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Choosing a PHP Framework: The Battle between Symfony and Zend

By Poly, Solution Sales Specialist at Flat Rock

Your new PHP project is already on the table and awaits for the decision whether to develop it from scratch or use a framework for this purpose.

Frameworks are not an absolute necessity, but they offer countless advantages, the most significant of which are the tools to develop more quickly and with more quality, as well as to provide a stable base, which could be easily supported in time.

Why is it better?

Because the framework provides you with a full set of already developed modules. It is structured, maintainable and easy to be further upgraded. It is faster, because it saves you time to create modules (you already have them developed for you) and allows you to focus more on specific development areas, rather than reinventing the wheel all over again. Even though it takes some time to master your skills when using a framework, it is still PHP. It will still use the same libraries, but will provide space and time for your developer to focus more on the essential aspects of your project and to submit high quality code. Using a framework will also guarantee that even if you decide to change people in your technical team, there will be someone out there who will be able to support your product without the need to spend weeks or months understanding the existing code.

Having settled the problem of whether to use a PHP framework or not, comes the decision of finding out which one to adopt. The research shows that the most popular ones are Symfony and Zend. In the below analysis we will skip the part of convincing you how popular each one of them is, how well documented, quick, and how many ready modules are already available. They both have what it takes. We will try to include relevant information as to what are their strong advantages and where to apply them.

Symfony is one of the most actively used PHP frameworks. It stands out with its well-organized structure, excellent documentation and huge community. One of the most popular open source CMS frameworks worldwide (Drupal) uses Symfony’s components for its latest 8th version.

The skills that you need to have in order to use Symfony 2 are PHP5, OOP, ORM, Console.

Symfony is well known for its pragmatism. Many developers agree that this solution is easier to use, debug and get the job done and at the same time it uses less code for the same features as in Zend. It has a greater community, which is extremely reliable. Symfony 2 switched to Git/Github before Zend Framework 2 did and this sped up the actual development of Symfony 2. This shows that contributing to Symfony2 is much easier than to Zend Framework 2.

Developers choose Symfony not only because of its development advantages, but also because of the long list of project references that they can provide. The fact that they have had a much more stable 1st version compared to Zend 1 has also won them a lot of supporters.

There are numerous discussions online of whether Zend can be a superior framework compared to Symfony. Though no one could be certain of this fact, many agree that Zend Framework 2 has fixed many of the 1st edition problems and is climbing the ladder willing to prove that they will stay on the market and will become more and more powerful.

The skills that you need to have in order to use Zend Framework 2 are PHP5, Expert OOP knowledge.

Zend offers the most efficiently designed workflows and API-centric applications that deploy amazingly fast. Its agile design methodology focuses on delivering high quality enterprise applications. Even though developers share that Zend could be a configuration hell, it provides tight control of where things are located and only by a quick glance in the config file you may find out how everything is set up. You don’t need magic with Zend as most of the functions are pretty straight forward. Another advantage is that the system does not allow various ways of declaring your code and it gives the impression of consistency.

What we could suggest is to try both frameworks and choose for yourself. Whichever you choose, here in Flat Rock we could help you develop and support your product on both. We are only an email away so hurry up and reach us.

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