11 Best PHP Frameworks for Building Robust Web Applications
PHP is extremely popular for developing dynamic websites and web applications. You’d be surprised. Some global websites (WordPress, Facebook, and Wikipedia) deploy on PHP. As a server-side language, PHP features strong ties to request-oriented code execution. And it provides world-class support for building various mobile and web products.
PHP is a relatively easy language to start. Writing PHP scripts from scratch can be complicated. Sometimes, you’ll need to rewrite the same functions multiple times in the web development process. These tasks will make the work time-consuming.
To streamline the workflow PHP framework is commonly used to compose the code by PHP programmers. But why do PHP frameworks come into the picture? And how do you choose which one is right for you?
Our article today examines the most popular web application framework software for PHP web development in 2023. It will give you all the necessary information to find the best PHP framework.
What is a PHP framework?
PHP framework is a software platform for building PHP-based web applications. The web application framework software streamlines web development processes and improves workflow.
In PHP programming, a framework provides the core of application development. A PHP framework offers pre-made code and component libraries to avoid repetitive coding and reduces the amount of original code developers need to write.
The best framework in PHP improves and standardizes the development process, reducing the amount of uncertainty regarding how to construct an application.
Let start with the most popular PHP frameworks list, consider the options below:
Laravel tops our list for its elegant syntax. It is a popular and extensive PHP framework released in 2011. It handles complex web applications with better security and speed than other frameworks.
The framework comes with plenty of features and built-in functions. It simplifies the complexity of common tasks. It includes session management, routing, queueing, and user authentication.
Laravel offers an extensive ecosystem, providing instant hosting, deployment platforms, and screencast tutorials to help developers.
- MVC ARCHITECTURE
- ARTISAN CLI
- BUILT-IN AUTHENTICATION
- BLADE TEMPLATE ENGINE
- ELOQUENT ORM
Reasons to Choose Laravel Framework
- Laravel Homestead is a pre-packaged Vagrant box that provides a virtual development environment. The pre-packaged Vagrant box has an Nginx web server, PHP, MySQL, Composer, and Node/npm.
It removes the need for XAMPP or WAMP to have a PHP/MySQL web server. And you can get started with your PHP web application on a local computer.
- If you are a Mac user, you can choose between Laravel Homestead and Laravel Valet. Valet is another development environment that supports Symfony, Slim, WordPress, CakePHP, and Zend.
- With Laravel, you get Blade, a simple and powerful templating engine. Unlike some PHP templating engines, it allows you to use plain PHP code in your templates.
- Laravel Debugbar, an example of a popular package, lets you quickly keep tabs on your application during the debugging process.
- A directory called Packalyst contains over 15,000+ Laravel packages ready for use. If you can’t find the right package, you can request it.
- The Laravel framework has features that help you customize complex web projects. These include data migration, security & encryption, Model-View-Controller architecture support, routing, and authentication, among many others.
- Modern web applications expect speed and security. Laravel applications are highly flexible and evolve with web development trends.
The Downside of Laravel
- A separate admin panel is required to manage and edit content, which isn’t appropriate if multiple people need access. It would be good to consider an alternative option if you need to share a panel with many users.
CodeIgniter is a simple yet powerful PHP framework. It’s known for its small footprint on your web server and applications. This lightweight PHP framework is suitable for dynamic websites. In addition to its numerous modules, it offers reusable and robust components.
CodeIgniter 4 is a total of 1.1MB in size, ensuring faster loading speeds and hassle-free installation with minimal setup required. Plus, the user guide comes with 1.6MB in size, so you have all the essential information.
- Framework with a small footprint
- Nearly zero configuration
- Simple solutions over complexity
- Clear documentation
- Exceptional performance
- Strong Security
Reasons to Choose CodeIgniter Framework
- CodeIgniter is flexible, offering solutions to the complexity of MVC design patterns. It encourages development using the MVC architecture but does not force developers to code while employing it. So you can use any other architecture without any problem.
- CodeIgniter is a lightweight PHP framework that comes with a simple setup process compared to other frameworks.
- CodeIgniter includes excellent security tools. It comes with built-in protection against CSRF and XSS attacks. Version 4 has introduced context-sensitive escape and CSP.
- As CodeIgniter supports multiple caching methods, web applications run much faster.
- A key advantage of CodeIgniter is its ease of learning and extensibility. Due to its highly detailed documentation; it is ideal for beginners.
The Downsides of CodeIgniter
- CodeIgniter releases and updates can be irregular. It may be best to skip CodeIgniter if you prefer a regularly updated framework (for security, for example).
Symfony is the perfect PHP framework. It is a comprehensive devs framework that has existed since 2005. It follows PHP and web standards completely, which makes it an excellent choice for web applications.
Symfony is packed with many features and reusable libraries. Its modular component system is very flexible and allows developers to pick and choose from over 50 components for their projects. So you only need to decide which modules to use instead of relying on the whole library.
Symfony uses Twig, an engine whose syntax is concise and fast. Also, you can debug the project with its built-in debugging tool.
- MVC based micro-framework
- Performant PHP framework
- 50 Stand-Alone Components
- Flexible URI Routing
- Twig Template Engine
Reasons to Choose Symfony Framework
- Since Symfony is a component-based framework, you can install and set up Symfony on most platforms easily, as it is easy to work with. It makes development faster and easier and helps developers build applications quickly.
- Symfony is quite flexible and allows integration with other libraries as well. For example, dependency injection (DI) and event dispatching allow developers to create complex applications with maximum flexibility.
- Symfony allows developers to reuse bundles or add them as new features since all functionality is added as bundles. It is not necessary to modify the framework; just configure the bundle accordingly.
The Downsides of Symfony
- Symfony is for advanced developers — if you’re new, you may struggle with the learning curve.
- Symfony’s security mechanisms can be challenging to use.
- You may find Symfony is slower than other frameworks due to its nature.
Yii — which stands for Yes, it is! It is a high-performance, component-based PHP framework best suited to rapidly developing modern Web applications. Its versatility makes Yii a universal framework for building web applications.
Its successor Yii 2, allows developers to integrate jQuery and AJAX features easily. For example, Yii2’s lazy loading technique makes it faster than other frameworks.
In addition, the Yii framework supports the Gii code generator for a model, CRUD operation, and module creation. Gii eases object-oriented programming and rapid prototyping. It provides a web-based interface, helping the programmer generate the desired code interactively.
- MVC architectural pattern
- Automatic Code Generation
- RESTful API development support
- High Performance
- Multi-Tier Caching Support
Reasons to Choose Yii Framework
- Yii is developer friendly as it has a convenient installation setup. And the documentation is well-written and clear to follow.
- Yii has robust security features for tasks such as authentication and authorization, making it suitable for building highly secure projects such as e-commerce, CMS, forums, etc.
- Yii’s excellent performance features, such as caching support and a code generator, make it an ideal choice for developers. It allows developers to create highly optimized web apps.
The Downsides of YII
- The Yii framework is not recommended for beginners due to its steep learning curve.
- During development, it also requires much attention since one mistake in code can affect the entire codebase.
CakePHP is an old PHP framework that has changed over time. Each updated version has offered updated features that keep its user base strong. The 4.4 version of the framework introduced features such as Controller::viewClasses(), QueryExpression::case(), new Error and Exception handling, etc.
CakePHP follows the MVC architecture and helps build visually impressive and feature-rich web applications. It is ideal for commercial applications as it offers high-end security, SQL injection prevention, and more.
In CakePHP, you can access a broad set of libraries and components. Other features include proper class inheritance, validation, and fast builds. It’s a great option if you need hard-to-find features.
There are many support portals available (Slack channel or Stack Overflow) if you require assistance. CakeDC also offers paid support.
- MVC Ready
- Built for Rapid Application Development
- Composer-based Based Installer
- Code generation and scaffolding tools
- Conventional Over-Configuration Design
- Secure by Default
- Full Database Abstraction
Reasons to Choose CakePHP Framework
- Getting started with CakePHP is easy; you only need to install the framework and a web server.
- CakePHP has its own ORM(Object-relational mapping), which is easy to use.
- CakePHP has many built-in security features, such as encryption methods, SQL injection prevention, and input validation. That can help in building enterprise-level applications.
- CakePHP is one of the most straightforward frameworks for learning and developing feature-loaded websites and applications.
The Downsides of CakePHP
- In general, CakePHP follows strict conventions, so if you want to bend the rules or ship fast, you shouldn’t choose it.
Laminas is a completely object-oriented framework by nature. This framework is a continuation of the Zend PHP framework. It was built on Agile methodology. In reality, it uses a PHP framework and component library intended for enterprise-level web application software.
The Laminas Project consists of three parts:
- With Laminas Components and MVC, you can easily create PHP applications that incorporate dependency injection, input validation, and parsing.
- With Mezzio, you can build middleware applications that handle HTTP requests based on PSR-7 and PSR-15.
- With API Tools, you can build RESTful APIs using Hypertext Application Language and Problem Details for HTTP APIs. The tools also allow validation, authorization, and authentication features.
Reasons to Choose Laminas Project
- Laminas Project is an excellent choice for complex, enterprise-level projects.
- Some key features include MVC components, simple API tools, data encryption, and session management.
- The Laminas comes with extensive documentation and a large community base.
The Downsides of the Laminas Project
- Laminas Project can be challenging to pick up if you are intimidating beginners. Therefore, we recommend it if you’re an experienced developer and prefer object-oriented programming.
#Info:- Zend Framework is now the Laminas Project!
Phalcon is a C-extension-based full-stack PHP framework. It means it was written in C and C++ programming languages. But to use the framework, you do not require C knowledge. The framework has been updated continuously since 2012.
Phalcon is one of the blazing-fast PHP frameworks available today. It is very lightweight and uses MVC architecture.
- Loosely Coupled Framework
- Fantastic Performance
- Low Resource Overhead
- Phalcon’s Templating Engine (Volt)
Reasons to Choose Phalcon
- Phalcon is easy to install and makes an excellent choice for creating enterprise-level web applications.
- Key features include: Building single and multi-module applications, Dependency Injection, Writing REST servers and applications, and more.
- Developers can create their own directory structure using Phalcon because it is loosely coupled.
- The Volt templating engine in Phalcon is extremely fast and includes helper classes for creating views quickly.
- Phalcon optimizes performance due to efficient memory utilization.
The Downsides of Phalcon
- Although Phalcon is a good option, it is not popular. Its documentation is not as comprehensive, and its updates are not consistent.
FuelPHP is a community-driven and new framework compared to others on this list. The framework architecture advances beyond the MVC pattern to Hierarchical-Model-View-Controller (HMVC).
HMVC strives to increase code modularity, aid reusability, and maintain a better separation of concerns. It saves time and memory.
- Modular Structure
- HMVC Pattern
- Lightweight ORM Model
- Built-in command-line Utility (Oil)
- Scaffolding Functionality
- Extremely Portable
Reasons to Choose FuelPHP
- FuelPHP features include HMVC implementation, RESTful services, URL routing, robust security, and a caching system.
- FuelPHP security features include output encoding, CSRF protection, and URI and XSS filtering.
- FuelPHP has good code organization, enhanced modularity, and extensibility than other frameworks.
- FuelPHP has its own command-line utility (oil) to run tasks, debug code and generate components.
The Downsides of FuelPHP
- FuelPHP is still relatively new, so you may find less support to work with.
The PHPixie framework started as a micro framework and evolved into an HMVC-based PHP framework. And uses a bundle system that allows code reuse. It is ideally suited to web application development based on read-only websites.
- HMVC Pattern Oriented
- Package system
- MongoDB Support
- Clean Architecture
Reasons to Choose PHPixie
- PHPixie is easy to start and suitable for building customized web applications and services.
- PHPixie Key features include HMVC architecture, linear code flow, and support for MongoDB.
- PHPixie uses cryptographically secure hashes, cookie handling, and random tokens for advanced security.
- The routing system in PHPixie is impressive and ensures smooth implementation.
The Downsides of PHPixie
- PHPixie is relatively new, less popular, and has a small user community.
10. Fat-Free Framework
Fat-Free Framework (F3) is a PHP micro-framework that allows you to build dynamic and robust web applications. It avoids application complexity and balances code elegance and application efficiency. So developers can increase productivity.
The F3 framework is modular, and MVC is supported but not enforced. The only thing you need to get started is a web server and Fat-Free Framework. The codebase is very lightweight, weighing only 65 KB.
Fat-Free Framework (F3) Highlights
- Extremely Lightweight
- Gentle Learning Curve
- Offers Functionalities As Full-fledged Frameworks Have
Reasons to Choose F3
- Fat-Free Framework is a beginner-friendly framework with a flat learning curve. You can easily install it.
- F3 is a lightweight PHP framework compressed into a single file of 65 KB.
- In addition to its lightweight core, the Fat-Free Framework has a modular structure. You only need to add the features. Plugins are also available for templating, unit testing, image processing, geodata handling, and more.
- F3 supports SQL and NoSQL databases, including MySQL, MySQL/Sybase, PostgreSQL, SQLite, DB2, and MongoDB.
- Axon, F3’s ORM feature, is famously user-friendly and syncs automatically with your database.
- F3 can also shield you from spam and DoS attacks.
The Downsides of Fat-Free Framework
- Fat-Free Framework has a small user community.
Slim is a simple yet powerful micro PHP framework. It helps developers quickly create simple yet stunning web applications. It has rich features such as URL routing, session, and cookie encryption, client-side HTTP caching, and support for ‘flash’ messages across HTTP requests.
Slim has easy-to-understand tutorials for beginners. With a growing user base and constant maintenance and updates, it’s incredibly user-friendly. The framework is highly recommended by developers who aim to create RESTful APIs and services.
- HTTP Router
- Dependency Injection
- PSR-7 Support
Reasons to Choose Slim
- Slim is easy to learn. Any PHP developer can use Slim to develop RESTful APIs and microservices.
- It’s also an excellent solution for rapid prototyping and small web applications that don’t require an MVC PHP framework.
- Slim’s key features include URL routing, session, and cookie encryption, client-side HTTP caching, and more.
- Active maintenance and friendly documentation make Slim more user-friendly.
The Downsides of Slim
- Slim is not the best choice for building complex, large-scale web applications. Because its dependency injection is quite weak, making it unsuitable for enterprise applications.
PHP is still among the most popular programming languages for server-side scripting. PHP frameworks offer a development foundation. It allows developers to concentrate on the creative programming aspects without rewriting code or performing repetitive tasks.
Since numerous PHP frameworks are available, each distinct from the others, selecting the appropriate one for your web development project can be pretty difficult.
To recap, here are the highlights of each PHP framework discussed in this article:
Laravel – best PHP framework 2022
CodeIgniter– PHP’s most popular framework
Symfony – PHP best frameworks
Yii – best framework in PHP
CakePHP – the most popular PHP framework
Laminas Project – an object-oriented framework
Phalcon – fastest PHP framework
FuelPHP – a powerful PHP framework
PHPixie – an HMVC-based PHP framework
Fat-Free Framework – a modular PHP micro-framework
Slim – a PHP micro-framework
It’s important to note that all PHP frameworks mentioned in this article are completely free and open-source. You can test them before deciding which is best for your project or career. Each framework on this list is unique and has unique strengths and weaknesses. They also differ regarding documentation, community support, and official support from the creator.