Ruby on Rails vs Django. What to Choose?

Aug 12, 2022

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Django and Ruby on Rails are currently the most popular frameworks in web application development. They are actively evolving and “exploring new territories”. However, the debates over which option offers cleaner code and more efficient features are still recurring.

So, let’s talk about these frameworks’ similarities and fundamental differences. In which cases should you choose RoR and when could Django be the best option? And what is the basis of these frameworks’ popularity?

Django and Ruby on Rails: Main Similarities

Django and RoR are both open-source web frameworks created to make the whole programming process much easier and more efficient. But some more specific similarities are worth talking about.

Ruby on Rails and Django: Libraries

Ruby and Python are open-source languages ​​with extensive libraries.

RoR has a collection of libraries called Gems. This significantly speeds up the development, helps improve and extend app functionality, and gives support in the form of service classes or library extensions.

Django has many third-party libraries that are very easy to import. The free packages are also available for extension, and the usage syntax is very similar.

Language Version Management

Environment management is essential because continuous work with multiple projects requires constant monitoring of changes and dependencies compatibility. Unless you’re using a Docker-like development approach, switching between language versions will cause chaos.

Ruby and Python both have version managers to solve this problem. In the first case, you can use rvm and rbenv; in the second – pyenv.

Open Communities and Available Documentation

Both frameworks have huge and open communities. It means developers can access various documented experiences, from installation issues to complex cases. In both cases, a large number of user-referenced, community-driven guides, tutorials, and guidelines are available.

At the same time, both communities are closely connected and actively exchange knowledge, which is rare. Anyone facing problems can find really effective solutions and recommendations online.

User Interface

Both Django and Ruby on Rails have the necessary mechanisms to implement user-friendly interfaces adapted to all web development requirements and modern front-end development approaches. Both options allow you to create high-quality products with great plugins, features and add-ons. Therefore, there is practically no functional difference between them.

Other Similarities

Speaking of other similarities, it’s worth noting the purpose of Ruby on Rails and Django. These are software frameworks explicitly created to support the development of web products: services, web API interfaces, etc.

Both frameworks are free to use, following web protocols and standard practices. The underlying languages of both Ruby and Django are object-oriented programming languages. They belong to the dynamic type, have a convenient syntax and more than 15 years of development.

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Ruby on Rails vs. Django: Major Differences

Despite the similarities, the frameworks have fundamental differences. They determine the scope of use and the path of future development.

Underlying Programming Language

Django uses Python and Rails’ underlying language is Ruby. They have common features such as interpretability and dynamic typing. In addition, they are both object-oriented.

However, the difference between programming languages ​​determines the strengths of both options and their areas of use.

Ruby Python
History Ruby was developed in the 1990s as a “more object-oriented” version of Python, as Yukihiro Matsumoto said Python was developed in the 80s in the Netherlands as an interfacing language with the Amoeba operating system
Purpose More suitable for web development Suitable for the development of huge variety of products (games, machine learning, data analysis, AI, etc.), universal language
General Complexity Clear syntax Easy to learn
Complexity High level of flexibility and freedom of interpretation High clarity, structure and readability
Development Speed High High
Productivity High High

Performance and Speed

Since Django is based on Python, which is a slightly slower programming language, this framework is considered less performant. However, if you take the overall picture, it works quite well.

In this regard, Ruby on Rails is a slightly faster and more productive framework. It has a slight advantage due to the presence of plugins and libraries for a speed increase.

Purposes of Use and Flexibility

What is Ruby on Rails used for? It’s perfect for implementing non-standard business ideas and unique solutions. The flexibility of this framework is possible thanks to syntactic sugar, metaprogramming, etc. It can be adapted to almost any task.

Django, in turn, will be an excellent solution for the field of artificial intelligence, machine learning and working with large arrays of complex data. It has no equal in this field.

Bootstrapping

Generally, both frameworks are straightforward to set up and install. Ruby on Rails and Django developers offer very detailed guidelines for this, not to mention powerful communities with advice and tips.

The difference in bootstrapping depends more on the specific goals and needs. For different results, you have to connect different plugins and libraries. Also, different versions of both frameworks may interact differently with different databases. Much depends on the availability of the library, the current version features, etc.

Learning Curve

Ruby on Rails requires developers to understand the framework’s philosophy and some functional programming concepts. The Rails Way is a whole system of “best practices” in developing applications on its framework. It includes detailed code examples, open libraries with information on implementing such practices, testing and deployment, and an in-depth study of the Rails codebase. To understand this framework, you need to understand why Rails behaves the way it does and how to use it to your advantage.

That’s why many recommend Rails to more experienced developers who have already dealt with programming pains, the complexities of implementing completely new approaches and finding unique solutions.

Python, in turn, is somewhat easier to learn, given its age and the number of courses, studies, educational materials, etc. Django takes some effort to master fully, as with any other framework. Still, your learning curve can be easy if you’re planning to switch from PHP or Java.

What is The Reason for Django’s Popularity?

The popularity of the framework is due to the popularity of its basic programming language – Python. It is used to work with artificial intelligence and machine learning, and these technologies have become increasingly significant in the modern world. In addition, this language is necessary for work on large data analysis, GPU calculations, etc.

In addition, Python is studied in many universities and colleges. It has its specific niche, a large community and a long history. Accordingly, Django is a universal solution for everyone who started with Python.

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What is The Reason for RoR’s Popularity?

When this framework appeared in 2005, its creators offered an entirely new approach to creating web applications. This is about the “convention over configuration” paradigm, the DRY principle, and the use of the MVC pattern (which, by the way, is also common in Django).

This approach significantly reduced the time of creating web applications, simplified developers’ work and freed up time to focus on the product logic.

According to Bruce Perens, Ruby on Rails released engineers from the need to follow many steps and waste time. With this framework, programming doesn’t need so much verbiage anymore. And that’s what makes RoR so popular.

How To Choose?

Which is better: Django or Ruby on Rails? These frameworks compete, but some may be more useful in different areas. The table below shows common examples.

Django Ruby on Rails
  • Highly detailed app with an extensive complex of features.
  • Apps or websites that require fast launch and further work on details, quick MVP development.
  • Complex modern web products with the involvement of artificial intelligence or machine learning technologies.
  • Complex apps that require unique features and constant functionality extension.
  • Products, driven by vast and complex databases (Django ORM is perfect for this).
  • For projects developed on front-end frameworks such as Angular, React, Vue, etc.
  • Projects that require deep analysis, scientific programming and the use of profound math knowledge.
  • Quick and solid prototypes.
  • Apps that have to cope with heavy traffic and millions of requests.
  • Small projects with significant requirements in performance and speed.
  • Enhanced security software.
  • Secure e-commerce products that require high stability and reliability.
  • More suitable for large projects which require less flexibility.
  • Startups that require high and smooth scalability.
  • Large development team (framework has standardized coding practices which are suitable for big long-term projects with large teams).
  • Projects that need efficient real-time updates.

Examples of Successful Apps on Django

The most illustrative examples of using Django are Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, Reddit, YouTube, Pinterest and Spotify. Every day they deal with hundreds of thousands of users and do it very successfully.
Other cases include NASA, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Mozilla, Dropbox, etc.

Examples of Successful Apps on RoR

The best cases of using Ruby on Rails are Shopify, GitHub, Twitter, Hulu, Basecamp, and Airbnb. Developers also use it for Kickstarter, Fiverr, Twitch, SoundCloud, UrbanDictionary, Bloomberg, etc. As you can see, all these apps have custom complex functionality.

Conclusion

Ruby on Rails and Django are both modern multifunctional frameworks with huge open-source libraries, language management tools, vast communities and convenient syntax.

However, the differences between them determine their scope of use. Django is more suitable for analyzing large amounts of data, working with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Ruby on Rails is an excellent option for developing non-standard custom products with a wide range of functionality. This framework is more flexible, so creating web products with it is faster.

Both frameworks have usage advantages for specific cases and particular needs. We’ll be pleased to help you find the best option for your project. Therefore, feel free to contact us in any convenient way.

Tetiana Paratsii
Tetiana Paratsii
Marketing Analyst at Leobit
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