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10 Best PHP Frameworks for Web Development in 2023

Updated on July 12, 2023

11 Min Read

Websites have become more complex and demanding over time. On the plus side, they now deliver far more value than they used to in yesteryears. As most developers will tell you, PHP frameworks are the go-to creation tools that give life to those sites, and as a result, almost 80% of the web pages on the internet are backed by PHP frameworks.

In this article, we have compiled for you a list of the best PHP frameworks out there.

Why Should You Use a PHP Framework?

PHP frameworks offer several benefits, making them a compelling choice for web developers.

Firstly, PHP frameworks offer a structured approach to development with pre-built components, streamlining the process, accelerating project completion, and enhancing productivity.

Secondly, using a PHP framework can contribute to cost savings. By leveraging the ready-to-use components and built-in features of frameworks, developers can avoid reinventing the wheel and significantly reduce development efforts. This not only saves time but also reduces development costs.

Additionally, PHP frameworks prioritize scalability and maintainability, adhering to best practices and design patterns. This enables applications to handle increased traffic and evolving requirements, ensuring adaptability and future-proofing.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a PHP Framework

When choosing a PHP framework for your web development project, consider these key factors to make an informed decision that aligns with your project requirements:

Project Requirements and Scope

When choosing a PHP framework, consider your project’s requirements and scope. For smaller projects with simpler functionality, a lightweight framework can provide faster development and easier maintenance. For larger and more complex projects, a robust framework with scalability options becomes crucial.

Examine your project’s specific requirements, including desired functionality and features. Some frameworks excel in specific areas like CMS development, e-commerce solutions, or RESTful API development. By closely evaluating these factors, you can select the most suitable PHP framework for your project.

Learning Curve and Developer Familiarity

Consider your team’s familiarity when choosing a framework to ensure a smooth transition and minimize hurdles during development. Striking a balance between familiarity and the benefits of adopting a new framework is crucial.

While sticking to a familiar framework can offer efficiency and reduced learning time, exploring new frameworks brings fresh perspectives, innovative features, and improved development practices. Carefully evaluate trade-offs and assess the potential long-term benefits of investing in learning a new framework for your project.

Community Support and Documentation

When choosing a PHP framework, consider the importance of strong community support and comprehensive documentation. These factors provide valuable resources, assistance, and insights for the success of your development project.

A well-documented framework with an active community eases the learning journey, offering valuable guidance and resources. Additionally, assess the compatibility of the framework’s coding principles and paradigms with your team’s existing skill set.

Performance and Scalability

Performance and scalability are crucial when selecting a PHP framework for your web development project. The framework’s ability to optimize performance directly impacts user experience and application efficiency.

Choose frameworks that prioritize performance optimization with caching mechanisms, efficient database query handling, and streamlined code execution.

Maintenance and Long-term Support

Choose a PHP framework with active maintenance, regular updates, and dedicated support from a development team or community. Doing so helps with bug fixes, security patches, and technology advancements, keeping your application secure and up to date.

Prioritizing maintenance and long-term support provides a stable foundation for your web application, enabling a successful and enduring solution.

Cost and Licensing

Consider the costs and licensing terms of a PHP framework before making a decision. Review the licensing terms for compliance and evaluate the level of community support and development activity.

The cost evaluation ensures alignment with your project’s budget, legal requirements, and long-term sustainability.

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Best PHP Frameworks in 2023 (Comparison Table)

The table below compares the top PHP frameworks in 2023:

Framework Laravel CodeIgniter Symfony Laminas (Zend Framework)
Release Year 2011 2006 2005 2006
Architecture MVC (Model-View-Controller) MVC Full-stack framework Component-based framework
Popularity Very popular Popular Popular Moderate popularity
Learning Curve Beginner-friendly Beginner-friendly Steeper learning curve Moderate learning curve
Community Support Active community Active community Large and active community Active community
Documentation Well-documented Well-documented Comprehensive documentation Comprehensive documentation
ORM Eloquent ORM Built-in ORM (Active Record) Doctrine ORM Zend Db (Laminas ORM)
Routing Powerful routing system Simple routing system Flexible routing system Flexible routing system
Templating Blade template engine Custom templating engine Twig template engine Custom templating engine
Database Support MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, etc. Multiple databases Multiple databases Multiple databases
Testing Built-in testing support Limited built-in testing Built-in testing support (PHPUnit) Built-in testing support (PHPUnit)
Security Comprehensive security features Basic security features Comprehensive security features Comprehensive security features
Extensions Large ecosystem of packages Decent number of libraries and plugins Broad range of packages and bundles Decent number of libraries and plugins
Performance Efficient performance optimizations Lightweight framework Good performance optimizations Moderate performance optimizations

10 Best PHP Frameworks in 2023 (Ranked)

When selecting the ideal PHP MVC framework for large-scale applications, consider these crucial questions:

  • What functionalities and components do I want from the Framework?
  • Is the framework being regularly developed?
  • Is there a large community around the particular framework?
  • What is the learning curve?

Keeping these questions in mind (and a survey was taken on a Facebook group), we’ve shortlisted the following list of Best PHP frameworks for you:

1. Laravel

Laravel

Source: Laravel

If frameworks were people, Laravel would be the king. If you want to code beautiful designs, choose Laravel since it’s positioned as the go-to PHP framework for web artisans.

Its vast popularity boils down to its ease of use and virtually no learning curve. And despite that, it’s a framework developers use for complex tasks.

Laravel has many inbuilt features which support rapid application development on any web hosting for PHP. It includes platform’s own templating engine, Blade, local development environment, Homestead, an advanced RESTful routing system and many other features.

Pros

  • Elegant and feature-rich
  • Laravel Blade Templating Engine
  • Automated repetitive tasks and simplified database migrations with Artisan
  • Enhanced monitoring with Laravel Horizon and Telescope
  • Intuitive database manipulation with Eloquent ORM

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Customization limitations
  • Larger footprint

Why Should You Consider Laravel PHP Platform?

You should consider Laravel PHP Platform for the following tasks:

  • If you are looking for an easy-to-learn framework
  • A PHP community’s favorite
  • Outstanding training materials
  • A simple unit for testing purposes

You might be interested in: How To Install Laravel On DigitalOcean

2. Symfony

Symfony

Source: Symfony

Symfony, developed by SensioLabs, boasts a thriving community of over 300,000 developers. The Symfony development team activity provides training courses in different languages, but they update their blog regulalry to keep their large community active.

Developers highly recommend this framework for its advanced features and user-friendly environment. Symfony utilizes reusable PHP libraries, simplifying tasks such as form creation, routing authentication, object configuration, and templating.

Although Symfony has a steep learning curve due to its extensive feature set, the rapidly expanding community and numerous unofficial support groups make it easier to learn and familiarize oneself with the framework’s offerings.

Pros

  • Highly flexible and customizable
  • Stable and robust for large-scale enterprise applications
  • Mature ecosystem with a large developer community
  • Comprehensive testing framework and excellent documentation

Cons

  • Increased memory consumption and performance overhead
  • Reliance on code generation leads to a larger codebase and more generated files
  • Dependency management considerations

Why Should You Consider Symfony?

Symfony has crossed over 500 million downloads, but here are four more reasons to go for it:

  • If you seek a feature-rich framework
  • Long-term support releases
  • Extensive bundle library
  • Official training courses and certifications

You might be interested in: How To Host Symfony On Amazon Cloud

3. Yii 2

Yii 2

Source: Yii

Yii, one of the oldest PHP frameworks, stands out for its community-driven support and ability to efficiently meet the demands of large-scale and modern web development demands. In direct competition with Symfony 2, Yii 2 offers an easier learning curve.

Thanks to its standout features, Yii 2 is a popular choice when developers require fast results. It excels in working with AJAX and provides robust caching support, making it highly favored by developers.

Additionally, Yii 2 simplifies database operations by allowing developers to model database data into objects, eliminating the need for repetitive SQL queries. This results in extensible, efficient, and easily maintainable web applications.

Pros

  • Exceptional performance with fast execution and low overhead
  • Built-in security features for enhanced application security
  • Emphasis on rapid development with code generation tools and prebuilt features
  • Active community and comprehensive documentation
  • Testing framework for efficient unit and functional testing

Cons

  • Customization complexity
  • Limited built-in features
  • Dependency on code generation
  • Relatively less mature compared to other PHP frameworks

Why Should You Consider Yii 2?

Consider Yii 2 as a PHP framework for:

  • Efficient error handling
  • AJAX support
  • Community-developed and supported framework
  • Seamless integration with third-party components

You might be interested in: How To Host Yii 2 Framework

4. CakePHP

CakePHP

Source: CakePHP

Despite experiencing fluctuations in the PHP frameworks community, CakePHP has made a significant statement with its 3.7 version release.

Since its inception in 2005 under the MIT license, CakePHP has remained a free and versatile option for personal and commercial use. Notably, it attracted prominent corporate users such as Hyundai, Express, and BMW in its early stages, highlighting its significance and impact.

Pros

  • Convention-based development for streamlined coding
  • MVC pattern for code organization
  • Built-in security features
  • Active community and extensive documentation
  • Easy testing capabilities

Cons

  • Limited flexibility
  • Smaller ecosystem compared to Laravel or Symfony
  • Limited support for NoSQL databases or specific database systems
  • Not as lightweight or fast as some other frameworks

Why Should You Consider CakePHP?

Consider CakePHP as a PHP framework if you:

  • Need seamless extension capabilities with plugins and components
  • Prefer a zero-configuration setup
  • Require support for AJAX functionality
  • Value built-in validation features

You might be interested in: How To Install CakePHP

5. CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter

Source: CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter is a powerful PHP framework known for its advanced features and rapid project development.

With a user-friendly library and intuitive structure, CodeIgniter enables developers to unleash their creativity without getting bogged down by excessive coding tasks.

Pros

  • Lightweight and Fast
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern
  • Highly flexible for developers’ preferred coding style and component selection
  • Efficient handling of HTTP requests

Cons

  • Limited Built-in Features
  • Slower release cycle compared to some frameworks
  • Smaller ecosystem of extensions and plugins
  • Some gaps or less comprehensive coverage compared to larger frameworks

Why Should You Consider CodeIgniter?

Consider CodeIgniter as your PHP framework if you:

  • Seek a framework that minimizes coding requirements
  • Value exceptional performance
  • Prefer a framework that offers multiple tools in a single package
  • Require built-in security tools

You might be interested in: How To Host CodeIgniter

6. Laminas (Zend Framework)

Laminas

Source: Laminas

Laminas, formerly Zend Framework, is an open-source, object-oriented PHP framework known for its reusable components and scalability.

Its extensive component library empowers developers to select only the necessary components, optimizing performance and reducing unnecessary overhead. Laminas prioritizes security and provides robust features to ensure the development of secure applications.

Pros

  • Modular and customizable components
  • Extensive database support
  • Reusability of components
  • Strong focus on security
  • Comprehensive documentation

Cons

  • Increased complexity for smaller projects
  • Smaller community compared to some frameworks
  • Effort required for maintaining coding practices

Why Should You Consider Laminas Framework?

You should consider Laminas Framework if you:

  • Need excellent front-end technology support
  • Prefer a framework with a wide and active developer community
  • Require seamless integration with third-party components
  • Need built-in support for AJAX functionality.

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7. Phalcon

Phalcon

Source: Phalcon

Phalcon stands out among PHP frameworks with its unique coding style inspired by C and C++. It offers advanced development features, including asset management, caching, and a universal autoloader, making it a powerful choice for creating seamless web applications.

With its user-friendly interface and comprehensive documentation, Phalcon simplifies PHP development and enhances the developer experience.

Pros

  • Exceptional performance
  • Small footprint and low server resource requirements
  • Seamless integration with other PHP libraries and frameworks
  • Active and dedicated developer community

Cons

  • Limited hosting support
  • Smaller community and ecosystem
  • Limited flexibility for customization and extension
  • Potential complexity in troubleshooting without comprehensive debugging and profiling tools.

Why Should You Consider Phalcon?

Consider Phalcon as a PHP framework if you:

  • Seek blazing-fast performance and low overhead
  • Value advanced security features
  • Prefer a uniquely written C-extension framework
  • Desire a developer-friendly environment

8. Slim Framework

Slim Framework

Source: Slim

The Slim framework is popular among developers for creating powerful web applications with enhanced features. Thanks to its simplicity and intuitive API development process, it is particularly well-suited for developing APIs.

As a lightweight micro PHP framework, Slim is ideal for developing small web applications. It excels in building RESTful APIs and various web services. The framework offers a range of rich features, including URL routing, session management, cookie encryption, and more.

Pros

  • Lightweight and minimalistic nature
  • Straightforward and intuitive API
  • Flexible routing system
  • Robust middleware support
  • Solid foundation for handling HTTP requests and responses

Cons

  • Limited built-in features
  • Lack of opinionated structure
  • Potential lack of advanced features compared to larger frameworks
  • Smaller ecosystem and fewer available resources compared to larger frameworks

Why Should You Consider Slim Framework?

You should consider Slim Framework if you:

  • Need to develop small web apps with great functionalities
  • Focus on developing RESTful APIs
  • Value well-prepared framework documentation
  • Require add-ons such as HTTP Caching and Flash

9. FuelPHP

FuelPHP

Source: FuelPHP

FuelPHP is a highly modular and extendable PHP framework that supports both MVC and Hierarchical Model-View-Controller (HMVC) architectures.

It offers extensive security features, including URL filtering and output encoding, and has its authentication framework, making it a preferred choice for developing secure and comprehensive web solutions.

Pros

  • Powerful Object-Relational Mapping system
  • Robust security features
  • Hierarchical Model-View-Controller (HMVC) pattern
  • Flexible configuration system
  • Caching mechanisms

Cons

  • Smaller ecosystem
  • Limited community support
  • Less frequent updates

Why Should You Consider FuelPHP?

You should consider FuelPHP if you:

  • Require advanced MVC features
  • Need optimized authentication packages
  • Aim to develop high-performance applications
  • Seek enhanced security features

10. PHPPixie

PHPPixie

Source: PHPixie

PHPixie is a high-performance full-stack PHP framework designed for building optimized web applications.

It follows the Hierarchical Model-View-Controller (HMVC) pattern, similar to FuelPHP, and is built with independent components. With an active community, PHPixie receives regular updates and enhancements.

Pros

  • Lightweight and fast performance
  • Seamless integration with Object-Relational Mapping
  • Built-in security measures
  • Simplicity and ease of use
  • Performance optimization features

Cons

  • Smaller ecosystem
  • Limited community support
  • Slower update frequency

Why Should You Consider PHPPixie?

Consider PHPPixie as a framework if you:

  • Seek an intuitive and developer-friendly framework
  • Need support for advanced HMVC architecture
  • Desire an impressive routing system
  • Prefer a lightweight framework with MongoDB support

Wrapping Up!

We have curated a list of the best PHP frameworks to suit your specific requirements. Selecting the right framework should now be a breeze for you.

If you have any questions or need additional guidance, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Don’t forget to share this article with your developer friends to make their lives easier as well!

Q: Which is the most popular PHP framework for Ecommerce sites?

A: Laravel is the most popular PHP framework for developing ecommerce applications. It offers advanced features, optimized functionalities, and built-in security measures, making it an ideal choice for ecommerce development. Laravel also provides a wide range of packages that facilitate easy app development and meet the requirements of market-driven ecommerce applications.

Q: Which is the Best PHP Framework for beginners?

A: Codeigniter is considered the best PHP framework for beginners. It follows the MVC architecture and offers a user-friendly and easy-to-understand platform. Codeigniter provides comprehensive guides and resources, enabling newbie developers to learn and get started with PHP framework development quickly.

Q: Which is the best PHP MVC framework?

A: Laravel, Symfony, Yii 2, Zend framework, and other popular PHP frameworks are recommended by the developer community as the best PHP MVC frameworks. These frameworks adhere to the MVC architecture and empower developers to create highly advanced web applications with optimized features.

Q: Which PHP MVC framework is best for REST API?

A: Laravel is the preferred choice for building REST APIs in PHP. It offers excellent code assistance, smart PHP debugging functions, and convenient token authentication features, making it well-suited for REST API development.

Q: Which PHP framework is best for security?

A: Both Laravel and Symfony provide top-notch security features for PHP applications. They offer robust user authentication/authorization processes and efficient role management. Additionally, numerous third-party security packages are available for enhanced security in both frameworks.

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Inshal Ali

Inshal is a Content Marketer at Cloudways. With background in computer science, skill of content and a whole lot of creativity, he helps business reach the sky and go beyond through content that speaks the language of their customers. Apart from work, you will see him mostly in some online games or on a football field.

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