All About PHP Frameworks

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What is a PHP Framework?

PHP is a world’s most popular server side scripting language mostly used for web development but also used as a general purpose programming language. 

It is the most popular language for many different reasons – flexibility, ease- of use, among others – but sometimes coding in PHP or any language for that matter can get rather monotonous and repetitive that’s where a PHP framework can help. PHP provides a basic structure to build the web applications and it streamline the development of web applications. In other words, PHP framework saves your time as it helps to promote rapid application development (RAD) which also helps to build more stable applications, and reduces the amount of repetitive coding for developers. PHP is the tool that can be used to tighten up one’s coding skill. The general idea behind workings of a PHP framework is Model View Controller (MVC) architecture. MVC is one of the most frequently used industry-standard framework to create extensible projects such as web applications. In this tutorial we are going to see some commonly used PHP framework.

Why should we use a PHP Framework?

Developers should utilize the available PHP frameworks for various reasons.

  • For speeding up the development process.
  • A framework offers pre-built modules for performing tedious coding tasks, so the developer can spend and focus on the actual application rather than building the foundation with every project.
  • Developers should utilize PHP framework due to Stability, while simplicity is one of PHP’s greatest assets and reason many people prefer to use this scripting language.
  • A framework makes your application more secure.
  • Big community support and easier to maintain your application through its shared components.
  • Libraries for common tasks for example form validation, data sanitization, and CRUD operations (create, read, update, and delete).


10 of the best PHP frameworks

Here is a list of the best PHP frameworks based on the popularity and ability.

  • Laravel

Laravel is free and an open-source PHP web framework for “web artisans.” It was developed by Taylor Otwell, designed for the development of web applications following the MVC architecture pattern and based on Symphony. It was initially launched in june 2011. The latest version of Laravel is 8 version, which was released on September 8, 2020 with new features like Laravel Jetstream, model factory classes, migration squashing, Tailwind CSS for pagination views and improvements. Laravel has become the most popular open-source PHP framework in the world because it can handle complex web applications securely than other frameworks. It simplifies the development process by easing common tasks such as authentication, session, routing etc.

Reason to use Laravel:-

  • Laravel comes with a model-view controller (MVC) architecture pattern. It is easy to use and thus offers an extremely easy way to build small or large business applications.
  • It is a PHP framework full of features and is helpful in customizing complex apps.
  • Eloquent ORM for easy interaction with app databases, ORM stands for object-relational mapper which provides an easy way of building and customizing models. Eloquent ORM allows you to maintain an easy way of interaction with app database objects using eloquent or expressive syntax.

2. CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter is a powerful PHP model-view controller (MVC) with a very small footprint (2 MB in size, including documentation ) used for developing full featured web applications. It is suitable for creating dynamic applications and it provides out of the box libraries for connecting to the database. CodeIgniter performs various operations such as sending emails, uploading files, managing sessions, etc. The first public version of CodeIgniter was released on February 28, 2006. The latest version of CodeIgniter is version 4.1.1 which was released on February 24, 2020.

Codeigniter features:-

  • Small footprint
  • Blazing fast
  • Loosely coupled
  • MVC architecture

The following image shows how it works.

Reasons to use CodeIgniter:-

    • It is a lightweight and straightforward PHP framework, easy to install and setup unlike other frameworks and is ideal for beginners.
    • Features like MVC architecture, inbuilt security tools, excellent documentation and it creates scalable applications.
    • Fast as compared to other frameworks, a good choice when you want to develop lightweight applications.

3. Symfony

Symfony is an open-source PHP web application framework and a set of reusable PHP components designed for developers to create full featured web applications. It enables the developer to create scalable, high performance applications. It is sponsored by SensioLabs. Symfony was developed by Fabien Potencier in 2005.

The latest version of Symfony is Version 4.4 which was released in November 2019. Symfony APIs also enable third party applications, and can be used with popular front end frameworks such as angular JS.

Reasons to use Symfony:-

  • Perfect choice for developing large-scale projects.
  • Easy to install and configure on many platforms.
  • High flexibility, can integrate with big projects like Drupal and reusable PHP components.
  • It is packed with exclusive custom features.

4. CakePHP

CakePHP is an open-source framework based on the model-view architecture  (MVC). It is used for the rapid development and maintenance of web applications built in PHP. It helps to create web applications easy and simple with less code. It is by far one of the quickest web development platforms and also facilitates search engine URLs. CakePHP was developed by Michal Tatarynowicz in 2005.

PHP version 1.0 was released in 2006. Larry E Masters took over as the lead developer. cakePHP Latest version is version 4 comes with a streamlined APIs making your development and application faster.

Features of CakePHP:-

  • Active and friendly community.
  • MVC architecture and Built-in validation
  • Templating engine, Caching operations
  • Handling components like Email, session, security and request.

Reasons to use CakePHP:-

  • Convenient and flexible
  • CakePHP makes web applications simpler and faster while requiring less code
  • Simple and easy to install, a good choice for commercial applications due to security features 
  • Provides great documentation, many support portals through Cake Development Corporation

5. Yii Framework

The Yii framework-which stands for Yes it is! is a simple, high revolutionary, component based PHP framework. It is used for developing modern web applications and suitable for all kinds of web applications. It is like a universal web programming framework. It is an open-source, MVC based, object oriented, lightweight PHP framework. It is also Easy installation process. Furthermore Robust security features make it suitable for highly secure endeavors such as e-commerce, forums, CMS etc. Massive community. used for general purpose web programming and it has gained popularity because of the presence of advanced caching meaning. The latest version 2.0.4 was released in December 2020.


  • MVC design pattern
  • Layered caching scheme
  • CRUD operations
  • Error handling and logging

6. Zend Framework

The Zend framework is a complete object oriented framework that uses features such as inheritance and interfaces. The framework basically is a collection of professionally PHP based packages. Zend framework was built on an agile methodology which helps to deliver high quality applications to enterprise clients. The list of components is available in Zend framework documentation.  

     Reasons to use Zend Framework:-

  • Excellent fit for complex, enterprise-level projects. It is a preferred framework for large IT departments and banks.
  • Some key features include MVC components, simple cloud API, session management, data encryption, authentication etc.
  • Extremely good documentation, as well as it can integrate with external libraries and contain a large community base.

7. Phalcon

Phalcon is an open-source PHP web framework based on the MVC architecture design pattern. It was originally written in c and c++ and released in 2012 and it is delivered as c extension, you do not have to worry about learning the c programming language.

Reasons to use to Phalcon :-

  • Easy to install and suitable for creating highly configurable web applications.
  • Optimises performance due to its efficient memory utilization.
  • A good choice if you are looking to create a blazing fast website.
  • Its key features include asset management, increased execution speed, universal autoloader, and top security

8. FuelPHP

FuelPHP is an open-source web PHP framework which was first released in 2011.  Apart from supporting MVC design pattern it implements hierarchical model view controller (HMVC) which is its own. The FuelPHP version 1.8 was released on April 9, 2016. HMVC content does not need to duplicate to show on multiple pages and it consumes less time and memory.

Reasons to use FuelPHP:-

  • Helps developers to deliver end to end web solutions that are diverse in size and complexities.
  • Features include HMVC implementation, RESTful implementation, a URL routing system and caching system.
  • Extends its security

9. PHPixie

PHPixie started as a micro framework and now has become one of the most popular PHP frameworks while retaining its high performance.

It was introduced in 2012 and it implements the HMVC design pattern. Its initial goal was to create a high performance framework for read-only websites.

Reasons to use PHPixie:-

  • Easy to get started with, suitable for social networking sites, customized web applications.
  • It includes features like HMVC architecture, standard ORM, input validation, authentication and caching.
  • It has features such as Bundle system, Linear Code Flow, MONGODB Support etc.

10. Slim

Slim is a PHP micro framework. It is another popular framework that helps developers to create simple and powerful web applications and APIs.

Reasons to use Slim framework:-

  • Best framework for small web applications that does not require a full stack PHP framework.
  • Easy to learn, just like PHPixie. Developers can use Slim to develop RESTful APIs and web services.
  • URL routing, Session, cooking encryption, Client-side HTTP caching these are features included in Slim Framework.

Which PHP framework is right for you?

PHP frameworks are mainly used to minimize workload as well as to simplify the development process. framework has its own strength and weakness. And all frameworks vary in terms of documentation, community as well as database support.

 Decision on the best framework to use depends on certain factors such as ease of use, security, scalability, documentation and many other factors.

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March 31, 2021


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