Episode 1 - Get To Know Django

Welcome to the show notes for the first episode of Django Riffs!

Django Riffs is a podcast for learning web application development in Python using the Django web framework.

Listen at Spotify.

Who Is This For?

This podcast is for absolute Django beginners. No prior knowledge of Django or web development is expected.

Experienced users may learn something new or get a good refresher from topics they might have missed in the documentation.

As a pre-requisite, knowledge of Python is expected. Describing code in audio will be super hard to understand if you don’t know any Python.

Who Am I?

I’m Matt Layman, a software developer with over five years of Django experience. I’ve worked in the software industry since 2006.

What’s The Format?

Django Riffs is an educational podcast. It’s not a Django interview or news show. For that type of show, check out Django Chat.

The show will teach Django from a top-down approach. We’ll start with the overview, then dive into the details.

Each episode will focus on a single topic. I hope this will help avoid overloading listeners.

The episodes will have actual code examples described in audio and presented here in the show notes.

What Is Django?

Django is a web framework. There’s two parts to that: web and framework.

“Web” implies that Django is a tool for building websites. This can include sites you may access with your browser or mobile applications that use Django as a backend to fetch data.

Django powers websites like Instagram, Pinterest, or, my own employer, Doctor on Demand.

“Framework” is the other half. Frameworks are often compared to software libraries. Software libraries are chunk of code that you call. Frameworks, in contrast, are systems that call your code. Django, as a framework, gives you a core foundation that you can build your code on top of.

What Does Django Do?

This can be understood in the context of what a browser does.

A browser works by making requests with URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) which are places on the internet where you can find something.

URLs get responses from other websites by using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). HTTP is the format that describes how browsers talk to other sites. HTTP uses common commands like GET so many of the requests that your browser makes are actually GET requests.

When working with the request, the browser must translate the URL name that you supplied into a numeric scheme that computers and networks understand. This is done with the Domain Name System (DNS). Browsers will work with a DNS server to get one of these numbers which are called called IP addresses, short for Internet Protocol addresses.

With the IP address available, the browser will connect to the server machine. In the context of Django, this machine will run a Python web server. Web servers listen for HTTP requests and issue HTTP responses. The web server translates an HTTP request into a format that a web application can handle.

Django is that web application. The web server hands the web request to Django over a format called WSGI, which is the Web Server Gateway Interface. WSGI is the universal interface between Python web servers and Python web applications.

Django’s job is to take the request and produce some kind of response. Django has to handle URLs and the path that comes after the main portion of the URL (e.g., the part after .com).

As the developers, we must define what URLs Django will respond to. We must also write the code that will power those URLs. Django provides supporting code to make writing the responses easier.

Where Does Django Fit In The Web Ecosystem?

Django is a “batteries-included” framework. Django gives you a lot of tools in a single package so you don’t have to put a bunch of things together for yourself. Other similar frameworks include Ruby on Rails for the Ruby language or Laravel for the PHP language.

Django is a server-side rendered framework. Most of the work is done on the server so a full webpage is sent to a user.

A contrasting design style is a client-side rendered framwork. These frameworks use JavaScript to display the layout in a user’s browser and fetch data from a backend.

Django is a simpler model than client-side rendering because there is only one component doing the work rather than an information exchange between a backend and a client system.

Next Time

In the next episode, we’ll look at URLs and how to build them into your application.

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