DRF vs. FastAPI: An In-depth Analysis

Patryk Młynarek - Backend Engineer

Patryk Młynarek

19 February 2024, 6 min read

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What's inside

  1. What is DRF
  2. What is FastAPI
  3. Main benefits of DRF
  4. Main Benefits of FastAPI
  5. Drawbacks of DRF
  6. Drawbacks of FastAPI
  7. Final Remarks

In the previous article, we’ve outlined the main differences between Flask and FastAPI, and we’ll continue the comparison of FastAPI - but this time, we’ll focus on Django Rest Framework (DRF) to see which one is better. Of course, the choice is never easy, and it’s hard to say that one framework is ALWAYS better than the other.

That is why we’ll write down the strengths and weaknesses so you can make an informed decision.

Also, remember that at Sunscrapers, are always happy to help you with the decision and further development - given that we specialize in Python and have over 11 years of experience in almost every framework.

What is DRF

Look at DRF - just reading the shortcut - Django REST Framework will intuitively give us a clue. It’s a REST Framework built on top of Django. Everybody knows that Django is one of the most popular web frameworks. Django REST Framework is a REST (REpresentational State Transfer) framework for Django. It was created to make API creation for Django-based applications extremely easy.

What is FastAPI

FastAPI is a micro-web-framework - so it’s much more lightweight than DRF. As a result, it’s great for creating fast APIs (especially for serverless applications). FastAPI is based on Pydantic and types hints to validate, serialize, and deserialize data. It supports asynchronous programming and can run with WSGI and ASGI servers for production.

Again, if you want to know more about FastAPI read our comparison between Flask and FastAPI.

Main benefits of DRF

Let’s examine the main benefits of using DRF for Python API projects.

  1. Built on Django: Seamless integration with one of the most popular web frameworks.
  2. Simplified API Creation: This process streamlines API development for Django-based applications using ready-to-use classes like ViewSet, APIView, and others, making it easy and efficient.
  3. Model-Oriented: Offers flexibility and freedom in designing architectures based on Django models.
  4. Easy to Use: Distinguishes data representation transfer models from views, facilitating modification based on business needs.
  5. Efficient: Provides high efficiency compared to other frameworks.
  6. Quick Setup and Deployment: Swift and straightforward setup, easing deployment processes.
  7. Metadata Publication: Allows publishing metadata along with query sets.
  8. Advanced Authentication: Features a sophisticated authentication module for secure query authorization.
  9. Robust Serialization: Advanced engine for serializing data sources effectively.
  10. Established Community: Benefits from a vast community and extensive documentation.
  11. Long Market Presence: Been in the market for a considerable time, ensuring stability and reliability.
  12. Model-Driven APIs: Facilitates the creation of both simple CRUD APIs and complex REST systems.
  13. Comprehensive Documentation: Extensive and well-maintained documentation for easy reference.

Main Benefits of FastAPI

Now, let’s take a look at what FastAPI has to offer.

  1. Exceptional Performance: One of the fastest web frameworks for Python.
  2. Concurrency Support: FastAPI enables out-of-the-box concurrency by leveraging Python's asynchronous I/O capabilities. This allows for efficient handling of concurrent tasks without explicit event loop management.
  3. Asynchronous Programming: Supports asynchronous programming, enhancing application responsiveness.
  4. Built on Starlette: This app utilizes the Starlette framework for speed and efficiency, tapping into a broader ecosystem of tools and packages that can be seamlessly integrated with FastAPI.
  5. Documentation Generation: Automatically generates detailed and user-friendly API documentation.
  6. Browser-Based Documentation: Documentation is browser-based and includes a Swagger GUI for easy navigation.
  7. Dependency Injection: Offers built-in dependency injection, promoting modularity and code scalability.
  8. Central Exception Handling: Simplifies exception handling with easy-to-use decorators and functions.
  9. Data Validation: Uses Pydantic for data validation, reducing the likelihood of errors.
  10. Security: Employs the fastapi.security module for managing security aspects in the absence of a built-in system.
  11. Easy Data Type Detection: Detects and handles incorrect data types, returning informative exceptions in JSON format.
  12. Pythonic Code: Embraces Python-type hints and syntax, making code clean and readable.
  13. Fast Development: Facilitates rapid development with automatic validation, serialization, and documentation.
  14. Compatibility with WSGI and ASGI Servers: Can run on both traditional WSGI servers and modern ASGI servers for production flexibility.
  15. Intuitive Syntax: Offers an intuitive and easy-to-understand syntax for defining API endpoints.
  16. Reduced Boilerplate Code: Minimizes boilerplate code through automatic data validation and serialization.
  17. Active Development and Updates: Maintained by an active development community, ensuring regular updates and improvements.
  18. Growing Ecosystem: While relatively new, the FastAPI ecosystem is expanding, supported by an enthusiastic and growing community.

Drawbacks of DRF

Let’s now look at both frameworks’ drawbacks. We will start with DRF.

  1. Framework Size and Performance: While Django Rest Framework (DRF) is versatile across project sizes, its comprehensive nature may introduce overhead, impacting project performance.
  2. No Async Support: DRF lacks native asynchronous programming support, impacting performance compared to frameworks that fully embrace asynchronous I/O.
  3. Websockets Support: DRF's support for Websockets is not as robust as in some other frameworks, which may be a limitation for applications relying on real-time functionality.

Drawbacks of FastAPI

The last thing we need to consider is FastAPI's drawbacks. There are not many of them, but it’s still important to consider them.

  1. Learning Curve: FastAPI's asynchronous nature and advanced features may pose a learning curve, especially for developers new to asynchronous programming or Python-type hints.
  2. Smaller Community: Compared to more established frameworks, FastAPI has a smaller community, resulting in fewer third-party resources, plugins, and community-driven support.
  3. Limited Built-in Security: FastAPI provides security functions through fastapi.security but may be considered less comprehensive than frameworks like Django with Django Rest Framework, requiring developers to manage specific security aspects actively.
  4. Limited Built-in Features: Some advanced features may require additional packages or manual implementation in FastAPI.

Final Remarks

The decision between these frameworks extends beyond immediate technical requirements. It involves strategic thinking about long-term maintenance, scalability, and adaptability to future technological trends. The role of expert consultancy cannot be overstated in such scenarios. Case studies and expert opinions often highlight nuanced aspects of framework selection, aligning technical decisions with long-term strategic goals.

In conclusion, DRF and FastAPI offer unique advantages and cater to different project needs. This article aims to provide a deep, nuanced understanding of each, aiding in making an informed decision for your next API project. Whether you choose the mature robustness of DRF or the modern efficiency of FastAPI, understanding their intricacies will ensure your project's success.

If you're seeking expert guidance in this area, contact us. We can provide tailored advice and insights based on your project needs and long-term objectives.

Patryk Młynarek - Backend Engineer

Patryk Młynarek

Backend Engineer

Patryk is a experienced Senior Python Developer who puts business value on the first place. Web applications enthusiast from initial development to server maintenance, ensuring the entire process runs smoothly. In his free time, Patryk enjoys playing board games and motorcycling.




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