Adrian and Jacob retiring as Django BDFLs

Written by Adrian Holovaty on January 13, 2014

Since July 2005, when Django was open-sourced, Jacob Kaplan-Moss and I have been the two Benevolent Dictators For Life (BDFLs) of the project. Today we’re both retiring from our formal BDFL roles, given that (1) we don’t have the time for it that we once had and (2) Django is in great shape with a vibrant community of contributors.

A BDFL, a term originally used by Python creator Guido van Rossum, is basically a leader of an open-source project who resolves disputes and has final say on big decisions.

In the early days, circa 2004-2008, Jacob and I had to make a fair amount of decisions, and we spent a ton of time promoting the framework, fixing bugs and adding features. Over the last few years, the codebase has stabilized tremendously and many fantastic developers from around the globe have joined the effort, contributing code, writing documentation, helping with process (bug triage, managing releases), publishing books/tutorials, holding conferences and organizing user groups. It’s an incredibly healthy, friendly and diverse open-source project/community!

At the same time, I’ve gotten a development “life” outside of Django. In the old days, I’d spend basically all of my free time improving Django — I considered it my baby, and it would be entirely fair to call it an obsession. Then, in 2007, I founded EveryBlock and found myself with a new baby, a young Internet company.

For the last year, I’ve been building Soundslice, a modern approach to sheet music and guitar tabs that I’ve wanted to exist for a long time. Soundslice has become the thing that I’m constantly thinking about and writing code for, from morning into late hours of the night. (And I’m very comfortable with that. I’ve always seen Django as a means to an end — building great web products. I’m skeptical of anybody who builds frameworks for the sake of building frameworks.)

So, given that I can’t give Django the time that it deserves, it wouldn’t be fair to continue as BDFL. At best, it’d be phony for me to keep calling myself that; at worst, it’d be doing a disservice to the framework by slowing down our decisionmaking processes and setting a tone of complacency.

If you’re a Django user, though, have no fear. Honestly, this title seems like a big change “on paper,” but in reality it won’t change much. I haven’t been deeply involved in day-to-day development of Django in quite a while, and I think Jacob would say the same thing — so, if anything, this change in titles just makes official what had already been happening. I suspect nothing major will change in the Django community, except maybe some committers will feel emboldened to build great new stuff. (But please, no more Django Pony. It’s stupid.)

I’ll still continue to contribute to Django as I find things that it doesn’t do that I want it to do. And of course I continue to use it in building web apps. It’s been a fun ride as co-BDFL, and I’m looking forward to Django’s next chapter.

UPDATE: Here’s Jacob’s post about it.


Posted by Dan Seaman on January 13, 2014, at 3:40 p.m.:

Thank you for all your efforts. You have made the web a better place.

Posted by Zach Freeman on January 13, 2014, at 4:10 p.m.:

Thanks for all of your efforts. I've really enjoyed learning Django!

Posted by Kai on January 13, 2014, at 4:13 p.m.:

Many thanks for stewarding Django for so many years. It's hard to imagine now, but back in the mid-2000's, there was a real lack of web frameworks one would willingly program in long-term: Perl was unmaintainable, PHP a design mess, Java a nightmare of boilerplate and enterprise overhead, and RoR came in a language inferior to Python in readability and libraries, not to mention the uninspiring community. Then came Django: well-designed, clearly covering key use-cases in web dev, with a community of humble, skilled, and friendly pragmatists, and above all, superbly documented. So thank you, and all the best going forward!

Posted by Derrick R. on January 13, 2014, at 4:16 p.m.:

Thanks to you both for your contributions, the community will certainly miss you guys.

Posted by Jaimin on January 13, 2014, at 4:26 p.m.:

Thanks for the contribution, and good luck!

Posted by Jim on January 13, 2014, at 5:04 p.m.:

Thanks! Especially for the comment about the Pony.

Posted by Luke Jernejcic on January 13, 2014, at 5:11 p.m.:

I just want to say thanks for all the time and blood and sweat that you have put into the framework and we are all very grateful for it. You guys have helped build something amazing. I wish you the best as you commit more to your own business(es).

P.S. Soundslice is amazing. It blew my mind the first time I saw it.

Posted by Alagappan on January 13, 2014, at 5:22 p.m.:

Thanks for all your efforts guys!

Posted by Wouter W. on January 13, 2014, at 5:26 p.m.:


Posted by Amit Chakradeo on January 13, 2014, at 5:26 p.m.:

Thank you Adrian and Jacob for bringing django to life. Applaud your decision to place the project in the hands of community.

Posted by Zbigniew Siciarz on January 13, 2014, at 6:52 p.m.:

Huge thanks to both you and Jacob for all your efforts and contributions. The Django world is surely a great place now, thanks to the community and it's leaders.

Posted by Serkan Haytac on January 13, 2014, at 7:01 p.m.:

Congrats on the new project and thank you for creating awesome framework that i come to love.

Posted by Dan Stephenson on January 13, 2014, at 7:56 p.m.:

Thanks for all your effort over the years guys!

Posted by Ayub Khan on January 13, 2014, at 9:33 p.m.:

Great work, esp. syncdb, inspectdb. They make my life easy!

Posted by William Ratcliff on January 13, 2014, at 10:11 p.m.:

Thanks for all of your work!!!

Posted by Daryl Antony on January 13, 2014, at 10:35 p.m.:

Great respects Adrian & Jacob. Myself & the team at Common Code are eternally grateful — Django is in our lifeblood.

Go build all-the-things!

Posted by Raony Guimaraes on January 14, 2014, at 12:01 a.m.:

You both are truly an inspiration...

Thank you for the awesomeness!

Posted by Nai on January 14, 2014, at 3:24 a.m.:

As a nobody who has stood on the shoulders of giants like yourself (and the rest of the Django and software community), I thank you for your contribution to Django that has allowed me to work as a web developer. Hope everything works out for you at Soundslice. Its a gorgeous looking site btw.

Posted by Duane Hilton on January 14, 2014, at 3:45 a.m.:

Thanks for all the time and work you've put into Django.

Posted by muminoff on January 14, 2014, at 5:03 a.m.:

Respect and thanks for your great efforts.

Posted by Andrey Shipilov on January 14, 2014, at 5:15 a.m.:

Thank you Adrian. Django and Python saved me from PHP/Java/Perl/C# inhumane terror, and you both with Jacob played a great part in it. I hope you will still be a part of the framework.


Posted by Sadegh Ismael Nattaj on January 14, 2014, at 11:41 a.m.:

Thank you for all of your dedications. Django's caused me to provide a better life for my family.

Posted by Igor on January 15, 2014, at 7:54 a.m.:

thanks for your work! You rock!

Posted by Carlos Rocha on January 15, 2014, at 3:13 p.m.:

Thanks for the great framework. Long live Django!! :)

Posted by Thomas on January 15, 2014, at 7:01 p.m.:

Thanks for the great work! I appreciate it every day working with Django!

Posted by Hooshyar Naraghi on January 15, 2014, at 9:14 p.m.:

Thank you Adrian and Jacob for the creation and up keep of Django. I discovered Django in the winter of 2005 and have since used it for all my application development. Django feeds my small team. I shameless stand on your shoulders, and those of the great core Django developers. THANK YOU!

I enjoy reading Jacob's remarks on the Django Developer Group, and I keep learning and learning about a remarkable example of open-source software community. I hope to continue reading Jacob's posts.

Adrian, your new site Soundslice rocks!

Posted by PK Shiu on January 16, 2014, at 12:59 a.m.:


Thank you and Jacob for creating Django and all the hard work that you put into it. You "sold" me on Django after hearing you talked about it in a little meetup in Western Mass when you were in town for the music festival. Django was in release 0.96 or so. An open sourced framework needs a good leader and mentor that can direct the community. You and Jacob (whom I met much later) certainly fit the bill.

Good luck with all your future ventures.

Posted by Joe on January 16, 2014, at 10:48 p.m.:

Thank you for have made life easier for alot of developers.

Posted by lenciel on January 17, 2014, at 3:03 p.m.:

Thanks a lot Adrian, wish you every success in the future.

Posted by Paul Logston on January 18, 2014, at 4:52 a.m.:

Thanks guys for all that you've given! Such a great tool.

Posted by Val Neekman on January 23, 2014, at 6:42 p.m.:

For me, for you two, the 'Benevolent' always overshadowed the 'Dictator'.

Posted by vysakh on February 4, 2014, at 5:07 a.m.:

Thank you for your contribution

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