Five of the Best PHP Frameworks

It can be very hard to stay organized and focused if you don’t have a clear structure for your app from the start. That’s why so many developers pick a framework and stick with it without giving much thought to trying new ones. However, some developers see the value in branching out but don’t know where to start.

This is where knowing about the best PHP frameworks comes in handy. Frameworks can help PHP developers structure their code so it functions as a streamlined and logical application. Frameworks have been around for a while, but it was really with the advent of Ruby on Rails that web developers began to take them seriously. Most frameworks follow the model-view-controller (MVC for short) pattern.

What exactly does this mean? The view is just what it sounds like, the presentation of your data. In most cases for PHP, this will be the web page that the user actually sees. The control is what takes requests from the user and calls upon the right logic to make those requests happen. The model is the part that handles the data, and any specific rules you have for that data. So, now that we know a little bit about what a framework is, what are the best PHP frameworks for your project?


Symfony is supported by SensioLabs, who have more than 13 years in the web development space, not to mention an active international community. Symfony uses an extremely handy debugging toolbar and profiler, both of which are critical to delivering the best PHP frameworks. Best of all, Symfony is very customizable, and allows you to choose the different software components that you are already using in your project.

This framework is extremely light, only requiring two writing folders, which you can easily configure to the established level of security you want for your app. If you’re also playing the role of a system admin, you’ll be relieved to know Symonfy plays well with http accelerators like Varnish, and is a snap to configure with any database system you have chosen.



The Zend Framework is the best PHP frameworks for businesses, and its enterprise support is favored by companies and individuals alike all across the world. In addition to being a framework, Zend also offers several tools to ease the development process, such as its own flavor of PHP (very similar to the open source version but with more support). In addition, it has a custom server so you can start taking a look at your apps quickly, and without too much configuration across different platforms.

As if that weren’t enough to be excited about, Zend studio also offers a very nicely integrated development environment that lets you take full advantage of the services mentioned above. Zend can be a bit pricy, especially if you’re an independent developer working on a limited budget. But if you’re willing to invest in one of the best PHP frameworks on the market today, give it a try.



If you’re looking for something that isn’t going to take up a ton of space and will get you on your way quickly, jump into development with CodeIgniter, one of the best PHP frameworks. Everything about the implementation is built for speed. Get the latest version from Github, download a user-friendly manual and begin. EllisLab, the company behind CodeIgnitor, has a history of making tools that make programmers’ lives easier, so you’re in good hands. CodeIgnitor is used by freelancers, small teams and large companies alike. An active community forum and chat service is sure to get you answers to any questions that may arise along the way.



Fuel is taking the best of all the frameworks that have come before, and combining them into a fresh approach. It is community driven, so be ready for some great enthusiasm behind the product in the chats and forums. The Fuel documentation is actively maintained, making it consistently viewed as one of the best PHP frameworks. Fuel is always rolling out new features. One of these are presentation models.

Presentation models are a new layer between the controller and the view, which can give you even more flexibility and gets your web app operating as precisely as a scalpel. It’s helpful in taking full advantage of some of the features offered in HTML5. Perhaps best of all, if you’re an avid coder or even if you just have a new idea every once in a while, you can contribute to the future of FuelPHP, and that is always an exciting concept.



Yii is one of the best PHP frameworks. It is an incredibly nimble framework that will appeal to the PHP developer who wants to build social applications. It takes care of input validation, sql injection, and other mundane security tasks that are so essential for a healthy app. Yii takes some of the great aspects of Symfony, such as filter design and plug-in architecture, and adds some great additional features such as simple error handling and logging. Yii also is friendly on cross platform development, so if you’re moving some code over that has relied on PEAR or the Zend framework, you’ll be just fine.



So there you have it. Some of the best PHP frameworks in existence today (in my opinion). Ultimately, the choice is yours, but take it from me – you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices above. Your life will be more organized, more efficient, and more sane if you utilize PHP frameworks. Be sure to keep your ears to the ground as there are always new frameworks being created. Enjoy!

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Leave Comment


    • Divya
    • February 12, 2014

    i personally appreciate yii framework. it does half of work with command prompt and easy to use with readbean orm.

  1. Reply

    Ellis is throwing in the towel. They have not done any real maintenance work on CodeIgniter in years. It has all been community driven on GitHub. Ellis was just getting in the way be refusing to allow any major changes to be implemented.

    If you read between the lines in their last press release they sort of confess to that:

    Phil Sturgeon, one of the previous CI leads, dropped out a few months ago which was probably one of the many reasons Ellis decided to pull the plug. He is now a driving force behind Lavarel.

    In terms of popularity, Yii is probably the next best contender.

    For me personally I prefer a framework that supports HMVC out of the box. It depends on what you need a framework for, but I have found that managing multiple projects simultaneously means I need a modular framework allowing a single code base that supports the requirements of multiple projects without code conflicts. FuelPHP does that nicely. That is how PyroCMS is built, so I expect Lavarel will be supporting that soon too.

    • laeeq
    • June 25, 2013

    I will recommend to YII. It’s definitely one of the best PHP frameworks out right now.

  2. Reply

    CodeIgniter is a good PHP framework. It’s fast and easy to use with documentation.

    • Manoj
    • May 13, 2013

    I will recommend to Zend, Zend is a very good framework out of all of them.

    • Jonjo
    • May 3, 2013

    will be looking into one of these soon, but I have not developed a large scale php application in over 6 years. looking to start fresh and looking for a great framework. What do you recommend?

    • Subha Sundar
    • April 14, 2013

    Great list of PHP Frameworks! I personally love CodeIgniter. Its light weight, fast and easy to learn for beginners.

    • Rana
    • April 9, 2013

    I love Codeigniter. The Yii framework originated from Codeigniter, I guess it makes a lot sense why its become popular so quickly :). I plan to check out the other frameworks you have presented. Thanks for putting together this list for busy programmers like myself!

  3. Reply

    Zend framework is the best of them all.

      • daniele
      • April 30, 2013

      +1 🙂

    • James K
    • March 16, 2013

    In 2013, the cool kids are using: Quantum PHP Framework…

    I just teleported myself with this thing, ultra fast.

    • Ethan Brown
    • March 15, 2013

    Thanks for this great breakdown! I wish I had seen this a few weeks ago when I started a new PHP project. Because I didn’t know any better, I picked CakePHP, which wasn’t even mentioned…is it so bad in comparison to some of the frameworks mentioned here? Should I switch, even though I’m three weeks into the project?

      • Matthew Camp
      • April 4, 2013

      CakePHP is a good framework, keep using it, especially if your already that far along in development.

  4. I personally love CodeIgniter and will always have a special place on my heart but for me, the best ATM would be laravel.

    Laravel it has a lot of nice features and Laravel 4 is being released really soon. I have also used, and still use FuelPHP… Its good, but it has some issues with the ORM and some minor issues when it comes to consistency

    • Reply

      An issue not reported is an issue not solved. Let us know via the forum, IRC chat, or an issue report on github. Or even better, send us a pull request to fix the issue, and be listed as a contributor to one of the five best PHP frameworks!

      ( p.s. thanks Steve for including us! )

    • Will
    • January 18, 2013

    Great list and I agree with your input. If you like Symfony, CodeIgniter, and FuelPHP, you should look into a newcomer called Laravel. It uses composer like Symfony and a large number of people from the CI and Fuel community have migrated to it (me included).

    • Darren Coxall
    • January 18, 2013

    CodeIgniter used to be my goto PHP framework but it’s reluctancy to leave PHP 4 means the competition feels a lot more robust now then every.

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