PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is one of the most popular web programming languages used by millions of websites. According to the W3Techs survey, PHP is used by 82% of the web servers. The reason why PHP is so popular is the highly interactive features, great HTML, and seamless database integration. Moreover, it also doesn’t warrant a steep learning curve which is a big deal for newbies. And just like other popular web languages, PHP also has some great features to make your development crazy fast, more productive and protects you from low-level error. Not just that, it also ensures your website has the much-needed safeguard against attacks like SQL injection and XSS attacks. So, if you are on the lookout for the top PHP framework to develop versatile web apps, these are the best free PHP frameworks in 2020.
Best Free PHP Frameworks
Recently, we lined up the best front-end frameworks for Bootstrap alternatives. Do check them out, if you need one. Keeping in mind the requirements of both the pros and newbies, we’ve picked out a variety of PHP frameworks designed to develop all kinds of web applications. They have been developed by well-known communities around the world and deliver a fast and intuitive experience. What’s more, these PHP frameworks also offer plenty of customization so that you can get the work done at your own pace. With that said, let’s get down to business!
Simply put, Laravel is one of the most popular PHP frameworks used by developers today. Despite being comparatively new than many other rivals, (introduced in 2012), it has caught the attention of well-known developers. The latest version of Laravel comes with individual composer packages. It features good routing, easy authentication, migrations support, and Blade templating engine. Not to mention the intuitive syntax that makes Laravel a pretty helpful web application framework.
Symfony is a flexible, scalable yet powerful PHP framework for MVC application. There are plenty of reusable PHP components that can be used such as security, templating, translation, validator, form config and more. Like Laravel, it’s also modularized with a composer. Its goal is to make your web application creation and maintenance faster with less repetitive coding. Overall, if flexibility and easy-to-use tools are what you are looking for, keep Symfony in mind.
CodeIgniter is a free PHP framework by EllisLab. It has excellent documentation with a large user community. There are many features that will make you taste CodeIgniter for your projects such as no PHP version conflict, almost zero installation, easy error handling, reliable security, and straightforward encryption steps. Moreover, CodeIgniter also comes with feature-rich libraries and helpers that allow you to go about your task with the desired customization.
For the folks who are on the lookout for a pretty simple PHP framework, CakePHP appears to be a fairly good choice. It supports version 4 and above and is quite easy to learn with fast and flexible templating. The integrated CRUD (create, read, update and delete) is a handy feature in CakePHP for your database interaction. Furthermore, CakePHP also has various built-in features for security, email, session, cookie and request handling.
5. Laminas Project
Laminas Project (formerly Zend Framework) is a scalable and fully-featured object-oriented PHP framework. It’s been optimized to work smoothly and also got plenty of new features and improvements. It has online training and certification which make it popular and used by many enterprise organizations. With its OOP (object-oriented programming) and design patterns consistency, you can easily extend custom classes and use only what you need.
Inspired by the fastest living bird Falcon, the Phalcon framework runs with great flair. And it’s undoubtedly the fastest PHP framework that I have come across. Not surprisingly, when benchmarked with other popular frameworks, it has the fastest time request and lowest memory usage according to Systems Architect and Phalcon crew tests. This happens because it was purely written with C/C++ for performance optimization purposes.
Slim is a lightweight micro-framework for PHP inspired by Sinatra, a Ruby framework. It has a tiny size without the overkill learning curve. It’s built with a strong routing system and focuses on RESTful API with all HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE). Thanks to the support for any PSR-7 HTTP message implementation, you can inspect and fine-tune the HTTP message method, status, URI, headers, cookies, and body without any hassle.
YiiFramework is a modern PHP framework with a host of powerful features. Despite being so powerful, it’s pretty easy to handle and warrants less learning curve. Besides, it’s also highly extensible, allowing you to fully customize all the essential features in line with your needs. What’s more, Yii also has built-in integration with a great PHP testing framework, CodeCeption, to test your application easier and faster.
Just YiiFramework, Fat-Free is also a robust yet easy-to-use PHP framework. Developed by Bong Cosca in 2009, it’s rated very highly by developers. Being just 50KB, it runs pretty smoothly. It was developed almost entirely in PHP with the multilingual application support and cache engine. That’s not all, it also has plentiful plugins for a large number of database backends like MySQL, MSSQL, SQLite, Sybase, DB2, MongoDB, CouchDB, PostgreSQL, and Flat File.
Kohana is a PHP framework with HMVC (Hierarchical Model View Controller) architectural pattern. It was built with PHP OOP in mind, which means you’ll get a lot of advantages such as visibility protection, abstracts, automatic class loading, overloading, and singletons. Besides, you can also customize GET, POST, COOKIE, and SESSION methods as per your needs. To use it, make sure you have a PHP version of 5 or later.
FuelPHP is a PHP framework that was written in PHP 5.3. So, ensure that you are running the PHP 5.3 or later. It uses a Cascading File System inspired by Kohana. Some of my favorite features of this PHP frame are the URL routing system, RESTful implementation, HMVC implementation, template parsing, form and data validation, ORM (Object Relational Mapper), vulnerability protection and caching system. Being community-driven, FuelPHP is also flexible, modular and extensible framework.
Flight is an extensible PHP micro-framework and quite good at building RESTful web applications. It has straightforward documentation which is great for newbies. Besides, it also supports routing, error handling, JSON sending and request and more. Keep in mind, due to the restful framework, it’s not recommended for big web application projects. It’s also worth noting that you will need PHP 5.3 or greater to use Flight.
Just like its name, PHP Mini is a lightweight restful PHP framework suitable for the mini-projects and quick prototypes. It has a simple but clean code which is easy to understand. Besides, the inclusion of CRUD demo action makes database entries hassle-free. As the code is all written natively in PHP, so you don’t need to learn the additional framework.
14. Simple PHP Framework
This framework is a personal project (or project library collection) of Tyler Hall that he started since 2006. He has been dealing with hundreds of different projects and uses this library for the base of his projects. The framework can bootstrap your project with user authentication, database calls, RSS feeds, etc available on the code. Head over to GitHub to grab the source.
Zikula is a free open source PHP framework based on Symfony and Doctrine. It can be used for small, enterprise or even personal projects. Moreover, it is fully integrated with the popular Bootstrap 3 framework and Font Awesome 4 which offers the needed flexibility. Not just that, it has also got some really handy features including flexible theme system, WYSIWYG editors, ModuleStudio, document creator, galleries, and chat that allow you to get your work done with precision.
Choose the Top PHP Frameworks
The great thing if you use PHP frameworks is you can make your development process much faster, easier and more fun. And each of the mentioned frameworks offers amazing features to simplify the whole process. So, take advantage of our best suggestions to get your work done efficiently. Did we miss something? Feel free to drop its name in the comment box below.