As a dynamic server-side scripting language, PHP makes it easier for programmers to build large, complex and modern web applications. The PHP developers also have option to choose from several popular PHP frameworks including Laravel and CodeIgniter. As Laravel and CodeIgniter are open source, the programmers can take advantage of these frameworks to effectuate and speedup PHP web application development.

Laravel enables developers to build robust web application using the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern. So the programmers can build large and complex websites quickly by keeping the user interface and business logic separate. Laravel further comes with a dedicated dependency manager, expressive syntax, database agnostic schema builder, advanced ORM, efficient query building, simplifies routing and simple authentication. Thus, the features and utilities provided by Laravel make it easier for programmers to build, deploy and maintain a variety of web applications.

On the other hand, CodeIgniter is designed as a rapid web application development framework for PHP. The programmers can use it to create dynamic website within a shorter amount of time. CodeIgniter is loosely designed based on the MVC development pattern. Despite recommending programmers to use MVC pattern, the framework does not compel them to adopt the programming paradigm. CodeIgniter also comes with a number of useful features like minimal configuration, clear documentation, support for customized naming and coding conventions, and a simple templating tool.

Major Differences between Laravel and CodeIgniter

Laravel is designed with built-in modularity through bundles. So it enables developers to divide the entire project into small modules, and reuse the modules across multiple projects. But CodeIgniter does not support any modular separation by default. Often developers have to use Modular Extension additionally to keep their code separate.

Eloquent ORM
Unlike CodeIgniter, Laravel comes with Eloquent ORM. The programmers can use Eloquent ORM to avail a simple ActiveRecord implementation that makes it easier for them to work with databases. Each database table has a corresponding Model. The developers will interact with the database through the Model. The Models further enable users to run data queries in the table as well as insert new records into the database table. The Eloquent ORM makes Laravel score over CodeIgniter.

Database Schema
While using Laravel, programmers can take advantage of its database agnostic migrations feature to modify and share the application’s database schema without writing any additional code. Also, they can combine database agnostic migration with the schema builder provided by the framework to build database schema of the web application easily. But CodeIgniter lacks the capabilities to build database schema of the website despite supporting a number of widely used databases including MySQL.

REST API Development
Many programmers find it easier to build REST API using Laravel than CodeIgniter. Laravel simplifies REST API development through RESTful Controllers. The developers can create REST API simply by setting the $restful property as true in the RESTful Controller. On the other hand, developers have to write additional code for building REST API while using CodeIgniter. Also, many developers find the option provided by the PHP framework to be unreliable and error-prone.

Default Template Engine
CodeIgniter does not come with a built-in template engine. But developers have option to integrate it with smart tools like Smarty. The Smarty template files help users to accomplish a variety of tasks. At the same time, Laravel is designed with the Blade template engine. Despite being simple, Blade is a powerful template engine. It enables developers to enhance and manipulate Views to boost the application’s performance.

CodeIgniter lacks built-in authentication feature. So often users have to write custom CodeIgniter extensions to authenticate and authorize the web application users. But Laravel effectuate user authentication and authorization by providing an Authentication class. Despite being simple, the Authentication class is both extensible and customizable. The developers can use the Authentication class to easily implement user login, while protecting routes using filters and putting additional logic in the controllers.

Unit Testing
Nowadays each web application needs to be tested thoroughly and continuously. That is why; modern developers look for PHP frameworks that include powerful unit testing frameworks. CodeIgniter is not designed with any unit testing framework. It requires programmers to write unit tests using a simple and rudimentary testing class. On the other hand, Laravel enables users to perform unit tests using PHPUnit. In addition to being the most popular unit testing framework for PHP, PHPUnit allows users to take advantage of a number of out-of-box plug-ins.

Both CodeIgniter and Laravel perform routing in an almost identical manner. But Laravel comes with specific features to make routing more efficient and hassle-free. It allows developers to define most routes for the web application in a single file. Also, the Laravel basic routes accept only a URI and a closure. The developers also have option to register a route which responds to several HTTP verbs at a time.

Defining HTTPS Routes
Developers have to explore ways to send sensitive user information over HTTP. CodeIgniter does not support HTTPS fully. So often programmers have to use create pats using URL helpers additionally. However, users often find it daunting to build applications that use both SSL and non-SSL links. Laravel allows developers to define HTTPS routes. So it becomes easier for them to create an URL for the HTTPS route. Laravel will automatically add the https:// protocol before the URL to secure sensitive data transmission.

Community Support
As open source PHP framework, both Laravel and CodeIgniter are supported by large communities. But many programmers recently complain about the activeness of CodeIgniter community. Often developers find it difficult to avail online help while using CodeIgniter. On the other hand, the members of the Laravel community are both proactive and regular. So the programmers can avail online help easily and quickly while using Laravel.

A number of studies have rated Laravel as the most popular PHP framework of 2015. It is also one of the most popular PHP project on GitHub. These figures indicate that Laravel is more popular than CodeIgniter. However, the developers still need to evaluate the pros and cons of these widely used PHP frameworks according to the specific requirements of their project.