Django: Python on a Plane

Version 1.0 release of open-source framework nears.

Django, the open-source Web application framework that Pythons creator recently dubbed his top pick for Python developers, is nearing its 1.0 release, according to Adrian Holovaty, principal Django developer. Holovaty said the release would be at "the end of this summer."

In a keynote at the SciPy conference Aug. 17-18 in Pasadena, Calif., Guido van Rossum, the creator of the Python language, proclaimed Django as the preferred Web framework for Python development. SciPy is a conference on scientific programming with Python.

"If I were to need a Web framework today, Id use Django unless it was clear that Django isnt right for the task," van Rossum said. "I like the way its authors run their project. They really get open-source development."

The Django Web framework makes it easier for Python developers to create Web applications more quickly and with less code, Holovaty said. Indeed, the Django framework is known as the Web framework "for perfectionists with deadlines." The technology comes out of a newspaper operation where its developers created Django to help journalists meet deadlines.

Holovaty, who is himself a journalist, said, "We had spent a few years building and perfecting a framework that let us create intensive database Web sites quickly."

The ease of use and rapid development capabilities in Django provide Python developers with benefits similar to those of the popular Ruby on Rails framework, observers said. Indeed, if Ruby on Rails speeds up Ruby-based Web development, Django could be considered "Python on a plane" for what it provides Python developers, one observer said.

Django originated when Holovaty was working at World Online, the online arm of the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper in Lawrence, Kan. In the fall of 2003, Holovaty and a colleague, Simon Willison, began using Python to develop World Onlines sites. They soon created a framework to help the organization turn out Web applications under deadline pressure. Sometimes they had mere hours between coming up with the concept for an application and the time it was publicly launched, Holovaty said.

Then, in July of last year, World Online open-sourced the software that became known as Django, Holovaty said.

Continued improvement is the plan, Holovaty said. "Our goal is to solve the real-world problems that Web developers face every day and to make it fun to build Web sites," he said. "Were hoping to reach Version 1.0 toward the end of the summer, and were working on a Django book to be released in the fall," Holovaty said.

Django differs from similar projects—such as Ruby on Rails—in its founders interest in abstracting things to a very high level and automating large chunks of Web development.

For example, Django can create an "administration" Web site automatically, saving developers days to weeks of mundane development, Holovaty said.

In addition to being a boost on the development side of things, Django also is quite scalable, Holovaty said. Django is designed to take advantage of as much hardware as you can throw at it, he said.

Moreover, Django "uses a shared--nothing architecture, which means you can add hardware at any level—database servers, caching servers or Web application servers," said an FAQ page on the Django site.