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An In Depth Look: Top PHP Frameworks

PHP is an open source scripting language designed for web development. When the language was first released in 1994, PHP stood for Personal Home Page. Today, PHP is referred to as a backronym – PHP, Hypertext Preprocessor.


PHP is a dynamic language allowing developers run their code instantly, without having to compile it first. What makes PHP unique from other client-side languages is that the code is executed on the server which generates HTML before it’s sent to the client.




In Stack Overflow’s 2016 developer’s survey, PHP remained the fifth most popular language used by 25.9% of the 56,000 respondents, the same spot it occupied in 2015. Considered by many as one of the easiest languages to learn, PHP also comes with an array of online resources by organizations and communities with the goal of helping out PHP developers.


Some of the world’s biggest organizations include PHP in their technology stack – with Facebook being the best known. In addition to Facebook, mega websites written in PHP include Wikipedia, WordPress, and MailChimp.


PHP Frameworks

Building applications can be a complicated and lengthy process, but frameworks are here to help. By utilizing a framework, developers can complete projects faster and can work better – thanks to the many generic elements and modules, easy long-term maintenance options, and automated code organization. In a nutshell, frameworks give developers the time and space to focus on writing high-quality, top-notch code, leading to the creation of sustainable and reliable applications. Let’s recap some of the biggest PHP frameworks of the moment:




First on our list is a framework with a huge developer community filled with loads of fans. First published as free software in 2005, Symfony is a PHP web application framework consisting of a set of reusable PHP components and libraries. By using the many libraries available on Symfony, developers can complete a wide array of tasks including creation, routing, object configuration, templating, authentication, and more. Symfony’s website features a section dedicated to the incredible work developed through the framework, and featured additional tutorials and how-tos to ensure that any developer using Symfony has all the required tools and assistance.




CakePHP is a framework that allows developers to build web applications fast, and while using code generation features that quickly create prototypes. Database access, caching, authentication, validation, and more are built right into the framework, making it so all that is needed is to setup your database, and you’re good to go.


Established in 2005, CakePHP has been on the scene for a while and it remains among one of the most used PHP frameworks. And with its excellent collection of tools for building strong and secure web apps, it’s no wonder why some of the world’s largest organizations choose CakePHP. And let’s be real, who doesn’t like cake?



Zend Framework

Partnered with Microsoft, Adobe, and Google (among others), Zend is an established PHP framework primarily used for developers building web applications with object-oriented code. And due to the extensive and jam packed configuration options, this framework is recommended for large and complex projects.


Zend is a framework built with enterprise projects in mind, and you can tell through its flexibility and scalability – the current release, Zend Framework 3 has “a proven history of success running business critical and high-usage applications”.




Known as “The Swift PHP Framework”, Kohana is an open source PHP software development framework which allows developers to work fast, efficiently, and effectively thanks to Kohana’s extensive set of built-in objects. And similar to Ruby on Rails, Kohana implements Model View Controller (MVC), a software engineering design pattern.


Furthermore, Kohana enforces a very organized coding standard, making it easy for developers to build up good habits and proper coding practice. This framework is also known for working closely with OOP standards and best practices.




Mainly known as a tool for separation of concerns, Smarty is a template engine for PHP that facilitates the separation of HTML/CSS from application logic. Meaning that as the PHP code is application logic, it is separated from the presentation. The Smarty website is filled to the brim with information about the framework and how to use it, in addition to a vast community of passionate developers who have written helpful testimonials and answers.



There are many more PHP frameworks available for developers, some more extensive than others and all with their own sets of pros and cons. You can click here for the full list. Checkmarx scans PHP static code for security and compliance issues and allows your developers to identify and mitigate issues with the code early on in the software development lifecycle. Click here to learn more!


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