Top 10 PHP Frameworks

PHP is one of the most trusted server-side programming languages nowadays. Although it was initially released in 1995, but it is still popular among developers, particularly when it comes to web app development.

According to W3Techs, 79% of websites available on the internet are using PHP for backend development in 2021. Most of these sites are using 5 and 7 versions of PHP. Indeed, PHP is still popular, but the selection of the right framework for PHP projects also matters.

Hence, this guide is presenting the top 10 PHP frameworks with their major features and limitations. This article is also going to discuss the importance of PHP frameworks.

What is a Framework?

A platform that consists of prebuilt actions, classes and confers basic infrastructure to build a software application is known as a framework. These frameworks permit the coders to emphasize the high-level tasks because they take care of the basic functionalities.

Laravel, React JS, Express JS, Flask and jQuery are one of the popular frameworks to build web applications.

Why Use a PHP Framework?

Programmers conventionally use PHP frameworks to enhance the development speed of their projects. But in actuality, there are several other reasons to use a PHP framework that we are discussing below:

Fast Development

In this current era, developers need to design, deploy and launch any application at a rapid pace and PHP frameworks help in this regard. Most of the PHP frameworks are open-source ones and use the Model-View-Controller structure to create applications rapidly.

In short, PHP frameworks provide a complete environment where coders don’t have to invest time on app architecture and templates. The availability of entirely applicable libraries also makes the development process very efficient for coders.

Easy to Maintain

Smooth and easy maintenance is one of the core reasons for using a PHP framework. With these structures, it is convenient to examine any application automatically. For sure, the object-oriented nature of these PHP frameworks aids the developers.

In the same token, application developers also only need to work or maintain their part because framework programmers reduce many of these responsibilities.

Makes Your Application More Secure

With other distinct benefits, another advantage of using the PHP framework is its support for app security. Because most of the renowned and the best PHP frameworks are open-source ones that is why the community easily notices their bugs. Yes, a huge number of developers use PHP frameworks, so they always try to provide invulnerable app safety solutions to fellow coders.

In addition, framework programmers also try their best to overcome these threats. Likewise, Laravel’s in-built CSRF token safeguards the application from all kinds of cyberattacks and threats. Similarly, CodeIgniter comes with XSS filtering security that filters all kinds of dubious activities. This feature of CodeIgniter also fails the script hijacking attempts.

Supports Teamwork

PHP frameworks surely support the team activities. Usually, all team members are familiar with the PHP framework because it is an old language, and most of its frameworks are well-known ones. So, it becomes convenient for the entire team to work on their parts with great efficiency.

Top 10 PHP Frameworks

1. Laravel

Laravel is one of the top and free PHP frameworks that was launched in 2011. Laravel is famous because of its smooth transition and deployment properties. Google Trends 2021 data also presents that the term Laravel is 70% popular compared to frameworks including CakePHP, Aura, CodeIgniter and Symfony.

Core Features

Simple to Use — It is simple to proceed with this PHP framework. Indeed, it is seamless to utilize Laravel’s suggestive and unique syntax by developers. Even a new developer can build an application using this PHP framework with great speed because of its simplicity.

Blade — To build applications with stable infrastructure, this PHP framework provides a built-in template engine that is known as Blade. This lightweight engine supports building layouts and widgets.

Artisan — This is basically a command-line interface to aid developers in making distinct instructions while scripting an application. Coders can also initiate custom tasks and commands by using this tool.

Testing — Laravel comes with built-in testing features. With PHPUnit, it is also easy to recognize bugs and issues on this framework.


The composer of Laravel is not considered good enough because sometimes it becomes complex for new coders to handle this platform. Moreover, the transition is also difficult if you are using the fourth and fifth versions of PHP.

2. CakePHP

CakePHP is another PHP framework that is based on MVC architecture. This open-source platform has made the development of advanced applications very straightforward for the programming community. Worth using reusable libraries, easy interface, and robust app development also give CakePHP a great advantage over the competitors.

Hosting and running a CakePHP app is not a complicated process the tutorial Running a CakePHP app provide the required steps to achieve this goal.

Core Features

Object-Relational Mapping — This function of CakePHP grants coders to transform the information between unsuitable systems. ORM utilizes object-oriented programming to perform such operations.

Reduce Development Time — Another appealing property of CakePHP is its feature to reuse code. Yes, you don’t have to write the script from scratch every time because you can reuse it any time. In the same token, developers also don’t need to conduct configuration settings with this framework because it doesn’t ask for pre-configuration. These features surely reduce the development time.

Security — CakePHP offers built-in CSRF protection tools, authentication features, SQL injection and XSS prevention to avoid any security compromise.

Extendable — Because of the reusability component of CakePHP, you can easily use scripts for more than one project.

CRUD — With this property, it is convenient for developers to administer data. Indeed, coders can create, read, delete and understand the data by using this functionality.


Compared to other PHP frameworks, the CakePHP documentation isn’t available in a detailed manner. Its route-centric updates also take more time while building an application.

3. Symfony

Symfony is also a highly flexible PHP framework that was launched in 2005. According to Symfony’s official website, more than 600,000 developers from 120 countries of the world are using this PHP framework, and this number is growing rapidly. BuiltWith also discloses that 54,111 live websites are using this framework for server-side tasks.

Core Features

Interoperability — With Symfony, PHP developers don’t have to use the entire framework to build an application. They can work precisely and only use the needed and related app-building components.

MVC Architecture — Although many PHP frameworks offer MVC architecture, but Symfony’s MVC works differently. It systematically divides the structure files into Model, Controller and Views, and its use becomes ideal if you want scalable functionalities.

Community — Symfony has an amiable and fast-growing community that is always available to help fellow programmers. It has 8.3k forks and 25.7k stars on GitHub. The official site also claims that more than 3000 contributors are working with this framework. 

Easy Customization — Symfony joined the programming world intending to provide seamless customization. That is why it offers brick by brick and full-stack customization for its users.


Startups or small businesses normally complain that Symfony is not suitable for small enterprises because it provides more features to help large enterprises. It is also complicated to deal with its security structure and file parsing system.

4. CodeIgniter

If you are in search of a blazing fast MVC framework for PHP, then you must consider CodeIgniter. This framework was initially released in 2006. So, you shouldn’t take it as a new option. Its tiny footprint, good security and zero-configuration provide enough good support to create a PHP application.

Core Features

Clear Documentation — If you are thinking of using a new PHP framework because of documentation related problems, then the use of CodeIgniter could be a good idea. It confers crystal clear and detailed documentation to its users.

Small Footprint — The download size of CodeIgniter 3 with the user guide is around 2MB that makes it a very lightweight framework for PHP coders.

Easy to Learn — If you are familiar with PHP and willing to pick an easy to learn and understandable framework, then you can go with CodeIgniter. Within a short period of time, you will have mastery of this PHP structure.


CodeIgniter is not suitable for large projects because it doesn’t support such functionalities and customization requirements. Similarly, many developers are not happy with CodeIgniter because it doesn’t emphasize on maintenance of code.

This PHP framework also doesn’t confer exhaustive libraries. It has also been noticed that CodeIgniter’s community is declining because of these drawbacks.

5. Yii

Yii is a very popular framework that has millions of users worldwide. It is open-source, fast, and flexible, which makes it a perfect choice for programmers. It is strictly object-oriented and employs MVC patterns. These features make it marketable to a particular number of users who can easily make use of it for their requirements.

Core Features

Documentation — A good amount of documentation is available for new users, and online support is available for newer issues. Moreover, the object-oriented nature of the framework makes it easier to learn and understand.

Security Features — Yii has a number of security features such as authorization barriers and checks, authentication, cryptography, headers, and much more. This makes it stand out against its competitors as Yii makes its way to being one of the most desirable PHP frameworks.

Built-in Code Generator — Yii provides its programmers with GII2 included in Yii Package. GII2 is a code generator that can help in using code to perform CRUD operations easily without much hassle in the database.

Object-Oriented — It is very scalable and able to run in a number of situations and handles data without any problem. Moreover, it can allow scaling as data can easily move through layers when objects pass data through elements throughout the application.


Being an object-oriented framework, it does not favour efficient code and gives the programmer less control over the code.

6. Zend Framework

Zend is one of the top-rated PHP frameworks with over 5.6k stars on GitHub and is one of the most efficient frameworks available in the market. Zend Framework 3.0 has also been spotted on the 5th rank among the top PHP frameworks presented on PHP Benchmarks. It is very extensible due to the number of features that it offers.

Furthermore, this framework also offers reliable features such as inheritance and a user-friendly interface. It can swiftly generate enterprise applications. Zend is an object-oriented framework that keeps both speed and scalability in mind.

Core Features

Enterprise Application Features — Zend PHP framework focuses on enterprise development and thus offers tools to easily add said features. These characteristics include proper authentication and other security features. Moreover, it can easily be scaled to more users due to its object-oriented nature.

Security Tools — Zend frameworks come with authentication and verification tools built into the development environment. Some of these tools can be used to add more complexity to the access of data which can come in useful in an enterprise setting.

Online Debugging — Zend comes packed with online debugging tools that make it easy to code error-free and more utilized to the application without much hassle. This can make the coding process faster as lesser changes have to be made at the runtime.

Scalable Interface — This has a very saleable interface as well as application nature. The IDE can easily be modified to add new features which may be needed for the project. Moreover, the final application is scalable to a number of users, and the features are easily updatable.


If we talk about its limitations, then we can mention its slow development. Yes, it requires proper coding and testing techniques that take more time. It is also one of the harder frameworks to master.

7. Slim

As the name suggests, Slim is the ideal framework if you are looking to create simple and straightforward applications with PHP. The feature set that it offers is unparalleled and can help in creating a wide array of minimalistic applications.

It also helps in making sure that each application is fitted with the basic backend necessities such as security, feature support, client management, and other functionalities that you may expect from any top-of-the-line application. It also gives room to a much more modern interface as every application looks to “shed weight” as it moves forward with newer updates.

Core Features

Fast — The less bulky application gives you all the basic necessities of application development but mostly relies on the user to create and implement APIs for any application. This means that this can provide faster applications as all control is given to the programmer with lesser in-built features.

Extensible — The applications generated by the IDEs are assured to be easily expanded to the personal needs of the developer. It supports first-party PHP functionalities and components. This framework also supports third-party packages.

Minimal — The minimal nature of this framework gives it an edge in speed as well as efficiency. This also gives the developer more control over the application behaviour. In addition, users nowadays are getting more acquainted with minimal app interfaces.


This PHP framework is known as a ‘micro’ framework. It comes with all the basic features, but each function has to be individually coded, which makes the development process a little more tricky and subsequently more time-consuming.

8. Aura

Aura is a feature-rich and powerful PHP framework. It contains a number of PHP libraries that are consistently being updated to add more functionality to the language. Aura ensures that all the libraries can be used independently and communicate with other libraries. This feature makes it a unique choice for all sizes of projects and applications.

This framework causes the application to be very swiftly developed and deployed as all functionalities have no dependencies amongst them. So they can be implemented without worrying about coding inter-dependencies and error management.

Core Features

Flexible Code — The code is not only fast to implement but also easy to add functionalities too. Having a complete library database makes it easy to add or remove features within any updates. It also makes it easy to expand or reduce the application to any number of usage scenarios that may be required over time.

Fast Learning — Complete documentation of libraries is officially available, making every library easy to understand and implement. It also means that new developers would have to spend less time understanding libraries and can easily get used to the application interfaces.

Consistent Updates — Libraries are consistently being updated, which gives it the edge over many of its competitors.


The built-in libraries are fast and easy to implement but cause developers to understand each functionality to modify them completely. It also gives the user lesser control over the application behaviour when using libraries that make it a less plausible option for developing custom applications.

9. Laminas Project

Laminas is a newer PHP framework that is a continuation of Zend Framework. Zen has become increasingly popular amongst users, but Laminas comes with specific highlighting features such as Employing REST APIs and making use of Mezzio for PHP middleware.

This PHP framework has a wide array of database support for backend options and makes use of MVC patterns. These properties make coding easier and faster for development.

Core Features

Feature Rich — Laminas comes with all the features of the Zend framework and adds more such as caching, pagination, diagnostic tools, validation, form support, and logging, etc. These not only make it stand out from its competitors but also provide a desirable performance indicator to developed applications.

Logging Built-in — Logging is a powerful tool for enterprise applications as it keeps track of all the events occurring per second. It also makes sure that any discrepancies and errors can be caught. It also ensures that every application ensures a complete history of events available to the developers in case of crashes.

Enterprise Application Development — Enterprise applications require a certain number of specific features such as support of multiple backend databases and validation through each step.

Scalable — Laminas not only provides it with all the basic enterprise needs but also ensures that any organization has a good number of scalable features available to make use of at any time.


Laminas is not much popular among the community because of few reasons. That is why fewer resources are available when you design an application by using this framework. It uses a Zend PHP engine that could be improved. 

10. Phalcon

Phalcon is one of the fastest PHP frameworks available on the market that was released in 2012. It is not only a high performing MVC framework but also has a good amount of online community. This PHP framework is offered as a C-Extension that makes it very fast and very efficient.

Core Features

Native Platform — It loads natively to the platform that is being run on and does not need to be interpreted. This makes it fast and efficient.

Database Support — It supports several database options such as SQLite, MySQL PostgreSQL. It also supports backends like Memcached, Redis, etc. that makes it a much more desirable option to go with.

Feature Rich — It has a number of notable features such as flash messages, form support, templating engines, and many more.

MVC Pattern — By using the MVC pattern, it can allow much faster coding practices. It even supports multi-module MVC applications.


It needs to be debugged in C when issues arise on a critical level. It is also a little less among developer communities.


It has been a controversial debate in the programming community about how long PHP is going to stay in the application development world. Even a few greenhorns said PHP could be dead in upcoming years, but luckily, PHP proved these assumptions wrong and resisted.

It is available as one of the most powerful programming languages. Mainly, its speed and security features make it the best choice for web app developers.

Withal, few businesses and newbie developers get confused while picking a framework for PHP. Hopefully, after reading our thorough guide about the top PHP frameworks, you will choose the right PHP framework.


What is PHP?

It is a general-purpose programming language organized towards web development.

What are the advantages of using a PHP framework?

– Fast Development
– Easy to Maintain
– Security

What are the best PHP frameworks?

– Laravel
– CakePHP
– Symfony
– CodeIgniter
– Yii
– Zend
– Slim
– Aura
– Laminas Project
– Phalcon

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