21 Best PHP Frameworks for Modern Web Development

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is the most popular web programming language used by over 240 million websites. PHP is popular because of its interactive functionalities, HTML and data integration support, and easy-to-learn feature.
Just like other popular programming languages, PHP also has some useful frameworks that can enhance your development process.

Why you should use a PHP framework?

  • Provides well organized, maintainable code and better security features
  • Separates web application’s server logic, business rules and presentation views
  • Makes development process fast, more productive and helps you avoid low level errors
  • Automates common tasks and lets you grow over time as apps running on frameworks are scalable
  • Contains inbuilt libraries and tools to help you with database abstraction, input/output filtering, session and cookie handling and more.

We’ve carefully gathered the 21 best PHP frameworks that will help you build interoperable, agile apps, and streamline the process of backend web development.

21. Li3


Li3 is the most RAD framework that bridges the gap between relation and non relational databases through a single, unified API. It takes full advantage of latest PHP features, including namespaces, late static binding, and closures.

Li3 gives you complete control over your application, from filters to dynamically modify framework internals, to dynamic dependencies to replace or extend core classes with app or plugin. Each component is replaceable through the robust plugin architecture. If you don’t want to write a full application, build a micro-app in a single file using the routing system, without compromising the maintainability of the framework’s structure.

Read: 17 Useful PHP Testing, Debugging and Optimization Tools

20. Zikula


Zikula is an opensource PHP framework and CMS (Content Management System) based on Symfony and Doctrine. It is well integrated with the popular Bootstrap 3 framework and Font Awesome 4.

With Zikula, you can build any type of web application, whether it is a large corporate web presence with eCommerce, a simple blog or a community portal. There are a few cool features such as document creator, flexible theme system, ModuleStudio, WYSIWYG editor, galleries, chat and more.

19. Mockery


Mockery is flexible, PHP mock object framework that can be used in unit testing with PHPUnit, PHPSpec, or any other testing framework. The primary goal is to offer a test double framework with an API capable of defining all possible object operations and interactions using a human DSL (Domain Specific Language).

18. Medoo


Medoo is the lightest PHP database framework designed to accelerate the development. It supports different common and complex queries, and compatible with various SQL database, including MYSQL, MSSQL, Oracle, MariaDB, Sybase and more. Furthermore, it is capable to prevent SQL injection. The framework is distributed under MIT license, which means you can use it anywhere you want.

17. Nette


Nette is a collection of decouple and reusable components that will make the development process easier. You can use any of these components independently from the rest of the framework. It supports all advanced technologies and concepts such as AJAX/AJAJ, SEO, KISS, dependency injection, MVC and more.

Nette eliminates most of the security holes and their misuses, like session hijacking, XSS, CSRF, session fixation, etc. Also, it possesses unmatched debug tools to help you discover all bugs in a timely fashion.

16. Agile Toolkit

Agile Toolkit

Agile Toolkit provides you full-stack UI framework for building web apps faster. It is build on top of 4 major components – DSQL, Core, Data and CSS. It implements the MVC architecture with major focus on “code reuse”.

The platform links thousands of developers by allowing them to share and sell their add-ons, widgets and themes. While most PHP frameworks have a query builder, they have designed DSQL to be superior in features, more elegant in object design and more efficient.

15. Nova


Nova is simple yet powerful MVC PHP framework for creating web applications. There is no complicated setup and you get full control over themes to change the look of your website. Nova doesn’t come with lots of built-in libraries instead, it’s left to the developer to decide what they want to implement. However, it does come with a wide range of helper classes. You can add new classes easily at any stage of development.

The framework supports MySQL using a PDO helper, which can be swapped to MySQLI, Medoo or other database engine. Support is provided by a variety of sources, including Facebook groups, Twitter and a dedicated Forum.

14. Flight


Flight is fast, simple, and extensible PHP framework that helps you quickly and easily build RESTful web applications. It is not recommended for complex web application projects. However, for small size projects, it supports, error handling, routing, overriding, filtering, caching, and JSON sending and JSONP responses.

13. Aura


The primary goal of Aura is to provide high quality, well tested, standards-compliant, independent library packages that can be used in any codebase. Each library is self-contained and they are decoupled, not only from any particular framework, but also from each other.

12. PHPixie


PHPixie is a modern framework that provides ease of use and total flexibility. It is built by using independent components, which are 100% unit tested and have perfect quality metrics. The framework lets you use the HAML markup language, enable schema migration, and has a sophisticated routing system.

PHPixie allows you to organize your projects into bundles to make it easy to reuse your code in other projects. It is built on a strict architecture that avoids common pitfalls such as reliance of static methods, singeltons, global scope and other antipatterns. Thus ensuring that the code is easy to read, debug and test and extend.

11. FuelPHP


FuelPHP is Model-View-Controller framework that is built from the ground up to have full support for HMVC as part of its architecture. Some of its main features include URL routing system, template parsing, RESTful implementation, vulnerability protection, caching system, and Object Relational Mapper.

The framework takes care of security concerns by providing input and URI filtering and output encoding. Furthermore, the community driven approach makes it flexible, modular and extensible framework.

10. Fat-Free Framework

Fat-Free Framework

This is a powerful yet easy-to-use full featured PHP toolkit designed to help you create dynamic and robust web applications in no time. It provides you a solid foundation, mature code base and well-structured approach to write web apps. It can protect you from spam and DoS attacks by performing DNSBL checks. Also, it can increase the server health and uptime by controlling web server traffic with profile analysis and bandwidth throttle.

The framework supports high performance URL routing, multi-protocol caching engine, built-in code lightning and multilingual i18n applications. There isn’t any convoluted directory structure, unnecessary or painstaking installation procedures, and no complex configuration required.

9. RedCat PHP

RedCat PHP

RedCat PHP framework is developed to enhance developers abilities and bring project’s quality to excellence. It’s a full-stack framework, a group of decoupled components working together to make a complete web app solution.

The framework provides server’s request configuration, Javascript dependencies manager, boilerplate templates, database query composer, robots.txt file for search engines, maintenance preset, and default sets for cross domain policies, and some other nice stuffs.

8. Slim


Slim is a micro framework that allows you to quickly write simple yet powerful web applications and APIs. It is minimalistic in design and perfect for smaller applications, especially for developing RESTful APIs and services.

Slim provides a powerful router that maps route callbacks to specific HTTP request methods. It supports PSR-7 HTTP message implementation so you may check and manipulate HTTP message method, status, header and cookies. Also, it supports dependency injection to give you complete control over external tools.

7. Phalcon


Phalcon is full stack PHP framework written in C and C++ to hit the highest level of performance possible. You don’t need to learn the C language as C extensions are loaded together with PHP, and classes and functions provided by the extension are ready-to-use for any application. It doesn’t only boosts execution speed, but also decreases resource usage.

Because of its low level architecture and optimizations, the framework provides the lowest overhead for MVC-based apps. It is loaded with many cool features like asset management, universal auto loader, caching, security, translation and many others.

6. Zend Framework

Zend Framework

Zend is full featured and object oriented PHP framework packed with a lot of configuration options. It uses Composer as a package dependency manager – Travis CI as a continuous integration service and PHPUnit to test all packages. It also follows PHP-FIG standards and includes an implementation of PSR-7 for HTTP message interfaces.

The framework is usually not recommended for small size projects, but excellent for complex ones. Their official website provides all tutorials to help you get started, or migrate from version 2 to version 3.

5. Yii


Yii is fast, secure and high performance framework best for developing web 2.0 applications. It features DAO/ActiveRecord, authentication, caching, scaffolding, role based access control, error handling, testing and more. It is considered ideal for creating social networking websites.

The second version of the framework is integrated with jQuery and a set of Ajax-enabled features, which makes it a great choice for coders who come from frontend background. It works equally well for both rapid prototyping and large scale web apps, and allows you to focus on unique ideas while offering the flexibility to bend your application in any direction you want.

4. CakePHP


CakePHP offers a flexible database layer and a powerful scaffolding system that makes building both small and complex projects simpler. You don’t need to configure any XML or YAML file, just setup your database and you are ready to bake. The framework powers websites of big brands including Express, BMW and Hyundai.

The things you need are already built-in – caching, translation, database access, validation, authentication and much more. As far as security concerns it is packed with input validation, CSRF protection, SQL injection prevention, XSS prevention and Form tampering protection. Moreover, there is a set of conventions to guide you in developing your application.

3. CodeIgniter


CodeIgniter is built for developers who need a simple and elegant toolkit to create full-featured web applications. It has a tiny footprint (2 MB) and consistently outperforms most of its competitors. This lean MVC framework has enough capabilities to improve your productivity while providing for third-party plugin for additional functionalities.

You don’t need to configure anything as much of the CodeIgniter configuration is done by convention. Moreover, there are no restrictive coding rules and no need for template language. It aims to empower you, not shackle you.

Read: What’s New in PHP 7: Things You Should Know

2. Symfony 2


Symfony is built on a set of decoupled and reusable components on which some of the best PHP applications are built like Drupal, phpBB and Piwik. It has a wide developer community and many passionate followers.

Although the framework is not necessary, it is just a tool to help you develop better and faster. It has everything you would expect – speed, security, flexibility, scalability reusable components and more. At first glance, entities, templating, routing, and object configuration, altogether can appear very confusing. But, once you grab basic understanding of web development and know how to CRUD a database, things will become easier for you.

1. Laravel


Laravel is the most popular PHP framework among developers. It is built to be simple, easy to learn and supports rapid application development. Laravel has its own light weight templating engine named “Blade” and elegant syntax that facilitates common tasks like authentication, queueing, sessions, caching and RESTful routing.

Read: 36 Useful PHP Libraries for Developers

The tool has a community catering to thousands of application developers and programming geeks. It is cleverly designed to offer incredible flexibility to coders that help them build each and everything from tiny apps to giant enterprise websites.

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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    • Php Clicks says:

      Nice collection on Codeigniter and Laravel Frameworks 🙂