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How to convert from Ruby to Django

Converting a Ruby application to Django can be a daunting task, especially if you're new to Django. This guide is here to help you understand the components and conventions in Django compared to Ruby on Rails and get you started on the path to a successful conversion.

Understanding the Framework Differences

Ruby on Rails vs. Django

Both Ruby on Rails (RoR) and Django are full-stack web frameworks, but they have different conventions and philosophies:

  • Ruby on Rails: Leverages the Ruby language and follows the Convention over Configuration (CoC) principle. It provides a wide range of built-in features for rapid development.
  • Django: Built with the Python language, it adheres to the Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle and emphasizes simplicity and readability.

Mapping Ruby Concepts to Django

Before diving into the actual conversion steps, it's essential to understand how common Ruby on Rails components translate into Django.

Ruby on Rails Django
Model Model
View Template
Controller View
Routes URLconf
Gemfile requirements.txt
ActiveRecord Django ORMs

Setting Up Your Django Environment

Install Django

First, ensure you have Python installed. Then install Django using pip:

pip install django

Create a new Django project:

django-admin startproject myproject

Create your first Django app within the project:

python manage.py startapp myapp

Converting Models

Example Ruby Model

Let's start with a simple Ruby model for a Post.

class Post < ApplicationRecord
  validates :title, presence: true
  belongs_to :user
end

Equivalent Django Model

Now, let’s convert the Post model to a Django model.

from django.db import models

class Post(models.Model):
    title = models.CharField(max_length=200)
    user = models.ForeignKey('User', on_delete=models.CASCADE)

    def __str__(self):
        return self.title
  • Presence Validation: Done by default in Django with CharField and max_length.
  • Associations: The belongs_to :user in Ruby translates to ForeignKey in Django.

Converting Controllers to Views

Example Ruby Controller

Here's a Ruby controller managing Post objects.

class PostsController < ApplicationController
  def index
    @posts = Post.all
  end

  def show
    @post = Post.find(params[:id])
  end
end

Equivalent Django View

In Django, the corresponding views can be written in the following manner:

from django.shortcuts import render, get_object_or_404
from .models import Post

def index(request):
    posts = Post.objects.all()
    return render(request, 'posts/index.html', {'posts': posts})

def show(request, post_id):
    post = get_object_or_404(Post, pk=post_id)
    return render(request, 'posts/show.html', {'post': post})
  • Action Methods: index and show methods become functions in Django views.
  • Fetching Data: Post.all in Ruby translates to Post.objects.all() in Django.

Converting Routes to URLconf

Ruby Routes

Routes in Ruby are defined in config/routes.rb.

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  resources :posts
end

Django URL Configuration

The equivalent in Django is done in the urls.py file.

from django.urls import path
from . import views

urlpatterns = [
    path('', views.index, name='index'),
    path('post/<int:post_id>/', views.show, name='show'),
]
  • RESTful Routes: Ruby’s resources method translates to specific path definitions in Django.

Converting Templates

Ruby Template

A Ruby view template might look like this:

<% @posts.each do |post| %>
  <h2><%= post.title %></h2>
<% end %>

Django Template

In Django, the equivalent template would be:

{% for post in posts %}
  <h2>{{ post.title }}</h2>
{% endfor %}
  • Embedded Ruby (ERB) vs. Django Template Language (DTL): ERB's <% %> tags translate to {% %} in Django templates.

Dependency Management

Ruby Gemfile

Ruby dependencies are managed in a Gemfile.

gem 'rails', '~> 6.0'
gem 'pg', '>= 0.18', '< 2.0'

Django requirements.txt

In Django, dependencies are listed in requirements.txt.

Django>=3.0,<4.0
psycopg2-binary>=2.8

Conclusion

Converting a Ruby on Rails application to Django involves rethinking your approach to web development according to Django's conventions. Having a clear understanding of how concepts map from Ruby to Django is crucial for a smooth transition. Remember to take one step at a time, and soon you'll feel more comfortable working with Django.

This guide should serve as a practical starting point, helping you with the core conversions. As you delve deeper, you’ll discover the rich ecosystem and capabilities Django has to offer. Happy coding!

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