Introduction to Flask

By Maxcell Wilson

Flask, the Web Framework

Welcome to the Knight Hacks Introduction to Flask workshop! We all know that JavaScript is taking over the world with all of the different types of frameworks that exist. Today, however, we are going to show the power of Python.

Table of Contents


You are probably super excited to start learning how to use a Flask, the framework, of course. But before you can start, you want to be sure to have everything working, especially if you want to keep up.

There are pretty much four important things that you are going to need to have installed: Python (obviously), pip (a Python package management system), virtualenv (the virtual environment we will use Flask in), and Flask (which is why you are even here).

  • Make sure to have the latest version of Python v2 installed. (As of Jan. 28th, Python2.7.11).
    • You are able to use Python3 as well but be sure to have the latest. (As of Jan. 28th, Python3.5.1)
  • Make sure to have pip installed, if you have anything greater than 2.7.9, you should have it installed already. You can actually update this by doing (OSX) pip install -U pip or python -m pip install -U pip
    • If you use python3, you may need to utilize pip3 or pip depending if you are Unix or Windows.
  • Make sure to have virtualenv. We install this with pip install virtualenv or pip3 install virtualenv depending on Python2 or Python3
# *** Don't care too much to read my blob? Come over here ***
# Python2 (similar to Python3)
# If python wasn't already there, and you have Homebrew
$ brew install python
$ pip install -U pip
$ pip install virtualenv
  • If you are on Windows, take a look at @jaxbot's instructions. Practically the same instructions but may be a bit clearer.

And now we are ready to go! Just got to install Flask and that is gonna be a part of this workshop as well!

Hello, World

Let's set up a new folder practice-flask, our virtualenv, and Flask:

$ mkdir practice-flask
$ cd practice-flask/
$ virtualenv venv

With our venv we are going to be actually using this as a virtual environment (huh, virtualenv ~> virtual environment). Let's move onto getting our Flask app started:

$ . venv/bin/activate
# (If on windows you may need to do . venv\Scripts\activate instead)
$ pip install Flask
# (Potentially may need -m pip install Flask)
$ touch

Finally, from there we can just go ahead and open our favorite text editor and we can make some progress to our first Flask application. We are going to need a "server" and we will name it Inside of there will be several things that we will walk through.

from flask import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)

def hello_world():
    return 'Hello World!'

if __name__ == '__main__':

The line from flask import Flask is a syntax from Python. And so we are taking Flask the module from the flask package. And we will be doing that with multiple different modules with flask. Not only that, when you get to development, you will be using all sorts of different modules and packages. This is because someone out there has been working on the same problem you have been but has made a solution.

From there, we talk about the app = Flask(__name__) portion. This is creating an instance of our Flask class. The first argument passed in will be the name of the module or package. Using the __name__ is dependent on whether or not this is being used as an application or being imported as a module. We don't want this to run on its own if this is intended to be a module.

The @app.route('/') is known as a function decorator. This particular one will actually bind the function we put underneath with it and then return out the view we give it. So what we are saying is whenever we go to this route, we will load up this view. We need to be sure to have our function returning something, our program will cry at us if we don't have anything coming from it.

The last portion if __name__ == '__main': is actually to ensure the fact that we run this as our server through the Python interpreter instead of it being used as our imported module. And then once we run python It will load up into localhost:5000. And we should see our lovely Hello World!

Baby Steps to MVC

At this point, we actually have a lot of awesome skills to getting us to working with MVC for Flask. We already know pretty basic pieces to getting our views up. Let's change our view to handle variable routing.

def greetings(name="World"):
    return 'Hello {}'.format(name)

Here, what we are doing is allow us to create a new route for us to travel to. So when we go to localhost:5000/hello, we actually see a new view with Hello World. If we travel to a new route localhost:5000/hello/Robot and it will say Hello Robot.

def add_num(num1, num2):
  return '{} + {} = {}'.format(num1, num2, num1 + num2)

That's interesting, we are "adding" '2' + '3' and get "23"

Back to workshops