4 Best PHP Frameworks for Web Development in 2017
PHP frameworks: their pros and cons, priority scopes.
Today we are going to tell you about four frameworks, which we find to be most exciting and which we recommend to use in 2017.
The question is whether the issue of PHP frameworks usage is of current concern nowadays?
These tools are used to facilitate development with PHP programming language, which history of evolution dates back more than twenty years. In 2015, PHP 7.0.0 release marked a turning point in this long journey. The version laid emphasis on enhancing performance and reducing the system resources usage.
In the course of these changes, the language achieved the level when it can be used to develop applications of any complexity and content. Currently, PHP is one of the most often used script programming languages.
TIOBE index is one of the indications of the programming languages popularity. It is defined based on data search engines and estimation of the number of lines written in each programming language.
According to this rating, as of June 2017, the PHP language is at the 8th position, while in 2016 it was at the 6th position and in 2007 it was at the 4th onе. These indicators are indeed a direct evidence of a stable leading position held by PHP language among the most popular programming languages.
Such PHP popularity results in the language development and continuing increase in a number of tools and libraries. Therefore, the question related to the best frameworks for web development in PHP in 2017 still remains relevant.
To choose some most popular PHP frameworks out of the existing variety turned out to be a challenging task. Since, it is an open secret that the risk is high to overlook and disregard some or other particulars, every pros and cons. All too often, our objectivity suffers for the aptitude to follow our own preferences or to yield to general moods and trends topical at the definite moment.
Hence, any choice is recommended to be made based on primary basic criteria to maintain maximum impartiality.
Which criteria did we use to select a list of high-performance PHP frameworks for web development in 2017?
It is always vital to understand who is behind some or other tools: the team shall be professional and motivated to develop and support the product they offer.
Otherwise, there is no guarantee that after having spent your time and resources to employ the framework, you would not have to forgo it due to the absence of stable releases, incomplete documents, incompatibility with previous versions, and on the whole, the lack of information on its function.
- Specific use
Project cost and time required for its implementation depend on the complexity of usage of some or other framework. That is why it is necessary to consider the specific application for each type:
- whether the learning curve is high;
- whether processes of installation, development, and testing are simple;
- what extension opportunities are available;
- whether there are any similar usage examples;
- what pros and cons differentiate it from the rest.
You should choose an optimal variant in each individual case based on the above items.
Any framework is designed to accelerate and simplify the process of development. Therefore, in each case you should select those basic features, which will be needed and useful. Apparently, there is no point in spending your time and efforts to exploit the framework and to add a vast number of required features manually, especially, nowadays, when development deadlines are crucial.
In each specific case, your choice should be reasonable and rational. This is the approach exercised by Umbrella IT in our work, thus, in this article, we will not try to compare the non-comparable and compile a mixed “top chart” of frameworks intended for various goals.
We will single out four best candidates in four categories, depending on the above criteria.
The best framework in terms of universal nature and stability.
Symfony’s creators - SensioLabs - have invested a lot of efforts and resources to form a comprehensive community and ensure its stable progress.
The results speak for themselves:
- broad-scale community;
- detailed clearly structured documents;
- the vast scope of github and stackoverflow developers’ data;
- conferences held at various levels;
- services offered by the creators include training and consulting.
When it comes to the practical use of Symfony and whether it is simply to be used, we should mention its rather high learning curve. To start developing with Symfony, you need not only know how to code with PHP, but also how to handle the patterns.
At the same time, learning Symfony gets much easier due to well-prepared documents and developed community.
This framework has been used for quite a while (the first release dates back to 2005), and the developers have accumulated fairly ample practical experience, which they are willing to share and which is constantly enriched with new information. Most likely, many problems faced by any beginning developer were already solved by someone before. Symfony offers a variety of ready-made solutions, ranging from the most elementary tasks to highly specific ones.
This flexibility is possible due to the modularity. Symfony is a set of bundles (plug-in analogs), which are autonomous elements being reused and interchanged smoothly, owing to dependency injection. Through bundles usage an application can be easily adapted for specific needs. At the same time, you can either apply the already existing modules or develop your own.
As you see, Symfony gives free rein to the developer to choose the tools, and to bear the complete responsibility for the results as well. This is why certain skills and expertise are required to develop the application using Symfony.
On the other hand, Symfony allows creating most diverse applications:
- due to high extension possibilities and modularity, Symfony suits for development of large enterprise projects;
- Symfony can be used for small projects, in case:
- the developer addresses standard tasks;
- the application is to be extended in future;
- Symfony is ideal for developing any startups when the fast launch and the opportunity to promptly introduce changes are essential.
Framework, which should be granted a People’s Choice Award.
Laravel is relatively young, its first version was released in 2011, but it has managed to gain the affection of users and surround itself with rather a large community of developers.
The popularity of this PHP framework is high due to:
- detailed and simple documents;
- available and easy to understand tutorials;
- regular updates;
- prompt correction of any detected errors.
Laravel actively utilizes Symfony’s components: partly, they are re-written or adapted, and partly, only a concept or a pattern is used.
Laravel is notable for employing the latest PHP properties.
Laravel and Symfony have similar characteristics, this means they are designed to solve same-type tasks. Basically, Laravel is suitable for all application types, where PHP can be used. However, its specific nature shows itself in the fact that compared to other PHP frameworks, Laravel provides more opportunities to develop backends for mobile applications.
The winner in the category of the most large-scale frameworks.
One of the major advantages of this framework is that Zend was created by Zend Technologies Ltd., which in its turn is a PHP language core developing company.
As a consequence, it enjoys support of the advanced community, and its creation, progress, and update are characterized with the high stability.
It should be noted, that stability is paramount in case of Zend, since this PHP framework is designed to create high-performance corporate PHP apps. Working on such applications implies no limits in budget and deadlines and involvement of many developers. In other words, such an application requires considerable investments, and hence, the client should be dead sure that it will operate steadily for a long while afterwards.
Apps to be developed will be multifunctional and complex, so Zend learning curve will be higher than that of Laravel and Symfony.
Special Zend features include:
- numerous abstraction levels;
- minimal dependencies between project parts;
- own integrated library;
- flexible caching system.
In general, Zend is designed to develop a specific type of applications, such as large corporate applications, and actually, it is doing a good job.
As an example, we can name Magento – a large engine for web-shops, which holds the top position as one of the most popular in the world.
The easiest and simplest and fastest PHP framework
The above-mentioned types (Symfony, Laravel, Zend) are indeed top PHP frameworks in their fields, but it should not go unnoticed that they all have a rather high learning curve and require developers with appropriate knowledge and experience.
However, sometimes it does not make much sense to involve highly skilled personnel, even less so, for small projects.
In this case, Codeigniter, a leader in our next category of the best PHP framework for beginner developers, is very helpful.
It is the most minimalistic and easy framework which can be readily exploited for fast development of apps, as you just need to download the files and things are ready.
Codeigniter uses MVC pattern, and its implementation in itself is very transparent and obvious: there is a clear division into models, representations, and controllers.
Coming back to Symfony, Laravel, and Zend, it should be noted that they are also built on the basis of this pattern. This means that working with Codeigniter, the developer not only reaches a set target (to develop a product) but acquires knowledge, improves skills and becomes familiar with the mindset, thus facilitating work with any other, less complicated framework.
From the standpoint of a practical application, Codeigniter is optimal for working with small projects and creating landing pages.
Do you want to ask anything about any framework?
At the end of the article, there is a traditional bonus from Umbrella IT company - we always try to give our clients more than we promised.
We would like to share additional information with you on one more PHP framework, which has not managed to land a leading position in any of the niches yet, being relatively young. But, we believe it deserves some attention.
Drupal 8 - the most interesting among young frameworks
In particular, we speak of Drupal 8 version, because before it was released, Drupal philosophy had been different, and switchover to the 8th version caused the community to split up into two factions: supporters of the previous version and followers of the new concept.
The 8th version is notable for incorporating many features of Symfony 2. At the same time, the framework learning curve is quite high, and a specialist with Symfony work experience will have an easier time mastering the 8th version.
On the other hand, Drupal 8 has definite advantages:
- rather detailed documentation;
- the community is actively evolving;
- users have the opportunity to participate in the framework progress;
- any improvement suggestions are accessible and subject to approval by the community.
Drupal 8 baseline functions include a variety of ready-made plug-ins and systems. Consequently, such a framework is a good fit for apps which do not require a high degree of customization.
The framework can be especially useful in a blogs and news applications sector, including a vast amount of various type content.
In conclusion, once again we would like to highlight that even the optimal choice of a framework is not an ironclad guarantee of a successful result. A good code may be developed using various frameworks, and the other way round: the most suitable PHP framework does not serve as a protection against a poor code.
Anyway, you should favor a rational approach when making the choice, and remember that, above all, any framework is aimed at facilitating and accelerating the process of development.
So, if you:
- only start to get familiar with PHP and need to develop a business card website, choose Codeigniter;
- have some PHP work experience and have a promising startup concept at hand, choose Symfony;
- represent a major bank and wish to set up a reliable and stable corporate application, Zend is the right choice for you;
- are looking for a suitable variant of a mobile app back-end, we recommend you to focus on Laravel;
- are developing a news app or a blog, pick Drupal 8.