With the increasing popularity among web frameworks, it can get a bit difficult to decide which framework will be best suitable for your projects. While some take their decision on the basis of performance, others may look for a substantial built-in functionality or a well-documented framework.
Here in this blog we will take a look on what features and factors should be considered before choosing any framework for the project.
A PHP framework provides us with reusable code and a foundation to build web apps. It also helps in improving productivity and creating more stable sites. Most of the popular frameworks are based around MVC (model-view-controller), ensuring the separation of logic and presentation which in turn helps us to write clean and reusable code.
Before deciding on a framework for your application, you should understand the needs and requirements of your application.
Here are a few questions you should consider before deciding on a particular framework:
1. What is the main goal of your application?
Will you be developing an ecommerce portal, a social platform, a blog or a business website?
An ecommerce portal will require a framework with the facility for payment integration, while a blog site may need a framework with options for various themes and plugins to choose from.
2. Is good documentation available?
Finding difficulty in understanding someone else’s code is every developer’s story.
Picking a framework with a good documentation will make it easier for the programmers to understand the source-code and develop applications.
3. Does the framework have an active user base and development support?
If the framework you are working on ends up feebly with no active development support, you can either continue using the framework and maintain it yourself or re-code your application to use a new framework.
In order to make sure you don’t get stuck with a framework on a dead-end, take time to research the community of a framework while the project is still in the planning phase.
Let’s discuss some of the popular PHP frameworks:
It is the most popular and one of the oldest framework. The idea behind CakePHP was to make developing applications fast by implementing “convention over configuration”.
With the features like fast coding, better security and Ajax support, CakePHP helps in creating robust business websites which are completely customizable and in accordance with the W3C standards. Like last year when we started working on Neohapsis website, CakePHP was the mutual choice as client wanted a hacker safe website and this framework comes with built-in tools which covers security to a certain level. For example, it takes care of SQL injection, data validation, form spoofing and CSRF.
Another website that we developed for Nucleus Software is a CMS based easy to update website. Using conventions from the framework we created admin backend, whole foundation of which is based on basic CRUD functionality.
CodeIgniter is a lightweight framework that provides simple platform to develop full-featured web applications.
This is a perfect fit for developing any application from small scale informative website to an e-commerce solution. Having worked on multiple MVC platforms, I have learnt that when the key area of concern is scalability and ease of programming, CodeIgniter is the most suitable option. With loads of libraries, plug-ins and helpers available, it takes care of complex programming, all the while maintaining the performance.
Here are a few benefits that I like with CodeIgniter:
- It’s easy to configure and customize as per the requirements
- It’s built with a simple to understand folder structure
- It makes programming quick and developer-friendly
- Easy integration with third-party libraries
- Easy to learn documentation and tutorials
Laravel still in its early days has recently gained popularity among PHP developers. The main reason behind is built-in features like “flexible routing”, “easy database interaction”, “plugins”. This framework is suitable for various sectors like RESTful application, small business app or big enterprise solution.
- Laravel offers a number of features which makes it so popular:
- Eloquent ORM: It offers a very powerful active-record implementation, which makes it easy to perform any database query.
- Flexible Routing: A simple routing mechanism, which is very helpful for developing your own APIs.
- Form Model Binding: In a scenario where we want to edit/update any records in a database, we can use form model binding to populate the form with respective values from database table.
- Authentication: Laravel offers a built-in authentication library which is simple to implement. To perform a login operation, we just need to pass an array of credentials, while for logout this one liner works (Auth::logout();).
- View Existing Routes: With the continuous expansion of application, it gets difficult to check what routes have been registered. Laravel offers a simple command (php artisan routes) to list down all the registered routes in application.
- Commands: You can write your custom commands to perform tasks like fetch data from a third-party API, backup script for application, etc. You can run it as CLI or use them for CRON jobs.
- Form Validation Rules: Laravel offers various rules that can be used to add validation on any object.
There are few other frameworks that you may consider.
Based on the object oriented approach, Zend Framework is most suitable for experienced developers and for building enterprise-level and business critical applications with following features:
- Active user base and large community
- Modular architecture
- Video tutorials
This framework follows Ruby-On-Rails like programming methods. With factors like Ajax helpers, internationalization, admin-interface generator this framework makes it easy to develop web applications.
Some of the useful features that Symphony offers are:
· One-click admin interface
· Built-in testing framework
· Easy debugging
· Logs to track app’s activities
Here’s a chart from Google Trends comparing popularity of different frameworks for last 12 months:
At the end, choose a framework you are comfortable working with. With all the details mentioned above, you can now figure out which framework meets the requirements for your project.
Hope this blog helped you in choosing the right framework. In my next article, I will cover some of the popular open source e-Commerce solutions.
Do share your thoughts in the comments section.