Compare Flask and Tornado

Flask is a Python web framework for building web applications. It is based on Werkzeug and Jinja 2. It is a minimalist, 'no batteries included' framework. Yet it can be scaled extensively and support complex applications and use cases by adding required functionality as needed. It follows the philosophy that if something needs to be initialized, it should be initialized by the developer.

Tornado is a Python web framework and asynchronous networking library developed at FriendFeed. By using non-blocking network I/O, Tornado can scale to tens of thousands of open connections, making it ideal for long polling, WebSockets, and other applications that require a long-lived connection to each user. It is great for use cases that are I/O intensive (e.g., proxies) but not ideal for compute-intensive use cases.

Let's see how Flask and Tornado compare on various factors and features and which to choose when.

Flask

Tornado

Overall

Type

Type
Python microframework for building web applications.
Type
Python web framework and asynchronous networking library, which does non-blocking I/O.

Author

Author

Release Date

Release Date
2010
Release Date
2009

License

License
Adoption and Ease of Use

Popularity [?]

Popularity [?]
5 Stars
Used by 397,000 projects.
Popularity [?]
1 Star
Used by 84,000 projects.

Used by

Used by
Netflix, Zillow, Lyft.
Used by
FriendFeed, Turntable.fm, Fantamaster.it

Jobs [?]

Jobs [?]
2.5 Stars
1067 job openings which list Flask as a requirement.
Jobs [?]
0.5 Star
20 job openings which list Tornado as a requirement.

Performance [?]

Performance [?]
5 Stars
Because it is minimal and doesn't have a lot of overhead, Flask is very performant. Extensions could impact performance negatively.
Performance [?]
5 Stars
Excellent performance.

Flexibility

Flexibility
5 Stars
Very flexible and doesn't require users to use any particular project or code layout. (A structured approach is still recommended.)
Flexibility
5 Stars
Tornado is simple and flexible.

Ease of Learning

Ease of Learning
5 Stars
Flask is simple and its core features are not difficult to learn. There are also plenty of online resources available to aid in learning.
Ease of Learning
4 Stars
Tornado is not difficult to learn if the user is familiar with asynchronous and non-blocking I/O. The online resources, courses, and tutorials are not as plentiful compared to Flask or Django.
Database Support

RDBMS Support

RDBMS Support
Through Plugins or Extensions
Through Plugins or Extensions
Flask doesn't come with a built-in ORM framework. Developers can use one of many open source libraries or extensions. Such as Flask-SQLAlchemy, Flask-Pony, etc.
RDBMS Support
Through Plugins or Extensions
Through Plugins or Extensions
Being an asynchronous framework, Tornado doesn't play well with ORM frameworks. See this stackoverflow answer for more details. It doesn't come with a built-in ORM framework, but 3rd party libraries that can be used. Such as tornado-sqlalchemy, Tornado-MySQL (experimental), etc.

NoSQL Support

NoSQL Support
NoSQL databases are supported through open source libraries or extensions. To use MongoDB with Flask, Flask-PyMong is a popular choice. CouchDB, Cassandra, and DynamoDB are also supported via libraries.
Verdict Flask is a great choice if you want to develop for a NoSQL database.
NoSQL Support
No built-in support for NoSQL databases, but 3rd party libraries support asynchronous, non-blocking access. Motor is one such library from the makers of MongoDB. However, a lot of client libraries like DynamoDB appear to have been deprecated or not actively maintained.
Web & Core Features

Admin Dashboard

Admin Dashboard
Through Plugins or Extensions
Through Plugins or Extensions
No built-in admin panel, but you can use the Flask-Admin extension. It supports a number of backends like SQLAlchemy, MongoEngine, Peewee etc.
Admin Dashboard
No or Limited Support
No or Limited Support
No built-in admin panel. No well-known 3rd party tools either.

REST Support

REST Support
Supported via extensions such as Flask-RESTful, Flask-Classful, Flask-RESTPlus.
REST Support
No built-in support for REST API, but users can implement REST APIs manually.

Security

Security
Despite being a minimalist Framework, Flask does an excellent job of addressing common security concerns like CSRF, XSS, JSON security and more out of the box. 3rd party extensions like Flask-Security can be used for common security measures. However, it requires that developers evaluate these extensions carefully for security risks and apply timely updates manually when vulnerabilities are discovered.
Security
Built-in security mechanisms such as secure cookies, XSRF, DNS Rebinding and etc. Has been used in production for many years so security is generally decent.

Templating Library

Templating Library
Flask uses Jinja2 out of the box.
Templating Library
Tornado uses custom templating library out of the box.

Web Forms

Web Forms
No built-in support but there is Flask-WTF extention. For SQLAlchemy support, that is, to create forms based on models, there is WTForms-Alchemy
Web Forms
No built-in support.

Authentication

Authentication
Only provides support for cookie-based sessions but there are extensions available for authentication, authorization and account management.
Authentication
Provides user authentication and also supports 3rd party authentication and authorization systems like Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Testing

Testing
Built-in support using Python's unittest framework.
Testing
Built-in support using Python's unittest framework.

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