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Best PHP frameworks for web developers

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With PHP being the most popular server-side programming language to date, We have put together the best PHP frameworks for 2017 that have emerged which offer developers the ability to build more complex, secure, and well-rounded web applications faster than ever before. Frameworks for PHP come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have targeted developers with different levels of experience, application needs, hosting capabilities, and development time-frames.

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.

We have looked for the most comprehensive free PHP course for our readers and found the folks at Team Treehouse do by far the best job. You can sign up for free and start learning how to be a PHP pro.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

7.FuelPHP

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.

8. Slim

Slim is a very minimal micro-framework inspired by Ruby’s Sinatra. It’s best utilized for building lightweight RESTful APIs, with it’s built standard and add-on features such as URL handling & routing, and HTTP caching. Developing with Slim is very easy as well due to being very actively maintained, as well having extensive, beginner friendly documentation.

9. Phpixie

Phpixie is a relatively new framework, designed to be lightweight, modularized, and easy to get started with. Phpixie compiles fast, and is modularized.

It comes bundled with great tools for cryptography and security, support for MongoDB, and code sharing with composer, all right out of the box. Some downsides to Phpixie however are its relatively few modules, and lower popularity in comparison to other frameworks.

10. Fat Free

Fat-Free is a very modular PHP micro framework with tons of packages that put it between a true micro-framework and a full-fledged PHP framework such as Laravel. Fat-Free comes jam-packed with packages for unit testing, image processing, CSS compression, data validation, Open ID, and much more.

Fat free has off the shelf support for both SQL and NoSQL databases, and makes the development of multilingual web-apps very easy. That being said, Fat-Free is nothing really new, and it’s kind of overkill for a micro-framework.

11. Aura

Aura is a set of decoupled libraries for PHP that are regularly maintained, and is great for basic applications. Each library is self contained, and can be independently integrated into any project. Each library also has no dependencies.

This makes the Aura set of libraries very flexible, and developers can quickly integrate as many or as few as they choose. The libraries are standards compliant, and well written. Aura also includes documentation for each library package.

Conclusion

Overall, each of these can best be put into categories of independent libraries, full-fledged PHP frameworks for fully featured web applications, and micro frameworks, suitable for keeping things simple and building RESTful APIs or basic web-apps. Ultimately it will be up to you as a developer to decide which one is the best fit for your project and or skill set.

Deciding on which framework to use depends on a variety of factors. You consider aspects such as speed, ease of use, features are available, documentation, and the dependencies or hosting resources it requires. Scalability is also a consideration to take into account if you expect growth that exceeds the capacity of a single instance of your application.


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