Are you old enough to remember these early website designs of Amazon and Google from 1997?

You don’t have to go anywhere near that far back in time, though, to notice that websites today have become increasingly complex, demanding far more functionality and accessibility.

Today, professionally designed websites are able to deliver powerful, robust experiences, with much greater levels of security and accessibility, whilst looking cleaner and easier to navigate.

One of the reasons for this increased functionality and power is PHP (which stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor – yes, the first ‘P’ of ‘PHP’ really does stand for ‘PHP’!).

Today, over three quarters of all web pages on the internet are powered by PHP, an open-source, server-side scripting language that is used to build dynamic web pages and web applications.

PHP has been around since 1995, and since then it has had plenty of time to flourish, giving the PHP community a great opportunity to build many frameworks for the PHP ecosystem. 

In this article we’ve covered some of the best PHP frameworks available for you to use right now. But before we get started, let’s first answer the question – what exactly is a framework?

What is a PHP Framework?

A framework is a repository of pre-built components which provides a structured approach to development. The components also lend a hand in faster project completion, along with a more streamlined process and enhanced productivity.

PHP frameworks offer a myriad of unique benefits that make developing applications easier for all developers – beginners and professionals alike.

The ready-to-use elements and built-in features of frameworks in PHP contribute massively to cost savings.

Developers can save the trouble of rewriting excess code and reduce development efforts by making use of the pre-built elements in PHP. Along with saving developmental costs, this also makes the process more time-efficient.

The scalability and ease of maintenance that comes with PHP frameworks make it a compelling choice for many developers and organizations. 

Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing A PHP Framework

There are a few pointers that you should keep in mind when picking a PHP Framework:

  • Popularity and community size: Most frameworks are community-driven; having a vibrant community to support and enhance a framework is a massive advantage for support and discussion.
  • Principle and Aims: You should properly research what the framework is meant to accomplish. Keep an open mind and look for a different solution if it doesn’t seem to fit your demands and objectives as a framework.
  • Sustainability: Will the framework continue to support your technology stack in the future, and is it regularly maintained? Sustainability is a significant factor to consider if you want long-term project support.
  • Support: If you have any queries or worries, who can you contact? This issue frequently relates to the requirements for community size and popularity. You should have access to online tools and documentation to guide you through any issues that might pop up.

Testing the frameworks out before adding them to your tech stack is, nevertheless, the best way to decide. Try to narrow it down to two or three frameworks, and just play around with them instead of testing every single one.

The 10 Best PHP Frameworks For Web Development

It’s easy to convince yourself that PHP is the language you need to use for your next project. And there is no denying that PHP is a useful tool for any web development project – especially when you consider the vast number of quality websites that use it worldwide. 

However, this doesn’t really address which particular PHP framework will work best for your project. Here are 10 PHP frameworks that are great for development:


If you’re even remotely familiar with PHP, it’s highly likely that you’ve already heard of Laravel. This framework sits at the top of all PHP framework lists, and is widely regarded as the first choice for web developers.

Pricing: The Laravel framework is open-source software licensed under the MIT license.

Key benefits:

  • Easy to learn and master
  • An active and thriving community
  • Wide availability of tutorials and documentation
  • Intuitive database manipulation 
  • Insightful reporting enabled by Laravel Horizon and Telescope
The Laravel php framework

Laravel is popular because of its ease of use, combined with its accessibility. But its simplicity and easy usage doesn’t stop Laravel from being implemented in the most complex of projects.

Along with many other capabilities, it has the platform’s own Blade templating engine, a local development environment, Homestead, a powerful RESTful routing system, and much more.


CodeIgniter, although our second recommendation, is no less powerful than Laravel. It even surpasses Laravel in some aspects. It’s a powerful and versatile PHP framework with support for an array of high-level features and rapid project development.

Pricing: It is freely available under the MIT license.

Key Benefits:

  • Built-in protection against CSRF and XSS attacks
  • Clear and detailed documentation
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Reduces the need for tedious configuration
  • Great performance
CodeIgniter one of the most powerful and versatile PHP frameworks

CodeIgniter is surprisingly lightweight, clocking in at just a single megabyte – and it’s fast too. It follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern. This means that it separates the application logic from the presentation and the data. MVC is a good thing because it makes the code more organized, modular, and reusable. It also makes it easier to test, debug, and maintain the application. 

We like CodeIgniter because its user-friendly library and helpful structure lets developers express their creativity – without being constrained by a tonne of tedious coding work.


Symfony is an incredible framework, made by the renowned developers at SensioLabs. It has a massive community of over 300,000 developers from around the globe. 

Pricing: It is released under MIT license and you can use it for free.

Key benefits:

  • Stability makes Symfony suitable for large enterprises
  • Thriving, robust ecosystem with an enormous community of devs
  • More than 50 stand-alone components available for your own applications
  • Excellent and up-to-date documentation 
  • Feature-rich and dependable

Symfony has emerged as a developer’s favorite framework thanks to its advanced features, coupled with the intuitive environment. The community is growing quickly despite the fact that Symfony’s large feature set presents a steeper learning curve. There are a lot of unofficial support groups available which will make development easier.

Symfony makes repetitive tasks such as creating forms, routing authentication, configuring objects, and templating much easier.


Laminas, formerly known as Zend Framework, is an object-oriented PHP framework that is open-source and is renowned for its scalability and excellent selection of reusable components.

Pricing: The code is licensed under BSD 3-Clause, so you can use it for free.

Key benefits:

  • Suitable for complex and large-scale projects
  • Easy integration with third-party PHP libraries
  • Intuitive session management features
  • Extensive documentation
  • Large and active community base

Developers are able to optimize efficiency and cut down on superfluous overheads by choosing only the components that are actually needed, thanks to Laminas’ exceptionally large component library.

It also places a high priority on security, and offers strong capabilities to guarantee the development of secure applications.

Laminas Project is very adaptable and follows PHP best practices, which is crucial for developers who wish to incorporate features unique to their projects.


Yii framework (which stands for Yes, it is!) is straightforward and progressive. It’s a component-based PHP framework with outstanding performance in creating modern web applications. Although Yii is a web programming framework that can be used for any type of PHP project, it’s particularly suited for the rapid building of large-scale web applications.

Pricing: The Yii Framework is published under BSD License and gives you the flexibility to use it freely for commercial purposes.

Key benefits:

  • Simplified database management allows devs to model database data right into objects, and eliminates SQL queries
  • Particularly adept in working with AJAX
  • Strong caching support
  • Easy learning curve

Yii is easy to install and has robust security features, making it ideal for highly secure projects such as forums, CMSs (content management systems), e-commerce sites, and portals. It is one of the oldest PHP frameworks to still be in active use. Naturally, community support is excellent and it still remains very popular among developers.


Released in April 2005, CakePHP is a reliable PHP framework for web development licensed under the MIT Licence. It uses ORM (Object Relational Mapping) techniques and is built on the MVC (Model View Controller) architecture. Being so widely used and implemented, CakePHP is incredibly reliable, secure, and fast. 

Pricing: The Cake Software Foundation has released this framework under the MIT license.

Key Benefits:

  • CakePHP makes it easy to implement CRUD operations by providing a set of conventions and tools that simplify the interaction with the database. 
  • Simple debugging and testing process of applications
  • Strong built-in security features
  • Plug-in support
  • Allows the creation of reusable code

Don’t judge this framework by its age, as almost all modern features are available with CakePHP, including protection against SQL injection, validation against form tampering, protection against Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), and prevention against Cross-Scripting Platform (XSS).

It powers the websites of global brands such as Hyundai, BMW, and Express. That says a lot about CakePHP!


Phalcon, a play on the words “PHP” and “falcon”, is a full stack framework with the objective of demonstrating an unconventional approach to developing web apps because it is written as a C-extension. This means that it is implemented in C and directly integrated into PHP for enhanced performance. Most PHP frameworks are written in PHP itself, which requires more memory and CPU resources to run.

Phalcon stands out for its low-level architecture, code compilation, memory management, security measures, and the absence of file reads, which leads to better speed. 

Pricing:  It is freely available under BSD 3-Clause License.

Key Benefits:

  • Advanced features such as a universal autoloader and powerful asset management
  • Robust caching
  • Low server-side resource requirements
  • Effortless integration with most other PHP libraries
  • Small and lightweight, and exceptionally performant

One interesting feature about Phalcon is that, even though it is written in C, you don’t need to know C to use it. Its functionality is exposed as PHP classes and interfaces under the Phalcon namespace, ready to be used.

With its unique coding style hinting at elements from C and C++, Phalcon is geared towards simplifying PHP development and enhancing the overall development experience.

Fat-Free Framework (F3)

Simple to use and designed with minimalism in mind, Fat-Free Framework (F3) is a PHP micro-framework that gets the job done. It is easy to learn and is beginner-friendly. It is also one of the most lightweight frameworks out there, clocking in at a tiny 90 KB.

Pricing: Fat-Free Framework is free and released as open source software under the GNU Public License (GPL v3).

Key benefits:

  • Lightweight footprint
  • Modular and scalable structure
  • Supports both SQL and NoSQL databases
  • Powerful ORM features enabled by ‘Axon’
  • Does not require complex configuration

Since F3 was established in 2009, it has gained a vibrant and mature community, as well as more than 2,600 stars on GitHub.

Because MVC is enabled but not required, F3 is adaptable – and compatible with classes from other sources. This framework focuses on developing PHP apps that are fast to load, and have a straightforward setup procedure that increases developer productivity, all while avoiding application complexity.


Slim is a barebones micro-PHP framework that follows the Agile methodology. It features a stripped-down codebase without the support for third-party dependencies. That works in Slim’s favor as the lack of dependencies makes the framework remarkably fast.

Pricing: The Slim framework is freely available under the MIT license. 

Key benefits: 

  • Features all important features such as URL routing, session, cookie encryption, and client-side HTTP caching
  • Great for rapid prototyping purposes
  • Active maintenance and responsive devs
  • Suited for the development of RESTful APIs and microservices

Slim has a flat learning curve and is pretty easy to understand. In fact, you can have a simple app running in just a few minutes without any prior experience. Building compact apps and APIs is an excellent match for Slim, and the fact that it offers both first-party and third-party components makes it ideal if you demand more functionality from the framework.


With more than 300 contributors, FuelPHP is a community-driven PHP framework that supports HMVC (Hierarchical Model View Controller). HMVC creates an additional layer between the Controller and the View – a design pattern that brings several benefits, such as improved organizability of the code, increased modularity, greater flexibility, and support for code reuse.

Pricing: It is freely available under the MIT license. 

Key benefits:

  • FuelPHP ORM is both lightweight and powerful
  • HMVC support
  • Great modularity
  • Ability to choose the folder and file structure for your projects
  • Useful command-line utility tool

FuelPHP takes security seriously, and implements features such as output encoding and CSRF defense, URI, XSS, input filtering, and escaping data entered by the user and sent to SQL queries. Moreover, you can use Oil, FuelPHP’s command-line tool, to run scripts, debug code, and create common components.


Although it is not absolutely necessary, using PHP in your development framework is worth considering given the language’s widespread use and features. We hope our recommendations help you with a decision to select a framework that ideally fits your needs.

No matter what PHP framework you are using, deploying and managing your applications on the internet is always used to be a hassle. We have built RunCloud to solve this exact problem, now you can focus on developing your applications and leave the heavy-lifting of managing your servers to us.

RunCloud supports all things PHP and provides a quick and easy way to perform complicated tasks such as deploying new applications, performing backups, running cron jobs, etc. with only a couple of clicks. Start using RunCloud and see for yourself!