The 10 Best PHP Frameworks for Web Development in 2023 - DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency
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The 10 Best PHP Frameworks for Web Development in 2023

Joana Almeida
- 3 min. to read

What Are The Most Widely Used PHP Frameworks?

PHP is still very much alive. There is a big discussion around whether this scripting language is becoming obsolete or if it’s still popularly used, but facts speak louder than words. Close to 78% websites use PHP as a server-side programming language, and a vast majority of web programmers learn it to develop websites efficiently. 

Nowadays, there are many frameworks available to help developers reach results faster, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. So, how do you know which is the best PHP framework to use? We researched and gathered the most popular PHP frameworks for web development in 2023 to present you with the options that can best fulfill your project’s needs. 

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What You Need to Know Before Using a PHP Framework

Before using a PHP framework, it’s important to establish two important things: what a PHP framework is and how to choose one.

What is a PHP framework?

PHP frameworks provide web developers with a basic structure that helps them bootstrap web applications and focus on the app’s functionality rather than the minutiae of the code.

Most PHP frameworks follow the Model View Controller (MVC) model, which splits the functionality of applications into  three distinct sections:

  • Model: How the application’s data is represented and modified using business logic.
  • View: How the data is presented to the user.
  • Controller: How the user interacts with the Model (most of the time, this will happen through the View).

The biggest advantage of this system is that it allows developers to focus on and develop a specific part of the application and make changes without touching other sections.

What Should You Look For In A PHP Framework?

Here are some of the most important factors you should have in mind when looking at potential PHP frameworks to use:

  • Simplicity: Look at your project and estimate its complexity. For smaller and simple projects, a simple PHP framework can often be a better, more performant solution. Bloated and complex PHP frameworks can be very robust and powerful, yes, but should only be chosen if you need that complexity or you know you’ll want to expand on the project’s scope later to avoid growing pains.
  • Technical requirements: Depending on your project, you may need a framework that supports certain PHP extensions and databases. Look at the PHP version the framework targets and make sure it has compatibility with all external tools your project needs to function.
  • Features: In the same vein as technical requirements, projects will usually need certain features to work (think authentication, security, caching, templating, etc.). Go through what each framework offers and check if it meets all your feature requirements.
  • Support and Community: A healthy framework will have strong support from its creators and a large community that you can fall back to. Having great documentation is a good starting sign, and the community should be large and knowledgeable enough to help new devs with common errors when starting out. Check what kind of channels they have (be it forums, chat groups, etc.) and how populated and active they are.

How to Choose The Best PHP Frameworks For Your Business

A one-fits-all solution for frameworks is a pipedream, no matter the technology. When picking a  PHP framework, you’ll need to rely on a few indicators to make your choice (roughly in their order of consideration):

  1. Popularity: Popularity has no relation with quality, but having more developers using a certain framework will usually mean that it’s relatively stable and powerful and/or has a vibrant community. Both of these are excellent points in favor of picking the framework for your projects, as you’ll get high-quality code and/or more people that can help you with any bumps along the development.
  2. Features: Choosing a framework can be a very specific affair depending on the type of projects you’re pursuing. However, having more features means that the framework will be useful for more types of projects. If your project has distinct requirements, you should check a framework’s features and how well they fit your particular use case.
  3. Maintainability: Frameworks that have been maintained recently will usually be better prepared for the challenges and requirements of modern online standards. You can certainly use older frameworks that haven’t been updated recently, but you do so at the cost of security and reliability.

What Are the Best PHP Frameworks in 2023?

Let’s have a look at 10 of the best frameworks the PHP development community has to offer!

1. Laravel

Laravel is a PHP open-source framework that follows the MVC pattern that helps developers to manage their coding tasks more easily and simply. Initially conceived as a more advanced alternative to CodeIgniter, it has gained popularity among programmers because it helps them code and manage complex and sophisticated web applications, and today stands as one of the most popular PHP frameworks. 

Developers working with Laravel get access to many features that help them be more efficient and reduce the need to perform repetitive tasks. Some of the standout ones include database abstraction, background job queueing and management, powerful web sockets, scaffolding for an authentication system, and easy unit testing. 

Besides these features, Laravel offers a robust package system that comes with pre-built functionality that helps developers build their web apps even faster.

Laravel framework benefits: 

  • Helps developers customize complex apps.
  • Laravel strengthens web application speed and security.
  • It brings a set of helpful tools such as Artisan, a built-in command tool that helps programmers automate several repetitive tasks.
  • It has a database migration system allowing developers to move data from one platform to another safely.

2. Yii

Yii is a PHP object-oriented framework known for its high performance in building modern web apps. For those wondering, Yii stands for Yes, it is! 

One of the greatest features this framework has is that it’s suitable for all kinds of web apps. This means it’s a universal programming framework, easy to install, and useful for programmers who need to develop strong, secure, and fast applications. 

Another characteristic of Yii is that it comes with a powerful class code generator called Gii. This extension provides a web-based code interface that helps developers generate models and modules and to get the desired code interactively.

Yii framework benefits:

  • It boosts speed and performance in web apps.
  • Developers don’t need to write repetitive SQL statements (they can model the database data in terms of objects).
  • It has a big community making it easier to get help during a project.
  • It has robust security features and a simple installation process making it suitable for e-commerce, forums, etc.
  • It’s extensible, meaning that programmers can customize almost every piece of the core’s code.

3. Phalcon

If frameworks where superheroes, Phalcon would be Flash. Developers who use this framework can build fast (really fast) websites. This full-stack PHP framework was initially written in the C and C++ programming languages. But since it’s delivered as a C-extension, developers who are not familiar with a C programming language don’t need to worry about learning it.

Two of the many distinctive characteristics Phalcon has is its speed and innovative architecture. It’s easy to install, and it’s one of the most helpful frameworks for building complex apps. 

Phalcon includes, among other features, a forms builder that allows developers to quickly set up a form to present and collect data from users.

Phalcon framework benefits:

  • Optimizes performance due to efficient memory utilization, creating faster websites.
  • Easy installation.
  • It has features such as caching, asset management, universal autoloader, multilingual support, etc.
  • It’s perfect for developers that want to work on complex systems.
  • It has a flexible architecture.

4. CakePHP

CakePHP is one of the oldest and most delightful PHP frameworks. It simplifies a developer’s work due to its key ingredients, such as code caching, validation, translation, database access, etc.

It has also a backward compatibility making it possible for developers to create visually appealing websites, which is important to attract users, especially when it comes to sites with commercial purposes. CakePHP also comes with high-security measures, including cross-site scripting protection and SQL prevention. 

CakePHP framework benefits:

  • It is one of the best frameworks for beginners to learn because of the CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) principle.
  • Easy installation.
  • Perfect for e-commerces or websites with commercial applications due to its security and ability to style pages with appealing visual features.
  • It has great documentation and forums to help out developers.

5. CodeIgniter 

CodeIgniter is a lightweight framework (It’s only 1.1MB in size: the user guide is larger than the framework itself!) suitable for building dynamic websites. It offers a toolkit with diverse prebuilt modules to develop full-featured web apps. 

It comes with valuable features such as simple security, encryption steps, and easy error handling. It also comes with a full range of libraries that developers commonly use. And overall, it’s the perfect framework for developers who want to simplify tasks and code faster.

CodeIgniter framework benefits: 

  • It’s suitable for beginners because of its simple process and documentation.
  • It has key features such as MVB architecture and inbuilt security tools.
  • Because of its small size, CodeIgniter is considerably faster than other frameworks.
  • It generates clean URLs.

6. Symfony 

Symfony is an open-source framework known to be one of the best for building complex business websites. It has an MVC architecture pattern, and it offers various command-line tools to help developers save time during the process of web development. One of the framework highlights is that with Symfony, programmers can write code in fewer lines. And it’s about 7% faster, making applications work efficiently. 

This framework also offers customization features that make web apps user-friendlier. Its component system is extremely powerful and makes it possible to build complex products with multiple functionalities with select features and functions.

Symfony framework benefits: 

  • Easy installation and configuration.
  • It has reusable PHP components and libraries.
  • High flexibility.
  • Symfony components are used by content management systems such as Drupal and even other frameworks such as Laravel.
  • Big and active community to offer help and support.

7. Laminas Project

Previously known as Zend, the Laminas Project is an object-oriented PHP framework that makes it possible for developers to build high-quality websites. Because it uses many object-oriented concepts like inheritance and interfaces, most of Zend’s components are extendable. 

This means that developers can implement their customizations. Because of its faster development, security, good documentation, easy installation, and low configuration mechanism, it is highly valued among teams that implement Agile methodologies

Laminas Project framework benefits: 

  • It features MVC components that implement several useful features such as data encryption, serialization, security, etc.
  • It allows the integration with external libraries.
  • Zend brings components that make it easy to create tasks related to authentication, services, and forms.
  • It has good documentation and a large community.

8. FuelPHP

FuelPHP is a flexible and extendable PHP framework supporting the MVC pattern and HMVC (Hierarchical Model View Controller) as the framework architecture model. With its key features and the HMVC implementation, this framework allows devs to save time when building complex applications. 

One of FuelPHP’s highlights is its security-focused system using URI filtering along with output encoding. Overall this framework has proven to be a perfect solution for diverse platform sizes.

FuelPHP framework benefits:

  • It has key features such as RESTFUL implementation, a URL routing system, vulnerability protection, and a caching system.
  • It’s easy to configure and use.
  • It has a big community that regularly creates and improves packages and extensions.
  • Has an Auth package with a set of components with authentication and authorization functionalities for stronger security.

9. Fat-Free Framework (F3)

The Fat-Free framework markets itself as a small but powerful package with a codebase that doesn’t even reach the 1MB mark (currently sitting at 90kb). It doesn’t have as many features as other frameworks on this list, but it makes up for this fact by being extremely fast.

It supports many popular databases, such as MySQL and SQLite, and has a lot of useful features related to security and authentication. Its plugin functionality allows developers to add other features, such as unit testing, image processing, and shopping carts for commercial websites.

Fat-Free Framework benefits:

  • Extremely compact and fast
  • Features a powerful plugin system that allows for greater extensibility
  • Easy to install and start using
  • Features many advanced features such as URL routing and a multi-protocol caching engine.

10. Slim

If you’re looking for a PHP framework to create an API, Slim may be the best option on this list. It’s what is called a microframework, a minimalist framework that lacks many of the features of full-stack frameworks such as Laravel or Symfony. Microframeworks usually specialize in processing HTTP requests and responses, and Slim is no exception.

Slim makes up for having few functionalities by being focused and extraordinarily lightweight, being the smallest codebase on this list (at around 60 kb). It can also be used to prototype or build actual web applications by using components.

Slim framework benefits:

  • A small and tight framework focusing on HTTP requests and responses
  • Great performance and speed
  • Features advanced URI features such as parameters and pattern matching
  • Supports many operations to manipulate and query HTTP messages

Find The Developers To Work With Your New PHP Framework With DistantJob!

When trying to decide the best PHP framework, comparisons are inevitable. But, as you’ve learned, these frameworks have different approaches to web app development. They help developers reach their goals and create awesome websites but keep in mind that building a website is not only about making it pretty or fast. Other important aspects need to be taken care of by someone with a strong tech background.

Hiring developers can be a daunting and lengthy process for even the most prepared companies, but DistantJob is here to help you! 

We know how to head-hunt tech professionals who will build you the most amazing websites you’ve ever seen while also guaranteeing that they fit your company culture in as little as 2 weeks! It sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. We mean it. If you want to hire full-time talented remote PHP developers, look no further and contact us or visit our office in Montreal!

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