Symfony vs Laravel vs CodeIgniter

Which PHP Framework is More Productive – Symfony, Laravel or CodeIgniter?

One of the toughest challenges in web development is building top-notch applications and websites in the least possible time. This is the reason, programmers prefer using PHP framework for web application development that offers several tools to choose from.

However, decision fatigue is common when you have a multitude of options, that too, all good ones. After days of research, I’ve finally mustered the strength to write on the topic: Which is the best PHP framework among Symfony, Laravel, and CodeIgnitor.

On taking a closer look at all the three contenders, I discovered certain emerging patterns like coding styles, setup requirements and configuration, performance, modularity and usability, and the overall architecture. Each of them has their own set of features, usage, pros, and cons. While this isn’t about “which one is the best?”, let’s dig deeper to learn the differences between the three frameworks.

Symfony Web Development Framework

Symfony might not be the most trending platform, it fits in well with complex or large-scale enterprise projects. This is because it is certainly the most stable framework.

Published in October 2005 as a free software, Symfony aims to speed up the development and maintenance of web applications and to replace coding iterations. It can also work with some of the largest open source platforms, like Piwik, PHPBB, and Drupal.

Symfony Web Development Framework

Over the years, Symfony PHP development has gained a lot of popularity. It had a tremendous impact on PHP frameworks and tools like Doctrine, composer, or PSR standards that have become the de-facto standard for many other PHP tool sets. It has a very extensible architecture and flexible UI.

Symfony tends to work well with composers, autoloaders, and namespaces, all of which are important parts of a well-structured application. This is to note here that Symfony components establish the base for the Laravel framework as well as the Symfony2 MVC framework.

Its latest version (Symfony 3.1) helps programmers create scalable websites that are flexible to changing business requirements. I believe that because of its ability to use different ORM systems (i.e. Doctrine or Propel), Symfony is still the top choice of programmers.

Having such a flexibility to use different ORMs is indeed a great opportunity for any programmer, especially if they keep their business logic in the Model layer. This what makes Symfony reliable and so powerful.

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Pros of using Symfony Web Development Framework

  • If implemented well, Symfony performs with a speed that is the sum of the individual speeds of all the features you choose to work with. it includes. Hence, Symfony is faster than many other PHP frameworks if used properly.
  • This framework manages all the basic chunks of web development for the users including request variables and headers (think $_GET, $_POST, $_SESSION etc). It also adds multiple pre-built functionalities to ensure security such as user authentication for secure areas of the website using config files and some class writing.
  • By incorporating some very advanced features, Symfony makes the web development procedure more secure, more maintainable and cleaner such as the Forms bundle. Symfony developers and designers don’t need to create HTML form fields manually and then validate, sanitize, and process that data. Each of these tasks is accomplished by the Forms bundle.
  • In terms of testing, it is at the core of Symfony. Functional testing is carried out to ensure the controller interacts correctly with the model. UI testing ensures your JavaScript/AJAX interactions are working as they should with the use of tools like Selenium.
  • Developers can make use of many easy scalability options that Symfony offers. From optimizing Propels, minimizing the number of queries with joins, limiting the number of objects to hydrate, and avoid using temporary arrays, you get high scalability with Symfony.

Cons of using Symfony

  • While Symfony is a fantastic framework for the ninjas, those who’ve just begun with it might find it complicated. Because of its complex structure, it seems to be “bulky” and hence needs to be configured. This can be challenging to understand and learn at first.

The good news is that Symfony is smart enough to maintain a great balance in being highly modular and configurable. So, once the developer understands its entire structure, it is easy to use and complete the development quickly.

User Reviews

Symfony User Reviews

Source: https://www.g2crowd.com/products/symfony/reviews

Laravel Web Development Framework

As discussed above, Laravel arose from several Symfony components and hence leverages a great deal of it.

While Laravel tries to maintain the fashion, it also keeps things simple by using stable, and solid Symfony backbone for offering an entirely new way to code within its own MVC environment.

Laravel Web Development Framework

Laravel, unlike CodeIgniter, does a better job of enforcing some structure. Plus, it leaves the architecture open for 3rd party plug-ins instead of following a more strict plugin structure like CakePHP. However, this approach of Laravel is considered differently by different developers.

While it’s much easier to re-use an existing component in most cases, relying entirely on third-party libraries can gradually cause you a maintenance ordeal, because of which larger Symfony projects often suffer from. The best thing about the Laravel web application development platform is its Eloquent ORM. However, it has both plus and minus. While it’s great and simple, because of its simplicity, it is not very well-structured and granular

Probably, Laravel is the best to use as a front-end framework that doesn’t require you to use complex data store functionality. When it comes to building a web application, Laravel developers get a convenient way to develop and implement API’s and to establish routing. In simple words, Laravel is the best interface when it comes to dealing with a more complex back-end system.

In terms of testing, Unit testing in Laravel is a great convenience. Based on the KISS approach (Keep it Simple, Stupid) Laravel doesn’t impose any strict guidelines for determining the right structure for your tests. However, it offers all the tools necessary to write effective unit and functional tests to give you exactly what you expect.

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Pros of Laravel over other frameworks

  • With Laravel, developers can impose constraints when using multiple database objects using advanced query builder mechanism. In addition, you get an easy version control PHP Framework Laravel for simplifying the management of migrations.
  • Laravel offers an auto-loading facility and restrains the developer from making efforts for inclusion paths and manual maintenance. It also offers the freedom to generate new tools using an IoC container.
  • With Laravel, authentication is no more a headache. Instead, it is much simpler because of the availability of ready-to-use pre-built authentication system. All you need to do is to configure controllers, database migrations, models, and views to make your framework work.

Cons of Laravel

  • Laravel’s core files are stored within its namespace and not all of these files use a namespace slash ( a \ ) against calling another core file. This makes it difficult for the developers to extend some classes. This is, however, not a big issue for all the developers.

User Reviews

Laravel User Reviews

Source: https://www.g2crowd.com/products/laravel/reviews

CodeIgniter Web Development Framework

Robust and powerful by means of a well-designed toolkit, CodeIgniter is a prominent PHP framework. It is perfect for web applications development with advanced features.

CodeIgniter is an open-source PHP framework and has been intuitive to new learners desiring to develop web applications quickly. It is a software approach to rectify application logic and presentation by detaching it from PHP scripting. However, in reality, CodeIgniter development welcomes web pages that contain minimal scripting.

CodeIgniter Web Development Framework

Because of the standard PHP coding, CodeIgniter makes a code portable, which makes it significantly simple and fast for CodeIgniter developers. It comes with a rich set of libraries and offers a very simple interface and logical structure to access those libraries.

Hire Codeigniter Framework Developers to  Empower Web Existence of Your Business!

Pros of CodeIgniter

  • Perfect for the beginners who are unfamiliar with object-orientated programming, PHP frameworks, and structuring larger applications.
  • Offers modern separation concepts to be used in developing larger applications (controllers and libraries for logic, views for HTML, models for data).
  • It’s very small framework as compared to a modern framework like Symfony and Laravel, which makes it very fast.
    Developed with a focus on backward compatibility, longevity, and wide support (no bleeding edge PHP version needed.

Cons of Using CodeIgniter

  • Difficult-to-understand singleton $CI object that acts as a service locator.
  • Lack of modern namespace + autoloader. CodeIgniter uses a file naming convention and a standard folder that developers should follow, which limits flexibility.

User Reviews

CodeIgniter User Reviews

Source: https://www.g2crowd.com/products/codeigniter/reviews

Conclusion: So, who do you think is the best? Which framework should you go for? To conclude, it can be said that each of the frameworks has its own benefits and consequences. Thing is, the choice of any framework depends on your set of requirements.

If you need a tremendously modular and well-supported framework, choose Symfony, but If ease of use and fast prototyping is your prime consideration, go with Laravel, and If you want something in-between, pick CodeIgniter. So, before you choose a framework evaluate your requirements thoroughly.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started With Laravel Framework

A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started With Laravel Framework

Laravel framework development is certainly a complex job which requires one to attain proper knowledge of various steps involved to complete this process. Our step by step guide is helpful for those who are new to the Laravel framework.

Introduction –

Although, Laravel framework is based on MVC architecture which is a traditional design pattern, yet there are several things and features that make it an advanced framework of the time. So, you should be aware of all these features before getting started with this framework for any of your web project.
As Laravel uses MVC architecture, it requires the developers to use:

  • Models – It is used to communicate with the database and recover the information on your objects.
  • Views – to extract pages
  • Controllers – To manage the requests of the users and recover data by influencing models.

Apart from above-mentioned aspects, there are routes which are utilized to map the URLs to dedicated controller actions

A complete request cycle of MVC in Laravel application –

Request – Request is made when the user puts a URL related to your web application.

Route – A route related to that URL plots the URL to the controller action.

Controller – Then, controller action encourages the required model to recover information from the database and after that passes the data to the view.

View – the view extracts the finally designed page.

Getting Started To Make A Web Application Using Laravel Framework –

As Laravel framework is based on MVC pattern, so to make a web application, you have to cover each component like model, view and controller. So, for web application development on Laravel framework, first step is:

Model –

Start your development by creating the model of your project. The Laravel framework accompanies a brilliant, inbuilt command line web interface namely Artisan CLI. This interface offers the programmers with several useful commands for making web applications. Therefore, shoot up the command line and move into the main directory of your application, and then, run the command as below to make the “Model”.

$ php artisan make:model abc --migration

Once models are created, they will keep on storing in the primary app directory and thus, the app/abc.php model file will be generated by command with this code:

<?php

namespace App;

use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model;

class abc extends Model
{
    //
}

As Laravel has inbuilt functionality of model, just by making a hollow model class, it assumes that the model is related to the database table namely abc. Though, in reality, by adding that –migration, while creating model, this framework also created a migration file for database for making database table for abc. Then, that migration file is accommodated at [timestamp]_create_abc_table.php. There is following code with the migration file.

<?php

use Illuminate\Database\Schema\Blueprint;
use Illuminate\Database\Migrations\Migration;

class CreateabcTable extends Migration
{
    /**
    * Run the migrations.
    *
    * @return void
    /
    public function up()
    {
    Schema::create('abc', function (Blueprint $table) {
        $table->increments('id');
        $table->timestamps();
    });
    }
    /**
    * Reverse the migrations.
    *
    * @return void
    */
    public function down()
    {
        Schema::drop('abc');
    }
}

For the completion of your migration file, you just have to use the Schema builder Laravel documentation which helps defining some extra columns to, say, store the abc’ make, model, and production date:

.
.
.
Schema::create('abc', function (Blueprint $table) {
$table->increments('id');
$table->string('make');
$table->string('model');
$table->date('produced_on');
$table->timestamps();
});
.
.
.

After that, you can easily run migration by using Artisan command for creating the abc table:

$ php artisan migrate

With the addressed items of the database, now, you can move on creating the controller which is the next step of Laravel framework development.

Controller –

In Laravel framework, an object type like abc is considered as the resource. Though it is quite common to create applications across resources, one can easily create resource controller which is a controller to manage all requests associated with a resource. For this purpose, you should use following Artisan command:

$ php artisan make:controller abcController

This command will create a controller file app/Http/Controllers/AbcController.php along with the following code:

<?php

namespace App\Http\Controllers;

use Illuminate\Http\Request;

use App\Http\Requests;
use App\Http\Controllers\Controller;

class AbcController extends Controller
{
    /**
    * Display a listing of the resource.
    *
    * @return Response
    */
    public function index()
    {
        //
    }
    /**
    * Show the form for creating a new resource.
    *
    * @return Response
    */
    public function create()
    {
        //
    }
    /**
    * Store a newly created resource in storage.
    *
    * @return Response
    */
    public function store()
    {
        //
    }
    /**
    * Display the specified resource.
    *
    * @param int $id
    * @return Response
    */
    public function show($id)
    {
        //
    }
    /**
    * Show the form for editing the specified resource.
    *
    * @param int $id
    * @return Response
    */
    public function edit($id)
    {
        //
    }
    /**
    * Update the specified resource in storage.
    *
    * @param int $id
    * @return Response
    */
    public function update($id)
    {
        //
    }
    /**
    * Remove the specified resource from storage.
    *
    * @param int $id
    * @return Response
    */
    public function destroy($id)
    {
        //
    }
}

It is worth to be mentioned that Laravel automatically creates the “Controller” using these CRUD typical actions. After that, you should definite routes for associating URLs to controller actions.

Routes –

In the configuration file of the route which is app/Http/routes.php, include the following command for defining the route for abc resource:

Route::resource('abc', 'abcController');

With this single definition of the route, all the routes associated with abc resource will automatically be defined.

Request Type Path Action Route Name
GET /abc Index abc.index
GET /abc/create create abc.create
POST /abc Store abc.store
GET /abc/{abc} Show abc.show
GET /abc/{abc}/edit Edit abc.edit
PUT/PATCH /abc/{abc} update abc.update
DELETE /abc/{abc} destroy abc.destroy

As per the given examples, now, we will work on the implementation for show action of ABC page:

Show Action In The Controller –

According to the table above, the show action of ABC page can be accessed at http://app.url/abc/{abc}. Here, the {abc} will act like an id for the abc object in your database. Thus, the URL for viewing the abc with id1 will be http://app.url/abc/1.

So, to implement the abc show action page, in the controller, you should follow these steps:

Take the abc model to recover the designated abc object in the database.

Load the view for a page of show abc, and then, pass it to the abc object recovered from database.

To access the abc model from controller, you need to include the new “use” statement over the class of controller:

.
.
.
use App\abc;
class AbcController extends Controller
{
.
.
.

After that, you can complete the show abc action following this command:

.
.
.
    public function show($id)
    {
      $abc = Abc::find($id);
      return view('abc.show', array('abc' => $abc));
    }
.
.
.

On seeing the URL of abc 1 – http://app.url/abc/1, the laravel framework creates “1” in the accessible URL through $id as mentioned in the abc show function as above. Recovering the abc object with the abc model is also quite simple as you say abc:: find and then, passing it in $id.

Then, view is packed with the function “view” and passing any name to view using a variety of data to be added to view.

In the end, we should create show abc view.

View & Page Completion –

All the view files in Laravel gets stored in folder of resources/views. You can organized them in different subfolders in your directory.
In last step, the view function was passed the name for view abc.show. it shows Laravel framework to check for the view file included in the subfolder namely abc in the main directory resources/views with the name show.blade.php. The view files in Laravel work on Blade Templating engine and so are called .blade.php.
Therefore, to complete implementation of this page, you should make the view file resources/views/abc/show.blade.php with this code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>abc {{ $abc->id }}</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>abc {{ $abc->id }}</h1>
    <ul>
      <li>Make: {{ $abc->make }}</li>
      <li>Model: {{ $abc->model }}</li>
      <li>Produced on: {{ $abc->produced_on }}</li>
    </ul>
  </body>
</html>

As the abc object is passed to view, we should return back to the action Show in controller again with key array abc that can be acceded in view though variable of the name, $abc.
Objects taken from the model are examples of the class of that model. In the end, use a Blade syntax to print the information with following code for printing abc make.

{{ $abc->make }}

It is completely translated in the PHP echo in the background as below:

<?php echo $abc->make; ?>

We hope this tutorial will help you get a better idea about how to getting started with Laravel. If you still have a question in your mind, do let us know by commenting below in the comments section.