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Foreword

Read this before you get started with Flask. This hopefully answers some questions about the purpose and goals of the project, and when you should or should not be using it.

What does "micro" mean?

To me, the "micro" in microframework refers not only to the simplicity and small size of the framework, but also to the typically limited complexity and size of applications that are written with the framework. Also the fact that you can have an entire application in a single Python file. To be approachable and concise, a microframework sacrifices a few features that may be necessary in larger or more complex applications.

For example, Flask uses thread-local objects internally so that you don't have to pass objects around from function to function within a request in order to stay threadsafe. While this is a really easy approach and saves you a lot of time, it might also cause some troubles for very large applications because changes on these thread-local objects can happen anywhere in the same thread.

Flask provides some tools to deal with the downsides of this approach but it might be an issue for larger applications because in theory modifications on these objects might happen anywhere in the same thread.

Flask is also based on convention over configuration, which means that many things are preconfigured. For example, by convention, templates and static files are in subdirectories within the Python source tree of the application.

The main reason however why Flask is called a "microframework" is the idea to keep the core simple but extensible. There is database abstraction layer, no form validation or anything else where different libraries already exist that can handle that. However Flask knows the concept of extensions that can add this functionality into your application as if it was implemented in Flask itself. There are currently extensions for object relational mappers, form validation, upload handling, various open authentication technologies and more.

However Flask is not much code and it is built on a very solid foundation and with that it is very easy to adapt for large applications. If you are interested in that, check out the :ref:`becomingbig` chapter.

If you are curious about the Flask design principles, head over to the section about :ref:`design`.

A Framework and an Example

Flask is not only a microframework; it is also an example. Based on Flask, there will be a series of blog posts that explain how to create a framework. Flask itself is just one way to implement a framework on top of existing libraries. Unlike many other microframeworks, Flask does not try to implement everything on its own; it reuses existing code.

Web Development is Dangerous

I'm not joking. Well, maybe a little. If you write a web application, you are probably allowing users to register and leave their data on your server. The users are entrusting you with data. And even if you are the only user that might leave data in your application, you still want that data to be stored securely.

Unfortunately, there are many ways the security of a web application can be compromised. Flask protects you against one of the most common security problems of modern web applications: cross-site scripting (XSS). Unless you deliberately mark insecure HTML as secure, Flask and the underlying Jinja2 template engine have you covered. But there are many more ways to cause security problems.

The documentation will warn you about aspects of web development that require attention to security. Some of these security concerns are far more complex than one might think, and we all sometimes underestimate the likelihood that a vulnerability will be exploited, until a clever attacker figures out a way to exploit our applications. And don't think that your application is not important enough to attract an attacker. Depending on the kind of attack, chances are that automated bots are probing for ways to fill your database with spam, links to malicious software, and the like.

So always keep security in mind when doing web development.

The Status of Python 3

Currently the Python community is in the process of improving libraries to support the new iteration of the Python programming language. Unfortunately there are a few problems with Python 3, namely the missing consent on what WSGI for Python 3 should look like. These problems are partially caused by changes in the language that went unreviewed for too long, also partially the ambitions of everyone involved to drive the WSGI standard forward.

Because of that we strongly recommend against using Python 3 for web development of any kind and wait until the WSGI situation is resolved. You will find a couple of frameworks and web libraries on PyPI that claim Python 3 support, but this support is based on the broken WSGI implementation provided by Python 3.0 and 3.1 which will most likely change in the near future.

Werkzeug and Flask will be ported to Python 3 as soon as a solution for WSGI is found, and we will provide helpful tips how to upgrade existing applications to Python 3. Until then, we strongly recommend using Python 2.6 and 2.7 with activated Python 3 warnings during development, as well as the unicode literals __future__ feature.

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