A large percentage of websites nowadays use PHP as a server-side scripting language. Unlike other programming languages, PHP was designed specifically for website and web application development. The developers also have a number of options to write and execute PHP code efficiently. A programmer has option to embed PHP code into HTML code or combine PHP code with a number of web frameworks and content management systems.
But many programmers prefer using PHP frameworks to build large and complex web applications without putting extra time and effort. The developers have option to choose from a large number of PHP frameworks. Most of these PHP frameworks are open source and supported by large and active communities. But some of these frameworks are mature, while others are relatively younger.
Likewise, the PHP frameworks differ from each other in terms of features and performance. Also, the popularity of individual PHP frameworks differs. According to the usage statistics posted on various website, Laravel is currently more popular than other PHP frameworks. But a developer must consider several popular and widely used PHP frameworks including Symfony, Nette, CodeIgniter, PHPixie, Yii, Zend, CakePHP, Phalcon, Slim, Silex, Typo 3, Kohana, FuelPHP and Aura.
Brief Overview of 15 Widely Used PHP Frameworks
As noted earlier, Laravel is currently more popular than other PHP frameworks. The developers take advantage of the pre-built code blocks provided by Laravel to reduce the coding time significantly. The pre-build code blocks make it easier for programmers to add functionality to the application without writing extra code. At the same time, they love to use the libraries provided by Laravel to accomplish common tasks like session management, authentication, middleware development and working with RESTapis. They can even take advantage of Blade template engine to generate views more efficiently. But the beginners have to put extra time and effort to configure and use Laravel properly.
Like other PHP frameworks, Symfony is both open source and supported by a large community. But it is currently managed by SensioLabs. Symfony is also designed as a collection of development methodologies and tools. But it does not compel users to use its own environment. The developers have option to choose from many Symfony components according to their specific needs. Hence, the developers can avail components for validation, translation, security, form configuration and tamplating to accomplish common tasks without writing additional code. The reusable and decoupled components make it easier for developers to build and manage web applications rapidly.
Nette is designed with features to make PHP application development quick and comfortable. It supports commonly used web development concepts like MVC, KISS, DRY, SEO and AJAX. At the same time, Nette facilitated code reusability and allow developers to several add-ons and extensions additionally. It further includes an advanced debugging tool that helps programmers to identify and repair all defects in the PHP application without any delay. Also, the developers can take advantage of the security features provided by Nette to protect the web application from security threats like cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, session hijacking and session fixation. They even have option to integrate Nette seamlessly with other PHP frameworks including Zend.
PHPixie is a modern and component-based PHP framework. Despite being built based on components, PHPixie allows programmers to use components without using the entire framework. It further uses PHPUnit to generate code coverage report. The developers can scan the entire code coverage report to identify and fix all defects or flaws in the source code. The database components provided by the framework make it easier for PHP programmers to work with popular NoSQL databases like MangoDB. They can further avail the advanced security features of the framework including secure cookie handing, random tokens, and cryptographically secure hashesh.
In addition to being lightweight, CodeIgniter is both simple and easy to configure. Its concise documentation further makes it easier for beginners to learn and use CodeIgniter. It allows users to accomplish common programming tasks by using prebuilt helper functions and creating custom helper functions. At the same time, the developers also have option to write and use custom PHP code insider CodeIgniter. Like other modern web framework, CodeIgniter is also designed based on model-view-controller (MVC) design paradigm. But it does not require users to build web applications based on the commonly used software development paradigm.
In addition to being modern and lightweight, Yii is both simple and easy to use. The developers can easily extend and customize the micro-framework according to their specific needs. At the same time, they can also avail a number of robust features provided by Yii including AJAX support, MVC design paradigm, form input validation, user management and built-in authentication. Also, Yii provides advanced security features that help programmers to protect the web application from cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, cookie tampering, and similar security threats. At the same time, the CodeCeption testing framework included in Yii makes it easier for developers to identify and repair all bugs in the application during development phase.
Many PHP programmers opt for Zend due to its scalable and object-oriented nature. The classes and libraries provided by Zend make it easier for developers to accomplish common tasks without writing longer lines of code. However, they still have option to customize Zend, and select classes and libraries according to requirements of each project. They can even take advantage of the object-oriented programming (OOP) principles to extend and customize the classes and libraries provided by Zend. Zend further provides robust libraries and security features to protect the PHP application from emerging security threats.
The framework is designed with features to speed up web application development. CakePHP enables programmers to build a variety of web applications without writing additional code. They can further avail built-in features of CakePHP to accomplish common tasks like caching, authentication, input validation, database access and translation. Also, the security features provided by CakePHP make it easier for developers to protect the web application from various security threats including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery and form tampering.
Phalcon is implemented as a web server extension written in C. The implementation boosts Phalcon’s execution speed and performance and reduces resource consumption, while making it different from other PHP frameworks. Phalcon is also a full-stack framework and supports MVC design paradigm. In addition availing the pre-built components provided by Phalcon, the developers can also avail its robust features like router, ORM, dependency injection, cache, translation, template engine, auto-loader, form builder and flash messages. Phalcon is definitely one of the hottest PHP frameworks available now.
As its name indicates, Slim is a micro-framework. The design of the PHP framework is also inspired by the popular Ruby web framework – Sinatra. Slim allows developers to manipulate HTTP request and response objects by including concentric middleware in the PHP application. The developers can further take advantage of the powerful router provided by the framework to map route callbacks to specific HTTP request methods and URIs more efficiently. They can further avail the dependency injection feature of Slim to manage external tools and packages more efficiently.
The micro framework is designed based on Symfony. But the developers can easily extend and customize Silex according to their specific needs, while taking advantage of MVC design paradigm. While developing small websites and web applications, they can use Silex as a lightweight framework. The slim version of Silex comes only with a basic routing engine. On the other hand, they can extend Silex and use it as a MVC framework while developing large web applications. The extended version of Silex comes with a template engine and allows users to use several Symfony components.
Flight is an extensive micro PHP framework. In addition to being simple and fast, Flight is highly extensible. It comes with features to enable developers to build RESTful web applications without putting extra time and effort. The current version of Flight is compatible with PHP 5.3+, and available as an open source PHP framework.
The developers can build modern web applications rapidly by availing the tools and components provided by Kohana. They can use the pre-built components provided by Kohana to accomplish common programming tasks like code profiling, database access, translation, encryption and validation. At the same time, they also have option to extend the existing components and add new libraries without any hassle. Kohana further comes with debugging and profiling tools that help programmers to identify and repair all performance issues in the application during the coding process.
The design off FuelPHP is inspired by several popular PHP frameworks. In addition to supporting MVC design paradigm, FuelPHP also adopts a router based approach. It further simplifies web application development by providing features like ORM (Object Relational Mapper), caching system, template parsing, RESTful implementation, HMVC implementation, vulnerability protection, and form and data validation.
Aura aims to simplify web application development through high-quality, well-tested and independent libraries. The users have option to choose from a large collection of independent libraries according to needs of each project. As Aura library packages do not have dependencies, they can be used by developers without relying on other libraries. Based on their requirements, the developers have option to choose from several Aura libraries including Aura.Di, Aura.Router, Aura.Intl, Aura.Filter, Aura.Auth, Aura.SqlQuery, Aura.Session, Aura.Html and Aura.View.
However, no web developers should pick a PHP framework only based on its popularity and market share. He must assess the features and performance of each PHP framework according to the nature and requirements of the project. Likewise, he needs to check if the framework supports PHP 7.0.0, and gets updates at regular intervals. He must use the most recent version of the framework to take advantage of the new features included in PHP 7.0.0 including enhanced speed and minimal resource consumption.