The Mexican Standoff of PHP Frameworks: Symfony vs Laravel vs Yii



What are PHP Frameworks?

PHP is one of the most widely known and potent programming languages used today. However, despite the popularity of PHP, there are many businesses using PHP without making use of a quality PHP framework. This approach slows production time and increases costs.  A PHP framework is advantageous because it provides you with modules and codebase to help structure and accelerate the web development process.

For CEOs, CTOs, product owners and those in the tech industry, choosing the right PHP framework can help cut production time and costs. However, every PHP framework is unique. Some do well when producing large web applications, whereas others do better when used to create web portals. Given the wealth of PHP frameworks available, it is important to conduct solid research in order to find the platform that’s right for you. Below we take a look at three of the most popular PHP frameworks (Symfony, Laravel and Yii) and break down which is the best, and why.





One of the most famous PHP frameworks is Symfony, which has been specifically designed with web app building in mind. Ever since it was published in 2005, Symfony has been tailored to help build applications with simple user interfaces. Right now, Symfony has over 1,217, 658, 579 total downloads.

The simplicity of the design allows the user to easily create large-scale applications. With over 30 components onboard, even the most experienced designer has everything they could possibly need in one place. It’s no surprise that in 2017, Symfony has an average of over 100,000 downloads a day. Solid API integration with other third party apps enables you to support your app with other frameworks.

This makes it an ideal choice for companies looking to commission large open source projects. Likewise this frameworks compatibility with third party plugins like Twig, makes it much easier for developers to streamline their web application production. From a business perspective, Symfony helps cut production time on larger projects.





Of all the frameworks available, Laravel is perhaps the most popular and easy to use. This “PHP framework for Web Artisans”, is one of the most versatile frameworks on the market today. As an MVC PHP framework, Laravel is best suited to creating complex back end systems. Today, Laravel has over 524,454 live websites online.

The framework features a variety of onboard tools such as Laravel Spark, which supports users with a variety of applications that offer features like two-factor authentication and invoicing. Likewise, Laravel’s Unit-Testing Support ensures that all coding is error free. Developers can test each part of an application before going live.

The biggest advantage of Laravel is that it helps to cut your overall web application development time. The reason is that there’s next to no learning curve. Even the most inexperienced user can run advanced features like object-relational mapping and blade template to lay the groundwork for their site. Unlike its competitors, the Laravel blade templating system lets users view PHP code during use as well.





Ever since Yii emerged in 2008, this powerful PHP framework has been a force to be reckoned with. The framework is used on 68,729 live websites and 54,840 historically. Though its popularity has decreased in the last few years, it is still one of the most efficient frameworks available.

Yii is good at many things, but creating web portals and forums is its main focus. Features like the composer dependency manager and jQuery integration help users to structure their code and trim any coding fat.

In terms of customization, the onboard AJAX widgets make it easy for developers to customize their applications without having to trail through third party plugins. Likewise unique approach to relational queries speeds up application development and provides a high quality user experience.

Unlike Laravel, Yii doesn’t include third party templating by default.Though plugins like Twig can still be added. That being said, one of the features that makes Yii stand out amongst other frameworks is its extensive library. The library features everything from Akismet plugins, to authentication and RAD tools. Whilst it lacks the scalability and simplicity of its other two competitors, it is still a very adept PHP framework and will suit a diverse range of industries. .


The Main Differences

Before breaking down the main differences between each PHP framework’s performance, it is important to understand that every framework is unique. As such, each framework has its own set of unique advantages and drawbacks. For example, Symfony is a modular framework, and is best suited for rapid development of complex web applications. At the same time, Symfony handles complex projects much better than Laravel or Yii.

In contrast, Yii is much more accessible for beginner developers than Symfony. The simplicity of the framework makes it much easier to navigate and develop smaller projects promptly. On the other hand, Laravel’s Blade Templating System offers a convenient way to produce code in the view without stumbling through unnecessary menus. This also cuts down production time.

Based on the differences between the three, companies looking to commission smaller, entry level applications projects would be well supported by Laravel and Yii, but those considering larger projects would be better served by Symfony’s extensive modular framework. Choosing the right framework comes down to the style and scope of the project you’re working on.


What is the Best PHP Framework?

Amongst these three competitors it’s hard to find a standout prospect, but Symfony would have to be the framework with the most long term potential. Symfony’s extensive framework lends itself well to scalability and the development of large web applications. It’s counterparts Laravel and Yii are not as competent when it comes to dealing with larger projects.

Although Laravel’s ease of use and blade templating is extremely useful, it is unsuitable for those looking to produce larger projects. Likewise Yii shows huge potential in terms of its power, speed and rapid development potential, but lets itself down in terms of inability to cope with large workloads. For many companies this will not be a problem, but for organizations looking for scalable applications, Laravel is a poor choice.

However it is important to recognize that PHP frameworks like Laravel and Yii have a lot to offer for businesses looking to develop smaller applications, particularly if they have developers who are inexperienced with PHP. Organizations looking to make a smooth transition into building small web applications would be wise to choose Laravel in order to hit the ground running.

The Mexican standoff of PHP frameworks may be close, but Symfony emerges as a victor on account of its full-stack development potential. Tech companies looking to create large web applications should look no further. However, companies looking to produce smaller applications would be better off starting out with Laravel to get to grips with the world of PHP.


Choosing the right framework for your project can be extremely daunting. It’s important to conduct a thorough analysis in order to make sure your project runs smoothly. At Zfort Group we are specialists in web development, and will be able to advise you on the right framework for your needs. Whether you are looking for guidance on a PHP framework or looking for a PHP developer, our specialist team can help you.




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