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The Battle of the Titans. Zend vs. Symfony

The Battle of the Titans. Zend vs. Symfony
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    Zend and Symfony are the two frameworks that are often compared. Which one is more functional? Which one is more preferable in terms of productivity? Which one is better for general understanding? Which of these two has a larger community? I've asked Zfort Group experts to help me with these questions, and here's what we have come to.

    Zend Framework

    ZF is an open source web application framework based on PHP5 and licensed under the New BSD License. It is object oriented and it utilizes MVC paradigm. All elements of Zend are E_Strict compliant, there is a use-at-will architecture with freely connected parts and slight inter-independencies.

    There is also an extensive MVC implementation which supports PHP based templates and layouts by default. Support for various database systems and service providers, including MySQL, Postgre SQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Maria DB, SQLite, IBM DB2 and Informix Dynamic Server is delivered through Zend. E-mail delivery and composition as well as retrieval via mbox, POP3, IMAP4 and Maildir are another features done by Zend.

    Last but not least there is a flexible caching sub-system which maintains a great deal of different sorts of backends such as memory or a file system.


    Symfony is a free web application framework created in PHP which follows an MVC paradigm. It was released under the MIT license. Symfony aims at advancing formation and support of web applications and re-establishing repetitive coding tasks. At present it is compliant with such object-relational mappings as Doctrine and Propel. It has low performance overhead costs in case of dealing with environment supporting a byte code cache.

    Symfony framework is aimed at developing solid apps in the context of an enterprise and strives to provide developers with complete control over the configuration: from the structure of the directory to the foreign libraries, where nearly everything may be configured.

    In order to fit enterprise development instructions Symfony is packaged with a number of supplementary tools to assist programmers to test, debug and document their projects. Finally, this framework utilizes a great deal of common and clear design patterns such as MVC.

    Which of the two frameworks is more functional?

    Symfony brings innovations to PHP. It was among the first major frameworks to cover PHP 5.3, to present the use of a Dependency Injection container, and to utilize the templating engine for its default templates, Twig which is now adopted by leading CMS's such as Drupal and eZpublish. Symfony has a number of special properties, such as an amazing debug toolbar and its wonderful built-in profiler.

    Which one is more preferable in terms of productivity?

    Both frameworks may be utilized for large websites or web apps, and both are excellent choices to develop either one. However, Symfony has more overhead in regards of resource usage (RAM and CPU) than ZF even if only by a small margin.

    Which of the two frameworks is better for general understanding?

    Symfony because with this framework it is easy to create new projects from scratch, and you can create your first prototype really quickly and advance from there on.

    Which of these two has a larger community?

    There is more community behind Symfony, there are a lot of great plugins available, and it has well written documentation. During the past year over 500 people contributed to the Symfony core and the community developed more than 1,600 bundles for the full-stack framework.

    In addition Symfony has a few yearly dedicated conferences around the globe and a great deal of user groups. Symfony is utilized by a lot of big companies (BBC, CBS etc.), by many large websites (TED, and some open source projects that are also powered by Symfony CMS's (Drupal, eZpublish, libraries (PHPUnit, Doctrine), products (phpBB, shopware), and frameworks (PPI, Laravel). This leads to interoperability between all of these solutions.

    However, Zend Framework has experienced as many as 15 million downloads and a number of yearly conferences, as well as a few user groups around the world just like Symfony. Then, in terms of being used by large companies and websites – Cisco, Discovery, Panasonic, and many more are done with the use of Zend Framework.

    Additionally a lot of open source projects and other frameworks are powered by Zend Framework, among them are: Magento, Centurion, Webfolio, Tomato CMS, Digitalus CMS, Concrete5, PHProjekt, pimcore and what's interesting that PPI framework mentioned above utilizes Zend Framework (version 2) in addition to Symfony components.


    Zend and Symfony belong to the same enterprise niche. Their quality and complexity is at the same level, and both of their functionality allows for highly professional web application development. However, we believe that Symfony is slightly better than ZF, according to a number of factors mentioned in this article. What do you think? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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