with Django, you will also need to have a basic understanding of web development. This includes concepts such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Resources like Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp, and W3Schools can help you learn these technologies. Hackbright Academy’s affiliate, Devmountain, also offers a four-week Coding Basics course on these very topics.
  4. Learn Django: Once you have a solid understanding of Python and web development, you can start learning Django. There are many resources available online, such as tutorials, documentation, and online courses, that can help you learn Django. The official Django documentation is a good place to start.
  5. Practice building web applications: Once you have learned Django, it’s important to practice building web applications. You can start with small projects and gradually work your way up to more complex projects. Try to follow best practices, such as keeping your code organized, readable, and commented.
  6. Get help and participate in the community: Learning to code can be challenging, don’t hesitate to ask questions, seek help, and participate in the community. There are many online communities such as StackOverflow, Reddit, and GitHub where you can ask questions, share your code and get feedback.

It’s important to remember that learning to code takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself, and don’t get discouraged if you hit roadblocks along the way. Keep working through the challenges. If you run into roadblocks, if the structured learning of Prep provides value, or you’re simply ready to focus all your attention on becoming a software engineer, a full- or part-time bootcamp might be your next step.

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