11 Best PHP Frameworks for Modern Web Developers in 2018
With PHP being the most popular server-side programming language to date, We have put together the best PHP frameworks for 2018 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.
Best PHP frameworks Compared
For a Thorough 2018 update and revisit to this topic we decided to dig deeper and find what is not only the most used framework for 2018, but which is the utmost valuable? When surveying google Trends, it is explicit that Laravel still remains the most searched framework for all new PHP projects. Just have a look here:
Taking it a step, further I wanted to see what authentic everyday coders as well as novices are learning / using on a day to day basis. We took the time to give a survey to our progressive subscribers and notably came back with over 7,500 results.
Our survey queried subscribers on in depth questions such as specific uses of authentication, session coding, caching methods, and routing, but the results listed below will just be overall use starting with the top being the top used php framework. What we must note is the survey doesn’t completely correlate with how our recommended list is in order of most recommended, but rather real data of how much each person uses each framework.
What are the Top Rated PHP Frameworks of 2018?
|Framework||PRO's||CON's||PHP Version Required|
|Laravel||· Organize ﬁles and code |
· Rapid application development
· MVC architecture (and PHP7)
· Unit testing (FAST on HHVM)
· Best documentation of any
· High level of abstraction
· Overloading capabilities using dynamic methods
· Tons of out of the box functionality
· payment integration with stripe
· very strong encryption packages
|· Does NOT work on Shared hosting plans |
· Does Many queries on your database
|Phalcon||· Blazing fast with low overheads |
· Auto loading
· Unique in that it is based as a C-extension
· VERY good Security features built-in
· Lots of documentation
· Developer friendly
|· Not as open source as Laravel |
· Bugs need waiting to be patches by developers of Phalcon
· Does not work with HHVM
|Symphony||· High performance, due to byte code caching |
· Well documented, maintained, and supported
· Very good support and is very mature
|· While the documentation is good, there is a steep learning curve. |
· Companies are moving to MVC Framework architectures and Symfony2 does not support MVC.
|CodeIgniter||· Very developer friendly Doesn't need any special dependencies or supports |
· Ability to use normal web hosting services well, using standard databases such as MySQL
· Outperforms most other frameworks (non MVC)
· Good documentation and LTS (Long Term Support)
|· No namespace's, however this can speed up |
· Not as friendly towards unit testing as others
· Few libraries that are built inside the framework
|CakePHP||· Modern framework · Supports PHP 5.5+|
· Scaffholding system and Fast builds
· Very good for commercial web applications (MIT License)
· Database Access, Caching, Validation, Authentication, are built in
· Extensive safekeeping tools include cross site
· scripting prevention, SQL Injection prevention,
· CSRF, and Form Validation · Good Documentation
· Actively developed
|· Not as good for constructing Restful APIS as Laravel or others listed||5.5.9|
|Zend||· Ideal for enterprise applications |
· Object oriented
· Tons of components for validation, feeds, and forms
|· Not as ideal for rapid application development||5.3|
|FuelPHP||· Caching is Optional · Authentication packages |
· Restful building · URL routing
· Modular with integrated ORM
· New version will be fully object oriented, can be installed using composer, and one installation can
· supports multiple applications
|· Not very beginner friendly (slim support documentation)|
· It is a relatively new framework with less support
· Open source Community contributions are less than others (like Laravel and Phalcon)
|Slim||· The fastest RESTful Framework available |
· Enough documentation to get you off the ground
· Perfect for Small rest apis
· Actively developed
· Add-ons include: HTTP Caching, & Flash
|· Minimal add-ons on the stock composer when installed. |
· No official LTS release yet since its very new.
|Phpixie||· Relatively new framework |
· Easy to get started
· Documentation with code samples
· Impressive Routing System
· Ability to Compile fast
· HMVC Pattern oriented
|· Very few modules |
· No support on components that are independently made from the dependencies
|Fat-Free||· Light weight |
· Small learning curve
· Very fast with optimizations for URL routing, cache engines, code
· Good for multilingual applications
· Off the shelf support for SQL or No SQL
· Tons of packages including unit testing, image
|· Kind of overkill for a micro framework |
· No new options compared to others
· There is code repetition is places other MVC frameworks can take care of
|Aura||· Slim and lightweight |
· Getting started guide
· Perfect for Small rest apis
· Actively developed
· Add-ons include: HTTP Caching, & Flash
|· Very new framework so its soon to tell||5.4|
|Yii 2||· Rewrite of yii1, another popular web application framework |
· Very modern and flexible
· One of the oldest php frameworks to date still supported
· Packages for authentication and security
· Short rapid development time
· Lots of configuration, partially for speeding things up
|· NO built-in allowances at all |
· While lettering code within Yii, if you aren't organized, it can easily get messy
There are several reasons a developer would want to choose a framework, most notably because they offer a structured, efficient fast-track towards developing web applications or APIs. They ensure that code doesn’t have to be written more than once for common functionality such as security and authentication, database handling, templating, URL-handling, and other needs. The following list outlines the primary features and drawbacks of each framework, along with their primary or intended uses, and ranks them accordingly. You should always do extensive research into each framework before deciding on which to use for your next project.
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.
Download and Info: https://laravel.com/
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.
Download and Info: https://phalconphp.com/en/
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.
Download and Info: https://www.codeigniter.com/
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.
Download and Info: https://symfony.com/
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.
Download and Info: http://cakephp.org/
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.
Download and Info: https://framework.zend.com/
7. Fuel PHP
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.
Download and Info: http://fuelphp.com/
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.
Download and Info: http://www.slimframework.com/
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.
Download and Info: https://phpixie.com/
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.
Download and Info: https://fatfreeframework.com/home
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.
Download and Info: http://auraphp.com/
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. Although Laravel takes first overall on our list for long term support, size of community and contributors and versatility, Phalcon is a close second. If you look at other websites, phalcon is very under recognized as of 2018. It blows the water out of handling requests to some other frameworks currently.
One of the only reasons it comes in second is that it hasn’t taken off in the web development community as much or as fast as Laravel.
Always be sure to check out the community or company behind the development of each framework to make sure it is actively maintained and preferably has long term support (LTS), which will ensure it remains updated and supported for the future.
Here is a Link to our beautiful in Depth Infographic for the Best PHP Frameworks in 2018.