Frameworks for use with PHP

Following the success of Ruby on Rails, libraries have emerged for PHP programmers that simplify and generalise the recurring tasks of web application development: PHP frameworks.

A framework is - generally speaking - a coordinated collection of subroutines and functions that form an abstraction layer between the (web) application covering a requirement and the technology working underneath. This technical foundation might include

  • databases
  • support for multilingual web applications
  • methods for user authentication
  • form data validation
  • …and other recurring basic building blocks of an interactive application.

In contrast to the Ruby market, the PHP programmer is spoilt for choice, with an almost unmanageable number of frameworks in various stages of maturity.

Zend Framework

PHP vendor Zend has entered the fray with Zend Framework. Fully object-oriented development principles meet a very broad framework, which of course benefits from the programmers’ extensive first-hand experience with PHP.


CakePHP is a productive and popular framework that finds its philosophy in an intensive emulation of Ruby on Rails. As with Rails, the principle of “convention replaces configuration” applies. From an existing database structure, CakePHP automatically generates the raw framework of a web application that can read, write, modify and delete data. As with almost everything in information technology, acronyms have become commonplace: CRUD (create, retrieve, update, delete) and DRY (don’t repeat yourself).


The Symfony framework has an application horizon comparable to that of CakePHP. However, the restriction of runnability to PHP 5 excludes Symfony as a candidate for projects that need to run on web space with PHP 4. Quite a few cheap web hosting providers still have their servers running PHP 4.


MODxCMS has its origins in a content management system that existed before the hype about frameworks. In newer editions, a redesign of the core code separates CMS claims from generally usable features, so that MODxCMS is both a framework and a productively usable sample application in one.


Laravel is a modern and popular PHP framework known for its elegant syntax and developer-friendly features. It follows the model-view-controller (MVC) architectural pattern and provides a wide range of tools and features for building web applications, including a robust ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) for database interactions, a powerful templating engine, and built-in support for authentication and authorization.


CodeIgniter is a lightweight and flexible PHP framework that is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It is designed to be a simple yet powerful tool for building web applications with a small footprint and minimal configuration. CodeIgniter provides a rich set of libraries for common tasks like database access, form validation, and file uploading, making it a popular choice for developers who prefer a straightforward and pragmatic approach to web development.


Yii is a high-performance PHP framework that is designed for building robust and scalable web applications. It follows the MVC pattern and provides a wide range of features, including a powerful ORM, caching, authentication and authorization, and internationalization support. Yii is known for its performance and security features, making it a preferred choice for building large-scale applications with high traffic.


Phalcon is a unique PHP framework that is implemented as a C extension, making it one of the fastest PHP frameworks available. It is designed to be highly efficient and optimized for performance, making it ideal for building high-performance web applications. Phalcon provides a full-stack MVC framework with a rich set of features, including caching, security features, and database access.


Slim is a lightweight and flexible PHP framework that is designed for building small to medium-sized web applications and APIs. It follows the micro-framework architectural pattern and provides a minimalistic and intuitive approach to web development. Slim is known for its simplicity and ease of use, making it a popular choice for developers who prefer a minimalist approach to building web applications.

These are just a few of the many PHP frameworks available for web application development. The choice of framework depends on various factors, such as the specific requirements of the project, the experience and preferences of the development team, and the performance and scalability needs of the application. It’s important to thoroughly evaluate and choose the right framework that best fits the needs of the project to ensure efficient and effective development.

Written on August 8, 2008