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Has Django Reached a Tipping Point?

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Antonio Cangiano has pulled together some interesting stats on Django, the Python web framework, and proclaims that it has reached a tipping point:

Django seems to have reached its tipping point, that critical mass which will enable its momentum to skyrocket.

Antonio used a numbers of sources for stats, including irc, google groups, and the TIOBE Index, and ran a comparison against Ruby on Rails.

  Python/Django Ruby/RoR 517/382 354/298
newsgroup subscribers 12,457/8,178 6,935/13,355
messages for March 1,244 2,890
TIOBE Index (+/- delta since March) 7 (+0.70) 10 (-0.11)

Commenting on the results, Antonio says:

By looking at these numbers, without any pretense of being too scientific in our comparative methods, we get the impression that the Rails community is almost twice as big as the Django one, which sounds about right. On the other hand we also get that the Python community is larger than the Ruby one (confirmed also by the irc results above).

Python in the enterprise has typically been regarded as more suited towards simple automation tasks and prototyping. That may change if Django has in fact reached a tipping point, particularly with Python implementations that that run on .Net and the JVM. For example, Tristan King recently demonstrated running Django on Jetty (a servlet container written in Java), and Dino Viehland got Django running on IronPython.

The publishing world has picked up on the interest in Django, as Antonio notes in his conclusion:

In my opinion the strongest indicators of Django’s increasing popularity come from the publishing world. You’ll see many books in print for a given topic, only if their publishers believe that there is a large enough market for them. In 2007 the following two books were published: Professional Python Frameworks: Web 2.0 Programming with Django and Turbogears and The Definitive Guide to Django: Web Development Done Right (available for free online). 2008 has only just started and already there’s been one Django title published (Sams Teach Yourself Django in 24 Hours), with two further titles lined up: Practical Django Projects and Python Web Development with Django

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Community comments

  • Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

    by Geoffrey Grosenbach,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Django is a great framework. Rails is a great framework.

    The Django Book by Holovaty and Kaplan-Moss is one of the most well written tech books I've read recently. Even if you don't plan on writing any Django apps, I would recommend buying a copy.

    That being said, this is a great example of finding a few numbers to reinforce one's preconceived assumptions about the state of the world.

    Why should Django be compared to Rails at all? Why not compare to Java or .NET? Isn't this setting up Rails as the standard to which web frameworks should be judged?

    And since when did an IRC population become an indicator of the viability of a framework? If so, do we have comparative statistics for the historical population of the Django and Rails IRC channels? It appears that this was a single sample from a specific point in time, not a scientific appraisal of the situation.

  • Re: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

    by Antonio Cangiano,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Hi Geoffrey,

    I appreciate your comment and valid criticism, and was fully aware that this would be the most likely response from some readers. My article pointed out several indicators about Django's current size without claiming to be a scientific analysis. I said that several times in my article. I collected some "evidence" of Django's momentum and published it. My main point was about the attention that Django has been receiving all of a sudden by book publishers. The other numbers are in place to give a bit more perspective.

    It's true, in order to talk about a tipping point, we should show before and after figures. Alexa, Compete, Google Trend and TIOBE did that. The figures regarding Google Groups and IRC did not, even though I distinctly remember a time when the Django channel wasn't that populated and the Rails one already had plenty of users. I don't have solid numbers, just a memory, so I avoided mentioning it in my short post.

    Finally, the reason why I picked Rails as a comparison, is only because it's the main framework for a language similar to Python, it reached its tipping point back in 2005/2006 and it is not unreasonable to assume that Django may follow Rails' success story, even if to a minor extent. Java or .NET are in another league and comparing their popularity with that of Django would just tell us that Django is not mainstream yet, which we already know. Comparing the numbers for Django and Rails gives us some indication, albeit vague, of the relative size of the Django community.

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