What is Django?
What is Rails?
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In late 2015, following the Series G, Pinterest began migrating their web experience to React, primarily because they “found React rendered faster than our previous template engine, had fewer obstacles to iterating on features and had a large developer community.”
The legacy setup consistent of Django, Python and Jinja on the backend, with Nunjucks handling template rendering on the client side. They wanted to move to React for handling template rendering across the board, but if they “switched the client-side rendering engine from Nunjucks to React, [they’d] also have to switch [their] server-side rendering, so they could share the same template syntax.”
Now, when a user agent makes a request, a latent module render requests that it needs data via an API call. Concurrently, a separate network call is made “to a co-located Node process to render the template as far as it can go with the data that it has.”
Node then responds with rendered templates, and along with a “holes” array to indicate what data was still needed to complete the render. Finally, the Python webapp makes an API call to fetch the remaining data, and each module is sent back to Node as completely independent module requests/in parallel/.
With this framework in place, Pinterest developers are in the process of replacing Nunjucks code with React components throughout the codebase.
When starting a new company and building a new product w/ limited engineering we chose to optimize for expertise and rapid development, landing on Rails API, w/ AngularJS on the front.
The reality is that we're building a CRUD app, so we considered going w/ vanilla Rails MVC to optimize velocity early on (it may not be sexy, but it gets the job done). Instead, we opted to split the codebase to allow for a richer front-end experience, focus on skill specificity when hiring, and give us the flexibility to be consumed by multiple clients in the future.
We also considered .NET core or Node.js for the API layer, and React on the front-end, but our experiences dealing with mature Node APIs and the rapid-fire changes that comes with state management in React-land put us off, given our level of experience with those tools.
We're using GitHub and Trello to track issues and projects, and a plethora of other tools to help the operational team, like Zapier, MailChimp, Google Drive with some basic Vue.js & HTML5 apps for smaller internal-facing web projects.
Since 2011 our frontend was in Django monolith. However, in 2016 we decide to separate #Frontend from Django for independent development and created the custom isomorphic app based on Node.js and React. Now we realized that not need all abilities of the server, and it is sufficient to generate a static site. Gatsby is suitable for our purposes. We can generate HTML from markdown and React views very simply. So, we are updating our frontend to Gatsby now, and maybe we will use Netlify for deployment soon. This will speed up the delivery of new features to production.
StackShare Feed is built entirely with React, Glamorous, and Apollo. One of our objectives with the public launch of the Feed was to enable a Server-side rendered (SSR) experience for our organic search traffic. When you visit the StackShare Feed, and you aren't logged in, you are delivered the Trending feed experience. We use an in-house Node.js rendering microservice to generate this HTML. This microservice needs to run and serve requests independent of our Rails web app. Up until recently, we had a mono-repo with our Rails and React code living happily together and all served from the same web process. In order to deploy our SSR app into a Heroku environment, we needed to split out our front-end application into a separate repo in GitHub. The driving factor in this decision was mostly due to limitations imposed by Heroku specifically with how processes can't communicate with each other. A new SSR app was created in Heroku and linked directly to the frontend repo so it stays in-sync with changes.
Related to this, we need a way to "deploy" our frontend changes to various server environments without building & releasing the entire Ruby application. We built a hybrid Amazon S3 Amazon CloudFront solution to host our Webpack bundles. A new CircleCI script builds the bundles and uploads them to S3. The final step in our rollout is to update some keys in Redis so our Rails app knows which bundles to serve. The result of these efforts were significant. Our frontend team now moves independently of our backend team, our build & release process takes only a few minutes, we are now using an edge CDN to serve JS assets, and we have pre-rendered React pages!
#StackDecisionsLaunch #SSR #Microservices #FrontEndRepoSplit
Zulip has been powered by Django since the very early days of its development with Django 1.4, back in 2012. As a reasonably mature web application with significant scale, we're at the stage in many companies' development where one starts to rip out more and more of the web framework to optimize things or just make them work the way we want. (E.g. while I was at Dropbox in early 2016, we discovered we only had about 600 lines of code left from the original Pylons framework that actually ran).
One of the things that has been really fantastic about Django is that we're still happily using it for the vast majority of code in the project, and every time Django comes out with a new release, I read the changelog and get excited about several improvements that actually make my life better. While Django has made some design decisions that I don't agree with (e.g. I'm not a fan of Django REST framework, and think it makes life more difficult), Django also makes it easy to do your own thing, which we've done to great effect (see the linked article for details on our
Overall I think we've gotten a ton of value out of Python and Django and would recommend it to anyone starting a new full-featured web application project today.