The Most Popular PHP Frameworks to Use in 2021

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Why use a PHP framework?

A PHP framework offers a structure for streamlining the development of web apps. We use them because they hasten the development process.

Nevertheless, the responsiveness of websites and applications built using PHP frameworks enables businesses to fulfill their performance requirements. So it’s clear that PHP frameworks will continue to gain popularity in 2021.

5 of the best PHP frameworks

Here are the best PHP frameworks based on popularity and capability to facilitate application development.


It is well known for its small footprint (it is only about 2 MB in size, including the documentation). CodeIgniter is a PHP framework perfect for creating dynamic websites. It offers lots of prebuilt modules that assist with constructing reusable and robust components.

Reasons to use CodeIgniter

  • Unlike other frameworks, a lightweight and straightforward PHP framework that is easy to install is CodeIgniter. Due to a simple setup process and well-illustrated documentation, it’s ideal for beginners.
  • Essential functions entail an MVC architecture, top-notch error handling, built-in security equipment, simple and good documentation. It also creates accessible apps.
  • CodeIgniter is faster compared to other frameworks. Since it also allows solid performance, it’s a good choice when you want to create lightweight applications to run on a modest server. One caveat: CodeIgniter releases are somewhat irregular, so the framework isn’t a good option for an application that needs high-level security.


CakePHP is perfect if you are searching for a toolkit that is easy and elegant. It will help you create visually impressive feature-loaded websites. However, CakePHP is one of the most straightforward learning frameworks because of its CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) framework. CakePHP got to the market in the early 2000s, and it has gained better performance since then and several new components.

Reasons to use CakePHP.

  • CakePHP is simple to install as you need only a web server and a copy of the framework.
  • It makes a suitable choice for commercial applications due to security features that entail input validation,
  • SQL injection prevention, cross-site request forgery (CSRF) protection, and cross-site scripting (XSS) protection.
  • Significant features include a modern framework, proper class inheritance, fast builds, validation, and security. However, CakePHP gives good documentation, many support portals, and top support through Cake Development Corporation.

Zend Framework

The Zend framework is a comprehensive object-oriented framework, and because it performs functions such as interfaces and inheritance makes it extendable. It was built on the agile methodology, enabling you to deliver standard quality applications to the enterprise user. Zend is exceptionally customizable and abides by PHP best practices, an essential point for developers who want to include project-specific functionalities.

Reasons to use Zend

  • Zend framework is a great fit for complex enterprise-level projects. It’s the preferred framework for huge IT departments and banks.
  • Some significant features include MVC components, data encryption, simple cloud API, and session management.
  • It can mix with external libraries, and you can make use of only your preferred components. The Zend framework comes with well-structured documentation and has an extensive community base. Thus, if you’re a mobile app builder, be ready for a steep learning curve.


FuelPHP is an easy full-stack PHP framework that was first released in 2011. Aside from assisting the MVC design pattern, it has its version called the hierarchical model view controller (HMVC). Unlike with MVC with HMVC, content does not need to duplicate to show on multiple pages. Therefore, it consumes less time and memory.

Reasons to use FuelPHP.

  • FuelPHP enables developers to deliver end-to-end web solutions that are dynamic in size and complexities.
  • Significant features include HMVC implementation, a URL routing system, RESTful implementation, vulnerability protection, and a caching system.
  • It extends its security beyond ordinary security measures, making it a good option if security is essential for your project. Because FuelPHP is practically new, it offers less help and may present a steeper learning curve.


Slim is also a popular PHP micro-framework that enables developers to create potent web applications and APIs quickly.

Reasons to use Slim

  • Just like PHPixie, Slim is simple to learn. PHP developers use Slim to create RESTful APIs and web services.
  • Significant features include URL routing, session, client-side HTTP caching, cookie encryption, and more.
  • It is the best framework for a small web app that does not practically need a full-stack PHP framework. Thus, active maintenance and friendly documentation enable Slim super user-friendly.

Which PHP framework is fit for you?

Using PHP frameworks simplifies the development method, which helps to limit workload. Each framework has strengths and weaknesses, and they all change in terms of community, documentation, and the database they support.