Python has become the preferred language for diverse programming activities, such as machine learning, deep learning, API development, and scripting. These capabilities of Python have led to a heightened demand for businesses to have access to Python developers. With added technologies such as Flask, FastAPI, and web-scraping, Python has solidified its position in the programming world. Although FastAPI is emerging as a popular option, Flask remains the go-to choice for most developers working with ML and APIs, given its advanced feature-set and years of continuous development.
Could you provide an explanation of what a web framework is?
Prior to exploring Flask and FastAPI, it would be beneficial to have a fundamental comprehension of what constitutes a web development framework.
Web development frameworks provide developers with a range of pre-built components, such as functions, modules, libraries, and classes. Through these frameworks, developers can construct web applications without being burdened by protocol or thread management. Ultimately, web development frameworks simplify the process of creating web applications.
Django, a web development framework written in Python programming language, is an outstanding example of such a framework. In addition, the AWS Lambda function, coupled with NodeJS, facilitates the hosting of small and large-scale applications on the cloud alike. This renders it a perfect option for those seeking a dependable and cost-effective approach to application hosting.
What is Flask?
Flask is a lightweight Python-based web application framework. It adheres to the standards of the Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI), which governs communication between web servers and web applications. By leveraging the advanced features of Python, Flask allows developers to create robust and dynamic web applications.
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Due to its relatively lighter weight and emphasis on a compact yet extensible core, Flask is occasionally referred to as a “micro web framework.” It offers the basic features necessary for development, such as routing and request processing.
Flask is an excellent option for beginners as it is easy to launch and has a wide range of potential applications.
Developers employ the versatile and robust Flask framework to build websites, e-commerce businesses, and other similar projects. Flask is also widely used to quickly deploy machine learning models. Reputed companies such as Netflix, Reddit, and Mozilla have all utilized the capabilities provided by Flask.
Characteristics of Flask
- Offers a built-in server and debugger for development and testing purposes.
- Boasts of a lightweight and uncomplicated structure.
- Uses Jinja2 templates.
- Allows for the integration of add-ons that extend its capabilities and enhance its usability.
- Facilitates testing of individual components with built-in help.
- Has a robust API.
What is FastAPI?
Flask, a well-known Python framework, has been commonly used for building RESTful services. It is an efficient tool for developing microservices and is widely favoured due to its ease of use and deployment. Despite its benefits, the emergence of the FastAPI framework was prompted by Flask’s limitations.
FastAPI is a highly praised, high-performance web framework that allows for the creation of APIs using Python 3.6+. It is recognized as a fast API, delivering performance comparable to Node.js and GO. Large companies such as Uber and Netflix have adopted it for developing their applications.
To simplify and expedite the process of starting with FastAPI, it is recommended to install the core libraries and Uvicorn ASGI server via pip. Uvicorn is the preferred server for production environments.
A significant advantage of FastAPI is its ability to use asynchronous processing. To take advantage of this feature, the async keyword should be placed before the endpoint function. The following code snippet illustrates the use of async def for an endpoint:
Features of FastAPI
- Frequently regarded as the fastest Python framework accessible.
- Offers easy-to-follow and clear documentation, including exceptional editing assistance.
- Approximately 40% of all problems can be attributed to inadequate coding practices.
- Adheres to JSON schema and public API requirements.
- API documentation that is interactive.
After discussing Flask and FastAPI side by side, we can now compare and contrast their similarities and differences.
Is FastAPI framework built on Flask?
FastAPI was created using Flask, a Python microframework, and is a Python package that streamlines web application development using HTML/CSS or Python. To host a FastAPI app, you must use an ASGI server, such as Daphne or Uvicorn, instead of Flask’s development server. FastAPI’s quick development time is primarily due to its use of the asynchronously-supported ASGI server.
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The Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI) is a Python specification that was first introduced in 1999, with the aim of simplifying web application and server communication and enabling easier web application development for programmers. Although it can be advantageous for seasoned programmers to be familiar with WSGI, beginners to programming may find it challenging to become acquainted with Python. Individuals with prior knowledge of similar languages like PHP or Ruby may find grasping Python concepts to be more straightforward.
FastAPI’s developers created ASGI (Application Service Gateway Interface), a standard for building asynchronous, event-driven websites. The API framework has the added benefit of enabling developers to use any existing framework to develop an app.
Here are some instances of how FastAPI and ASGI work together:
- Moreover, they provide access to libraries and tools that streamline their use.
- This makes it simpler to produce asynchronous, event-driven programming.
Verification of Inputs and Outputs, and Parameter Passing
Flask does not come with built-in functionalities for validating incoming data, and it accepts any type of information. If an application expects an integer value but is provided with a string, tuple, or list, the application will not be able to handle it and will crash. Thus, it is up to the developer to include validation in their Flask app.
FastAPI empowers developers to integrate data validation into their projects, enabling them to verify the validity of the arguments they are passing and supply other pertinent contextual information.
Errors will be indicated with a corresponding error message.
Flask utilises HTML pages to display error messages by default. On the other hand, when using FastAPI, a JSON-formatted error message will be displayed.
Loosely Related Work
Unlike other frameworks, Flask does not offer the ability to execute multiple background processes. It is instead deployed using the WSGI (Web Server Gateway Interface). In contrast, FastAPI’s ASGI (Asynchronous Server Gateway Interface) enables asynchronous task completion.
Contrasting FastAPI and Flask
FastAPI is a high-speed framework renowned for its efficiency. It has been evaluated and determined to be on par with other high-performance languages like NodeJS and Go, which are popular among experienced developers. FastAPI leverages Python’s asyncio library extensively, which is an essential aspect of Python’s capabilities with concurrent programming.
Asyncio is a powerful library that can be utilised for a diverse range of tasks that require introducing some delay, like accessing APIs, querying databases, and reading file contents. FastAPI is known to conform to the ASGI (Asynchronous Server Gateway Interface) standard, while Flask is limited to the WSGI (Web Server Gateway Interface) environment.
When you create your API with FastAPI, you have access to automated documentation generation, which we have discovered to be incredibly beneficial. Even if no code has been written for the user interface, FastAPI develops a well-designed and intuitive interface that simplifies API testing.
When you navigate to the endpoint using either the /docs or /redoc paths, you’ll be granted access to the automated documentation, as well as the Swagger UI that facilitates experimenting with the API methods. Furthermore, this endpoint includes a comprehensive log of all the application’s requests made to external services.
Because of the absence of built-in support, creating documentation in the Flask framework can be challenging. This is a substantial drawback, as generating documentation for Flask necessitates a considerable amount of effort and time. Thankfully, although the framework lacks the required tools to smoothly aid in the documentation process, it still receives support.
Flask is a popular web application framework with a vast user community, while FastAPI is a relatively new framework with a smaller user community. When faced with a challenging issue during the development phase, having a strong and comprehensive community to rely on can be highly advantageous. If you’re utilizing Flask, solutions are likely to be readily available, whereas if you’re using FastAPI, you may not have the same level of support.
Pros and Cons of Using FastAPI vs Flask
Examining the advantages and drawbacks of both FastAPI and Flask is crucial in determining which is best for your requirements. Comparing the speed of FastAPI and Flask is a significant aspect of this evaluation since it can assist you in making an informed decision.
Why Do We Recommend FastAPI?
- FastAPI is formulated to prioritise sturdiness, safety, and usability, making it an excellent choice for those looking to create APIs quickly and easily, with or without prior programming expertise.
- FastAPI provides numerous capabilities such as HTTP requests, OAuth authentication, XML/JSON responses, SSL/TLS encryption, and plenty more. This wide-ranging functionality is managed via a web-based interface, allowing users to customise their preferences to fit the API’s operation.
- The integrated tools are capable of monitoring API usage. Users will be notified when they approach any critical limits, such as response timestamps or the number of requests.
- It’s common practice to create APIs with Flask using the FastAPI framework extension. This web application framework expansion provides all of Flask’s conventional features while also offering additional advantages.
- Instead of spending time and effort creating a complete application from scratch or relying on numerous online boilerplate generators, adopting FastAPI’s toolkit-based approach should be seriously considered. This library incorporates concepts from other libraries, so if you have prior experience with similar libraries or frameworks, becoming accustomed to FastAPI should be relatively straightforward.
Are There Any Downfalls to Using FastAPI?
- A significant disadvantage of utilising the FastAPI framework is its cost, which is influenced by the user’s location and the number of monthly API calls made. Regrettably, the expense can be quite significant.
- Scaling a project can be an overwhelming task. Incorporating technologies such as PHP and databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL can increase complexity while attempting to expand a project from a small-scale to a larger-scale. While Python’s FastAPI can simplify the process to some extent, it may not be the most suitable architecture for long-term growth.