Simpler were those times when the Backend Technology minded its own business handling the server and its services while the Frontend pages just had to ‘be there’ for the user to press the buttons. But alas! We live in the cruel times of Single Page Applications (SPA). These applications not only demand for stronger communication between the three application layers, but also requires every layer to be responsive to the changes made in any other two. The client-side framework in these applications, has to maintain a state ensures that any change, (User or Server triggered) in the data-model state will trigger a change in the UI.
Integration of Flask and React is one of the most effective solutions ensuring the efficiency of SPAs. Before we discuss the boons these two carry together, let’s have a look at Flask and React individually.
Written in Python, this Jinja2 template based micro framework has so far added names like Pinterest and LikedIn to its user-base. The term micro framework implies that Flask does not require any third-party libraries or tools for its operations. Thus, form validation, upload holding or data abstraction layer seem absent from this framework. But due to its support for various extensions Flask partially allows these application features to be implemented. For better efficiency of the framework, the above said extensions are frequently updated. Here are some key features of Flask that make it a popular choice for the web-application back-ends
- Built-In standalone server for development and testing
- Based on Jinja 2 template
- Large character size for Unicode-Characters
- Request Dispatching through Representational State Transfer (REST)
- Python’s Unit Testing Framework Integrated
- Support for client side sessions (cookies)
- Support for Extensions for additional features
- Compatible with the Google App Engine
To efficiently display the browser’s DOM and respond to the changes made by the programmer, React creates a in-memory cache. Therefore, instead of rendering the whole page, only the specific components that are actually changed, are rendered making the pages virtually more responsive.
Beyond HTML Architecture
React architecture can render more than just simple HTML tags based on the user requirements. For example, PayPal and Netflix, two of the biggies currently using React, use a feature called the isomorphic rendering. This is basically a customised feature by React that allows to render identical pages at server and client sides.
As discussed earlier, Flask and React are an ideal combination for Single Page Applications where the application layers need to be highly responsive for each other. Below are some features that make the integration of these two technologies a popular pick for web-applications
Due to the responsiveness of UI the end-user feels like using a desktop application instead of a website.
Division of Responsibility
Flask and React, both have equal parts to play in the web-application. Thus, none of them is solely responsible to carry out any functionality on its own. The responsibility of any logic is strategically divided between frontend and backend, making things easier for the developers.
Support for REST
RESTful APIs enable React to build the UI in its full potential. Flask’s support for Representational State Transfer at the backend makes this a heavenly combination.