By Sean P Aune

16 PHP Frameworks To Consider For Your Next Project

By Sean P Aune

Why spend valuable time coding everything by hand? Using a framework is a great way to save time and effort on your next project—you’ll have a firm foundation to build upon, there will be pre-built modules to perform tedious coding tasks, and if you’re a learner, it’s a great way to learn about good coding practice. PHP’s massive popularity means that developers have a wide variety of frameworks to choose from. We’re sure you can find one amongst these 16 to meet your needs.

Agavi: This PHP 5-based framework started off as a fork of the popular Mojavi project. While it can be used as a web site construction kit, its primary focus is on building fully-fledged applications.


Akelos: Akelos is a PHP port of a Ruby on Rails framework for building web applications. It avoids complex configurations, making it ideal for use on simpler web servers. There’s a healthy community around this one!


CakePHP: The very well-known CakePHP is easy for coders of all skill levels to use. It’s based on the same principles that guide Ruby on Rails, and its heavy focus on rapid deployment methods make it a great choice for developers who are squeezed for time (see SitePoint’s beginner’s CakePHP tutorial to get started).


CodeIgniter: EllisLab’s CodeIgniter has won wide praise for its small footprint and speed, and has become a favorite amongst many developers. There’s extensive documentation and a large community of users to help you out.


eZ Components: OK, so we’re stretching the definition of framework here. eZ Components, as the name suggests, is a library of individual components for common tasks. If you’re familiar with the ezPublish CMS, you might have seen some of these components before!


Fuse: Fuse is based on Ruby on Rails and CakePHP, but has had many features added by the development team to make the most stable platform they could. There are frequent updates—development on version 2.0 is underway!


Horde: This mainstay of the PHP framework world grew from the Horde webmail and groupware suite. If you’re a developer who speaks a language other than English, you may be interested in the fact that the framework is designed specifically to be localization-friendly.


Kohana: Kohana, originally based on CodeIgniter, puts its focus on being small, fast, and secure.


PHP on TRAX: A PHP framework based on Ruby on Rails (Get that name? Nudge nudge!) that is focused on building database-backed web applications based on the MVC structure. You’ll find a healthy developer community, demos, and even screencasts.

php on trax

PHPOpenBiz: This PHP framework claims to have business development in mind, though we’re not sure how it is that other frameworks aren’t suitable for that purpose.


Qcubed: Qcubed is a fork of the Qcodo framework which had remained dormant for some time. It’s back, and its focus is on rapid prototyping. You’ll find fun tutorials on the site, and an enthusiastic new set of developers.


Seagull: This well-established PHP framework is easy to pick up for developers of any skill level. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find many pre-built apps to examine and extend, and there’s something for experts too—cash bounties are offered for improvements to the code.


Symfony: The ever-popular Symfony is directed more at enterprise application development, and it may have some trouble with shared hosting solutions as they lack a PHP accelerator. This is definitely more of an advanced developer framework than some of the others out there.


WACT: Short for Web Application Component Toolkit, WACT emphasizes the need for frequent code refactoring, unit testing, and good security.


Zend: Zend is focused on Web 2.0 style applications. It’s simple to use APIs from sites such as Google, Flickr, Amazon and so on (check out the SitePoint Zend tutorial for more on this). With a massive user base, you’re sure to find plenty of support and advice around the Web.


ZooP: A mature PHP framework for beginners and advanced users alike, ZooP focuses on being lightweight and easy to learn. Features include easy use of PEAR modules, the prototype Ajax framework and stacks of documentation.


Of course there are many more frameworks out there—users of our PHP Application Design Forum drop by every day with discussions of what they’re working on. What’s your favorite PHP framework and why?

  • martin kleosch

    where is flow3?

  • My first reaction when reading the title was “You are going to have a hard time figuring out how to use 16 different frameworks on the same project” :)

  • I am planning to extend a framework into a browser game engine. Games like mafia wars on facebook. Which framework would you recommend for this? I have thought about CakePHP and Zend however one of these other frameworks might be a much better fit. I’m experienced in PHP so learning how the framework works won’t be a problem.

    Anyone got any suggestions?

  • Jerermy

    I’ve just recently started using Code Ignitor for the reasons stated here (small footprint & speed). Also, it provides thorough & understandable documentation for someone with experience but no computer science degree. The little bit of research I did showed it to be faster than CakePHP or ZendFramework.

  • Gip

    Do any of these include an ORM layer or is that an add on piece to just about any PHP framework?

  • Shahriat Hossain

    Nice posting :) I am already familiar with CodeIgniter, CakePHP and Zend Framework. So thanks for sharing others.

  • foxmask


    like Martin, i dont find anything about Jelix PHP5 Framework too (


  • Bob Jones

    I’ve been using the Zoop Framework for some time now. I’m glad you included it. It has been a lifesaver for me. I can’t wait for the 2.0 release! Particularly with it’s new integrated automated API.

    @Robbo89 you may want to take a look at the upcoming Zoop 2.0 release. It’s beta now, but quite stable. It makes writing service based code very easy.

  • Can somebody wrap up a feature grid for these? It’d be nice to have a side-by-side comparison instead of just a top ten (16?) list.

  • Mr Q

    Regarding “Agavi”: And what is the difference between a web site and a full fledged application? Just wondering….

  • I agree with sweatje – I’m not sure what this list achieves other than adding more confusion about the best framework to use.

    A more detailed appraisal is needed.


    onPHP is the mature GPL’ed multi-purpose object-oriented PHP framework.

    Just one note. We have multiple(filesystem, memcahced, apc) cache in 2005:;a=blob;f=core/Cache/AggregateCache.class.php;h=70e7267b438605a7f2b586389012bbcaadf60bc8;hb=1.0

    Transparent greedy cache worker(this worker cache all objects in application automatically) in 2006:;a=blob;f=main/DAOs/Workers/TransparentDaoWorker.class.php;h=21ea3b18669f14bdd98739d5abb32b8a442022c0;hb=1.0

  • Sal B / @mayhemchaos

    I know this is some sort of preferred list so I’d like to offer my suggestion for a great PHP framework: ModxCMS. My company uses Modx exclusively with the exception of blogs/ecommerce; though Modx can handle blog functionality (just little more setup then most people are willing to do).

    Nice list nonetheless!

  • danoph

    CodeIgniter has the smallest learning curve along with a lot of support from the community. I have been building applications with CodeIgniter for 2 years now and it’s great!

  • m00b13es

    i’ve tried cakephp, zend and code igniter for different web apps. i had settled on code igniter until recently when i wanted an ORM layer. you can boostrap doctrine into code igniter, or you could take a look at kohana which is based on code igniter but has some ORM and other handy modules and is totally OOP. it’s also community open source.

  • loganathan

    i have used CakePHP, it is simply great!!

  • thierrybo

    Just to get comments…

  • *rejects post*

    Re-do please.

  • veena

    Consider the MVC & component based Nette Framework which was designed with simplicity in mind :-)
    Thread safe IO?
    Persistent parameters without sessions?
    Components with listeners?
    Build in support for snippets of templates for Ajax?

    Where else you find it in PHP frameworks?

  • HalbrookTech

    Granted, I’m biased, having been affiliated with the project since it’s early days, Zikula is a good tool as well. It has grown out of the work being done on the old PostNuke CMS, but has moved well beyond that old system to something new, and it’s progressing quite well. I noticed above someone mentioned Doctrine, I know the devs were looking in to adding this in to the 2.0 version, and I believe I recall seeing that it was done in the SVN notices I get.

  • Bit

    This seems like a very uneven list. You have frameworks like Cake, CI, Symfony and Zend with big communities around them. And then frameworks like WACT that have not had a release in years. There are as many interesting frameworks off the list as there are on the list.

  • neovive

    I’m surprised that KohanaPHP ( did not make the list. The project was originally a PHP5-only fork of CodeIgniter, but has matured into a very powerful and well-written framework. It also has built-in ORM support.

  • neovive

    I just noticed that Kohana made the list above. Must have missed it on the first read through.

  • Miguel

    Yii should be on this list… on any list :)

  • Loic d’Anterroches

    I am using Pluf which is a Django port in PHP:

  • Lafriks

    I have come up with my preferences after trying a lot of frameworks.. I would strongly recommend looking into Yii framework ( if making web page and Prado framework ( for web applications. Really great frameworks with wide functionality.

  • Anonymous
  • Pablo

    @Gip Have a look at Kohana.
    Although Kohana is usually under-described as simply a fork of CodeIgniter, it does have some significant differences. I’m a fan of CodeIgniter and adjusting to Kohana at the moment as the principles of both suit me. They’re fast, lightweight and easily extensible so they deliver without adding bloat.

    Kohana is PHP 5 only and has been re-written to align with v5. The community and documentation isn’t as large as CodeIgniter’s but it’s satisfactory. If you’re a good enough programmer to use a framework you should be able to get to grips with Kohana quickly. I hope the two projects merge at some point as they both have strengths and weaknesses that complement each other.

  • Anthony Gentile

    SolarPHP is a great framework not on the list.

  • Wow… why so many frameworks? Are there seriously that many different architecture styles? I wonder what the PHP community could produce if we got behind, say, three of the best frameworks and made them their absolute best.

  • Alan Hogan

    Also check out RedBean, a zero-config ORM!

  • alexweber

    nice list but where is Yii????

  • Orb

    “Why spend valuable time coding everything by hand? Using a framework is a great way to save time and effort on your next project—”

    True, but how about CMS? Yet another possible much faster than PHP Framework ;)

    For example WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

    I tried CakePHP, Zend, it’s nice, but too much work to build CMS.
    Drupal is best solution to everything what you want with PHP, even you can build own CMS with awesome functions/modules from Drupal.

  • Deepak Shakya

    Hi there…

    I am using PRADO for some 3 weeks and its just wonderful…

    I hope you have a look at it as well…

  • James

    I thought LionFramework was also getting a lot of notice in the PHP community?

  • Kalebarkab

    I want to find good pop music. Help me please.

  • If you are creating a back office application which requires either Single or Two Factor Authentication for user logins, Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Audit Logging, Workflow, rapid application development using a data dictionary to import table structures from the database then export these structures as PHP classes, coupled with easy transaction development using an extensive library of transaction patterns – then you should take a serious look at

  • Some aspects that could be considered when making a choice:
    The intention of the project. Some projects are long running and will be built upon. Some projects have limited scope and are more suited for experimenting with something new
    PHP4 or PHP5? I (but that’s just an opinion from a developer’s perspective) would be much more inclined to skip PHP4 based frameworks altogether. I’ve got the feeling that building on top of a PHP4 framework is more likely to hold me back than push me forward.
    Testability and extensibility. How modular are components? Does the framework adopt to your practices or does it force you to adapt to the framework?

  • William Allworth

    I also though I’d see Yii on the list – I went from Codeignitor to Yii, Codeignitor was great but Yii just feels right.

  • Pete

    What about kata?

  • cyberpol

    Yii framework: Must visit

  • scotty118


    Good article and thanks a lot. As a php beginner is there a framework that anyone would recommend as a place to start?

    With lots of choice its difficult to know just where to jump in :)

    hanks a lot

  • Ronny

    Anyone looking for a framework should definitely try Yii before deciding.

  • Nice list! I am a big fan of Zend personally.

  • spheroid

    I started with CodeIgniter originally because I couldn’t wrap my head around what MVC was all about. Great framework. However, I recently switched to CakePHP 1.2.3. Why? Sure, I’ve read CI is faster (as far as page loads), but to me, CakePHP seems faster to code. I love how the CRUD functionality is SO much faster to develop than CI. With CI I spent so much time developing CRUD pages it was redundant/boring. CakePHP wins for me.

  • 浜村拓夫

    Nice list! Thank you.

    Cheetan is MVC framework which is lightest in the world(?) for PHP.

  • JamesD

    Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

  • francois

    Since recently I’m using FLOW3 and I’m quite impressed by what’s possible in PHP. Very clean and intuitive, better than ZF in my opinion.

  • Diane

    Did you tried Lion Framework?

  • Hi, very nice post. I have been wonder’n bout this issue,so thanks for posting

  • Sri

    @krues8dr, shows a grid for some of the frameworks.<br>

    Obviously, there are many more good ones out there as pointed by others. Celeroo Frame is an extremely lightweight and flexible framework. There are no hard rules and even the core of the framework can be modified and extended by users.<br>

    Beginners can get started in a day as the documentation is all of just 6 pages.

  • php/ajax

    Very nice list indeed.

    Anyone looking for a framework with integrated HTML/DOM, CSS and Ajax support should check out Raxan PDI:

  • woobi

    yeah, yii should be in the list. it’s easy and with many generator included.

  • Eric

    If anyone is looking for a very simple beginner PHP MVC framework, try

    It only has 1 core file with 3 classes

  • Anonymous

    Don’t waste your time with PHPOpenBiz, it is buggy garbage.

  • roddog63

    Don’t waste your time with PHPOpenBiz, its too buggy and offers nothing different than the others.

  • dimis283

    I used codeigniter for some projects,I tried also kohanaphp (finding it better at some things, even it has less helpers-as I thing).
    Now I make a web site with Yii framework and I thing I will stick with that, it is very good.
    Cakephp is good but as they are saying it is not so fast and Zend has many things to learn

  • Knut

    You should definitely add Yii framework on that list. How can you bypass it?

  • Pura

    My choice is codeigniter for small and medium projects and ZEND for the bigger projects as it is more powerful framework with TDD compatiblity.

    Entire Web Solution.

  • Anonymous

    Kohana: Kohana, originally based on CodeIgniter, puts its focus on being small, fast, and secure.

    nuff said.

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