According to ancient programming tradition, whenever you feel like you are ready to start building out new projects in programming, you start with a hello world application.

That’s why in this tutorial we are going to be writing our very first hello world program in flask. The purpose of this program is to make you a little more familiar with flask and how it works.

Let’s get started..

What is flask

Flask is a backend web framework written in python. It was developed by Armin Ronacher and it’s used to develop web applications and web servers quickly and easily.

Why is Flask called a Microframework

Flask is also referred to as a lightweight python microframework because it doesn’t come with a lot of features out of the box. For example, It has no database abstraction layer, form validation, or any other components where pre-existing third-party libraries provide common functions. Flask is what is also referred to as an unopinionated framework.

What does it mean to be unopinionated?

Well it means that flask doesn’t decide for you what your application should look like. It gives you (the developer) the freedom to choose whatever standard or convention you want when you want to build out your application.

Flask vs Django

Both flask and django are web frameworks written in python; and while there are similiarities between them, there are more differences. Here are a few areas where both frameworks differ from each other:

Flask is a microframework and as such doesn’t come with external libraries or dependencies. It is unopinionated and doesn’t force you into building your application in a certain wayDjango is a fullstack framework which is based on the MVC pattern and it is opinionated
Flask doesn’t come with an admin interfaceDjango comes with an in-built admin interface
Django is more suitable for multi-page applicationsFlask is most suitable for single-page applications

Some Companies that use Flask

  • MIT
  • Netflix
  • Airbnb
  • Reddit
  • Zillow
  • Lyft
  • MailGui
  • Mozilla

Some Companies that use Django

  • National Geographic
  • Instagram
  • Mozilla
  • Coursera
  • Pinterest
  • Zapier
  • Spotify
  • Udemy

Flask Setup

In order to start making use of flask, we need to set things up first. The first thing we need to do is setup a virtual environment

Setting up Virtual Environment

So before we set up our virtual environment, let’s talk a little bit about why a virtual environment is useful.

The reason why a virtual environment is useful is because of what it does. A virtual environment gives us the ability to isolate the packages we use for our project so that in the future when we want to use a different version of those packages, we don’t run into problems. For an in-depth explanation on virtual environments, you can check out this tutorial on real python

In order to create a virtual environment, open up your terminal and run the following command:

On Windows:

> mkdir myproject
> cd myproject
> py -3 -m venv venv

On MacOS/Linux:

$ mkdir myproject
$ cd myproject
$ python3 -m venv venv

By running the above command, what you have just done, is successfully create a project directory with a virtual environment in it.

Activating the Virtual Environment

Run the following command to activate the virtual environment you’ve just created:

> venv\Scripts\activate

Installing Flask

Now, we are done creating a virtual environment, so we can now install flask inside of this virtual environment by using the following command:

$ pip install Flask

Hello World Code in Flask

Importing Flask

So the first thing we do is import our Flask class from the flask library we just installed

from flask import Flask

Creating an Instance of our Flask App

Then the next thing we do is create an instance of our Flask app which will be our WSGI application

app = Flask(__name__)

We do this by passing the “”__name__"" variable as a parameter to the Flask constructor. The “”__name__"" variable here refers to our current python file.

Creating the Route Decorator and it’s corresponding Function

def hello_world():
    return "Hello, World!"

So here, the route decorator tells our app which route will trigger the hello_world function. In our case, it is the ‘/’ route - the route of the home page of a website.

So what this means is that whenever a user visits the home page of our website, our web application will return a “Hello, World!” string.

Run App

if __name__ == '__main__':

Now we can add the final part of this code to enable us run our app. The run method from the code above can either have the debug value set to ‘True’ or ‘False’. When it is set to ‘True’, it enables debug mode and the server will automatically reload whenever you make changes to your code and will also show an interactive debugger in the browser if an error occurs during a request.

Note: The debug mode should not be used in production.

if __name__ == ‘__main__’:

if __name__ == '__main__':

This line of code checks to ensure that our python file is being run directly. Whenever we run our python file directly the “”__name__"" variable will have the value of “”__main__"". So our web server is only going to start when we run our python script directly and not through any other means.

Final Code

from flask import Flask

app = Flask(__name__)

def index():
    return 'Hello World'

if __name__ == '__main__':

So now you can start your web server by running the python file.

To see your result, you can visit this address on your computer

flask hello world example.PNG