Ruby on Rails and Django are both perfect frameworks for web development. The things that they have in common range from programming language similarities (Ruby, for Rails, and Python, for Django, are both object-oriented and dynamically-typed) to performance (which is specific for each project). It’s safe to say they are like twins, differing only in the language used under the hood and the applied philosophies, each born in a different ecosystem.
So, how do you choose one over the other?
If you are an app owner and want to pick the right tool for your startup, both Django and Rails are great choices. But here are some things to consider that will help you make the right choice.
As we mentioned above, Python and Ruby are object-oriented and dynamically-typed languages. They are very different from languages known from enterprise ecosystems, such as Java. One large point of difference is that Python and Ruby are open-source, and their respective communities are very productive and robust.
Ruby and Python have nearly the same level of performance. Differences aren’t noticeable for a typical CRUD app.
In both languages, the architecture is based on an MVC model and well-structured. Your app will be arranged properly and have basic divisions between layers: defined routes, controllers, models, and bounded views within the framework. Things are placed a bit differently in Rails and Django, but it’s just a scheme, so it’s not something to worry about.
In terms of syntax, Python was designed to force a good style (indents are important), while Ruby was designed to be read as you would read the English language with as much joy for the programmer as possible.
Django’s motto is “the framework for perfectionists with deadlines”. It’s catchy! Django relies heavily on the DRY concept (i.e. avoiding repeating yourself). In RoR, it’s Convention over Configuration – you have to create less code in Rails to achieve the same results, because you skip the configuration part, which is important in Django. Thanks to this, Rails is said to be more magical. Many things happen without strict definitions, just thanks to conventions.
Whatever integration library you need, chances are you’ll find it for both Django and RoR. However, Python is widely used for many purposes: not just for web development but also science and machine learning computations. Ruby was designed to be a general purpose solution, but most live applications in Ruby are web apps.
Go with Django if:
your development team prefers Python and the Django philosophy,
you need to use Python-specific libraries, for example in machine learning applications.
Bet on Rails if:
you have an experienced team of developers – it requires quite a bit of knowledge to do the RoR magic fast;
you need to develop a web app quickly – you can do it thanks to the dozens of gems (libraries) RoR offers.
How to make the right decision?
If you know just one of the languages, pick the framework that uses the language you know. Some familiarity with the language itself is important for the understanding of a framework. Most importantly, use the tool that better suits your expectations for a web framework.
We chose Ruby on Rails. For an experienced team, the magic isn’t much of a factor, but RoR simply works and allows us to break things fast. This aligns with our philosophy: we like fast iterations and fast feedback loops, because it’s important to our clients to test features and solutions as soon as possible.