InfoWorld review: Fabulous PHP frameworks

Zend Framework, Symfony, CodeIgniter, CakePHP, and other PHP frameworks conquer Web development with extensive features, powerful tools, and superior ease

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Although garnering smaller followings, both Yii and Seagull are also worth exploring if you need to build large-scale Web applications. Yii is particularly well suited for constructing database-backed websites; Yii's command-line tools will generate the source for a CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) interface. Seagull's module system provides prepackaged application components like a guestbook, newslettter, FAQ system, and more -- ready to install and use.

Meanwhile, if you want to get your application off the ground quickly, take a look at CodeIgniter. It requires zero configuration, and installation is as simple as unpacking an archive into your webroot. Although CodeIgniter's feature set is humbler than Zend's, it does provide libraries for such things as image manipulation, email, file uploading, and more. And nothing stops you from beginning an application in CodeIgniter, then attaching Zend packages for additional features as needed.

Finally, CakePHP artfully treads the line between the large and the small. As with CodeIgniter, CakePHP applications require minimal configuration. With an excellent set of automation tools, ease of installation, an online cookbook, and vigorous community support, it's no wonder CakePHP is so well regarded by its users.

PHP smorgasbord
Which to choose? If you need a large library of functionality to draw on, then Zend framework and Symfony are good choices. On the other hand, if you want to hit the ground running and get your Web application airborne quickly, you'll probably want to look at CodeIgniter or Qcodo.

Even so, the other frameworks have much to recommend them. CakePHP has a large and devoted community of users. Seagull and Yii provide libraries replete with ready-to-drop-in code. And Lithium's lightweight architecture will be attractive to developers who prefer trim design instead of features they'll never use.

Recommending a single framework as the hands-down choice is simply impossible; there is too much overlap among the frameworks' capabilities. None is clearly superior to the rest. Choose whichever offers features that most closely match your project's requirements, and dive in. You'll get plenty of help along the way.

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