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A Guide to PHP Frameworks

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A Guide to PHP Frameworks

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The proliferation of PHP frameworks has led to some confusion over the last couple of years and more than a few flame wars.  The purpose of this guide is to try and clear up some of the confusion and provide a proper listing of some defining features in the most popular PHP frameworks.  If you would like any additions or revisions, post a comment with some supporting links and the list can be modified.  We want this to be a useful DZone community resource.  Common features between all of these frameworks have been omitted (for example, all of these frameworks are MVC-based)

Zend Framework

  • Represents an extended set of PHP libraries that can be integrated and used with most of the offered PHP frameworks.
  • Slight Learning Curve
  • Simple, extendible CRUD creation
  • Optional MVC and flexible conventions
  • Configuration: PHP Array, XML, or INI files
  • Perhaps the most popular PHP framework available
  • Supports PHP 5


  • Offers query builders and database manipulation classes, but has no built-in ORM support
  • No PEAR packages or server modifications required
  • Installed by uploading files to a directory
  • Large community plus extensive documentation and tutorials
  • Easier to extend and understand than some of the more elaborate frameworks
  • Built-in template engine
  • Supports PHP 4 and 5 (Maintaining PHP 4 support has its pros and its cons)


  • Expansive built-in libraries including helpers for generating RSS feeds and HTML elements
  • Easy CRUD database interaction
  • Heavier than CodeIgniter and Kohana.
  • A more strict and structured approach to MVC and naming conventions
  • Little to no configuration required to run
  • Supports PHP 4 and 5


  • Full-stack framework
  • Uses the command-line to run configuration commands and create applications
  • Steeper learning curve than some frameworks
  • Good AJAX and JavaScript helpers
  • Supports PHP 5


  • Intended for developing large-scale Web applications
  • Written in strict OOP
  • Has built-in support for both authentication and authorization.
  • Claims to have very high performance
  • Complex syntax for declaring model relationships, but with powerful features including named scope
  • No built-in unit testing support
  • SOAP support
  • Has jQuery bundled; jQuery-based AJAX support
  • Supports PHP 5


  • Fork of CodeIgniter
  • No dependencies on PECL extensions or PEAR libraries
  • Has a cascading file system
  • Built in-template engine
  • No unit testing support
  • Has built-in Auth module and a number of third-party Auth and ACL libraries
  • Supports PHP 5


  • Multilingual models and views
  • Dojo Rich Text Editor
  • Automated locale management
  • Clean separation from HTML and Javascript using CSS event selectors
  • Built in-template engine
  • Supports PHP 4 and 5


  • Component-based and event-driven programming framework
  • Components are a combination of a specification file (in XML), an HTML template, and a PHP class.
  • PRADO components are highly reusable
  • Built in-template engine
  • Supports PHP 5


  • Features GuiControls (a PHP implementation of .Net’s webcontrols)
  • Smarty-based view layer and templating system
  • SMTP template-based email sending
  • Built in-template engine
  • Supports PHP 4 and 5

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