PHP Frameworks and Tools for Developers

The Advent of PHP Frameworks

During the mid 90s, before PHP, most dynamic web work was done in C or Perl. At that time, prior to the advent of PHP, one was required to do all of the HTTP work themselves. If one wanted to create a content type of text/html, they had to set it in code, on every single response.

Errors in CGI scripts would often result in Apache internal error pages and made debugging very difficult. In essence, all of the HTML work had to be done by writing it to output. There was no embedding code with HTML ,even as a templating language.

However, PHP came along and helped to change all of that. It created a default content type of text/html, and automatic handling of request variables. Cookies were easily ingested and output. One could template their HTML with script instead of having to write everything out via print or stdout. It was revolutionary moment for web development.

Choosing the Right Framework

In searching for a PHP Framework it can become quite confusing in deciding what is required for your framework to do, and what this framework contains. Not every PHP Framework offers the same support for databases, communities, or an easy to follow user guide.

A good PHP framework can enable developing a PHP application quickly, efficiently and with more simplicity. Much of the functionality of these great frameworks were first introduced in Rails, and it continues to strive and innovate.

Most PHP developers may consider it troublesome in having to learn a whole new language to use a framework, but Ruby is very easy to master. When it comes to utilizing a PHP framework its important to opt for a framework which is easy to use and understand, unless one is a pretty advanced PHP programmer. Therefore, one should always make sure that their database and web server is compatible with the framework they’ve chosen.

For those who value flexibility and freedom over forced convention, we also recommend having a look at the Kolibri php Framework. While it provides sane defaults with no/minimal configuration, one is free to use the template system of their choice; whether it is XSLT, Smarty, pure PHP or something else entirely.

Whats The Right Framework For You

When choosing your framework, ensure that it isn’t small in the sense that it doesnt offer any support; usually, small or inconclusive frameworks are basically created by individuals whose knowledge of PHP is somewhat limited, and this can create various issues with your applications and ultimately prevent them from running properly.

The possibilities with PHP Frameworks which exist are many and varied, and they solely depend upon the developer utilizing them. If one is an advanced PHP programmer, they’re more than likely to use a framework which is different from one who’s a beginner. PHP frameworks help in the elimination of repetitive coding and systemize the building process. PHP Frameworks serve as powerful tools by which to create a more powerful programming language which will enable a developer in tweaking their code within an organized and effective manner.

We conducted a search on several of these PHP frameworks which offer developers more in terms of usability, speed, and stability, and concluded on 15 frameworks which we believe will be suited to most developers needs. We also suggest checking out this list of Web Application Frameworks as well, and if you have a preferred Framework by which you work with aside from the ones listed here, please do let us know by dropping us your feedback in the comment section below.


1. Webasyst : Open Source PHP Framework for Multi-User Web Apps

Webasyst is a new open source PHP framework for developing sleek multi-user web apps, and complex websites. Comparing to other frameworks such as Zend and Symfony, Webasyst framework stays more focused and allows building apps for business and team usage more quickly and efficiently. The framework offers lots of ready-to-use tool for user management and authorization, UI building, mobile-ready access, etc.
Webasyst framework has been designed in such a way that within a single installed software instance, several different applications can be installed and used. It was one of the main goals of creating the framework to allow tight integration and interaction between several applications. Webasyst released under LGPL license that permits creation of commercial applications, which makes Webasyst a great platform for developing web apps for businesses.

2. Fuel : Community Driven PHP 5.3 Framework

Fuel is a simple, flexible, community driven PHP 5.3 web framework based on the best ideas of other frameworks with a fresh start. Fuel has been tested on Apache, IIS and Nginx.
Fuel takes a different approach to many frameworks and strives to be community-driven. They have only been going for less than 6 months and already had 30 developers commit to the source code and documentation.

3. CakePHP

CakePHP is a rapid development framework for PHP which uses commonly known design patterns like ActiveRecord, Association Data Mapping, Front Controller and MVC. The goal is to provide a structured framework that enables PHP users at all levels to rapidly develop robust web applications, without any loss to flexibility.

4. Zend Framework

Zend Framework is a leading open-source PHP framework has a flexible architecture that lets you easily build modern web applications and web services. Zend Framework is based on simplicity, object-oriented best practices, corporate friendly licensing, and a rigorously tested agile codebase. Zend Framework is focused on building more secure, reliable, and modern Web 2.0 applications & web services.

5. Akelos : A Port of Ruby on Rails PHP Framework

Akelos is a PHP4 and PHP5 port of Ruby on Rails PHP framework for developing database-backed web applications according to the Model-View-Controller pattern. From the Ajax in the view, to the request and response in the controller, to the domain model wrapping the database the Akelos PHP Framework gives you a pure-PHP development environment built upon programming best practices. To go live, all you need to add is a database and a web server. Akelos PHP Framework is designed for PHP developers who want to enjoy writing web applications and Ruby on Rails developers who need to code in PHP. It allows developers to write multilingual web applications easily as well. It lets you write beautiful PHP Code by favoring convention over configuration.

6. Laravel : PHP Framework Committed to Elegance & Simplicity

Laravel is a PHP framework committed to elegance and simplicity. Programming doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it can be enjoyable with the right tools. Laravel is for all PHP programmers, even beginners. In fact, Laravel’s documentation makes Laravel a great choice for both beginning and advanced PHP programmers.
In addition to the documentation, Laravel’s friendly community is always willing to help answer questions that aren’t covered in the documentation. Bundles are a great way to package and share Laravel code. They can be anything – from a complete ORM or simple debugging tools, and it’s a breeze to drop them into your application!

7. PUF : PHP Utility Framework

PUF is a PHP utility framework (that’s what PUF stands for). It’s a comprehensive collection of useful and popular PHP utility functions created to save time for developers that regularly use those functions when building web applications.

8. PHPSecInfo : Security Information about PHP Environment

PHP Security Consortium (PHPSC) is an international group of PHP experts dedicated to promoting secure programming practices within the PHP community. Members of the PHPSC seek to educate PHP developers about security through a variety of resources, including documentation,
tools, and standards. You can read the PHP Security Guide they have published.

In addition to their educational efforts, the PHPSC engages in exploratory and experimental research in order to develop and promote standards of best practice for PHP application development. PHP Security Consortium has developed PHPSecInfo in order to help developers and system administrators audit PHP environments.

9. Opauth : An Open Source PHP Library

Opauth is an open source PHP library that removes the inconsistencies between providers and offers a standardized method for dealing with them. Currently, 3 providers are almost plug ‘n’ play: Google, Twitter + Facebook and there are more to come. Also, there is support for dealing with any other Oauth provider. Also, it integrates well with PHP frameworks including CakePHP, Yii and others to be added soon.

10. Lucid Desktop : Open Source PHP WebOS

Lucid Desktop is an open source webOS that is built with PHP and uses a SQL database for storing data. It is a multi-user application which is very modular with the support for installable applications. Lucid Desktop already comes with lots of applications like text editor, calculator, image viewer, simple games, web browser, feed reader, music player and more. With the help of a file manager, you can add-edit-delete files and folders (a context menu makes these steps easier), change the appearance of the desktop with theming support and auto-update the OS to the latest version.

11. ChiliScripts : Simple & Free PHP Stats Script

The application is free, open source, built with PHP and uses MySQL for storing the data.It presents a snapshot of the statistics -supported with charts- in a “OneView” page and sub-pages for viewing top-referrers, visited pages or referring keywords exist. And, a “History” page allows digging the statistics of past months. ChiliStats also offers a stats counter widget to be integrated inside web pages.

12. Dummy : PHP Took Kit for Generating Filler Images & Contents

Dummy is a toolkit designed to make the development, testing and presentation of web prototypes less time consuming and more realistic. It does so by helping you populate your work with content and by randomizing key aspects of it’s layout, in a way, simulating connectivity to a live database, and making it possible to visualize, test and present something much closer to the outcome of a finished project.

13. Image WorkShop : PHP Image Manipulation Class

PHP Image Workshop is an open source class using GD library that helps you to manage images with PHP. This class is thought like photo editing software, you can superimpose many layers or even layer groups, each layer having a background image. It makes the class most flexible ever. t has support for many functions like placing an image (or many images) on another one (good for watermarks), cropping, moving, resizing, rotating (with any degrees), superposing, writing and more.

14. jqmPhp : HTML Code Generator for jQuery

jqmPhp is an open source project that aims to simplify using jQuery Mobile with PHP. It is a pack of PHP classes that can generate the HTML outputs which jQuery Mobile is expecting within few lines. The classes are on separate files (with names parallel to the JQM’s features) so you can choose to only use the necessary ones.

15. Gantti : Gantt Charts With PHP

Gantti is an open source PHP class for generating Gantt charts on-the-fly. The charts created are pure HTML5-CSS3 with no JavaScript involved. The output looks very nice by default but can be customized with ease (with SASS stylesheet). It simply works by defining an array of start/end dates and calling a single function. Also, charts are cross browser (IE7+)

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  1. Shivkumar says:

    Since, I got helped from this blog after using this content. I would like to appreciate reader and thanks him for sharing such a informative and useful tools.

  2. Adam Smith says:

    The Yii framework should be on this list, and after a fair few years working with it, I’d go as far as to say that it should be on top! Check it out, its more powerful than it first appears –

  3. ssmusoke says:

    Oh my another list of PHP Frameworks, without Symfony 2, how much research was done for this article?

    Just an FYI, you missed out on what is happening in PHP today …

    • Mia says:

      Our aim within this article, was to list several PHP Frameworks which handle a variety of different tasks. As with everything in life, everyone has their own particular preferences.

      If we did not include every single PHP Framework which exists out there does not imply we are “out of touch with what is happening in PHP today”… ( sorry you feel that way ) ; for this reason, we left off with the closing statement in our article allowing an open forum for feedback / discussion & not derogatory insults :

      “We also suggest checking out this list of Web Application Frameworks as well, and if you have a preferred Framework by which you work with aside from the ones listed here, please do let us know by dropping us your feedback in the comment section below.”

      Thank you for your feedback Stephen and btw – very informative post on the state of PHP & Symfony2 & Zend Frameworks.
      Wishing you much success within your life & career endeavors.

      • Since you are focusing on the lesser know frameworks, then the title and actual frameworks should reflect that as Zend Framework and CakePHP are in the top 5. The article is also a mixture of frameworks, libraries (OpAuth) and scripts which makes it a trifle confusing.

        Otherwise thanks for the article and reading mine as well

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