The Best 5 PHP Frameworks You Need To Know

In this article, I am going to put forward an open discussion on the best PHP frameworks that you can currently use. Obviously, the word “best” is very subjective and the meaning completely depends on person to person. Every developer have got their own desires, hopes and ways of working and the word “best” may vary vastly.

And it’s perfectly okay, if person X desires a framework delivering fast page load speeds and person Y desires highly advanced features integrated in the framework while person Z may want a framework which is super easy to learn. There is bound to be a wide variety of choices among various developers, so in this article I have tried to provide an unbiased discussion on the top 5 PHP frameworks, according to me and many other developers too.


I have also given some statistical data, such Google Trends Search Volume Index (as of 2013) and Votes to make it even easier for you to understand which are more popular, reputed and trust-worthy among the masses.


Google Trends:    100/100               Votes:    148


  • Lightning fast page loading speeds
  • Automatic base code generation to enhance workflow


  • Learning Curve is medium and code is comparatively difficult to learn
  • Lack of proper books and tutorials to learn from


Yii is a high-performance PHP5 framework designed to seamlessly improve the workflow of developing web applications. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best and most popular PHP frameworks among all the major and note-worthy frameworks we currently have.

Yii gives you lightning fast page loads and has got a huge arsenal of rich-features like MVC, DAO/ActiveRecord, caching, authentication, scaffolding, testing, easy form validation, object oriented approach and mcuh more which you can easily check in their official website. It has got a lot of command line generators to get you started quickly, but more command line generators generally implies more codes to memorize, but once you manage to do that you will realize how it improves the workflow of setting up of applications drastically.

The only downside that I find is that it doesn’t have a lot of books and tutorials to learn from. Learning Curve is not as good as some other major PHP frameworks and it may take you around 4-6 months easily in learning the ins and outs of this framework perfectly.


Google Trends:    98/100                                                PHPFrameworks Votes:    117


  • Brilliant documentation and easy to learn
  • A very large and actively maintained community


  • Lack of some essentially powerful features of Yii
  • You need to download third-party addons to improve functionalities


CodeIgniter is one of the most popular, easy to use and flexible PHP frameworks I have ever seen. It’s also popularly known as a “beginner” framework because of its short learning curve and ease of use. CodeIgniter (v2.0) is a PHP5.2+ MVC framework with exceptional performance and a small footprint.

It loads pages lightning fast and has got a huge volume of features in its bag. The best thing I like about CodeIgniter is that it is built and managed by Ellislab who don’t like pushing expensive stuffs at you and believe in to making it 100% free and truly open source. CodeIgniter has also got a great level of documentation to lean and implement with ease and a very large and active community of over 20,000 members who like discussing various matters relating to CodeIgniter on their forum.

But there are some downsides too. It lacks some of the important and powerful functionalities that are offered by Yii which easily eats up more development time in large projects. It is best suited for small-to-medium scale projects and you may observe some performance drops in large ones.


Google Trends:    38/100                                  Votes:    74


  • It is the best framework of choice for enterprise-level development
  • Huge employment opportunities with Zend


  • You need to purchase expensive addons if you want to get the most out of it


Zend framework, from the makers of PHP is an excellent framework based on simplicity, object-oriented approach, corporate friendly licensing and much more. It’s the framework of your choice if you want to build enterprise-level web applications.

The best thing about Zend framework is the level of employment opportunities it has got. And if you want to ensure which framework has got the most longevity, then it’s surely going to be Zend all the way. If you can really learn to use the Zend framework, then you will never be out of work for sure as the demand for Zend developers is huge and it always will be. One of the biggest and most useful advantages of Zend is the IDE goodness, as you can enjoy all the auto-complete functionalities with software’s like Eclipse which can seamlessly enhance the development workflow.

But there are some obvious downsides too. The whole approach of Zend is a bit more commercialized than others, where they try to push expensive stuffs at you most of the time. But you can obviously take the freebie path, but to get the most out of Zend you will need to empty your pockets a bit.


Google Trends:    63/100                             Votes:    82


  • Huge community with active members
  • Availability of lots and lots of free samples and codes


  • Slower than all other frameworks out there
  • Not a good choice for the beginners


CakePHP is one of the oldest and trusted framework of choice. This PHP 4 and 5 MVC framework can still be a choice for you if you need to write PHP4 compatible applications. Over a long time of existence, CakePHP has seriously built up a huge reputation among many developers of being a very capable framework.

But among all the frameworks, CakePHP is the slowest one, if you look at the statistics once. But the best thing about CakePHP is that it has got a huge community support that will never let your development workflow stop. Just have a look at the CakePHP “bakery”  and you will understand what I am trying to tell.

CakePHP is slower than others, but there are obviously some workarounds to make it more responsive. But this can be tricky for the newbies (like avoiding the $uses array, disabling the debug mode, etc.) who have just started out with any PHP framework.


Google Trends:    100/100                                               PHPFrameworks Votes: N/A


  • Very similar to CodeIginter (even better in some aspects)
  • Fast page load speeds


  • Small community support
  • Lack of proper learning resources


FuelPHP is another amazing framework based on PHP5.3+ which is based on the goodness of other popular frameworks. Many of you probably didn’t expect this to make it to the list of the best 5 PHP frameworks considering it is such a new framework in town.

But FuelPHP can bring a wave if it goes the right way. FuelPHP is quite similar to Kohana and is heavily inspired by CodeIgniter. Rather this framework works on the areas where CodeIgniter is not strong enough. FuelPHP is modular and it also has got full support for HMVC. On papers, FuelPHP has got everything a developer can desire for and it should be the framework of your choice.

Like everything, FuelPHP is also not perfect, as it has got some minor drawbacks too. The codes of FuelPHP is not as easy and efficient as CodeIgniter. Another big drawback of FuelPHP is that it is very new to the PHP world and thus doesn’t have a large active community like the others. However, this is not a permanent drawback and will soon be recovered in the future.


I hope this discussion have benefited some of you in choosing the framework of your choice. All the frameworks I have mentioned here are “good” in its own way and have great possibilities for you too. Your imagination is your only limitation. More ahead and all the best. :-)


About the author:

+Aritra Roy, is a Blogger, Freelance Writer, Designer and Online Entrepreneur who believes in the power of written words to educate, influence and inspire people.

Aritra Roy
Aritra Roy is a Blogger, Freelance Writer, Designer and Online Entrepreneur who believes in the power of written words to educate, influence and inspire people.