What is a Software Framework?
A software framework is a base or a platform that allows software programmers or web developers to develop applications. It provides programmers a foundation to build their application using a standard or a universal set of code.
Why use a Framework for Web Development?
Frameworks allow for better efficiency during a software development project by allowing them to use a universal set of code that can be overridden in order to achieve desired functionalities as a part of the project. This essentially means that web developers don’t need to spend too much time building a software ground up and rather use a set of codes that are provided as a part of the framework and concentrate on implementation of user defined code for parts that need to be changed in order to achieve the desired functionality for the software that is being created. This leads to cleaner code and a more stable end product.
What are the options for PHP based frameworks?
There are plenty of PHP based frameworks available in the marketplace each with its own pros and cons. Our PHP programmers have put together a list of 4 of the most popular frameworks below,
CodeIgniter is a fast, light and powerful PHP based web application development framework that provides developers a simple and elegant toolkit to create web based applications.
Key Features of CodeIgniter Include;
- Open Source Framework that is easily extensible based on the requirements of the project.
- Model View Controller based system that allows for separation of the model, the view and the controller. This allows for faster development and allows for easy modifications of the code.
- Offers Rich Set of Libraries for commonly used tasks which can easily be modified based on the application that is being built.
- Does Not Restrictive Coding Rules.
- Lightweight (Approximately 2MB), Lean and Agile.
- Clear and Concise Documentation.
- Great Emphasis on Security and comes with built in protection for Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF or XSRF) Attacks and Cross Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks.
- Requires Minimal Configuration in order to get started.
CakePHP is a open source PHP based application development framework that allows web developers to create custom applications in a structured, flexible and rapid manner.
Key Features of Cake PHP Include;
- Active development community that works to constantly update the core.
- Code generation and scaffolding features that allow for rapid development of prototypes.
- No complex configuration required. All you need to do is setup a database in order to kick-start a project.
- CakePHP is licensed under the MIT Licence which makes it a free to use software with little or no restrictions on its end usage.
- Built in data validation rules that can be used across the application.
- Built in security features to protect against SQL Injection, XSS Atacks and other commonly known web attacks.
- Provides a list of conventions that guide developers through the build phase of the project.
Yii is a high performance PHP based framework that works best for developing web applications and AP!’s. Written in PHP5 the framework promotes clean and rapid development resulting in web applications that are extremely efficient, secure, extensible and maintainable.
Key Features of Yii Include;
- Yii is built using MVC architecture which allows for clean separation of concerns thus making the framework highly modular.
- Provides powerful caching support allowing for data caching, page caching, fragment caching and dynamic content.
- A highly secure platform with in-built features such SQL Injection prevention, XSS prevention and CSRF prevention.
- Yii has an extensive library of extensions resulting in a large number of features and functionalities.
- Detailed documentation that provides comprehensive information including tutorials about the framework.
- Allows developers to use third-party code. E.g. PEAR and Zend framework code can be used in Yii.
- Provides a set of intuitive and extensible code generation tools that facilitate efficiency during the development phase of an application.
- Testing support provided by the framework include unit testing and functional testing.
One of the latest entrants in the frameworks space, Laravel was initially launched in 2011. Laravel was developed with the intention of developing a framework that would be more advanced than CodeIgniter. The framework has steadily been worked upon with newer core versions being released over the years making it one of the most popular PHP based frameworks amongst web developers.
Key Features of Laravel Include;
- Comes with a simple and powerful templating engine called Blade. Unlike other PHP templating engines built on the MVC framework, Blade does not restrict developers from using plain PHP code in view.
- The source code of the framework is freely available on GitHub and is licenced under the terms of MIT Licence. This makes it an ideal framework for development of enterprise level web applications given that there is very little restriction on how it can be used.
- Comes with a powerful set of tools that allow for rapid and agile development.
- The framework is suitable for both small scale and enterprise level projects.
- The latest version of Laravel boasts of some powerful features such as Laravel Scheduler, Laravel Dusk, Laravel Mailable and many more.
- Highly secure platform as it is geared to handle serious security risks such as SQL injection, CSRF, and XSS.
- Comes with built in features and functionalities that allow for comprehensive testing of the web application.
- Built on the MVC architecture therefore there is a separation of business logic code from presentation code.
Each of these options are excellent as they provide full stack development environments for PHP based web applications. Although Laravel has known to become one of the most proffered frameworks in recent years, our weapon of choice is CodeIgniter, given the extensive experience our team of web developers have using this framework and the features it provides.
It should be noted that a framework should not be solely chosen on the number of features it provides but on the overall functionalities that come as a part of the framework and how these functionalities can help you achieve the requirements of a project in the most efficient manner.