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The Ultimate Guide to PHP frameworks in 2021

According to statistics, PHP is among the 10 most popular programming languages in the world. It can be an excellent choice for many projects. However, the success of a project depends not only on the language but also on the tools you choose. So how do you decide which PHP developers are best for your project? First, let’s look at the different frameworks available — and remember, if you need help choosing the finished company, tell us everything you need. We can do the work for you and match you with up to 5 companies that meet your requirements within 72 hours — all for free.

The basics you need to know.

Before learning about the different PHP frameworks, you first need to review the basic concepts you need to know.


MVC, or Model-View-Controller, is a software design model where the presentation logic (View) separates from the business logic (Model and Controller). In other words, you could think that the controller contains all the application logic, the model interacts with the database, and the view is what the client sees.

| Composer

Composer is a PHP dependency/package manager. It allows you to install third-party libraries and their dependencies. A composer is required to install the frameworks listed below.

Let’s now analyze the ten most popular PHP frameworks one by one:

| Symfony

The first on this list is Symfony. It is a modern PHP framework that is fully enterprise-level. What does it cover? It provides you the fundamental building blocks you need to tailor solutions to your business needs. It gives you the basics and makes it easy for you to do what you need on top of it.

Symfony is a good choice if you want to build something that users can access from mobile devices. Now, of course, you could take a mobile approach and build a mobile app that gives you access to phone contacts and contact lists, but most web apps don’t have those needs. They need to provide the user with access to the platform, manipulate the data, do what they need to do, and then get on with their day.

Symfony offers a massive list of features and counts with an extensive active community. The framework is inspired by Ruby on Rails (Ruby), Django (Python), and Spring (Java). It includes components such as HttpFoundation, which uses to make HTTP calls, and provides helper tools such as Validator, which validate form input.


  • It allows you to create high-performance, large-scale projects.
  • It comes with an intelligent API that can use to manipulate the file system.
  • Improved error checking
  • It has a full console to check arguments and parameters.
  • Error logging
  • Open-source


  • Difficult to learn and non-intuitive flow.

| Laravel

Laravel is an example of the most common PHP frameworks based on MVC architecture. It comes with a lot of tools and libraries that make development easier.

It leverages existing frameworks, such as Symfony, and allows them to use in a much simpler and structured way. As a result, the code structure remains structured and easy to understand.

Laravel allows you to build a website viewport in a tera format that will enable you to reuse components from one page to another. The blade is a powerful templating system for Laravel that allows you to run basic PHP code directly on the template. Pages created with an edge are cached, ensuring a smooth and fast user experience.

To interact with the database, Laravel includes Eloquent, an ORM-based solution for MySQL. ORM, or Object Relational Mapping, introduces the design of an object-oriented program for MySQL.


  • The introduction of blade templating allows for dynamic manipulation of views.
  • Eloquent makes interacting with the database much more manageable.
  • It uses the Bcrypt Hashing Algorithm to generate encrypted passwords.
  • Among other things, Artisan’s commands allow easier migrations.
  • The framework can run multiple unit tests.


  • Difficult to extend existing classes and libraries.

| CodeIgniter

Codelgniter is a highly lightweight PHP framework that contains libraries for e-mail, database, form validation, and file upload. It is based on MVC architecture and includes active records for interaction with the database. The structure is easy to follow and learn because it is not as complex as other frameworks like Symfony.

Due to its small size, CodeIgniter is one of the fastest PHP frameworks. The documentation of the framework is also excellent, explaining everything with sample code. CodeIgniter has two main components: libraries and helper functions. Libraries are a group of classes, while helper functions are a collection of functions.

CodeIgniter uses Active Records, a modified version of the Active Record Database Pattern, to interact with the database. With active records, you can perform any database function with just a few lines of code.


  • The size of the framework is less than 2MB
  • Beginner-friendly
  • No need to learn long SQL commands to implement active records
  • One of the fastest frameworks


  • Not designed with large scalable projects in mind
  • Not a very object-oriented framework

| Phalcon

Phalcon is another PHP framework based on the MVC architecture. It is a very high-performance PHP framework that was launched in 2012 and is entirely open-source. Phalcon is written in C and PHP and is one of the fastest frameworks. It is also notorious for being the first PHP framework to implement object-relational mapping in C.

The main advantage of using this framework is speed. You will not find any other PHP framework that is faster than Phalcon. The response time for 1000 queries in 0.712 seconds is much less than well-known PHP frameworks like Laravel, which needs about 6.5 seconds.

This framework also uses ORM to interact with the database and is a loosely coupled MVC framework. It supports both relational and non-relational databases.


  • The fastest PHP framework
  • Open-source
  • Compatible with C language


  • Difficult to install
  • May require C language skills for debugging.

Are you confused by all these different frameworks? Remember, if you need help choosing the right one, let us know. We can do the work for you and put you in touch with up to 5 companies that meet your needs within 72 hours — and all for free.

| Yii

Yii is another open-source PHP framework for rapid development. Yii is an acronym for “Yes it is” and follows a combination of DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) and MVC standards.

It is a component-based PHP framework, which means creating small code components and using them anywhere in your project. This framework also supports a fixed cache.

Because Yii is a component-based framework with caching support, Yii is suitable for building any web application, such as a forum, CMS, and e-commerce website. Yii also makes use of the latest PHP features, such as traits and namespaces.

Like Codeigniter, Yii also has Active Records support for database interaction. Since Bootstrap is the most popular CSS framework for responsive websites, it is a welcome addition out of the box.

| Benefits

  • Bootstrap included
  • User authentication is predefined
  • Multi-level caching
  • Support for CSRF characters
  • NoSQL database support
  • Support for the development of RESTful services.

| Shortcoming

  • Too dependent on static methods.
  • Steep learning curve

| CakePHP

CakePHP is an example of the most beloved PHP structures that provide fast PHP application development in an MVC architecture, giving developers a quick and structured workflow without sacrificing flexibility. It also includes a templating engine for the frontend and supports caching and support for older PHP versions such as PHP 4 and PHP 5. This framework is also fully open source and includes basic testing features such as core and custom.

CakePHP supports ORM for database interaction, which makes CRUD operations much more manageable. Can use libraries and helpers to cleanse data and use AJAX to improve the user experience, cookie and session handlers, and e-mail functionality.


  • Very active developer community
  • Application scaffolding
  • AJAX and JS functionality tools
  • Compatible with older PHP versions
  • Ready-made testing solutions

| Shortcoming

  • Documentation needs to be improved.
  • Developers may encounter difficulties during migration.
  • Better suited for older PHP versions

| Laminas project

Laminas is one of the most popular open-source PHP frameworks with more than 570 million installations. The components have minimal interdependencies, allowing web application projects to run as standalone applications. This PHP framework was launched in 2006 and followed the MVC architecture.

Besides MySQL, Laminas supports PostgreSQL and SQLite, among others, and also includes simple session management. This framework offers ready-made support for the development of REST APIs and is suitable for large-scale projects because it is one of the most stable PHP frameworks on the market.

Laminas has integrated support for testing such as PHPUnit, which significantly speeds up the testing of advanced web applications.


  • Support for multiple database technologies
  • Support for REST API development
  • Simpler code maintenance


  • Steep learning curve
  • Documentation needs to be improved.
  • The framework is relatively large and somewhat bloated.

| FuelPHP

FuelPHP was launched in 2014 and followed the HMVC model. Initially, started this framework to adopt the best practices of popular PHP frameworks to create a superior product.

The framework is relatively new and is developed and improved by fully cooperative developers. It means that it is a grassroots product with one of the best backing frameworks available.

FuelPHP is easily extensible, which means you don’t have to update core files to make changes. Instead, you can extend and override classes. The View part of this framework can encrypt the output, which means it is entirely secure and can avoid XSS (cross-site attacks).

Like Laravel’s Artisan commands, FuelPHP also has Oil commands. Oil is a command-line utility in FuelPHP that allows you to perform a wide range of operations, such as creating primary login and logout fields or performing migrations.


  • HMVC pattern
  • Flexible framework
  • Very secure


  • Low market share growth
  • Fewer programmers available

| PHPixie

Very similar to FuelPHP, PHPixie is built on the HMVC architecture. The goal of PHPixie was to create a performance framework for read-only websites. This PHP framework started as a micro-framework and gradually evolved into a full-fledged PHP framework.

PHPixie handles many things differently from other frameworks, making it a popular choice among developers of small projects. This framework also supports various databases such as PostgreSQL, SQLite, and MongoDB.


  • Built-in authentication
  • Support for multiple databases
  • ORM library included


  • Not a very popular PHP framework and, therefore, difficult to maintain

| Slim Framework

A slim framework is a very lightweight PHP micro-framework, as the name suggests, suitable for fast web development. Being a micro framework, use to create REST APIs.

The Slim Framework includes CSRF protection, HTTP caching, and third-party integrations. With the middleware, you can add a security layer between the client and the server, which you can also add to authenticate the REST API.


  • Minimal size
  • Recommended for REST API development
  • It lacks a lot of essential features

Find the perfect PHP framework

To learn a PHP framework, you need to know the basic concepts of PHP, such as classes, objects, and databases. We have examined 10 of the most common PHP frameworks that you can use to create web applications.

But it all depends on your requirements! Most frameworks are suitable for any project, but since they vary in difficulty, it’s worth understanding which frameworks can solve your problem most effectively. You won’t implement a heavy and bloated framework for very complex projects to solve a simple Internet access form. There are many web development companies in India that may help in creating web applications.



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