Server-side scripting (as opposed to serving users static web pages), allows dynamic customised responses to be displayed to the users based on their input, where the request is sent to the server and the server will execute the commands and then displays the response to the users. Unlike client-side scripting where the user’s request is executed on the user’s machine (where the response time could depend on the user’s machine speed and ability to process), the process will be executed on the server side. As long as you ensure the server has adequate resources then you can guarantee a seamless and pain-free user experience.
To assist developers in building webpages or web apps within a short period of time, developers often choose to use frameworks, as it lets them reuse the available code instead of recreating everything from scratch. Frameworks also provide structure and organisation that ensure easier maintenance as different developers work on it. Over the past few years, many frameworks have been developed and it can be quite a daunting task to research and ultimately choose which one to finally use. The ones listed below are the ones that have risen to the top and offer the best long term viability. Most of these employ MVC (model-view-controller) architecture to speed development and allow developers to create, modify, operate and maintain data effectively.
In short, MVC stands for:
Model: assists to insert, update, delete and reads data.
View: supports to render data in the website/web app.
Controlle: modifies the data in the database.
Pic 1: MVC architecture
MVC architecture makes it a good choice if you have a team of programmers and designers, allowing work on different aspects of the software to progress in parallel. It also has the advantage of having customised SEO-friendly URLs and routes so developers can increase the online traffic to their web application.
Below are the top 5 PHP full-stack frameworks :
Laravel has quickly become a favourite among developers even though it has only been around since 2011. Generally used to build small and medium-sized projects, it is also flexible enough to create large-scale websites. Other top reasons why Laravel has become a crowd favourite are:
- Main draw is that laravel is fairly easy to learn even for beginners. The website https://laracasts.com/ has a lot of videos and tutorials from beginner to expert level. Laravel also has great community surrounding it.
- Simple and convenient migration system for migrating, seeding, and version controlling the databases.
- High level of security with hashed passwords, protection against SQL injection attacks, and easy to use integrated CSRF protection.
- Elegant and expressive syntax for frequent tasks like authentication, sessions, routing, etc.
- Use of libraries and models is easier as Laravel has object-oriented libraries. These libraries are supported with autocomplete feature.
Symfony was published as free software in 2005 and Laravel was actually built with Symfony, which only further demonstrates the credibility of Symfony. Although Symfony2 is open source, its functionality is routinely and heavily tested, primarily by SensioLabs, a French-based PHP development company. It also receives massive contributions from a large community of open source developers. Other reasons that make Symfony2 a great framework to consider are:
- SensioLabs offers valuable training and certification opportunities for Symfony2, thus lending credibility to developers who use Symfony.
- Symfony2 has a components system, which enables developers to use just one component in a project instead of using the entire framework. This in turn can be lighter on server resources.
- Symfony2 is very stable and offers long-term support (LTS) releases. It has been around since 2005, so it has gone through rigorous testing and SensioLabs would check commits from open source contributors as well.
CakePHP is an open source platform, released in 2005 and modeled after the concepts of Ruby on Rails (another framework built using the Ruby language). Its main draw is that it does not require pre-configuration to use. Which means that you do not have to configure the Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP setup. It will auto-detect all the settings that need to be configured. Other than that, CakePHP is good in many other ways:
- It has an incredible and highly flexible Object Relational Mapping (ORM) which is built-in, that allows developers to build queries in an easier and simpler manner.
- CakePHP has strong reverse routing which helps developers to easily maintain links in an application. The developer only needs to adjust the URL structure at one place instead of searching for each calling of the change.
- Other than the forums and community support, CakePHP has an extensive professional support on its website. In fact, developers can even submit questions to the CakePHP website itself.
- CakePHP has a lot of tools for security, such as input validation, SQL injection prevention and CSRF protection.
CodeIgniter has been around since 2006. Its strongest point is that it is often noted for its speed when compared to other frameworks. CodeIgniter used to be the favourite before Laravel came along. And it is still a crowd favourite (other than Laravel) for a number of other reasons:
- It is lightweight due to less bloat and unneeded calls. Hence the fast response time. Some say that it is the fastest among all these PHP frameworks.
- Perfect for beginners who would like to work with object-oriented programming as it has an extensive set of libraries.
- Since it has been around since 2006, it is considered very stable and well tested across a wide variety of use cases. It focuses on traditional compatibility and wide support.
- User-Friendly and easy to use database platform integrations.
- Clean and search-engine friendly URLs.
Yii was released in 2008 and is famous for its lazy loading technique, where the loading of the web page is done when needed as opposed to being loaded all at once, ie eager loading. This feature makes it faster for web pages to load. Other than providing fast loading times, Yii is also worth considering for the following reasons:
- Easily integrated and interoperable with other 3rd party framework code e.g Zend, PEAR, or others.
- Very high performance framework, comes with built in caching solutions so it is well-suited for high traffic web applications or websites like portals, forums, e-commerce, and social media sites.
- Purely object-oriented, so the learning curve might be a bit steep for someone who is not familiar with object-oriented programming.
- Plenty of options for layouts and themes.
- Comes with a number of security measures, which protects your the websites or web apps from attacks such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cookie tampering, and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).
So there you have it. A choice of PHP frameworks that have stood the test of time and will exist beyond 2019. Most of these frameworks’ source code are available on GitHub in case you want to inspect in more detail before you guage which is most suitable for your business needs.