Best PHP frameworks for successful web development

19 Aug 2020
Kate, copywriter
What adds colors to the development, making it easy, consistent, and fruitful is… A FRAMEWORK!
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Code better, deploy faster, discover PHP frameworks

PHP, as simple and flexible as it is, has gained great popularity among developers who fill the web world with new products. These products make our lives easier: every time we text via Facebook or read about something to win the argument with our friends. Flickr, Tumblr, Canva – all these tools that you might have used at least once are built with this programming language. No matter how much haters blame spaghetti code and lack of structure, almost 80% of all websites use PHP one way or another, which means it is still competitive.

However, what adds colors to the development, making it easy, consistent, and fruitful is… A FRAMEWORK! Yep, SapientPro uses them a great deal. We consider them to be precious treasures because frameworks saved us a lot of time, helped our devs to solve many issues faster, and left our clients content with the result.

Why should you use a PHP framework?

  • to develop fast and accelerate deploy;
  • to get enormous community support, which embraces basically every issue that might appear;
  • to customize the app according to users’ needs;
  • to have a structured, standardized, hence, understandable code;
  • to add scalable tools, track metrics, and plan the performance improvement;
  • to empower security.

What if you don’t use a PHP framework?

  • say hello to spaghetti code (nope, those are not rumors)
  • two R’s: redundant code & redundant work result is bugs, warnings and postponed deployment;
  • disorganization – harder for new developers to grasp the code in the middle of the project;
  • reuse the code in your dreams, then wake up and code every function from scratch;
  • changed “A”? Yeah, that’s why “B” broke!

Most frameworks are object-oriented and utilizing MVC pattern. They all will improve your development in terms of speed, code reduction and reusability. Usually, the difference is in specific features that fit certain projects. That’s why development teams often work with 2 and more frameworks. So, to tame the code and provide high-value solutions to our clients, SapientPro has used these topsolutions. That’s what we’ve noticed:

  • Laravel fits rapid development, however, you lose customization points
  • Symfony fits long-term enterprise-scale projects, however, you sacrifice cost-efficiency;
  • Yii is a great choice if you value simplicity or security, however, you give up on complex features;

LARAVEL – web artisans’ PHP framework

Popular, easy to learn, and elegant – all of it is true about Laravel. It offers its supporters improved composer, authorization, localization, caching, queues, sessions, e-mail sending, unit tests, and the most progressive PHP community. Of course, Laravel development has its ups and downs:


+ Elaborate documentation;

+ Strong security measures;

+ Powerful community support;

+ Rapid development;

+ Low learning curve.


Legacy system;

Not enough devs in the market;

Lack of flexibility because of redundant modules out of the box.


You know, actually, the framework is not quite the right word, as Laravel has become the whole ecosystem that can provide your projects with tools, matching all kinds of purposes. Here are some of them.


1) The modular packaging system provides functionality in separate blocks. Such structure helps to logically divide the whole code into parts, each responsible for different tasks. As an illustration, if you need authentication and e-mail sending, you’ll need separate modules. They are independent, meaning changes in one do not trigger changes in another (and that is a great plus). In Laravel, everything is ready-made out-of-the-box, and even if not, the additional modules are available on community support resources. With this provided, developers don’t have to code many things from scratch.

2) Eloquent ORM is responsible for database integration. The enormous amount of people’s info, phone numbers, e-mails, products, and other items – you need to manage all of it. Every time your users change personal info, subscribe, accept orders, or do any other manipulation, the database renews instantly. Eloquent – is a tool that accelerates these processes, creates database tables in the code, and manages the relations between the parties.

3) The Artisan provides many helpful commands. It’s your personal assistant, like Jarvis for Tony Stark. The tool eases up the development as you can download packages or create/delete a user just by writing one command-line.

4) UNIT testing enables QA processes and ensures security. The tool checks packages if there are inconsistencies in the code, detects unvalidated changes.

5) Blade templating engine allows reusing code. You write less, save storage, and still, the app works smoothly as though you didn’t use any loopholes. It’s a great way of structuring the code, making it more understandable to the developers and saving their time.

Symfony – mature framework for your web project to grow

The title of the most elaborate PHP framework goes to… Symfony! It contains reusable PHP components, replacing repetitive code, however, the reason why they say it’s mature is its large-scale target. Enterprise projects flourish with Symfony: complex features used by an enormous amount of users work smoothly. What also makes the framework great is…


+ it can be modified into C# and Java;

+ acceleration of the application’s speed (if applied correctly);

+ utter accuracy in functionality implementing;

+ only necessary things your project needs, nothing redundant;

+ automatic data migration;

+ provides scalability.


documentation lacks many explanations;

harder to learn than other frameworks;

requires higher financial input;

requires more time for testing because of its scale.


Why choose Symfony, though? If you do have huge project plans or already have an enterprise-scale resource, then it’s really better to opt something mature and accurate. See the end result as the peak of the Everest and your framework as the equipment. You need stable and proof things to support you through the path, but nothing redundant to carry and waste energy. Symfony gives you flexibility in choosing what you need on your development path. Laravel, for example, lacks it as many redundant things come out-of-the-box and stay there, even if you don’t use them.


1) Doctrine object-relational layers describe each model and function and provide transparent persistence for PHP objects. The aim is to completely separate the domain and business logic from the database management system’s persistence. It allows developers to focus on business logic first.

2) Dependency Injection provides co-dependent classes. Because of their relations, it is possible to make fewer changes to the code manually, as if you alter one class its co-dependent ‘fella’ changes as well. No additional coding or calculations.

3) PHPUnit detects the invalid changes in units and checks their correctness. It improves security and allows developers to detect the fallacies faster.

4) Twig optimizes the usage of HTML templates which results in a better structure of code.

5) Swift Mailer library improves the implementation of the e-mail sending feature. It introduces the safety to the overall process, provides authorization and attachments. If you need to send thousands of letters to your users, it’ll handle it.

6) Bundles allow the reusability of Units which saves developers’ time. However, it’s not their main purpose. You see, bundles complement the core functionality of Symfony, each carrying specific function but working together. Like in a development team’s structure. Designers work on UI and UX, devs write code, PM plans their work, still, all for one project. Also, Symfony does not give you redundant bundles, just like you don’t hire more people than you need for the development.

Yii – Yes, it is – an acronym-answer to many questions

Judging from the name, it’s the most confident framework. So, yes it is… what? What aspects make it worth using? Yii is simple to use compared to Laravel and Symfony. It is stable and fast because there are fewer components coming originally. Others you will need to code. This might appear as a disadvantage if you conceive an idea of a large web project. However, if you target niche markets and don’t need complex solutions, Yii’s minimalism in the number of components will work well. Other advantages are…


+ easy to learn;

+ default routing;

+ improved security with authentication controls, password protection, and SQL injections;

+ coherent documentation;

+ lazy loading technique reduces database burden on memory;


too simple to handle a complex project;

very few updates when compared to other frameworks;

too many libraries and dependencies waste devs time;

confusing PHP templating results in dirty code.


1) Gii is an addition to Yii which helps to produces models, modules and other things your team (or you) need to build a smoothly working app. It utilizes the Model generator to provide specified database tables with the info about your users. CRUD generates the controller and views for all functions in its name. All in all, Gii optimizes the basic tasks this framework needs to do and reduces the repetitive code.

2) PHPUnit and Selenium are responsible for unit testing. Just as with other frameworks, it detects whether everything works correctly and if there were some changes not outlined before.

3) CDBCriteria displays database tables as objects, reducing the performance of queries. This accelerates the speed of an app as there are no redundant actions.

4) Yii security measures help to avoid cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, and cookie tampering. This means no one-click attacks, malicious injections, and session hijacking.

Are there any other frameworks?

Yes, there are a lot of them. That’s why it’s a daunting task to choose one if you are not familiar enough with programming. We’ve described only those popular among our clients and developers. You can decide in favour of something else, and if you do, SapientPro will find the developers, specializing in the framework of your choice. After all, that’s what makes outsourcing development companies so flexible!

And finally, here are several tips of how to choose a framework (or at least what to ask the developers when discussing them)

  • Decide what functionality is crucial for your project and consider the framework offering it;
  • Decide what functionality is completely redundant and choose the solution that won’t overburden your app with it;
  • Compare the relevance and frequency of updates. You don’t want to work with an outdated framework;
  • Discover community support and how developed each one is;
  • Find out the hourly rate for the developers of each framework and compare what fits your budget best;
  • Save your time and consult with a software development company to consider all aspects that may influence the framework’s performance, depending on your app’s requirements.
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