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Five Best Next Generation PHP Frameworks

Gone are the days of coding entire PHP applications from scratch. The five forerunners for the next generation of PHP frameworks are Symfony, CakePHP, Zend Framework, Avagi and PHP Trax. Each one of these frameworks has some forward thinking quality that sets them apart from the PHP frameworks of yesterday, Nick Pulido writes.


Symfony boasts easy AJAX implementation and includes the entire suite of JavaScript effects. Symfony also has the ability to generate propel CRUD and application scaffolding from an already constructed SQL database. Thus, it objectifies the SQL language and makes creating database driven applications easy. Symfony aims to speed up the creation and maintenance of web applications, and to replace repetitive coding tasks.

Symfony provides many features seamlessly integrated together, such as:

  • Simple templating and helpers
  • Cache management
  • Smart URLs
  • Scaffolding
  • Multilingualism and I18N support
  • Object model and Model-View-Control (MVC) separation
  • Ajax support
  • Enterprisereadiness


"Cake’s strongly object-oriented (OO) nature makes it easy for anyone who has had OO experience to pick up. Cake is keen on rapid application development as well as AJAX implementation", Nick writes. "If you have never learned a PHP framework, CakePHP might be the way to go", Nick advises. Cake is a development framework for PHP that uses commonly known design patterns like ActiveRecord, Association Data Mapping, Front Controller, and MVC. The primary goal is to provide a structured framework that enables PHP users at all levels to rapidly develop robust web applications.

Zend Framework

Zend "promises to be the backbone of the next generation of web applications", Nick writes. On the other hand Darryl Patterson says that,"The language used at the Zend Framework is really meant to target developers who are familiar with the concept of frameworks, design patterns and APIs. Not easy topics to grasp when you’re new to programming”. It is not meant for the average PHP developer wanting to use the framework for their projects. "Why not provide a simple, clear explanation as to what a framework is, why we bother to use them, and what the current status of the project is in more laymen terms?" Darryl questions.

Further, the Zend Framework only works with PHP 5. And you also need a pretty firm grasp of the object-oriented side of PHP, since most frameworks depend on design patterns, which are largely represented using OO programming concepts.


Avagi strongly adheres to the MVC philosophy and is a good bet for anyone who requires that type of structure. Being a branch from the popular MOJAVI project there is a relatively strong and active user base both in the forums as well as IRC channels, Nick states.

PHP on Trax

PHP on Trax is essentially a direct port of Ruby on Rails. In fact it used to be called PHP on Rails until someone decided that 'trax' and 'rails' are the same thing. Like Ruby on Rails and the other frameworks, PHP on Trax adheres to the MVC principle tightly, Nick writes.

"While each one of these frameworks fits a specific need they all maintain qualities that are redefining the Web, making it a more usable fun place to work", Nick concludes. Given that all these frameworks depend heavily on MVC and OO constructs they should all be easy to learn. "A framework is like your skeleton. It is the foundation on which you build something great!" Darryl explains.

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