PHP is open source software that is easy to learn and use, while being free. Its primary purpose is to generate HTML content. PHP is extensively used in Web applications today. In this article, we present the top 10 PHP frameworks.
PHP-based Web applications have evolved from basic scripted pages to extensible MVC architecture frameworks. Almost 50 per cent of the Web is powered by PHP. Its frameworks are an elegant approach to making things simple, manageable and fun to work with. There are many PHP frameworks available which are suited to varied requirements of the industry. Every framework in this list of the top 10 PHP frameworks is suitable for one or the other scenario.
Laravel: A PHP framework for Web artisans
Laravel is a free, open source PHP Web application framework designed for developing MVC Web applications. It takes PHP development to an entirely new level. Laravel takes care of the typical nightmares of developers by providing in-built support for the redundant tasks of login-authentication and URL-based routing. It comes with Laracasts, which are a great resource for reference as well as learning. Composer-based management allows smooth interactions with external packages.
Laravel comes with new concepts in the world of PHP Web-development. These are:
- IoC inversion of control
- A built-in migration support system
Laravel is of great advantage to developers experienced in RoR (Ruby on Rails), as it has inherited its design from RoR.
C always overwhelms us with its speed, and so does Phalcon. It’s entirely based on C and hence is a powerful performer in this league. However, knowledge of C is not a prerequisite for using this framework as all the functionality is exposed as PHP modules. It provides a great boost for resource usage and a steep increase in performance.
Phalcon is a loosely coupled framework, which allows the use of only some of its components rather than using it as a whole. The Phalcon documentation can be handy indeed, as it has matured with time.
Yii Framework is the ideal choice for developing social networking websites as it has so much built-in support, which reduces development time immeasurably.
Yii is more than just a framework as it encapsulates a rich set of features:
- Role-based access control
- It is object-oriented
- Form validation support
CodeIgniter is an elegant, small and clean PHP framework empowered with great documentation. It comes with an extremely small footprint, and is extendable via dynamically loaded additional libraries.
CodeIgniter has many advantages that may excite a newbie:
- Almost zero configuration
- Theres no need to learn templating
- Elegant design
- Great performance
- And, most importantly, a very small footprint
CakePHP is a traditional MVC framework and has been in the market for quite some time now. It’s very stable and has great support from the open source community. Being a leader, CakePHP provides a handsome set of modules to help developers write less code to get the task done.
The compelling features of CakePHP are:
- No additional XML or YAML file configuration
- Database access
- Input validation
- CSRF protection
- Form tampering protection
- SQL injection prevention
- Prevention from cross-site scripting
The Zend framework comes with enterprise support. It has been widely accepted by developers as it includes security in its wiring. It may initially appear to be cumbersome but it’s simple, once learned.
The principal benefits that Zend brings are:
- Flexible architecture
- Tried and tested by lots of organisations
- Its a collection of classes, hence can be trimmed down to only the required libraries
Kohana has been developed with real world usage in mind. It is an object-oriented PHP framework offering features not provided by any of its competitors. It provides a handsome package of features which will overwhelm developers.
It has remarkable built-in support for:
- Code profiling
- Debugging tools
- Translation tools
These features definitely save a lot of time in real world scenarios.
Fuel is a community driven PHP framework. It is the consolidated output based on the learnings from other frameworks. Fuel is completely based on HMVC architecture.
Fuel uses ViewModels to provide support to add an optional layer between Controller and View. It requires PHP 5.3+ to provide high quality features.
Symfony maintains PHP originality by using standard naming conventions and provides modules that can make complex tasks a cakewalk. Using Symfony guarantees stability, as it is built on standard conventions.
Laravel uses the Symfony framework, which provides robust support and makes development more easy and handy.
Aura is a PHP 5.4+ framework that can be used in any database, alone or in concert with each other, or in a full-stack framework of its own.
Aura inherits the following advantages from PHP 5.4:
- Formal name spaces
- Anonymous functions
- Late static binding
- Short array syntax
As a new generation framework, it comes with decoupled libraries and standards-compliant library packages, which can be rapidly integrated to applications.
The performance benchmark of PHP frameworks
Phalcon is lightning fast as it inherits the power of C (Figure 3). It sets a higher benchmark for getting the data than for storing it. The Zend 1 framework is twice as fast as Symfony. Frameworks should first speed up development, and performance comes next. There are ways to improve the numbers on production servers. So dont reinvent the wheellearn and use frameworks. There are various options that strike a balance between speed and performance.
A recent study by the Melbourne-based website, SitePoint, showed that Laravel has over 25 per cent of the popular vote from developers, Phalcon has almost 17 per cent, Symfony2 over 10 per cent, while CodeIgniter and Yii have a 7.62 per cent share in the developer popular vote for PHP frameworks.