PHP has remained one of the most trending scripting languages for many years already. Fair enough, it has great flexibility and works equally well both for complex projects and basic web solutions.

Yet despite the beauty and the obvious benefits of PHP, the coding process may get as monotonous as in other languages. Engineers are forced to do the same thing over and over instead of focusing on the creative part. This takes too much time and resources.

Fortunately, a variety of PHP frameworks help to solve such a problem. PHP database frameworks, PHP CMS frameworks, and other subcategories of PHP web frameworks effectively optimize web development. They supply developers with pre-written collections of PHP code that can be immediately used to build software applications.

Along with PHP language, the chosen framework is the foundation of the future product that determines the specifics of the software development process. Therefore, you must choose PHP frameworks carefully. To help you out, we’ve completed a PHP frameworks comparison with top solutions for different needs.

What are PHP Frameworks?

A PHP framework is a cohesive set of library code that simplifies programming in PHP. It’s a shortcut to speed up coding with ready-made elements and enhance the web app with additional capabilities.

Best PHP Frameworks 2020

#1. Laravel

Laravel logo

In 2020, Laravel has won 10th place in the ranking of the most loved web frameworks. What is Laravel? It’s one of the top PHP frameworks that is usually associated with the PHP language itself. Created in 2011 Laravel is a free, open-source framework suitable for launching web applications based on MVC architecture.

Why is it one of the most popular PHP frameworks? Laravel is super easy to use and has a shallow learning curve. At the same time, it lets developers do some serious work and build web applications of different complexity. Besides, Laravel supports rapid application development and numerous built-in features, including the templating engine (Blade), Eloquent Object Relational Mapping, and a command-line tool (Artisan).

Reasons to use PHP frameworks: Laravel

  • Laravel is universal. You can develop applications with complex backends of any scope.
  • Laravel offers a pre-packaged Vagrant box called Homestead that simplifies the installation of the framework. No need to install PHP, a web server, or other server software to start working in the development environment.
  • Laravel supports MVC architecture.
  • Laravel provides lightweight templates that are easy to customize and thus, help to release the web product faster.
  • Laravel helps to create secure websites with user authentication and SQL injection prevention.
  • Laravel uses migration instead of SQL queries to create table structures.
  • Laravel has a big professional community where developers can exchange information, share their experience, and ask for advice.

#2. Symfony

Symfony logo

Although Symfony framework was launched in 2005, it is still highly demanded because of its maturity and stability. It works well for large-scale projects and is mostly intended for tech specialists with substantial programming experience. Therefore, if you decide to leverage Symfony framework for your next PHP project, make sure the engineering team already has the necessary skills. Symfony is recommended for enterprise-level applications with advanced features, such as Askeet and Yahoo!

Reasons to use PHP-based frameworks: Symfony

  • Symfony framework is a preferred choice for large-scale enterprise projects. It belongs to time-tested PHP database frameworks that offer lifetime support for security issues and 3-year support for other requests.
  • Symfony supports bundles (or in other words, plug-ins) that add specific functionality to the framework and can be reused in your next similar project. Bundles also allow you to customize the framework without a full reconfiguration.
  • Symfony is one of the PHP MVC frameworks. Hence, you can divide a web application into separate sections for improved management.
  • Symfony framework is a leader when it comes to PHP frameworks performance. It takes only up to 2 ms to load the REST API.

#3. Lumen

Lumen logo

This open-source, ultra-light framework is a new project of Taylor Otwell, the creator of Laravel. Lumen doesn’t replace Laravel. Its main goal is to facilitate building Laravel based microservices and optimize web application development. It’s a simplified version of Laravel that doesn’t include the capabilities for building full-featured websites and focuses on microservices and API essentials instead.

Hence, the decision about whether to use Lumen or look for other PHP frameworks mainly depends on the complexity of your projects. If you’re working on microservices or API, Lumen may be the best option.

Reasons to use PHP frameworks: Lumen

  • Since Lumen relies on Laravel, you will be able to use the necessary Laravel features like caching, Eloquent, validation, routing, queues, etc. with minimum configuration.
  • Lumen is crafted for microservices and APIs, so it has all the necessary capabilities to complete such projects.
  • Lumen allows you to upgrade the project to Laravel if you decide to use the full power of Laravel.
  • Lumen is quite fast with the speed of 1,900 requests per second.
  • Lumen has a simpler and easier to understand syntax compared to other PHP frameworks, including Laravel.
  • Lumen supports all caching drivers (e.g., databases, Memcached, and Redis) with no difference from Laravel.

#4. Laminas

Laminas logo

Laminas Project is another option on our PHP frameworks list that is largely used for complex enterprise-level projects. Laminas is a popular solution for the banking industry and healthcare systems. Like the Symfony framework, it has a steep learning curve and may be too challenging for beginners. Yet if you’re looking for efficient solutions to help you handle big data and large workloads, Laminas is definitely an option to consider.

Reasons to use PHP web frameworks: Laminas

  • Laminas is highly customizable and flexible. It includes consoles, user configuration options, and a range of tools that enable web developers to design unique and tailored web products with rich functionality.
  • Laminas can help you build complex enterprise standard projects thanks to code reusability and inheritance.
  • Laminas follows reusability and inheritance concepts. Thus, the web development process is well-organized and hassle-free.
  • Laminas has great PHP frameworks performance since it follows the object-oriented approach.
  • Laminas framework is HTML5 compliant.

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#5. Phalcon

Phalcon logo

Phalcon is a relatively young web MVC PHP framework released in 2012 as an open-source technology with the BSD License. Andrés Gutiérrez and collaborators were looking for a solution that would outpace traditional PHP frameworks. Well, they managed to do what they planned. Built as a web server C extension, Phalcon is indeed the fastest PHP framework. This makes it a common choice for high-performance websites.

Note that to use Phalcon, you will need to set up root access to the server and complete manual configurations. So get ready to do some preparatory work before you will be able to start coding. Phalcon may be quite challenging to master.

Reasons to use PHP frameworks: Phalcon

  • Phalcon increases execution speed thanks to processing more HTTP requests per second.
  • Phalcon minimizes resource usage by reducing memory and CPU consumption, which makes your web solutions more lightweight.
  • Phalcon supports Phalcon DevTools that simplify project creation and coding.
  • Phalcon boasts lower load times and accelerates overall website performance.
  • Phalcon is installed on the server as a C-extension, so you don’t have to keep any projects-related files and can enjoy clean and simple code.
  • Phalcon provides the Blade template engine that is very convenient to use thanks to multiple functions and methods available.
  • Phalcon handles XSS, SQL injections, and other types of attacks pretty well.

#6. CakePHP

CakePHP logo

CakePHP is another open-source MVC framework that largely follows the principles of Ruby on Rails (e.i., model–view–controller, convention over configuration, active record, association data mapping). Such an approach additionally optimizes the work of software developers and helps them create clean code with minimum effort. Besides, CakePHP is easy to master, which makes her a great choice for beginners. Generally, CakePHP is one of the PHP web frameworks that are suitable for creating highly-specialized websites with multiple features at an affordable cost.

Reasons to use PHP MVC frameworks: CakePHP

  • CakePHP requires only a copy of the framework and a web server for installation, which considerably simplifies its use.
  • CakePHP belongs to the PHP ORM frameworks and, thus, is perfect for CRUD operations and working with databases.
  • CakePHP allows you to reuse the parts of code in other projects.
  • CakePHP works well for commercial projects thanks to its top-notch security features, such as input validation, CSRF and XSS protection, form tampering protection, and SQL injection prevention.
  • CakePHP offers great documentation and support through joining Cake Development Corporation.

#7. Yii

Yii logo

Yii or “Yes It is” is an object-oriented, open-source MVC framework. Even though Yii is considered a universal PHP framework, it is particularly good for web applications with high traffic (e.g., forums, portals, and e-commerce websites). Besides, many engineers opt for Yii when they need powerful caching support and rapid software development in easily maintainable web apps.

Yii is often compared to the Symfony framework as they have lots of similarities, but the learning curve of Yii is much easier.

Reasons to use PHP frameworks: Yii

  • Yii frees developers from the need to write repetitive SQL statements since the database data can be modeled in terms of objects.
  • Yii provides critical security measures, including SQL injection prevention, cookie tampering, CSRF and XSS protection.
  • Yii works well with third-party codes.
  • Yii offers various caching components (e.i, cMemCache, cDummyCache, and cFileCache) that let developers improve the performance of web applications.
  • Yii is super extensible. You can customize almost every piece of its core code based on your personal requirements for the final product.
  • Yii allows you to easily translate and localize web projects with supported data, time, and number formatting, message translation, and interface localization.

Note on PHP CMS frameworks

For complex web applications with familiar and simple administration panels, CMS software can be integrated with PHP frameworks. Such a solution helps to align web application and web design projects to provide consistent customer experience across multiple products and expand their capabilities. For example, Magento, the most powerful e-commerce platform in the market, relies heavily on Zend Framework, that  is now called Laminas. Joomla, a mobile-ready and user-friendly web publishing tool, as well as Drupal, open-source CMS for creating community-based sites, are developed on top of the Symfony Framework. Such content management systems as October and Pyro are based on the Laravel web application framework.

Web Solutions Built on PHP Frameworks by Leobit

Leobit is a software development service provider that offers web and mobile software engineering for customers located in the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, the UK, Switzerland, and many other countries. We have launched over 150 web and mobile applications with a sleek design and reliable backend for both large enterprises and budding startups that sought a reliable software development partner.

Leobit has used the latest PHP frameworks available on this PHP frameworks list for several projects. A real estate portal based on WordPress and Symfony is one of them. We’ve refactored code, redesigned the website, and integrated the PHP-based platform with MLS platforms, Zendesk, Chatbot system, Amazon SES, and Google Maps for the US real estate agency. Leobit continues the cooperation with this customer to keep enhancing and optimizing the product. Visit this page, to view the case study.

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