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What is Django Hosting?

Only Web developers would name their high-level Python framework after a quirky spaghetti western character. Use it to build powerful, interactive sites.

Django is a framework for Python that makes development faster, and makes an already user-friendly language even easier to grasp. The Django website boasts that it's possible to develop an idea in a matter of hours. Django includes a number of shortcuts that recreate commonly-used functions, and is of particular interest to people producing and publishing content.

A Brief History

Django was conceived in 2003 by two Python programmers, Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison. It was released to the public two years later. Django is named after Jean Django Reinhardt, a Belgian musician known for his jazz music and guitar skills.

Django is currently supported by a foundation which is registered in the US as a non-profit organisation. The project is open source.

On the modern web, Django has some high profile users. It's been adopted by Open Stack, Instagram and NASA, to name but three.

Why use Django?

Django makes website development easier by giving developers short cuts to common outcomes. That means applications can move from the drawing board to deployment much more quickly, compared to programming in Python alone. The admin interface creates its own options, depending on the way you've built your application, so you instantly have full control over the back-end. That can help to bring content to the fore more quickly.

When coding in Python, users create modules using Python in Django. Django is designed to add minimal extra learning time and should look familiar to anyone who can code basic HTML. Every site is created in a self-contained unit called a project, and each page contains a mixture of components that are rendered in the browser.

Some examples of Django's abilities out-of-the-box:

  • User authentication and permissions
  • Session cookies
  • Form handling
  • Content administration
  • Generation of site maps
  • Generation of RSS feeds
  • Blog commenting and management
  • Multi-language support

Django can also handle large amounts of traffic, so it's suitable for use on enterprise sites and busy blogs, as well as small sandbox projects and small business shopfronts.

What Django is Used For

Django can be used for a diverse range of purposes, and by a diverse range of organisations. Some of its functionality naturally lends itself to content management, but that can be applied to a range of scenarios. If you want to create a microblogging platform, connect friends on a social website or publish newsletters or recipes to a blog, Django will give you the building blocks you need.

If you're still deciding which coding language to learn, note that the Django website is unusually friendly to newbies. That might be key if you want to learn Python but you're intimidated by the technical nature of many coding websites, that might help make your mind up.

Security

One of the big bonuses of Django is its focus on security. If you're new to developing in Python, Django will protect you against security holes and common attacks.

It helps to prevent:

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) and request forgery (CSRF)
  • SQL code injection
  • Clickjacking (where a site loads another site in an iframe)
  • Storage of user login details
  • HTTPS support
  • Monitoring of content uploaded to your server by users

For novices (or coders in a hurry), this all provides peace of mind.

There's no protection for brute force attacks, but you can obtain a plugin to help with this. Additionally, it's important to store Django projects (and any other Python projects) away from the web root on your server. This is a key difference from other types of scripting languages, but you really don't want anyone to be able to view Python code over the web in plain text.

Hosting System Requirements

If your host offers Python, it could (or should) also offer Django support. Note that some versions of Python aren't compatible with Django, such as versions pre-dating Python 3.2. Cross-reference Django's website with your host's specifications to make sure you have a compatible set-up.

There's no cost involved in acquiring Django, and it ships with some operating systems by default. If there's no mention of Django support, quiz your host before you sign up, and ask them if they would add it to your chosen plan for free.

Django Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are some good reasons to use Django?

    Django is a great development framework for novice web developers. Instead of making developers code everything from scratch, Django makes development easier by providing shortcuts to common outcomes. If a web developer needs applications to deploy quickly, Django can help them get there faster compared to programming in Python. Depending on how applications are built, Django can also instantly give developers full control over the back-end administration. That level of control can help developers bring content to the fore more quickly.

  • Are there any reasons not to use Django?

    Coders who are already familiar with Python are likely to find coding with Django a little too basic. While the shortcuts can help advanced developers finish applications with greater speed, they can also limit the potential of customizations that advanced developers deploy inside applications. Django is a great solution to help Python developers cut down their time to deploy applications, but it should probably be avoided if you have a high degree of customizations.

  • What are the alternatives to Django?

    There are several solutions for the open source development of applications for e-commerce, social media, and more that give programmers faster methods for building applications. Ruby On Rails is a popular alternative to Django that leverages the Ruby programming language with Rails framework. Two common development framework alternatives to Django that aid in PHP development are CodeIgniter and the Zend Framework.

  • What are the requirements for Django web hosting?

    Since Django is a Python framework, you will need to install Python before you attempt to install Django. If you are using Django in a test situation, there is a web server included in its download files. Otherwise, you will need a Linux operating system with an Apache web server, and a MySQL database. In the hosting industry, this type of hosting installation is called a "LAMP" server. There are also streamlined database configurations for PostgreSQL, SQLite, and Oracle.

  • Are there any additional specific hosting recommendations?

    Yes. Django is flexible enough to also be hosted on a Javascript Python installation (Jython) and on Windows servers. If you do intend on running Django on Jython, you will first need to setup servlet containers before installing Django. At that time, there will also be some platform libraries you need to install. Keep in mind that there will be some differences in the Jython version because Jython is not a true version of Python. In order to run on Windows, you will need to install Setuptools and PIP before getting to Django. There are several common issues with this installation, so while it is possible to do it is not the preferred way to deploy Django.

  • What does self-hosted mean? I don’t have to run a server myself, do I?

    Self-hosted solutions do not require YOU to personally own a server and manage it to host your site. Instead, self-hosted simply means that hosting is not provided directly by the development team that created Django. In order to use a self-hosted framework like Django, you will need to contract a hosting provider before building your website.

  • Do I need managed hosting in order to use Django as my framework?

    The answer to this question depends on your answer to the question "how much responsibility are you willing to accept for the maintenance of your website?" The more complex your Django development project becomes with widgets, plugins, multiple blogs and theme changes, the greater your need will be for professionally managed website hosting. Shared hosting often comes with some managed services included. If you have a dedicated hosting solution, however, managed services are likely a required "option" as part of your agreement. To be fair to Django, this is the case with any self-hosted framework - not just Django.

  • Can I host a Django installation on a shared hosting plan?

    Yes. Linux-based operating systems power the majority of servers deployed in today's shared hosting environments. Since Django is best deployed on a Linux system, it would stand to reason that Django can be installed on a shared hosting plan. While it should be easy to install and may even be available "out of the box" from your hosting provider, it is always best to double check that your host can support Django before making a contractual commitment. Check with your host before assuming you can use Django on their shared hosting platform.

  • Do I need to be concerned about installation?

    Depending on your server type, yes. While Linux and other open source operating systems play nicely with Django, Windows servers and a Java-based Python platform called "Jython" come with some well-documented customizations and complications. If you are going to use Django on one of these alternative operating systems, the likelihood that you will need to use managed services or customer support from your hosting provider to complete proper configuration can significantly rise.

  • Do I have to know how to program to use Django?

    Yes. Django is, after all, a web development framework. Django is to Python programming as Dreamweaver was to HTML programming in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Novice Python programmers will be able to pick up Django and effectively develop applications by using shortcodes, but someone who has no programming knowledge will be out of their league with Django.

  • How does Django compare to Ruby On Rails as a framework?

    There are a lot of similarities between Django/Python and Ruby On Rails. While both run on server side frameworks and have a large community of developers that can help a new programmer learn the ins and outs of the platforms - the comparables pretty much end there. Rails is great for getting up and running and uses a lot of pattern matching to streamline code. Python and Django allow for a lot more flexibility and a lighter updating cycle compared to Ruby On Rails. If you want to get your code up and operating faster, give Rails a try. If you want more flexibility and customizations, Django is a better bet.

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