Noupe Editorial Team July 26th, 2009

Discussing PHP Frameworks: What, When, Why and Which?

What is a PHP Framework?

PHP is the world’s most popular scripting language for many different reasons – flexibility, ease-of-use, among others – but often times coding in PHP, or any language for that matter, can get rather monotonous and repetitive. That’s where a PHP framework can help.

PHP frameworks streamline the the development of web applications written in PHP by providing a basic structure for which to build the web applications. In other words, PHP frameworks help to promote rapid application development (RAD), which saves you time, helps build more stable applications, and reduces the amount of repetitive coding for developers. Frameworks can also help beginners to build more stable apps by ensuring proper database interaction and coding on the presentation layer. This allows you to spend more time creating the actual web application, instead of spending time writing repetitive code.

The general idea behind the workings of a PHP framework is referred to as Model View Controller (MVC). MVC is an architectural pattern in programming that isolates business logic from the UI, allowing one to be modified separately from the other (also known as separation of concerns). With MVC, Model refers to data, View refers to the presentation layer, and Controller to the application or business logic. Basically, MVC breaks up the development process of an application, so you can work on individual elements while others are unaffected. Essentially, this makes coding in PHP faster and less complicated.

Why Should we use a PHP Framework?

Developers should utilize PHP frameworks for various reasons, but the number one reason is for speeding up the development process. Reusing code across similar projects will save the developer a substantial amount of time and effort. A framework offers pre-built modules for performing tedious coding tasks, so the developer can spend their time on developing the actual application rather than re-building the foundation with each and every project.

Stability is another big reason developers are utilizing frameworks. While simplicity is one of PHP’s greatest assets, and the reason many people prefer to use this scripting language, it can also be one of its biggest downfalls. It’s fairly easy, especially for beginners, to write bad code and not even realize it. With PHP the application will often times still work, but unknowingly you may have opened up a large security hole in your coding that may be susceptible to attacks. It’s important to remember that PHP is a very forgiving language, so it’s even more important to make sure to tie up any loose ends in your coding – even if the application seems to be working properly.

Finally, the availability of PHP frameworks is extensive, and there are many different frameworks to choose from. You can even create your own, although many developers elect to choose from any of the most well-known frameworks due to their popularity, large support teams, and their forums/communities that allow you to interact with other developers who utilize the same framework. As a side note, you should always examine your project to first decide if you should even use a framework or not. Some questions you should ask yourself are: Will it save you, and anyone else who may use it, time and effort? Will the app perform better? Will it improve stability? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, a PHP framework may be the right answer for that particular project.

When to use a PHP Framework?

This is a common question amongst experienced and beginner developers alike, and there’s really no direct answer to the question. For many beginners, a framework will offer greater simplicity as well stability, so it may be a good idea to use PHP frameworks whenever possible. It will help reduce or eliminate bad coding and speed up the build process.

On the other hand, many experienced PHP programmers see frameworks as tools for “weak” programmers that don’t understand how to write good, clean code. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, but the fact of the matter is that PHP frameworks are a tool that can be used to save time and tighten up one’s coding.

When working on a project with tight deadlines, utilizing a PHP framework is a huge benefit that can greatly speed up the coding process. So if you’re in a time crunch, PHP frameworks can be very beneficial to you. Another instance when PHP frameworks should be a consideration is when you’re working on projects with substantial amounts of monotonous coding, because it will help make the job much less tedious.

What to Look for in a PHP Framework?

There’s plenty of options available to anyone who may be searching for PHP frameworks, and there’s even the option of creating your own, although that’s only recommended for PHP experts. When searching for the the PHP framework best suited for your needs, it’s important to keep in mind who will be using and/or modifying your applications from top to bottom. If there are many people who will be using the application, it may be best use a popular PHP framework that many developers are familiar with. On the other hand, if you wish to build web applications for your own personal use, you are better off choosing any PHP framework that you’re comfortable with – whether it’s popular amongst the developer community or not.

Various factors to search for in a PHP framework include: easy of use, rapid development/performance, popularity amongst other developers, strong features, and support/forums. It’s recommended to try out several PHP frameworks when you’re first starting out in order to find one that suits your needs the best. All frameworks are slightly different and have varying strengths and weaknesses, for instance Zend Framework has been around since V3 and is full of features plus has an extensive support system in place since it has been around for so long. On the contrary, CakePHP is another PHP framework which is younger than Zend Framework and has slightly less of a support system in place (although support for this framework is growing rapidly), but is much more user-friendly and easy to use.

As you can see, each type of PHP framework has its own advantages, so it’s best to use a bit of trial and error to figure out which one will work the best for your needs. Another excellent way of choosing a framework is to consult your colleagues in the development community to see which ones they prefer. Those who have actually used a specific framework will be able to inform you of the ease-of-use, features, support availability, scope of the community surrounding the framework, and possible shortfalls.

Most Common Mistakes When Using a PHP Framework

Mistakes are possible in any type of programming, but PHP frameworks help to limit these mistakes greatly by providing good quality code that is tried and true from the start of the development process. Repetitive coding seems to promote mistakes now and then, and frameworks all but eliminate that problem.

That being said, there are still things to be careful of when utilizing any PHP framework. For instance, unless you are an expert in PHP programming, you should always opt for using a popular framework with plenty of support and an active user base (see below for examples of popular PHP frameworks). There are many frameworks out there that have little or no support, and/or they were created by individuals with limited knowledge of PHP. These types of frameworks can cause your applications to not function properly, and worse case scenario, could cause catastrophic security issues with your website.

Another somewhat common mistake is not ensuring your database and web server is compatible with the particular framework. For example, Seagull PHP Framework recommends the following configuration:

  • PHP: PHP 4.3.0 is the minimum, later versions work fine, as do versions PHP 5.1.1 and above. Avoid anything in the 5.0.x series
  • MySQL: MySQL 4.0.x, 4.1.x and 5.0.x are all supported. You can also use 3.23.x.
  • Apache: Seagull works fine with 1.3.x and 2.x series of Apache

If you don’t meet these requirements, you won’t be observing the best performance possible from your chosen framework. Even if you are an expert in PHP, you should always go over the documentation of the framework to confirm compatibility before trying it out.

Similar to the previously mentioned common mistake, not following the recommended installation process of your PHP framework can also give you some headaches. Take Seagull as an example again – the Seagull wiki has a detailed rundown of the framework’s installation process that has several key steps that are sometimes easily overlooked by careless or unsuspecting developers. The key is to take your time setting up the framework and follow the installation instructions to the “T” – The time you’ll save actually developing applications later will more than make up for the few extra minutes spent installing the framework correctly the first time.

What are the Best PHP Frameworks Available?

Within the past few years as PHP has evolved as the scripting language of choice by most developers, there have been an explosion of PHP frameworks to hit the scene. There is a great debate about what the best PHP frameworks are, because the simple fact is that not every framework is built for everyone. Here’s a quick rundown of five of the best and most popular choices right now:

The Zend Framework

PHP Frameworks Post Image

The Zend Framework has a massive following amongst the development community and is focused on web 2.0 style applications. Because of their massive following, extensive support and active user base, Zend is referred to as “The PHP Company”. Zend is one of, if not, the most popular PHP frameworks available today. It has robust features that are built for corporate-level development, and it requires an extensive knowledge of PHP.


PHP Frameworks Post Image

CakePHP is a great choice for beginners to advanced PHP developers. It’s based on the same principles that Ruby on Rails is designed around, and it’s heavily focused on rapid development – making it a great framework to be used for rapid application development. Its rapidly growing support system, simplicity, and scalability make CakePHP one of the most popular PHP frameworks available today.


PHP Frameworks Post Image

Symfony is aimed more at advanced developers who’s main objective is to create enterprise-level applications – most notably Askeet and Yahoo! Bookmarks. This open source PHP framework is full of features and can do it all, but it’s main downfall is that it is a bit slower than other frameworks.


PHP Frameworks Post Image

Codelgniter is well-known for its ease-of-use, performance and speed. Unlike Symfony, this PHP framework is ideal for shared hosting accounts or for when you want a framework with a small footprint. It offers simple solutions, and has an extensive library of video tutorials, forums, a user guide and wiki available for support. Beginners should consider using Codelgniter.


PHP Frameworks Post Image

Seagull is a well-established PHP framework used for building web, command line and GUI apps. It is an extremely easy to use framework that is ideal for beginners to advanced coders. For beginners, Seagull features a library of sample applications that can be customized to fit your needs, and for experts, Seagull offers a host of options – including best practices, standards, and modular codebase – for building web applications quickly and easily. Seagull has an active developer community and plenty of support documentation in place as well.


PHP frameworks are a great way for developers of all skill levels to reduce the need for repetitive coding, speed up the development process, and to ensure proper coding when creating web applications. This not only speeds up the development of rich applications, but it also tightens up PHP security by reducing the risk of security holes in your coding.

While some expert PHP coders do not feel the need to use frameworks to develop web apps, they can still be an advantage in situations where rapid development is necessary, such as under tight deadlines. And for beginner to intermediate developers, frameworks can enhance the PHP learning process while promoting good coding practices and reducing bad coding, which is common in PHP due to its “forgiving” nature.

There are many PHP frameworks available today, and thus developers are sure to find a framework that fits there needs in terms of features, support, speed, scalability and more. Some of the top PHP frameworks used by developers today include: The Zend Framework, CakePHP, Symfony, Codelgniter, and Seagull.

Author: Joel Reyes

Joel Reyes Has been designing and coding web sites for several years, this has lead him to be the creative mind behind Looney Designer a design resource and portfolio site that revolves around web and graphic design.

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    1. Kohana code changes wayyyyyyyyyy to much it would be a great framework if the people there would get things organized…

    2. +1 for Kohana. Originally a fork of CodeIgniter so it’s lean, mean and incredibly fast unlike the other bloated frameworks. It’s also based on PHP v5. Real PHP programmers love it, newbies find it very difficult though and will probably end up with CakePHP instead.

      1. I disagree that it’s ‘very difficult’. The framework itself just ‘makes sense’. Documentation can be a little sparse in places (I’m looking at you, ORM!) however with a little bit of patience, the pay-off is well worth it.

        .. and I’m writing up some ORM tutorials to ease the path for others!

      2. If the documentation is sparse, someone should be filling in the gaps since it’s an open source project. I’m looking at you, Complaining David!

    3. Another vote for Kohana – quite simply the easiest-to-learn framework I’ve yet discovered. It just ‘makes sense’, and takes the pain out of almost every aspect of site creation.

    1. I recently bump into DooPHP. And I am starting to using it as a MVC base while using Zend Framework long list of components with it since they both use the same new BSD license. Great couples!

      1. I think it’s great using it with ZF collection of useful classes. I never like to use ZF as an app core for MVC, it’s too verbose and slow for me.

    2. I’ve been using Zend Framework since it’s very early betas a few years back. It’s a great framework but it’s never-ending development process is both a blessing and a curse. We’re almost to version 2.0 and things are still constantly changing with core parts of the framework such as MVC.

      1. That is why I don’t use Zend Framework MVC. I tried others like DooPHP or CI for the core and use Zend as addon features.

  1. I would recommend CodeIgniter to anyone, advanced and beginners alike.

    Also avoid ORM (ActiveRecords) whenever possible, it doesn’t really help, it will just slow things down (up to 30% performance hit in some cases) and add unnecessary complexity (SQL queries are more flexible and powerful).

    1. How do we know this is true? You’re the co-founder and business dev director of the company right now. Not exactly non-partial. The comment rules do say not to spam or link drop or advertise. Why would I trust your CMS is so wonderful now?

  2. Another important thing to think about when evaluating frameworks is how tightly-coupled the individual pieces of a framework are. The more tightly-coupled the pieces are, the harder it will be to migrate away when something better comes along and/or community/support disappears. Steer clear of frameworks that force you to use a specific application structure, templating library, or ORM. Loosely-coupled, liberal frameworks such as ZF are really just collections of useful classes, but you’re not forced to use any of them.

  3. i using codeigniter for the development of my project past 9 months and having no problem and issue with any of my projects, best thing in codeigniter is the community forums which help alot the starter of CI to find solutions to their problems, im also an active member of the forum.

  4. I agree with the guys that talked about ORM.

    Anyway, nice post, I missed some more technical comparison between the various FMs however.

    A tip of advice: stay away from frameworks that does not support full OOP though they might be considered coder-friendly.
    With PHP5 around, writing non-OO is a sine.

    1. Why? Writing OO for the sake of writing OO is an even worse sin! Fact is you can write functional code with an object oriented approach just fine – it’s all in how you abstract and understand your application.

      Problem with that particular piece of advice you gave there is that people who follow it without question end up writing horrible OO code, when in fact they could have done a lot better writing functional code.

      The purpose must rule. All principles are ruled by the purpose. Not ever the other way around. That means only write OO if you motivate it by the purpose of the application, not doing it as unquestioned principle.

      1. Can you tell me how you can have an object-oriented approach when there is no classes and objects involved in the code ?

        *Object*-oriented means what it means.

        But you’re right that some people (especially the beginners) might write better functional code than OO one.

  5. I’m very surprised that you missed off KohanaPHP. I spent almost two months analysing and researching stable PHP frameworks that were available at the time. In all the tests that i found, KohanaPHP came out top in terms of performance. They have a great community and because it’s based on CodeIgnitor (in fact it was originally a fork of CI), it comes with most of the benefits of CI.

  6. I’m surprised you did not mention Joomla. It was the first MVC framework I worked with, and it was delightful to use.

    It has a big community of developers and follows a good set of standards.

      1. Joomla is primarily a CMS but it definitely has a fully fledged PHP framework underlying it which you can use to extend the CMS or build other non-CMS related apps. Personally, if I’m building something highly customised from scratch, I prefer Zend Framework but almost anything is also possible with Joomla.

  7. This article might be useful because it contains links to some popular PHP frameworks, but there is much inaccuracy in the article itself.

    For example, Zend Framework has not been around since V3 (it’s focused on pure PHP 5 support – which is also something to take into account, because CodeIgniter e.g. also tried to support PHP 4 meaning it doesn’t take as much advantage of new features), and CakePHP is older than ZF. I stopped reading about there but spotted some more inaccuracies in scanning, so I would recommend people to not attach too much value to this article.

  8. I prefer to use CodeIgniter as a beginning level and the Zend Framework for the advanced level . Actually I use both of them because CodeIgniter helps me to start with a short-time project and Zend helps with a long-time project as their no. of features needs. So you the guys can also try it out with your project types.

    1. We do a similar thing with our projects. CodeIgniter gets the job done quickly for smaller projects, but we’ve developed an internal framework based off Zend Framework for our big projects.

    2. Very helpful, i believe after this article, for our short term projects – we’re looking at either cake or codeigniter. I’ll keep zend in mind for long term development. Thanks @shariat

  9. Is it just me or is this a terribly inaccurate article? Didn’t get past the third paragraph so can’t comment on the rest of it but your understanding of frameworks and MVC is seriously flawed.!

    The general idea behind the workings of a PHP framework is referred to as Model View Controller (MVC).

    This sentence makes no sense. The frameworks you’ve listed employ the MVC design pattern – it is by no means the “workings” of a framework. No one ever said a framework had to follow MVC principles.

    With MVC, Model refers to data, View refers to the presentation layer, and Controller to the application or business logic.

    No, no no! The Model contains business logic, rules and methods for manipulating data – not “data”. The controller is for routing ONLY, it should contain as little business logic as possible. Look up thin controllers, fat models.

    Please research your topics more thoroughly before posting.

    1. I agree with you Rob. A PHP framework doesn’t have to implement the MVC pattern in order to be a framework, as the author claims. Fact is, not all PHP frameworks implement the MVC pattern. The paragraph on MVC was the weakest part of the entire post, which gave a good picture, but lacked serious research.

  10. I think Symfony is more than the author said. For example, it has the better documantation of all frameworks above.

    1. Agreed. Symfony is not slow as mentioned above. Comparing fastness by hello world is not fair to the framework for people building serious high traffic applications.

    2. Good point. When I was evaluating frameworks well over a year ago the documentation advantage of symfony sealed the deal for me. While I work with other frameworks I’ve continued to be impressed by the quality of the examples in symfony.

      The speed issue is something that is being addressed in Symfony 2.0, but even so most of the execution time remains in the model logic rather than the framework.

    3. I think symfony is a very good framework next to Zend probably. I just the hope the speed issues gets resolved immediately. I am using it and loving it!

  11. I tried cakephp and it sucks in terms of developing web 2.0 applications especially when establishing through associations like Ruby on rails. Also the way it produces query pattern sucks like anything. Requesting your view of PHP on Trax. Is it alternative for RoR developers???

  12. Very nice review of some of the options available, this is the first time I’ve even heard about seagull. I will offer my opinion: In most cases a php framework is flat out over kill. While you have written that things like cakephp are “easy” to use and “fast” to develop with, I have an opposite opinion: I think they are heavy weight and add another level of complexity that in most cases just isn’t needed. Every client is always unique, and an experienced programmer will always end up with a leaner meaner solution when its built from the ground up. /opinion

      1. I believe you have that backwards. If the majority of developers all used a small selection of frameworks you’d have a commodity. Lightweight custom code is the very opposite. All clients are unique. To approach it otherwise is to create a commodity web. While I respect your opinion, I have to disagree entirely.

  13. You guys should check out Python. Django, Turbogears, Pylons, Werkzeug, Paste and CherryPy. They are all pretty solid. It’s orms like SqlAlchemy and template languages like Mako that get the big players using python.

  14. For those who don’t know, Kohana is a spin-off of CodeIgniter and is maintained by the open-source community (unlike CodeIgniter, which is controlled by the company that developed it–which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if like the idea of having a support team to contact). I took a good look at both frameworks and Kohana looks a little better, but I’m biased toward pure PHP5 applications (it’s time to kiss PHP4 goodbye! It’s tremendously limited compared to PHP5)

    For my latest project I’m using the Zend Framework, and for the most part I love it. Some things may not be obvious at first but there are a lot of great books out there that cover it (check out the APress series).
    It’s really robust and has tons of useful components that have been developed in a highly professional manner, and the fact that some of the greatest PHP experts out there use it for their largest projects is definitely a good recommendation.

    My impression from a long history of programming in PHP and trying out various frameworks is that Zend is a good recommendation for anyone other than an absolute beginner–it’s just that you may need a book to help you along if you’re not real familiar with object-oriented programming. In the past, I shied away from Zend Framework because I heard it was complicated and difficult to learn, but I realized upon using it that it makes a lot of sense and you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. I think the only reason some people find it very difficult to understand is that it is so highly object-oriented, but if you want to take your programming to the next level I think that’s something you should learn thoroughly anyway.

  15. I have used both Cake and CodeIgniter, they are very similar (in my opinion) but more importantly they are very popular. This allows me outstanding documentation and I don’t have to worry about another programmer taking over, because they really should be familiar with these two.
    just my two cents
    Great article (as usual)

  16. At my job I have been using CakePHP for the past year. Having a Rails background before getting to know Cake, made it very obvious to me that Cake was trying hard to be a Rails clone. Cake and Rails have gone their separate ways, but there are still many times that it reminds me of Rails 1.1. Cake is absolutely horrible by comparison to Rails. I do not like CakePHP and I will never recommend it to anyone. Aside from being a lackluster framework, please google some benchmarks. Cake has abysmal performance. I have used Symfony and I liked it much more than Cake. If you are looking for great frameworks please consider frameworks that are not PHP centric such as Rails or Django.

    1. Your post makes me realize you have no clue how to develop with CakePHP. CakePHP was *inspired* by Rails several years ago, but since then has developed its own style, focused in rapid PHP development. If you expect to see the same stuff you saw on Rails, stay with Rails.

      CakePHP has great performance, amongst the top of all PHP frameworks. Further yet, new versions increase the performance even further, putting it at the top of its kind. Now, if you have NO CLUE how to develop a CakePHP application, if you DONT FOLLOW best practices, you’ll probably end up with “abysmal performance.” Same thing would happen with Rails, Symfony, or any other framework for that matter.

      So next time, consider *learning* the framework before making such assessments, or just stay with the one you liked in the first place.

  17. Nice article, however CakePHP and Codelgniter are horrible to develop with from a modular perspective. From an agency perspective Drupal has been our preferred framework and far superior IMO.

    1. From our “agency perspective”, we’ve used CakePHP since 0.9.2, in global apps with high load, with no complaints.

      Drupal isn’t even an application framework, so I’m not sure how it could be more flexible than any of the other solutions mentioned the article.

      1. That’s not exactly true. Drupal is a framework more than anything else. It comes with basic CMS capabilities but Drupal itself isn’t a CMS – it is a framework people often use to build CMSes! Drupal is one of the most powerful platforms for web development, you can essentially build any web application on it and that’s why we Drupal developers love it so much. Give it a try!

        Here’s a video Q&A, “what” and “why” on Drupal, featuring some of the world’s leading Drupal developers:

  18. Another good framework that’s currently being developed is Recess. Keeping a good watch on this one and looks really interesting.

  19. I’d like to put to your attention also Sapphire framework. Coming also with the CMS (Silverstripe). The documentation is quite good and there is also a helpful community of people around.

  20. hm…
    nice article,
    i use this :
    1. Codeigniter,
    2. KohanaPHP,
    3. Zend Framework.

    I use all them (not for one application of course). it’s good if we can mix these framework.

    1. You can mix CI and Zend. Search for it on the CI forums. We do it here at work all of the time and it works beautifully. Take advantage of the Zend Libraries while using the speed of CI.

    1. Cake doesn’t require command line, its just an added feature. I’ve been using cake for a while and never touched the command line other than curiosity one time. CI is pretty sweet too, can’t go wrong either way!

  21. Very well written article, I personally use CakePHP however I think too many people use theses frameworks for the wrong reasons. As a shortcut to learning PHP.

    I can gurantee you a large portion of users that are implementing these frameworks couldn’t even write a basic database class.

    Also Josh Highland, you’re wrong about Cakes CLI, you most certainly do not have to use it.

  22. I use Yii – my first framework. It’s easy to learn, has great support, and has speed comparable to CodeIgniter with more features and PHP 5.

  23. Frameworks are good for learning and for fast development and iterations, but your readers should be aware that using any framework (even codeigniter) gives you a noticeable performance hit compared to straight php. The basics of mvc are not difficult to implement yourself with a little knowledge of mod_rewrite and judicious use of includes.

  24. Good article. I am starting at PHP and it was really hard to understand why I would need to use the framework, but now it is getting easy to me. Thanks to this kind of articles.

    1. Mike, I just playing around with DooPHP and I find it very easy to get started along. Coding with it for a few days, I find that I can get a “clearer view” of my entire application. Nice stuff and I really like its KISS implementation. Much more easier and clearer than CI (in my experience.) If you use template engine, you can control what to be allowed in doophp view templates. Well it’s alternative, people on the forum had integrate a few others like Smarty with it real easy.

  25. I’ve looked at several frameworks and a few years ago choose symfony. It is a brilliant framework and it’s amazing how fast you can build and deploy an enterprise level site.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone when I say this, but those who question any framework’s speed and performance, especially when comparing between Hello World! applications between frameworks themselves, or by writing a single script are in a nuts or in a different league.

    php frameworks are for those building real web applications – fully featured applications that run online – and are not to be used primarily by someone who just wants to have a few dynamic variables or a few lightweight database calls. The true difference is, are you building a simple web site or an application?

    As for other examples of enterprise-level high-performing sites, please do not forget that Delicious is built based on the symfony framework that serves millions of users.

    1. Symfony crash my VPS easily… hmm not a good option for me but might be good for people who use powerful servers

  26. I’m also using Yii. In my opinion it’s much easier to learn than Zend and Symfony. It’s fast, it has really good extensions, great docs and easy to extend by yourself. The community is still small, but I hope it will grow in the next month.

    1. Yii is nice but I don’t like how they work with widgets which generate HTML/JS stuff?? I think we should leave the job to frontend designers. IMHO yii is not as easy as CI or Doophp

  27. Whenever I’m not making medium-sized sites from scratch, I tend to just go for a full CMS when I need a boost. WordPress, Joomla and of course Drupal are my favs. I’ve been using Drupal a lot in the past 2 years.

  28. ??is Kohana PHP framework and Zend frame is compatialbe with jquery
    is any issue in both the frame work for jquery

  29. There is a new php framework – DooPHP. They claimed to be the fastest MVC framework compared to CodeIgniter and Kohana framework and it designed for KISS lovers who dislike complexity.
    probably you could have a look on that?

  30. “With MVC, Model refers to data, View refers to the presentation layer, and Controller to the application or business logic.”

    Please learn about MVC before writing about it. PHP doesn’t deserve all the blaming, some script-kiddies that use it do.

  31. For me Yii is the best. Strict OOP with an excellent AR implementation and a well designed architecture.

  32. Cake, Zend and Symphony are overly monolithic, imo. The MVC part of Zend seems ‘tact on.’ The database API is probably the worst I have come across. Symphony and Cake seem to be similar with similar goals.

    CI is fine. There development cycles are years so the framework basically doesn’t improve.

    Kohana is top shelf by far.

  33. I definitely love Kohana, but after reading most of the comments here, I think I’ll try out Zend.

    And Drupal is utterly harmful to large-scale apps, just so you know.

  34. Good note about not all php frameworks are mvc. I was going to say the same thing… More importantly, I think there’s MANY “enterprise” type sites/apps using other frameworks than symfony. Definitely need to be careful about associating one framework with terms like “enterprise” or professional. For example CakePHP powers the Mozilla Add-ons site… It also powers many other sites run for big corporations. Zend also must (I’m not familiar with Zend community) since it’s been around so long. I’d imagine CodeIgniter is starting to run more larger things…But again I’m not in that community to know.

    The framework these days is almost personal preference. There are a few that are really awkward to use (Symfony, sorry, but it is) and while they are fast…there’s others that are faster. HOWEVER, if you’re used to the awkwardness…you can do just fine.

    The #1 thing I think one should look for is community and direction. Some of these frameworks are actually becoming stale. They aren’t going anywhere. They don’t have clear goals or good support.

    Personally, this is why I’d go with CakePHP (or CodeIgniter). Especially CakePHP, there’s so much development going on for it and it really has a good clear focus on the future.

    It’s funny because it’s all relatively comparable to which Linux distribution one uses…

  35. This list misses out the (most probably!) best PHP framework out there: Agavi. It’s fast, stable, extensible and gives you complete freedom of choice other than trying to decide things you should really better decide for yourself (and depending on your requirements, that is). Use whatever ORM or template engine you want. Do ‘real’ MVC (not those action->viewtemplate thingys most of the other frameworks have). And the best: It’s not a pure web-only framework, but supports fully-fledged console or XML-RPC or SOAP or $whatever applications you want to write. Try it and believe me, that Agavi will please every professional developer out there (instead of writing the same old spaghetti code in a somewhat MVCish wannabe PHP framework)!

  36. I have used any framework, try and see if it can make sense for my requirements. But I choose to make my own framework based on my experiences and mix any code from my previous projects and take the other framework code as the example (especially CI). It work well for me.

  37. If you are looking for a PHP framework, maybe you could first consider looking for a more professional language. I’d recommend Python, but there are many others well designed ones.

  38. I personally have tried Cake, Kohana and CodeIgniter… Cake is way too complicated and full of stuff, but it is good if you want to build big robust application, Kohana is good if you want to use nice Object Oriented code, but the support sucks so much.
    So i stick up with CI which helped me learn PHP as well along the way.
    Still, using and choosing a framework is more of a personal taste cause developers have different approaches to programming, so you cannot say which one is the best, it depends which one will suit you personally.

  39. Hi All,

    working on php things from last 6 months(earlier working on java)…………..

    started with CMS like Joomla1.5,Wordpress,Magento,expressEngine,Drupal……….

    these are good but u should know wats ur requiremnt???
    everyone has got its drawback like magento(size prblm)
    good big sites with ecommerce option that to if company has got clients in many countries…

    4 small sites wordpress,joomla is good ……

    About Frameworks….

    i remember when i started one of our clients want gallery so i went 4 option CakePhp+coppermine after it was running to slow as it retrives data from db everytime…

    i developed text based template system for that

    template hamppers the performance that is what CodeIgniter claims trying to learn and i like it

    but heard about KOHANA these days …..

    Ideal features shud be–
    -unwanted part/libaries shud be easily removed
    -able to change design in less time
    -after completing project additional modules should be integrated easily….

    libraries for basic things not to complex

  40. I’ve used CakePHP, sort of complicated at the beginning but once you’ve studied and visit some tutorials it’s simple. What I’ve found kind of difficult it’s the data base structure, has to be very accurate with normalization and indexes.

    1. I consider that one of the strongest points of cakePHP—that it recommends (almost enforces) a clean database structure. Once you’ve done setting up your models in a right way, you can almost code with your eyes closed.

  41. At our company we use cakePHP. This article doesn’t consider wordpress, drupal and joomla to be frameworks—although they are! Drupal looks to be the most popular PHP framework yet.

  42. I use CakePHP, CodeIgniter and Joomla 1.5 (very painful), I’ll try kohona I see a lot of you use it. Also I’m learning wordpress :D.

    See you :D

  43. Those looking for a minimalist framework with a fast template engine and SQL handler inspired by Ruby’s Sinatra might want to take a peek at the PHP Fat-Free Framework. In my opinion, most of the frameworks mentioned here are bloated with more features than you’ll ever need.

  44. I tried codeigniter,cakephp,yii for commercial projects and I give a try to kohana and symfony (trying to learn them)
    So my first choice is Yii and the second the cakephp-both have simiralities but I liked more some Yii functions I used .
    Symfony is more complicated and you must learn more.
    Codeigniter and kohana (that is for php 5 and has some simiralities with CI) I do not like them .

    1. Hi good article. IS their any way to make websites in php, I mean I have very low knowledge about it but I am good in asp .net, can I use same logic in php ?

      Help appreciated.

  45. Popular and highly customizable CMS like Drupal /Joomla / WordPress can be used as very handy “frameworks”.

    And I believe Cake is much older than ZendFramework.

  46. hai….dude…i m new in php web devloping…..i wanted to set the number of charecter in a line of a div tag…how is it possible?…….

    can anybudy give me the solution…..

    means if u using “ORKUT”…or “FACEBOOK” and u edit ur profile…suppose ur editing..the field ‘about me’…..if you give the value with out spaceing …the frame work…takes it siquently…there are no page straching……but in my web site i’ll done it.?

    1. I agree with some people here that this article was lacked little research.
      First talk about a framework, where you can build an application on. It means Joomla, Drupal are also a framework. The number of kinds of application is depended on the framework limitation.

      Second, a framework does not need to follow a MVC model. MVC is a model (similar to n-tiers model) to develop a software and you can apply it for your applications.

      Third, I saw too many questions in the internet like what is more popular between some technologies? And some people name something by their own ideas. Why you don’t put the name into Google and compare the hits number – that is a simple real-life use-case. If you do so you will see Joomla is the king, more articles, more discussions, more easy to get support, ask or get started.
      The hits of Joomla are so far away to the rest of technologies you have discussed here. You may say, no Google is a lier so you should ask why Google is so rich?

      It is poor for whom feels painful when working with Joomla. You may lack too much knowledge. If you have any new ideas about a website just go to your ideas may be there already. Many extentions are free but some you have to pay.

      So what is the best for you? It depends on your requirements and your knowledge. Don’t make any judgement on something that you don’t know.

  47. Thank you so much for this helpful introduction. I think i will try codeigniter or seagull.. the seem the best choice for me..

  48. I use the php framework CakePHP because is easy-to-use, includes everything that i need, documentation easy to read and understand and is easy to find tutorials or help when i need.

  49. I use Codeigniter, the latest unreleased but stable version 2.0 which has dropped PHP4 support. Kohana is nice and all, but I find it a bit lacking in documentation in comparison to Codeigniter.

    Pretty sure that Codeigniter is better considering the company that makes it (Ellislab) builds their main flagship product Expression Engine on-top of it now which means it will be constantly updated.

  50. Useful article,
    I just start working with php frameworks. but I only know zend.
    Many thanks for the article and specially for comments. Its really useful.

  51. okay, which one is most sutable for biginer level php programmer ?
    currently im playing with CMS ( joomla and WP ). but I really need to go deeper, and like to work with my own cms. but im just a biginer. any sugestions guys?

  52. “PHP is the world’s most popular scripting language for many different reasons” – primary reason is that it is open source and FREE.

  53. I’m currently using the Zend Framework because of its loose coupling and because its updated at an amazing pace.

    Loose coupling is important to me because I felt the tightly coupled Rails-like frameworks were always getting in my way – to be successful in using Rails clones for less than trivial applications, you need to have a very thorough understanding of the actual code behind the framework, because so much is hidden from you.

    When security and stability is very important, which is it to me, you need to know that the framework is continually patched and updated at a fast pace. Looking at all the frameworks, the only frameworks I’m confident with in this aspect are the Zend Framework and Symfony.

  54. Has anyone heard of the medical internet marketing agency called WebToMed? I ran across their website online and they seem to offer expert advice on Medical Web Design and ecommerce. Any advice?

  55. Hi, Thanks to all guys who posted there view on PHP framework. I worked on codeigniter and would like suggest it for all types of application i.e. from beginning level enterprise level.

  56. And I am using none of them, I am a basic PHP guy and trying to step into the world of frameworks. My choice would be Zend, because I heard its name from a lot of developers. I also tried to work with Code Integer but it seems so complex to me.

    1. dear as i know codeignighter is the basic and easy to use framework and zend is more complex than it.
      CI has good documentation with it.

  57. hi actually i use codeigniter cause its fast and has a powerfull library and helpers
    by the way i will try Konoha

  58. I’ve been using zf for a while now and it’s really loose and flexible. Though i started with CakeWalk and i still use it when working on blogs, but when working on a more complex project i prefer zend.

  59. I like the idea of using a Framework be it PHP, Ruby or JavaScript. But I think it is important to understand the underlying technologies of that Framework. I know a few beginner developers who only know how to use jQuery but never bothered to learn JavaScript. Once you have an understanding of the basics I think then Frameworks can be very helpful in developing applications. FYI I use CakePHP for my PHP Framework.

  60. Frameworks are always good if we invest some time to learn it. Once got the grip it’ll make the life easy for developer. Personally I prefer CI for small projects and for larger ones I’ll go with ZF.

  61. Wow, awesome comments. I’m glad to suggest yet another framework to the list – Agile Toolkit.

    It focuses on simplicity for new developers saving us time from messing with HTML and CSS where it’s not necessary. It’s a full Web UI framework so it puts Object Oriented approach onto everything starting from ORM and database and ending with views and jQuery. There are nice introduction at and it’s open source. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

  62. +1 Yii

    I have used Cake, CodeIgniter, and tried Symfony. CodeIgniter was my favorite until I ran accross Yii!

    I have been using Yii since 1.1.4 (now on 1.1.7) and I have never looked back. The way Yii auto-models your database and builds the relationships in code to match relational tables is fantastic and very fast. Also, when it builds your models it builds quite capable views that already work if you choose for it to do so. This is a true time saver. Fully functioning web pages that have full CRUD (create, read, update, delte) functionality at the click of a button is amazingly fast.

    Add to that ajax and jquery built in and easy to use.

    The last key item for me was the fact that it supports ACL based authentication as well as RBAC. Those of you that know what Role Based Authentication Control is should be excited about how simple Yii makes it for you.

    If you need to pump out code fast there is no equal as far as I have seen. Also, since it using lazy loading, Yii produces pages way faster than most frameworks.

    Just thought that info should be mentioned… cheers

  63. I want to make a photo-blog website and its android application in my final year project. which php framework should i use for this website?

  64. thank very much for the knowledge of frame work which has really helped me, cos i was finding it difficult to code in php. I think i will stick to codeigniter for a start.

  65. In terms of performance, I guess DooPhp would excel the rest. They have done some benchmark tests to prove it. Anyone has used DooPhp? any thoughts?

    Using framework is good, but depending on your requirements, I guess building your own framework by combining all the good aspects of other frameworks would be the best choice.

  66. Which Drupal framework is the most popular.
    Microsoft WebMatrix offers a few – so that is the difference or most popular?
    I have a change to work with Drual but don’t know the best commercial version?

    1. Sorry for the typo “change” s/b “chance”.
      PS: I have been using PHP for over 10+ years and currently have system w/o frameworks using PHP version 5.3.+.
      So when I say commercial PHP I mean writing at a professional level for a commercial grade development…

  67. So many replies .. Confusing !!! Where the hell is the author ? By The Way, I concluded YII to be the best..But try learning CakePHP and CodeIgniter as well..

  68. im using CI right now. for beginner like me in PHP .. i found CI is the best first step to learn php framework.

  69. Well written article. uses Code Ignitor. PHP Frameworks are for web applications mainly. If you are looking for something with similar features but is mainly for front-end site building then try MODX which is really a CMS but very powerful in what it can run.

  70. I`ve tried Cake and CodeIgniter, they are not bad. But personally I vote for Yii. Wondering why haven`t you mentioned about it in your post? To my mind it`s the clearest and the easiest one, great for beginners. Some reasons:
    1. Easy-to-understand documentation
    2. Several great extensions like bootstrap,
    backvendor and
    3. High community and lots of examples

  71. I think Zend is not the best framework. I really hate when a project comes to my desk and it’s built with Zend, the way it handles relationships and models is sad, same as the Kohana Framework (i’d burn it if i could).
    The only ones frameworks that really worth, are Yii and CakePHP

  72. cakePHP sucks. Why? Their own blog tutorial – ambiguously written – results invariably in error messages:

    Error: PostsController could not be found.
    Error: Create the class PostsController below in file: app\controllers\PostsController.php

    If those idiots cannot write out a simple “hello world” tutorial … one wonders what else they punted on.

    PHP is an old, old friend. codeigniter is not, but at least it works out of the box and is documented by humans rather than imbeciles.

  73. We are planning to develop auction like portal, can anyone suggest PHP framework, which can easily be tweaked to help us get going.

  74. Hey Php guys. I believe android and ios at this point and for next few years is good choice. Even couple of good apps in market can earn you a good handsome amount of money.
    If anyone wants to start with Android then Here is a nice tutorial for beginners i took. It’s for absolute beginners. It’s not free but still i found it totally worth as i would have wasted much more time in starting up without this tutorial. It gave me a nice start. Worth sharing.

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