During web development, the server-side plays an important role. This is the side, where your entire web product rests. Therefore, choosing the right server-side technology becomes very crucial to maintain the quality of web solutions.
And according to the W3Tech Reports stats, PHP is used in almost 80% of websites on the web. That means, 8 out of 10 websites, which we see on the internet have been powered by PHP.
Still, you think, Is it Really Dead? Absolutely not, so Today we are here to present you with an article on Best PHP Frameworks. PHP is the oldest running technology 25+ years of age, It has given so many of its frameworks, which puts us in a dilemma of what should we choose for our web project.
That’s why today we will look at the 10 best PHP frameworks with their advantages and disadvantages.
There are mainly 2 types of frameworks available, backend, and frontend frameworks, and PHP is basically designed for server-side development that is the backend. If you aren’t aware and want to know more, then you can refer to this article Best backend frameworks.
What is a PHP framework?
The open-source PHP language was released in 1994 and is a general-purpose scripting language for web development. It is the most popular choice for creating dynamic websites and web applications.
Simply, PHP frameworks are a platform to build PHP web applications. It provides a beginning point for your project. They provide you with the code library for commonly used functions, which eliminates the need of writing the original code.
The best PHP frameworks offer organized and reusable codes. It helps you to scale your business with time. PHP frameworks enable you to develop your project quickly and efficiently.
Features of PHP Framework
Although Each framework has its own set of features, here we will tell you what you can get while implementing PHP Framework for your project.
- PHP frameworks provide a well-organized structure to build an application fast.
- Contains Reusable codes, which help in building stable codes
- The PHP frameworks are based on MVC architecture, which separates the layer into 3 parts, a Model for handling databases, a View for Presentation as well a Controller for Logic
- Allows developers to work with a number of widely used Relational databases
- The PHP framework provides tools, features, and code snippets, to accelerate custom web application development.
- The PHP Frameworks reduce the coding time by providing code-generation features
Why use a PHP framework for your Web Project?
There are various reasons to opt for PHP Frameworks, let’s look at a few of them
PHP has been in a use since 1995, therefore a lot of changes have taken place to make it stronger and more reliable. Since then, it has been thoroughly tested for quality and performance. So you can use it confidently, to meet up your business requirements.
PHP frameworks contain built-in libraries and tools, which reduces the time required for web development. Hence development becomes faster.
Some PHP library has a PHPUnit library, which is integrated for easy testing.
Less Code to Write
Since PHP frameworks have support for libraries and tools, which reduces the need of writing so much original code.
Follows Good Coding Structure
Generally, PHP frameworks follow good coding practices, they separate their code into a number of directories according to the function.
Offers utmost security
The best PHP frameworks, provide built-in defense for common security threats like
Cross-site scripting and SQL injection.
PHP Frameworks work on the principle of DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself ), which makes the code easier to maintain.
Market Statistics of PHP Framework
PHP is the most widely used server-side scripting language. Its growth will continue in the upcoming time too. As per the reports of W3Techs, PHP has been used by 80% of all the websites on the web.
The Builtwith Reports stats that, PHP is the second most popular in India in the Framework category and 3rd most popular in the Top 1 million sites in the framework category. Currently, there are 27,652,003 live websites using PHP.
Moreover, the open-source tool has 34.5k GitHub stars and 7.3k GitHub Forks.
Companies Using PHP Framework
Below are some of the top companies using PHP
10 Best PHP Frameworks
Laravel is an open-source PHP Framework, which was released in 2011 for developing web applications. This PHP framework is best known for its elegant syntax. Laravel has gained immense popularity because of its ability to handle complex tasks with speed and security.
It has numerous built-in tools and features, which makes it the perfect tool to customize complex apps. Some functions include user authentication, session management, and routing.
Laravel aims to make the development process an interesting one, without compromising the application’s functionality.
Key Features of Laravel
- Support for MVC architecture
- Innovative Template engine
- Unique Unit Testing
- Command line Interface – Artisan
- Secure Migrating systems
Who uses this Framework?
VogueArchieve, Explore Georgia, Visit Maine website, and Camping World RV & Outdoors website are some of the sites using this framework.
Reasons to choose Laravel
- It’s a full-fledged PHP framework, containing all the features which will help you to customize complex apps. These include seamless data transfer, MVC support, authentication, and template engine.
- Laravel is suitable for developing both small and large complex backend requirements. The introduction of Homestead, the all-in-one vagrant machine has made the Laravel installation even easier.
- Laravel is the best choice for those, who want to build B2B or enterprise-level applications, that will evolve with the market trends.
Limitations of using Laravel
- Laravel does not have an intensive need for built-in features designed to make web development easier
- Support for Laravel is limited, and the supports are not easily available which might cause issues during system downtimes.
- Compare to other frameworks, Laravel is slow
Symfony is an open-source web application framework released in 2005. It contains a set of reusable component libraries. It is a highly flexible PHP framework, which contains 50+ reusable components and lets you choose from those as per your project requirements.
Symfony is the first choice for those applications which need high scalability. Additionally, Symfony has a fast template engine called Twig, the built-in debugging tool ensures your application runs smoothly.
Key Features of Symfony
Having template engine Twig
Individual component settings
Easy to maintain and code reusablity
Effective session management
Flexible URI Routing
Who uses this Framework?
Websites like Sainsbury’s Magazine, Foot District, Intelius, and many more are using this Framework.
Reasons to choose Symfony
- Symfony is highly flexible and can be integrated with the projects like Drupal.
- It is a perfect choice for building large-scale applications. It is easy to install and can be configured on any platform.
- Symfony follows most web practices and also follows some of the design patterns.
Limitations of Symfony
- Mainly suitable for large-scale applications, not good for small-scale applications
- The security mechanism is difficult to use in Symfony
- Indeed, Symfony is rich in features, so you may find it slower in nature compared to other frameworks
- Symfony takes time to build and launch
CodeIgniter is an open-source application development framework launched in 2006. It’s a perfect toolkit for those who want to build websites using PHP. It contains a rich set of libraries and provides you with a simple interface with a logical structure to access these libraries.
It is highly suitable for building dynamic websites, as it contains many in-built modules which help in constructing Reusable components. Its goal is to make development faster with a minimal amount of coding. It is best known for its speed and footprint. Moreover, it is an extremely lightweight framework with having 2MB size including documentation.
Key Features of CodeIgniter
- Extremely lightweight framework with 2MB in Size
- Excellent documentation
- Robust built-in security features
- Based on Model view controller architecture
- Enables quick development
Who uses this Framework?
CodeIgniter is used in various sectors including marketing, retail, finance, and tech. In some companies, it is used as the main framework as well. WooBox, TestandTrack, Casio, and even a content management system called FuelCMS.
Reasons to choose CodeIgniter
- Being a lightweight framework, CodeIgniter can be set up easily as compared to other frameworks.
- It used MVC architecture, which encourages the developers to use it.
- It has many built-in security features, that defend against many attacks like CSRF and XSS plus context-sensitive scaping and a Content Security Policy.
- It supports multiple caching methods, which enhances the speed of your web apps. You will find it one of the best frameworks in PHP.
Limitations of CodeIgniter
- CodeIgniter updates are not consistent, so it might not be the best option to choose it for an application that needs regular updates.
- It takes time for code implementation, which means developers might need additional time to implement codes.
- Although it is based on PHP, but not very much object-oriented.
FuelPHP is an open-source web application framework, released in 2014. It’s a flexible full-stack PHP framework. It is based on the HMVC (Hierarchical Model View Controller) architecture that is beyond the level of MVC architecture.
FuelPHP completely follows the concept of object-oriented, its architecture is based on modularity. It provides out-of-the-box security features including input and URI filtering with encoding output and prevents cross-site scripting as well as SQL injection attacks. FuelPHP offers end-to-end web solutions of different compatibilities and sizes.
Key Features of FuelPHP
- FuelPHP is very portable and can work on any server.
- It is a flexible and community-driven web framework
- Built-in caching system and URL routing support
- Contains reusable codes, which are easy to maintain
- Robust security features including CSRF protection, SQL injection, URI, and XSS filtering.
Who uses this Framework?
The most notable website using FuelPHP is Frontdesk, which is a property management system, and Wan Wizard, totally based on FuelPHP.
Reasons to choose FuelPHP
- Based on the HMVC model
- Offers built-in security features and caching, which enhances the app performance
- Fuel apps are based on a modular structure, which becomes easier for the developers to understand and gain benefits.
- Codes in FuelPHP are quite modular and extensible compared to other frameworks
- The command line utilities can be used to run tasks, debug and create components.
Limitations of FuelPHP
Relatively, Fuel PHP is new, so you may find a steep learning curve with less support and limited documentation.
Zend Framework (Laminas Project)
Zend is a completely open-source object-oriented framework, released in 2006. The features like inheritances and interfaces make it highly extensible. It is the best choice for building feature-rich enterprise-level web applications.
Zend offers high customizability and follows PHP’s best practices. Being suitable for enterprise-level applications, it offers excessive components for tasks such as authentications, services, forms, and much more. Zend framework contains features such as drag and drop editor, coding tools online debugging tools, and scalable interfaces for complicated websites.
Currently, Zend is undergoing Laminas projects. Migration towards the Laminas project was very much needed as Zend was no longer updated.
Key Features of Zend
- Pure object-oriented web application framework
- Advanced implementation of MVC
- Data encryption and Flexible URI routing
- Reusable codes that can be maintained easily
- Simple cloud API and Session management
Who uses this Framework?
Some companies like Cisco Webex and the BBC are using Zend Framework as in the British Broadcasting Company.
Reasons to choose Zend
- The structured and reusable codes, make it the best choice for building enterprise-level web applications.
- The key features include MVC components, cloud API, encryption, and session management.
- Can be integrated with third-party libraries and templates and allows you to select only those libraries which you need for your project.
- Offers excellent performance, security, and extensibility and allows you to create optimized apps
Limitations of Zend
- Plugins in Zend are quite expensive, so it could be difficult if you are having a minimum budget.
- If you are looking to develop a mobile application with Zend, then be ready for a steep learning curve
CakePHP is the first creation of the PHP MVC framework, and still it is one of the most popular frameworks of now. It follows the principle of COC(Convention over Configuration), which means it has a set of guidelines that every developer has to follow It is quite simple to use with minimal configurations and can build feature-rich web applications.
CakePHP is a good option for commercial-level applications as it offers a high level of security protection such as SQL injections, Cross-site scripting protection as well as CSRF protection.
Key Features of CakePHP
- Good for Rapid application development
- Based on convention over configuration patterns
- Multiple support channels
- Contains a wide range of components
- Having built-in security and it is by default secure
Who uses this Framework?
There is a huge number of websites using this framework. A few websites that use this framework includes Visit NC, Printivo, GoodFirms, and more.
Reasons to choose CakePHP
- Has its own ORM, which is simple and easy to use.
- Great choice for enterprise-level application development
- Contains a lot of security features such as CSRF protection, SQL injection protection, and many more.
- It’s a modern framework, with great documentation and support.
Limitations of CakePHP
- CakePHP follows COC (Convention over configuration) rules very strictly, so it might not be a better choice if you want to go against the rules.
- The one-way routing functionality can be a drawback as compared to other frameworks.
Yii is a fast, secure, and efficient PHP framework. It’s a component-based framework for developing modern web applications. It is extremely suitable for every kind of web application, which makes it a universal web development framework
Its robust set of features and support for various extensions, speed ups the web application development process. It is best for large-scale website development and can be easily integrated with Ajax and Jquery. The lazy loading technique makes it faster than any other framework.
Key Features of Yii
- Contains Multiple packages and short development time
- Enables writing more code in less time
- Powerful APIs and code generation
- Every part of Yii framework is highly extensible
- Completely based on OOPs concepts and even follows PHP advanced features
Who uses this Framework?
Some companies as well as online tools are also using this framework. For instance, online software like Wordcounter and Pastebin uses this framework. Other popular websites like Crowdcube and YMCA are also using this framework.
Reasons to choose Yii
- Because of its clear documentation, this framework is easy to configure and install
- The extensive security features make it the perfect choice for projects like forums, CMS, and e-Commerce sites.
- It’s easy for the developers to customize every part of the code
- The massive user community support, makes it easy to find help whenever needed.
- Even though the framework has excellent performance, its elegant caching support and code generation tools make it the best choice for developing optimized apps.
Limitations of Yii
- Not best for beginners, because it is having a steep learning curve.
- Needs great attention while developing an application, because a single mistake in the code can affect the whole process.
- The unorganized documentation makes it difficult to understand
Phalcon is an open-source PHP framework, based on Model View Controller architecture. It is considered one of the fastest and most lightweight PHP frameworks. It allows the users to add only the modules and libraries they need after installation. This keeps the web development process smoother.
Phalcon contains a template engine called VOLT, which is extremely fast and comes with helper classes to generate views.
Key Features of Phalcon
- The Full stack open-source PHP framework
- Fastest framework of PHP
- Provides ORM, template engine, routing, caching, etc
- Requires less amount of code for specific task implementation
- Allows to add only the needed modules and libraries
Who uses this Framework?
Companies that use Phalcon include Maxwell health, Good games studios, etc.
Reasons to choose Phalcon
- Phalcon offers you easy installation and configurations
- Helps you to create applications, which are highly configurable
- Built-in security features help the developers to create secure and well-optimized apps
- The template engine VOLT is simple and fast, enables to generate views quickly
Limitations of Phalcon
- Not enough popular yet
- Might have irregular updates
Slim is an open-source micro-framework of PHP, which is an excellent choice for small applications. Being minimalistic in nature, it comes with a great set of features like URL routing, Session and Cookie encryption, Client side HTTP caching, etc.
Its primary focus is handling HTTP requests. It even supports various URL types including parameter-based or pattern-based URLs. It easily integrates with both first-party and third-party components. The framework is highly opted for by developers, who want to create Restful APIs and services.
Key Features of Slim
- Fast and powerful HTTP routing
- Secured cookies for improving the security of the system
- Error handling and easy debugging
- Fastest micro framework
- Dependency injection for controlling external tools
Who Uses this Framework?
There are many websites around the world, that use this lightweight framework. Many high-traffic websites including e-commerce sites use this Slim Framework.
Reasons to use Slim
- Comparatively, Slim is lightweight and easy-to-learn framework. Many developers use this framework to develop Restful APIs and services.
- Its code base is pretty lean and does not have any third-party dependencies
- The best part is, it is best suitable for small web applications without requiring any full-stack web framework functionality.
Limitations of Slim
It is not good for building large-scale and complex web apps. Due to weaker dependency injection, it is not best for enterprise-level web applications
PHPixie is just like FuelPHP based on HMVC architecture. It is built with independent components. Its main aim is to create a high-performance framework for read-only websites. It is considered a Modern component-based PHP framework.
Key Features of PHPixie
- Based on HMVC architecture
- Having authorization capabilities capabilities
- Input validation authentication and caching
- Built using independent components
- Having minimal dependencies
Who uses this Framework ?
If you are looking to develop social networking websites then PHPixie is the best choice. Furthermore, it is best suitable for creating customised web applications too.
Reasons to use this Framework
- As it is built using independent components. You can use it without the framework itself.
- It has minimal support for components and built using dependencies
- PHPixie offers high performance and low coupling among many other things
- Best suitable for creating social networking sites
Limitations of this Framework
- Since this framework is relatively new, that’s why it is less popular with less community support than other frameworks
Basically, PHP frameworks are generally designed to streamline the development processes and make development easier and quicker. They are suitable for every kind of application as well.
Although Each framework has its own set of benefits and limitations, we recommend you first understand your project requirements and then note down all the things you required on your project. Then you should finalize the framework which can meet all your project parameters.