Yii and Zend Framework are hugely popular among PHP programmers. Both PHP frameworks are open source and supported by large communities. Each of these two PHP frameworks comes with features to simplify and speed up web application development. There are often common discussions amongst PHP developers about Yii vs Zend Framework, which one to choose and use for different web application development projects.

Yii supports model-view-controller (MVC) software development paradigm, and comes with features to simplify common programming tasks like caching, scaffolding, authentication, testing, and role-based access control. Also, it helps programmers to write clean and readable code, and load only the features required by each project. Zend Framework is designed as a collection of PHP packages. The developers have option to extend and customize the component provided by the framework according to their precise needs. Zend Framework also supports MVC architecture, and provides tools to keep the code secure. The programmers can also avail the APIs provided by Zend to deploy web applications in the cloud and manage the cloud infrastructure. The developers must understand the major differences between Yii and Zend Framework to decide their effectiveness for their upcoming project.

Yii vs Zend Framework: Understanding Major Differences between Yii and Zend Framework


Despite being open source, both Yii and Zend Framework are updated on a regular basis. Yii is a modern PHP framework, and comes with features to simplify web 2.0 application development. On the other hand, Zend Framework is one of the most mature and trusted PHP frameworks. The maturity makes Zend well tested and widely used.


I have previously published a blog on the performance of Zend Framework. Yii is considered to be much faster than other PHP frameworks including Zend Framework. The developers have enhanced the performance of Yii drastically by implementing certain concepts in a different way. Yii further enables programmers to start developing web applications by following three simple steps – set up the database, generate base PHP code through the framework, and customize the base PHP code according to their precise needs.


Web application developers throughout the worls have used both these PHP frameworks for creating many popular websites. Yii is currently used by websites like craftcms.com, straightupcraft.com, medialoot.com, viget.com, craft.dev, and plugins.krajee.com. At the same time, Zend Framework is used by popular websites like aroma-zone.com, mahor.ru, lelscans.com, esheba.cnsbd.com, and lepetitballon.com. However, many programmers prefer Zend Framework to Yii while developing big applications.

Database Support

Both Yii and Zend Framework allow developers to work with several SQL and NoSQL databases. Yii allows users to work with popular databases like MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft BI, PostgreSQL, and MangoDB. But Zend Framework is more versatile, it supports more databases than Yii.


The developers can extend both Yii and Zend according to precise needs of individual projects. They can extend various components provided by Yii programmatically. But generally speaking,  Zend is more customisable than Yii. The experienced Zend PHP programmers can easily change the structure of Zend and extend its components. Also, they can replace the existing Zend components with third-party components to simplify web application development.

Development Speed

Both Yii and Zend Framework come with features to speed up web application development. But in the war of Yii vs Zend Framework, Yii scores over Zend in the category of rapid development. Yii reduces development time significantly by enabling developers to perform repetitive tasks through a robust web-based scaffolding tool like Gii. Gii further allows developers to avail a wide range of scaffolding templates. There are a lot of the add-ons and plug-ins available on the official website of Yii. They make it easier for programmers to add functionality to the web application without writing additional code.

Security Features

Zend Framework enables programmers to keep their web application secure by using specific tools. The developers can use code security tools to identify the weaker pieces of code. Likewise, they can use the cryptographic tools provided by Zend to keep the source code of web applications inaccessible.  On the other hand, Yii helps programmers to keep web applications secure by providing features like input validation and output filtering. It further comes with features to protect the web application from security threats like SQL injection and cross site scripting attacks.

Software Testing

Both PHP frameworks come with features to facilitate web application testing. Zend Framework enables programmers to perform unit testing efficiently using a robust tool like PHPUnit. But Yii enables developers to use Codeception. The developers can use Codeception to perform unit, functional, and acceptance testing efficiently. Hence, Yii scores over Zend Framework in the category of software testing.

Learning Curve

Zend Framework features a loosely coupled architecture. Hence, many programmers find its documentation loose and inadequate to develop a complete project. On the other hand, Yii requires programmers to write code based on certain rules. The beginners have to put extra time and effort to write code based on the rules required by Yii.

On the whole, when we think about Yii vs Zend Framework, both Yii and Zend Framework have their own pros and cons. The PHP frameworks also differ from each other in terms of features, performance, and usability. Hence, the PHP programmers must keep in mind their precise needs while comparing the two widely used PHP frameworks.