Ruby on Rails vs Django – Which One To Pick For Your Web Project?
Jun 276 min read
Co-founder at Ideamotive. Technological advisor and software consultant.
When it comes to choosing the right framework for online app development, picking the right technology can be both a rocket fuel and the arrow in the knee. The time has come to compare the Ruby on Rails and Django and spot both the pros and cons of every each one.
Both technologies are relatively popular with Django powering 74,405 websites out there on the web compared to 387,696 ones supported by Ruby on Rails, Both technologies are free to use and are used to deliver not only a website but all the hidden machinery behind, powering the web-based apps that support various businesses, including e-commerce sites and different SaaS solutions.
Yet despite sharing numerous similarities, both technologies differ significantly.
What is Ruby on Rails?
Ruby on Rails is a framework that was designed for the Ruby programming language. As a framework, it forces the coder to follow a set of predefined rules that power up delivering a better result. For Ruby on Rails the most significant rules are:
Don’t repeat yourself – the framework tackles the problem of hidden similarities by supporting programmers to reuse as much code as possible. Thus, there are no hidden standalone classes used only once and hard to find within numerous lines of the code.
Convention over configuration – the framework delivers a predefined set of rules that enables the users to get rid of the pain of configuring the environment, Thus, the code is clearer and more portable, and the coders are more relaxed due to being freed from more administrative work.
Ruby on Rails is a widely used technology, supported by tech giants including Hulu (web streaming platform), Basecamp (the project management tool that the Ruby on Rails was invented for), GitHub (the most powerful version control tool out there) and Airbnb (online bookings service).
What is Django?
Django is a child of one of the most popular modern programming languages – Python. It is a framework designed to use this versatile language in web development and web apps. Due to Python’s affiliation with machine learning appliances, the framework shines when used on database-heavy apps. Contrary to Ruby on Rails, the framework itself doesn’t support any particular coding style and is designed rather as a tool only to be used in the way coders consider the best and not to support any particular style or heuristic.
Django is used by various heavyweight internet players including Mozilla or The Washington Times.
Why compare them?
Despite the differences in the programming paradigms and approaches to solving popular problems, both frameworks are good at similar appliances. Both are open source, fast and support powerful internet apps. Both are object-oriented and dynamically-typed and offer persistent support,
So what are those differences that, say, make difference?
Ruby on Rails vs Django – User Interface
Both Django and Ruby on Rails are web-centered frameworks designed to deliver the high-class experience. Both frameworks enable companies to build marvelous websites and enrich them with various add-ons and plugins.
With both technologies being mature and well-developed, it is hard to pick the better-looking one. The key is in the coder’s skills.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – Architecture
Ruby on Rails web development is praised for its adoption of Model-View-Controller (MVC) paradigm, enabling to find a match between the task to perform and the way the user is thinking, enabling the programmers to avoid the foggy structures known from early deployments and legacy tech.
Django is putting less pressure in delivering the architecture, putting trust in the programmer’s skill. Sometimes it is a much better approach when the coding team has superior skill in designing the app and can find a way to deliver the over-the-top experiences.
But is that really a point so many times? Is that really a point in your case?
Verdict: By forcing the team to follow a strict set of preset rules, Ruby on Rails delivers a better app architecture.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – Speed Of Coding
Both Ruby (the backbone of Ruby on Rails web development) and Python (used in Django) are modern programming languages that embrace the best practices from the past and shun their mistakes.
Ruby on Rails benefits from the rich repository of libraries and plugins (called gems) to enrich the project, significantly reducing the effort the coder need to invest. On the other hand, Ruby is a typical programming language that supports the coder’s freedom to solve the problem in the way he or she considers the best one.
Contrary to Ruby, Python follows the philosophy that insists that there should be one way (preferably, the only one) obvious way to solve the encountered problem. Thus, the code is usually more legible and easier to debug. On the other hand – the team has to know the way.
Verdict: Depends on the project, with Ruby on Rails boosted by Gems and Django by Python’s paradigm of one way to solve the problem.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – Performance
When it comes to comparing the performance, both frameworks do a good job and it is nearly impossible to point the winner. Both technologies leverage modern programming languages and deliver the tools to optimize the code.
The differences can be seen depending on the app to be delivered. Ruby on Rails shines when it comes to building a general purpose app for e-commerce or a similar project. On the other hand, Django leverages the versatility of Python to build a better-performing specific-use app.
Verdict: stalemate. No clear winner with multiple pros and cons around insignificant boosts of performance.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – Community And Support
The statistics shown in the text’s introduction clearly show the dominance of the Ruby on Rails developers when it comes to delivering the web apps and online systems. Thus, there is a thriving community that supports new users and provide them with bits of advice on problem-solving.
Django itself is significantly less popular technology, thus the probability of encountering the previously unknown problem is visibly bigger. On the other hand, Python’s popularity is skyrocketing, making this language the biggest gainer in 2018. Yet Python is a jack-of-all-trades type of language, that finds appliances in machine learning, backend and web-development, thus not all Python users can help in solving a problem. Ruby is more web-centered, thus the community is more monolithic, focused on a particular use case, polished and mastered.
Verdict: when it comes to web projects, Ruby wins the comparison.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – Stability
There is a constant struggle between creativity and stability. Looking for new ways to solve the problem is essential for progress. On the other hand, everything that’s new can bring instability. Ruby on Rails tackles this problem by encouraging the user to reuse the code to reduce the hidden dependencies. Moreover, it leverages the convention over configuration paradigm, so the coders are freed of many pain points.
On the other hand, Python brings a more conservative approach to coding and encourages the developers to stick to the one, proven way to solve the problem. When it comes to stability – that’s a good thing.
In fact, both frameworks are mature and tested enough to be stable and provide a reliable backbone of any project.
Verdict: Draw. No significant differences.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – Documentation
There are no reasons to complain, to be honest. Both teams responsible for a framework development did a great job preparing the documentation for the projects they deliver. The interfaces are plain to read, the language is legible and straightforward, with no riddles hidden within.
Thus, there is no real difference when it comes to documentation.
Verdict: draw with no real match before.
Ruby on Rails vs Django – The maturity of the platform
Django is no different, born in 2005 and with the newest version released in April 2019. The technology proved itself numerous times and the best proof of its reliability is the sole fact that it is compared with Ruby on Rails on equal rights.
Summary – pick the right tool to get the best result
Both frameworks are great and deliver superior performance when used in the right way. The key is to know when to use each one.
When to use Django
Django leverages the flexibility of Python and relies on the coders’ experience and responsibility for the project. It shines when:
The app to deliver is highly customizable and specific – if the client requires to deliver the new social network, Django is a better pick with no doubt.
When you really know what you’re doing – and you are 100% sure about it.
The app is going to be devilishly complex – delivering the system that performs complicated data operations and aims to be a monolithic multitool behemoth is better when built with Django.
When to use Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is a framework that automates the process of coding and makes the coder’s job much easier. The framework shines when:
When there is high pressure on time – Ruby on Rails leverages a rich library of plugins and even richer community of Ruby on Rails programmers. Thus, the probability of delivering the project faster and with less effort (and with higher quality in the end!) is much higher.
When your project is relatively repeatable – this framework is great when it comes to delivering a project that is not reinventing the wheel – if the client needs a reliable technology to power-up the e-commerce system or deliver the app to support internal business processes, Ruby will be a much better pick.
When the project is not a world-class game changer – although Ruby on Rails is great when supporting the project that is going to break all the rules and change the world, its monolithic architecture can be too obsolete and heavy to power up something smaller. And the worldwide web composed of smaller beings. When thinking about web app Yoda was quite right – size doesn’t matter.
Considering all factors mentioned above, most of the times Ruby on Rails will be a better pick – it enables a faster delivery for a smaller scale project, with many solutions ready to go.