Is Django already a dying technology? Is Ruby on Rails fading? Is Laravel dead? These questions have appeared on Quora and have been circulating the internet for years. Business owners looking for the best solution for their project often get confused when they run into articles predicting the demise of these frameworks. Yet Django, Ruby on Rails, and Laravel are still alive and well and are among the most loved frameworks for web development.
We’ve prepared this Ruby on Rails vs Django vs Laravel comparison to help you figure out which of these three is the most appropriate for you. In this article, we dive deep into Django, Ruby on Rails, and Laravel, compare them, and outline their strengths and weaknesses.
Each of these frameworks has its own unique history, purpose, and characteristics.
The web framework for perfectionists with deadlines
Django’s story began when Simon Willison and Adrian Holovaty were working at the Lawrence Journal-World, a daily newspaper. Adrian and Simon were tired of maintaining big PHP websites and needed something to make their development faster and less troublesome. Right at that time, they got to know Python, fell in love with it, and wanted to move to it. However, there was a challenge: Python didn’t provide tools that worked the way they wanted. So they started working on Django as a tool that would help them with website development.
Django is a full-stack framework built with Python, a general-purpose language that can be used for many things, not only for web development. The Python programming language plays a big role in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, and automation. The Django framework was crafted to support rapid and easy web development. It provides great functionality out of the box for building powerful and dynamic apps.
You may also like: Why Use Python for AI and Machine Learning?
Web development that doesn’t hurt
While working at 37signals, David Heinemeier Hansson found lots of similarities in the PHP apps he was building. For every new application, he was actually redoing work he’d done before. For that reason, David started working on what became Ruby on Rails. Actually, his first attempt was made in PHP. Yet the more he worked with PHP, the more David felt like he was fighting with it. Meanwhile, David began working on the Basecamp project where he got to know Ruby ― just the language he was looking for. What’s more, there was no mandated technology for the project, and David could choose his own tools. And so he did. David worked on Basecamp and crafted the Rails framework at the same time. After releasing Basecamp, he spent around six months polishing Rails before introducing it in 2004.
Ruby on Rails, or simply Rails, is a web framework written in the Ruby programming language, “the most extraordinarily beautiful and luxurious language,” according to David Heinemeier Hansson. With Rails, app development becomes easy and fun.
The PHP framework for web artisans
While using CodeIgniter, Taylor Otwell realized he couldn’t include all the functionality he wanted without radically altering the code. He sought something simpler, leaner, and more flexible. That’s how Laravel was born. In the first release, it featured built-in authentication, routing, localization, sessions, models, views, and other tools. According to Taylor, Laravel gained traction by being in the right place at the right time. At that point, other PHP frameworks offered either complicated features or poor documentation; Laravel provided great documentation and was easy to use.
Laravel is a PHP web framework that follows the MVC architectural pattern. It may be the youngest of the three frameworks considered here, but that doesn’t make it a weaker instrument. Laravel helps developers implement complex functionality with little effort.
Each framework has its pros and cons and is good for particular types of projects. To understand whether Django is the best option for you, we’ll compare it to Rails and Laravel based on market share, availability and cost of developers, community, ecosystem, performance, and security.
Market share is a good indicator of the performance and effectiveness of any programming language or framework. Market share reveals how one technology is doing compared to the competition.
Django, Ruby on Rails, and Laravel are built on Python, Ruby, and PHP respectively. The 2018 annual Stack Overflow Developer Survey showed Python leading the way as the fastest-growing major programming language, with a 38.8% share of most popular technologies. PHP has 30.7% and Ruby has 10.1%. The PYPL Index indicates that PHP lost the most popularity of any programming language over the past five years, whereas Python has grown the most in popularity.
As for frameworks, Datanyze shows that Ruby on Rails is leading in website adoption, with a 0.98% market share. Laravel holds a 0.27% market share, and Django holds 0.19%. As of March 2019, there were 2,723 companies on StackShare using Ruby on Rails, 1,192 companies using Django, and 1,032 using Laravel according to Stack Overflow.
As of 2019, there were 17.3K GitHub forks for Django, 17.1K for Ruby on Rails, and 15.5.K for Laravel. On Reddit, Django has gained 5.33K points, Laravel 3.44K points, and Ruby on Rails 2.16K points. On Hacker News, Django has 2.49K points, Ruby on Rails has 2.37K points, and Laravel has 516 points.
In terms of popularity on GitHub, Reddit, and Hacker News, Django is the winner. As far as adoption is concerned, Rails is the leader.
The availability of software developers is no less important of a consideration than popularity. A framework can provide great functionality and be appreciated on the market, but that doesn’t quite matter if there’s a small talent pool.
Developer availability is directly related to the popularity of a language and framework, meaning the more interest there is in a language and framework, the easier it is to find developers. According to the 2018 Stack Overflow web frameworks rating, Django is one of the most loved frameworks among developers. And Python is the fastest-growing language.
As of March 2019, there were 1,031 Python and Django, 993 PHP, and 209 Ruby on Rails companies listed on Clutch. The average hourly rates for web development with these frameworks are about the same and vary depending on the country. It’s most likely you’ll pay more for outsourcing to the US than to Ukraine, while the quality remains the same.
A large community is vital for any technology. The more people are interested in growing the technology, the faster it develops. Communities craft and upgrade functionality, update documentation, share experiences, troubleshoot issues, and help one another. Additionally, a big community results in sufficient documentation so that software engineers can easily find guides and descriptions of functionality they want to use.
Django, Rails, and Laravel all have large communities and great documentation.
- The Django community is rich, active, supportive, and rapidly growing. As of March 2019, it comprised 11,685 people from 166 countries. It consists of mailing lists and blogs (DjangoTricks, Django Community, Simple is better than complex), a website for sharing snippets of code (Djangosnippets), educational resources (The official tutorial on the Django Software Foundation website, Django Girls), a directory of Django packages (Django Packages), and a jobs website (Django Jobs).
- According to the official Rails website, over 4,500 people have already contributed code to Rails. It has a big community and its own mailing list (Ruby on Rails: Talk), weekly newsletter (This week in Rails), Slack community (Ruby on Rails Link), annual conferences (including RailsConf), screencast tutorials platform (GoRails), community on Stack Overflow, and Ruby-forum.com online community.
- The Laravel community consists of educational resources (Laracasts, Test-Driven Laravel, Learning Laravel), a community portal and forum (Laravel.io), an official blog (Laravel News), a Slack community (Lara#hat), an employment website (LaraJobs), and a directory of Laravel packages (Packalyst).
All three frameworks have growing communities that are quick to respond to bugs.
A framework’s ecosystem — tools, libraries, and frameworks — is what supports it. Their quantity isn’t the only thing that matters; quality is also crucial. Since Django, Rails, and Laravel were designed to speed up product development, they all have great ecosystems with lots of packages directly out of the box.
The Django ecosystem contains around 4,000 packages, of which the most popular are:
- Django allauth for account authentication via Facebook, Twitter, Google, and GitHub
- Frameworks for e-commerce apps: Django shop, Oscar, and Cartridge
- The Django REST Framework for implementing REST APIs
- Celery for processing real-time operations, such as sending push notifications, emails, and text messages
- The Debug Toolbar for displaying debugging information
- The Wagtail and Mezzanine content management systems
- Hundreds of gems with reusable code
- Libraries including Action Mailer for creating and sending emails and Active Storage for attaching local and cloud files to an app
- Frameworks including Active Job for declaring, scheduling, and executing jobs (such as mailings) and Action Cable for integrating WebSockets
- A set of library extensions and utility classes called Active Support
The Laravel ecosystem comprises 15.7K packages; some of the most popular are:
- Official packages: Cashier for Braintree and Stripe integrations, Envoy and Passport for API authentication, Scout for full-text search, and Socialite for OAuth authentication with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Bitbucket, and GitHub
- Local development environments: Homestead for Vagrant and Valet for macOS
- Products: Envoyer and Forge for deployment; Horizon for tracking queue system metrics; Lumen, a light framework for microservice architectures; Nova, an administrative panel; and Spark to scaffold billing systems in SaaS apps.
- The Statamic content management system
Laravel surpasses Django in the number of packages. However, it’s fair to say that all three have everything you need to build and run large applications.
A high-performance language helps you build speedy, secure, and scalable software. High application performance yields great user experiences, whereas weak performance can result in complex architectural issues and expensive and untimely scaling pains.
In October 2018, TechEmpower conducted a performance test of frameworks based on JSON specialization, server-side template composition, and database access. According to fortunes responses test, Django is in the lead. For data updates, Django performance is slower than Laravel but faster than Rails. In the plaintext responses test, Django performs better than Laravel and Rails. When it comes to JSON serialization, Django is the leading framework, followed by Rails and Laravel. In the single query test, Django shows the best result, whereas in the multiple queries test, Laravel outdoes Rails and Django.
If you’re interested in more details, visit the TechEmpower website to see the full results.
Security is one of the most crucial features when developing applications. Each framework uses particular mechanisms to ensure security.
For Django, security is a priority. The fact that NASA uses the Django framework demonstrates that security is Django’s strong suit. Ruby on Rails and Laravel lag in this regard.
Django provides developers with the tools to keep your app safe from security-related issues like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and clickjacking. It’s excellent at user authentication, authorization, and administration, allowing you to manage users and identify user roles and permissions. The Django community also does a great job at delivering regular updates not only to the official distribution but also to third-party distributions.
Rails provides out-of-the-box functionality to address security issues like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), clickjacking, script injection, and insecure direct object references.
Laravel, like other PHP frameworks, is quite vulnerable. Still, it includes functionality for authentication and authorization, encryption, email verification, hashing, and resetting passwords to reduce some security issues. In addition, Laravel provides packages to improve security: Laravel Security, Laravel Security Component, and Laravel ACL.
To find out which framework you should go with, we’ll consider their similarities, peculiarities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Some features are similar for all three frameworks. They all offer:
- Dynamic typing
- Object-oriented programming support
- The Don’t Repeat Yourself principle
- Rapid development
- Multiple-platform support
- Extensive ecosystem
- Large community
Still, there are some features that make each of these frameworks unique.
Django is a good option for web development, since it:
- adheres to the “batteries included” approach, meaning it has a healthy collection of packages and everything you need to build a fully fledged app.
- is versatile. With Django, you can develop just about anything you want, from social networking platforms to content management systems to scientific computing websites.
- doesn’t get in your way. You can build your application just the way you want and not worry about boilerplate code. Django requires no mandatory imports, XML configuration files, or third-party libraries.
- is scalable, can easily move from small to big projects, and does a great job at handling high-traffic websites. The Instagram team says this about Django: “We had been able to get to a few hundred million users with our Python/Django stack, so we decided we would continue. Also significant in the decision was that our engineers really love Python. It’s actually a reason people want to come work for us.”
- is SEO-friendly. SEO comes naturally to Django, meaning the framework has lots of out-of-the-box SEO tools like django-meta for managing descriptions and titles, django-robots for managing robots.txt files, a sitemap framework for making sitemap XML files, and a redirects app for saving URL redirects in a database and managing them.
Who uses Django? Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, The Washington Post, NASA, Reddit, Dropbox, Spotify.
Django is great for any web development project.
Rails is a good option for web development, since it:
- follows the convention over configuration concept, meaning it’s easier for software engineers to switch between different projects written in Ruby on Rails.
- provides automated testing tools. With Rails, you can benefit from lots of tools for automated testing, saving time and money.
Who uses Rails? Basecamp, GitHub, Dribbble, Crunchbase, Groupon, Shopify, Airbnb
Rails is great for database-backed web apps.
Laravel is a good option for web development, since it:
- provides Artisan, a built-in command line. Artisan offers useful commands for building an application and improves performance for tedious tasks.
- features cloud storage, which facilitates file storage. In addition, Laravel can operate on two file systems at the same time.
Who uses Laravel? WordPress, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Flickr, Tumblr
Laravel is great for small and large web projects.
They say it’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. We want to show you some of the projects we’ve developed using Django to demonstrate how you can apply this technology in your software. If you’re interested in seeing more, visit our projects page.
Snaapy is a Kuwaiti marketplace that matches service providers with local clients. We used Python and Django to develop the backend. We used a Django RESTful API server for web and mobile application support, Celery for sending text messages, push notifications, and emails, and GeoDjango (a Django subframework) for location-based search.
Another Django project we developed is CanTho, an online self-service food ordering system for kiosks in Brussels. For the Can Tho app, we adopted PostgreSQL and used Django REST to enable the backend to interact with kiosks. To make Can Tho available in English, Dutch, and French, we used Django JET. We also implemented an admin dashboard so administrators can confirm and manage returns and add and delete ingredients and dishes.
Kimetrica is a nonprofit website that helps governments and other nonprofit institutions launch evidence-informed investment campaigns in the humanitarian sector. For Kimetrica, we leveraged Django to build a content management system so admins could easily manage website content including texts, images, icons, and headers. To enable real-time processing, we used the Celery package.
At Steelkiwi, we believe that Python and Django are the top choice for app development. If you’re still hesitant to use them — or if you already consider Django the best web framework for your project — feel free to contact our team for help and advice.