The 10 Best PHP Frameworks To Use in 2021

PHP frameworks provide software developers with a template for making PHP-powered software applications. Certain frameworks suit certain projects, which means that knowing which PHP framework to pick can involve some meticulous research. 

Though PHP isn’t as popular as JavaScript or Python in name, in usage it is quite pervasive. In fact, nearly 80% of all websites use PHP on their server-side. And PHP fares far better than Java and Ruby in the market. 

While it is clear that many websites are using PHP and likely for good reason, this should only drive your curiosity more. Using PHP is a fair enough choice, but what is the best PHP framework to use?

Read ahead to learn more about the various PHP frameworks that you can choose from and how they can best optimize your business! 

What Is a PHP Framework?

In programming, frameworks extend the supporting structure for building a generic software application

They streamline the software development process by plugging the foundational functionality of a program into your application before you even start coding. 

Of course, PHP frameworks are no different. PHP frameworks are based on the PHP programming language

Using a PHP framework means less code to write overall and fewer discrepancies about how to start your project. There is also risk mitigation as opposed to coding your applications from scratch. 

The PHP programming language is a well-respected back-end technology for web development. Therefore, most PHP frameworks guide software developers in creating web applications.

 

Why Use a PHP Framework?

First of all, you should have a general understanding of why you would want to use PHP in the first place, 

To review, PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that performs particularly well in web development environments.

PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that performs particularly well in web development environments.

The name PHP is actually a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor. You may (or may not) notice that the word ‘Hypertext’ is also part of the longer phrase ‘Hypertext Markup Language’, or simply HTML. 

HTML is a core web technology that developers use to structure and organize the content of web pages, primarily text. Of course, given the long-awaited demise of Adobe Flash Player, the latest version of HTML is now able to structure media content as well, such as photos and videos. 

PHP earned its moniker because of its unique capabilities. That is, PHP can be embedded right into HTML

PHP code, unlike that of another web scripting language like JavaScript, executes on the server-side generating HTML that is sent to the client. 

In turn, PHP leads to more responsiveness among web applications and websites that employ the language. 


The larger point, however, is that businesses should use PHP frameworks to speed up development if they’ve already taken to using PHP to enhance their web development projects

Top 10 PHP Frameworks

Deciding to use PHP for web development should be easy enough. Considering the sheer amount of global websites using PHP, there is no question that PHP is a valuable asset to any web development project. 

But this says little about which specific PHP framework can best complement your project. The following list features 10 PHP frameworks.

Top 10 PHP Frameworks

1. Laravel 

Laravel is one of the more popular PHP frameworks. With a public release in 2011

Laravel is relatively young but packed with many features. 

Some of these features include its elegant syntax, propensity for scaling, and a design that favors progressive growth. Laravel also has a large and helpful community. 

Most developers describe Laravel as expressive. This means that it is easy to understand with little boilerplate (repeated) code. 

At the same time, Laravel is efficient enough for building complex applications. And its more technical features like a template engine, routing, security, and authentication support this endeavor.  

2. Laminas Project

Laminas Project, formally known as Zend, is a ‘glue’ framework. This essentially means that the architecture of the framework is component-based. 

Although Laminas Project uses a typical model-view-controller (MVC) software pattern, the framework comes equipped with enterprise-ready PHP components including dependency injection, event dispatchers, input validation, filtering, pagination, and more. 

The framework is composed of three parts — components and MVC, Mezzio, and API tools. 

Mezzio empowers developers to build PHP middleware. Middleware, by definition, has the potential to bridge hardware and software. 

API tools should be self-explanatory. These help developers build RESTful APIs.  

3. CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter is another popular PHP framework. It prides itself on its simplicity. With minimal configuration, you can utilize the CodeIgniter’s speed and flexibility, leaving only a light footprint. 

While you have the option to use an MVC software architecture with CodeIgniter, this is not required, increasing the flexibility of the framework. The framework also offers quality error handling and easy-to-read documentation. 

4. Slim

Slim is a PHP micro framework. Micro frameworks (or microframeworks) are the alternative to full stack frameworks. They support only limited functionality. 

Though this may seem like a disadvantage, micro frameworks like Slim can keep things simple. 

In effect, starting a web development project doesn’t need to be overly complicated. And experienced developers can add in extra functionality if or when they so desire. 

Other advantages of Slim include but are not limited to the following features: URL routing, session and cookie encryption, and client-side HTTP. 

PHP developers use slim to build RESTful APIs and web services. 

5. Symfony

Symfony is not only a framework, but it carries a set of reusable PHP components and libraries as well. 

Reusable components are always a great convenience as they mitigate repetition in the coding process.  

Originally, Symfony was inspired by the Spring Framework, a Java micro framework. That said, Symfony shares close similarities with Lavarel, although it is a bit more complex to get started. 

Features of Symfony like its database support, modular component system, and debugging toolbar entice PHP developers to the framework for building web applications, APIs, microservices, and web services. 

6. Phalcon

Phalcon pays homage to the words “PHP” and “falcon”. The full stack framework initially set out to present a non-traditional mode of building web applications. 

The more outstanding features of Phalcon are its low-level architecture, code compilation, memory management, security protections, and lack of file reads — resulting in improved performance. 

One fun fact about Phalcon is that the framework was written in C and it is in some ways a C-extension. However, being a PHP framework you do not need to use C in order to use Phalcon. 

7. FuelPHP

Fast, simple, and flexible, FuelPHP is a PHP framework that utilizes a hierarchical variation of the MVC that ‘widgetizes’ content structures

The benefits of this unique design involve increased modularity and extensibility as well as better code organization and reusability. 

Security in FuelPHP is also notoriously superb with features that encompass cross-site request forgery (CSRF) protection, output encoding, and filtering for inputs. uniform resource identifiers (URIs), and cross-site scripting (XSS). 

8. PHPixie

Like FuelPHP, PHPixie employs a hierarchical model-view-controller (MVC) architecture. 

PHPixie was built using independent components which can be used as such in the framework itself. PHPixie components warrant an advantageous modularity with minimal dependencies. 

The framework promises ease of use, high performance, and low coupling among other things. 

9, CakePHP 

CakePHP is a rapid development PHP framework modeled after Ruby on Rails. 

There is little configuration necessary making the framework easy to install and straightforward to use. 

‘Convention over configuration’ (COC) is one of the many well-known software engineering concepts that power the framework. 

To further the implementation of this concept, CakePHP has a thorough assortment of libraries with useful components. The framework also has a diverse set of security features like encryption, password hashing, and CSRF protection.

10. Yii

Yii is a good choice for newcomers to PHP. The documentation for Yii is refreshingly comprehensive and not only will you learn about how to make an app, but you can learn more about working with database or MVC patterns, for instance. 

In Chinese, Yii means ‘simple and evolutionary,’ Besides an MVC architecture, some of Yii’s features include error handling, unit and functionality testing, security measures such as CSRF and XSS, and a layered caching system. 

How To Choose the Right PHP Framework?

Choosing the right PHP framework is a difficult decision. Glancing through the frameworks outlined above, you'll notice that many of these frameworks offer an abundance of advantages. 

Frameworks like Phalcon and Laravel, for example, are well-suited for large and complex applications. 

On the other hand, frameworks like Symfony and Slim are optimal for businesses that want to start small, though scaling is an option as well with these frameworks. 

CodeIgniter is as powerful as many of these frameworks, but with little configuration. 

Clearly, there are a vast amount of choices to make when comparing frameworks against each other. Consider looking to professional software developers for a consultation.

Conclusion

Using PHP as part of your back-end web development structure is not a must, but considering the popularity of the language, it is worth considering. But once you decide to use PHP, which PHP framework can best support your development?

Just about every PHP framework can offer you the overall advantages of the languages — namely, flexibility and efficiency. Therefore, specificity and research become essential matters for this decision. 

Consider hiring qualified developers to better understand the specifics of PHP development. Trio developers have years of experience coding in PHP within multiple frameworks. They are eager to help businesses complete their project with whatever requirements you want. 

Need more information? Learn more about hiring PHP developers on Trio’s blog!

 

Cordenne Brewster

Content Writer

About

A tech enthusiast whose ardor is best expressed through the written word.

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PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that can be embedded into HTML on web pages.

PHP is a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor.

Choosing the best PHP framework for your business often requires consulting with qualified developers.