Best PHP Frameworks for Modern Web Applications

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Below is a quick summary of pros and cons for each framework. We’ve linked each framework for your convenience to read more about each one.

Best PHP frameworks Compared

For a Thorough 2018 update and revisit to this topic we decided to dig deeper and find what is not only the most used framework for 2018, but which is the utmost valuable? When surveying google Trends, it is explicit that Laravel still remains the most searched framework for all new PHP projects. Just have a look here:



Taking it a step, further I wanted to see what authentic everyday coders as well as novices are learning / using on a day to day basis. We took the time to give a survey to our progressive subscribers and notably came back with over 7,500 results.

Our survey queried subscribers on in depth questions such as specific uses of authentication, session coding, caching methods, and routing, but the results listed below will just be overall use starting with the top being the top used php framework. What we must note is the survey doesn’t completely correlate with how our recommended list is in order of most recommended, but rather real data of how much each person uses each framework. Afterall, all coder’s typically get in the groove of a certain programming language then prefer that over others. some that end up using zend also incorporate their skills in network management. Those that combine zend or Laravel with a free syslog server (as seen here at ITT systems), have the best of both worlds.

PHP Framework Used for Project UseLaravelCode IgniterSymfonyZendYii 2CakePHPFuel PHPFatFreeAura43.7%12.5%13.6%14.9%

Framework Quantity
Laravel 3,177
Code Igniter 1,085
Symfony 990
Zend 907
Yii 2 373
CakePHP 402
Fuel PHP 172
FatFree 91
Aura 66

What are the Top Rated PHP Frameworks of 2018?

There are several reasons a developer would want to choose a framework, most notably because they offer a structured, efficient fast-track towards developing web applications or APIs. They ensure that code doesn’t have to be written more than once for common functionality such as security and authentication, database handling, templating, URL-handling, and other needs. The following list outlines the primary features and drawbacks of each framework, along with their primary or intended uses, and ranks them accordingly. You should always do extensive research into each framework before deciding on which to use for your next project.

1. Laravel

Coming in at number 1 on our list, is Laravel. Laravel is a comprehensive framework designed for rapidly building applications using the MVC architecture. Laravel is currently the most popular PHP framework, with a huge community of developers.

It features tons of laravel specific packages, the lightweight Blade templating engine, unit testing, ORM, a packaging system, RESTful controllers, and now Laravel is the first framework to introduce routing in a abstract way.It takes out the hassle of code organization.

Queue management is also a feature that handles tasks in the background and then logs the activity for you all while tasks are normally run in the frontend. Packages can be easily added with the robust Composer built in to Laravel. It integrates with Gulp and Elixir so any npm packages and bower packages can be called directly via ssh.

One of the best things Laravel handles well are noSQL structures like MongoDB or Redis. It’s easy to get started with Laravel thanks to its extensive documentation, popularity, and Laravel Udemy: popular videos and tutorials meant to get developers new to Laravel up and running.

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2. Phalcon

Phalcon is a MVC based PHP framework, uniquely built as C-extension, meaning it’s absolutely blazing fast. Phalcon uses very few resources in comparison to other frameworks, translating into very fast processing of HTTP requests, which can be critical for developers working with systems that don’t offer much overhead.

Phalcon has been actively developed since 2012, and includes ORM, MVC, caching, and auto-loading components. Its latest and first long term support release includes support for PHP 7.

Phalcon brings developers data storage tools such as its own SQL dialect: PHQL, as well as Object Document Mapping for MongoDB. Other features include Template engines, form builders, ease of building applications with international language support, and more. Phalcon is ideal for building both performance REST APIs, as well as full-fledged web applications.

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3. Codeigniter

Codeigniter is an ideal framework for rapid application development. It’s a lightweight, low-hassle, framework with a small footprint that can be installed just by uploading it directly to your hosting. No special command line or software installation is required. Upload the files and you’re ready to go.

Building full fledged web applications is a breeze with it’s small learning curve, and numerous libraries. Speaking of east of development, Codeigniter’s documentations is extensive, and it’s community is vast and very helpful. Code Igniter is backed by a academic entity as well: The British Columbia Institute of Technology, which will help ensure it’s continued development and growth.

Feature-wise, Codeigniter comes with many built in libraries for unit testing, form validation, email, sessions, and much more! If you can’t find a library you’re looking for, it’s also pretty easy to build your own, and then share it with the community.

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4. Symfony

Symfony has been touted for a while now as a very stable, high performance, well documented, and modular project. Symfony is backed by the French SensioLabs, and has been developed by them and it’s community to be a fantastic framework.

Symfony is used by many big name companies like the BBC and open source project such as Drupal and eZpublish. Symfony was written with stability in mind in a very professional way. It’s documentation is extensive, and it’s community is just as vast. building both performance REST APIs, as well as full fledged web applications.

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5. Cakephp

Cakephp is an ideal framework for beginners and for rapidly developing commercial web apps. It comes with code generation and scaffolding functionality to speed up the development process, while also bringing in tons of packages to take care of common functionality.

It’s unique in having MVC conventions that help guide the development process. Configuration is also a breeze as it removes the need for complicated XML or YAML config files. Builds are fast and its security features include measures to prevent XSS, SQL Injection, CSRF, and tools for form validation.

CakePHP is under active development with good documentation and lots of support portals to help get started. Premium Support is also an option for developers who choose to use Cakephp, via the Cake Development Corporation.

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6. Zend Framework

Zend Framework is a popular, go-to professional framework commonly used for high-performance enterprise-level applications. Zend is built with security, performance, and extensibility in mind.

Because of it’s focus for enterprise applications, it has tons of components for authentication, feeds, forms, services and more. Because of its enterprise driven nature, Zend isn’t ideal for rapid application development, though it does come with tools to make a developer’s life easier, including Zend’s proprietary IDE: Zend Studio. Which neatly integrates with Zend Framework.

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7. Fuel PHP

FuelPHP is a sophisticated, modern, highly modular, extensible, MVC PHP framework that is built with HMVC architecture in mind. It features lightweight and powerful ORM support, template parsing, security enhancements, it’s own authentication framework, and many packages to further extend a 21  developer’s capabilities.

Because of it’s community driven nature, FuelPHP is actively developed, and planned changes (in V2) include making it fully object-oriented, with the ability to install the framework using composer,as well as support for multiple applications on a single installation.

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