PHP frameworks for beginners

The 10 Best PHP Frameworks to Learn in 2021

PHP frameworks are still widely used by developers in 2021. There have been other programming languages for websites such as JavaScript and HTML but none has come close to PHP’s popularity.

That’s because PHP is meant for novice website owners and experienced programmers alike.

You can do a lot in PHP without knowing much about programming or coding, hence it is an ideal choice for people who just want to set up their website without a background in computer languages and development.

We have almost a decade of experience working with various PHP frameworks.

So the list of the best PHP frameworks in this article comes from our team of proficient developers who have dabbled in these frameworks for sufficient time to identify all the features and shortcomings.

But before we discuss the best PHP frameworks to learn in 2021, let’s go through a quick overview of what PHP is and why you should be using it today even though some people say that PHP is outdated!

A bit about PHP and PHP CMS Frameworks

We won’t go into the definitions of what PHP is and what it stands for, because if you are here to read about the best ones, it means you already know that PHP is an open-source scripting language made for the web.

But unlike other languages, especially JavaScript, PHP has its code embedded with HTML and the entire code runs on the server-side. So your initial page loading speed is much faster.

Also, because PHP is a server-side programming language the client only receives the final page and does not have to see the entire code. That makes building websites much easier.

PHP CMS (content management system) allows clients to add, remove, edit and share content on specific pages on their websites very easily without having to deal with any code.

However, if you want to read or write the PHP code, you can do that too.

Professional PHP CMS developers can write code from scratch on your website or app for sophisticated functions, adding customized features or editing certain pages.

Benefits of Learning PHP Frameworks in 2021

As we mentioned above, PHP is ideal for novice developers. That’s because it comes with code libraries for common functionalities so you don’t have to write those from scratch every time. Some of the most widely used ones are PChart, Guzzle and PHPUnit.

It saves time and allows you to focus on the more important tasks.

There are many more benefits of using PHP frameworks, some of which are as follows:

1.       Higher level of coding flexibility

So you can adjust your code even midway in the development of your web application or website.

2.       Superior performance

The clean code practices followed in PHP scripting improves its performance and makes it superior to other languages.

3.       Compatible with nearly all operating systems

Such as Windows, Linux and macOS. So your web application or website will work perfectly on all web servers.

4.       It is faster than other languages

In reality; PHP is one of the fastest programming languages out there because it is built on the web. That’s the reason why Amazon and Facebook still use PHP.

5.       Each new version is significantly better than the last,

So there is a bright future for PHP.

List of Common PHP Frameworks

There are quite a few PHP frameworks in the market today, but we have narrowed down 10 of the best ones according to the different features each of these offers.

Most of the ones listed below and other PHP frameworks operate on the PHP version 7.2 or higher:

  1. Laravel
  2. Symfony
  3. CodeIgniter
  4. Cake PHP
  5. WordPress
  6. Magento
  7. Zend / Laminas Project
  8. Joomla
  9. Yii
  10. Craft

Keep reading as we discuss the reasons why these PHP frameworks are our top choices.

Best PHP Frameworks to Learn in 2021

Each PHP CMS framework has its own features and drawbacks. And with a massive online community of over 6 million PHP developers around the globe, there is always a debate on which are the ultimate best PHP frameworks.

We mentioned our top 10 picks in the list above and those are based on our decade of experience of using PHP frameworks to build web apps and websites.

And now, we will discuss the details of each to see why these are the best ones, and the reasons you should learn these PHP frameworks in 2021:

1.       Laravel

Laravel Framework

We say that you should learn Laravel in 2021 because its popularity is only going up. It is a great choice because of its packages, which are pieces of code that you can use to enhance the functionalities of your Laravel web app or website.

Plus it offers a better user authentication process than CodeIgniter, making your development process faster.

Another reason you should learn this PHP framework is the quick learning curve so it is perfect for beginners. In fact, you can start development on Laravel Homestead or Laravel Valet without having to install PHP on your computer.

World walking and FusionInvoice are some of the websites that use Laravel as their PHP framework.

2.       Symfony

Symfony Framework

We recommend you learn Symfony because it allows you to build high performance, fast and scalable web apps and websites, and that’s what your clients are going to need.

With Symfony, you have to write only a small amount of code because this PHP framework comes with thousands of packages. So it makes your life much easier.

If you are an absolute beginner in PHP frameworks, it would be better to learn Laravel first and then move on to Symfony.

But after sufficient understanding of PHP, you should learn Symfony in 2021 to enjoy its flexibility, sustainability of code and compatibility with databases.

3.       CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter Framework

Codelgniter is one of the easiest to learn PHP frameworks. You would want to use it to build most of your websites because of its two top features; it clearly shows you the errors in your code so you can instantly fix them and it requires minimal configuration.

We love it for its other benefits as well such as an MVC-based system, better SEO and a large community of developers but it doesn’t offer built-in user authentication as Laravel does.

Nevertheless, big companies including Nissan use Codelgniter so you should learn it in 2021.

4.       Cake PHP

CakePHP Framework

If you are looking to build web applications with minimal coding from scratch, then you should learn to use Cakephp.

After learning the basics, the CakePHP’s backend will do most of the coding and if you still run into any issues then there are 3000+ CakePHP developers on different online forums that you can reach out to for answers.

Other features of CakePHP that we love include its MVC- based system, CSRF protection, plugins and associate data mapping ORM which gives us more flexibility between the database and domain.

5.       WordPress

WordPress

Everyone in the website development world should know how to build a WordPress site and increase its functionalities with customized plugins.

So if you don’t know enough about WordPress in 2021, it’s time to learn this PHP CMS framework.

We love it for its security and because we can use WordPress to create blogs, add extensions to develop an eCommerce site, manage different users and accommodate apps all with great website performance.

6.       Magento

Magento Framework

Magento was launched for eCommerce websites. This is the PHP CMS framework to learn in 2021 because if companies like Nike and Ford use it for their websites, then you should know how to code for it as a developer.

We prefer Magento when developing big eCommerce stores and apps, but the framework is relatively pricier and only works with select hosting providers.

7.       Zend / Laminas Project

Laminas Project

Zend is now outdated and replaced by the Laminas Project.

You should learn the Laminas Project PHP framework because it is the ideal framework to build websites and apps for businesses and bigger organizations.

A great feature of why we love using Zend is that we get to choose which code components we want to use as they are, and write the rest from scratch. It saves costs and offers enhanced functionalities in a smaller time frame.

It is also an MVC framework and focuses mainly on the stability of the application you develop.

8.       Joomla

Joomla PHP Framework

Joomla is our PHP CMS framework of choice after WordPress. You can host it easily on your hosting provider, use the many extensions and themes it offers and create high functioning blog sites.

You should learn Joomla because it is used by over 2 million websites and the number is increasing.

It offers an adaptable front end, ideal UI, and excellent SEO features right out of the box!

9.       Yii

Yii PHP Framework

Yii is a Mandarin word and it is as easy to use as its name suggests.

It offers enhanced security and reduced coding time on top of fast performance but that is at the cost of a less-extensive syntax as compared to what you get in Laravel.

You can use the CRUD generation (Gii) interface for commonly used pre-written codes. Also, Yii is based on the don’t repeat yourself (DRY) rule which saves the coders’ time.

So you should definitely learn this PHP framework in 2021 as it will allow you to create robust web apps and websites in half the time!

10.  Craft CMS

Craft CMS

Although not as popular as some of the other PHP CMS frameworks mentioned above, Craft CMS is a great alternative to WordPress.

You can use the different built-in integrations it offers. And its top feature is its inclusivity as it allows you to choose from 25 languages. We also use it for eCommerce websites because it has features such as custom fields, forums and tags.

Final Words

Yii, Codelgniter and Laravel are great PHP frameworks for beginners. If you are looking to build a website or app with a PHP framework, then our expert developers are here to help.

With decades of combined experience, we can create different functionalities, add plugins and give you the best website for your needs.

Reach out to us so we can discuss your project and get your dream website started!

Waqas Ahmed is a senior PHP & Shopify web developer at ClickySoft’s development team. When not coding or writing for the web he spends his time watching sports & enjoying good food.