Zend Framework vs Codeigniter, CakePHP and others

Zend Framework vs Codeigniter, CakePHP and others

Update 2018: A lot has changed in the PHP framework world over the past 7 years, currently Laravel and Symfony are at the top, and for good reason. These 2 frameworks have consistently worked at streamlining documentation, build tools and the overall developer experience.
Zend framework 1 at the time of release (2006) was a very good candidate for enterprise-level development, however, they failed to address trivial issues and making the framework attractive to newcomers… in retrospect, ZF1 was flawed and could never become as popular as other PHP frameworks.
ZF2 was basically a rebuilt of ZF1 architecture and was by order of magnitude better than ZF1. ZF2 was truly a PHP framework which could compete with the trending alternatives…. unfortunately the ZF name had taken such a knock since version 1 that it could never recover to surpass Laravel and Symfony .
I used to be an advocate for ZF, but I could no longer tolerate it and I move on to better things – I have built some web applications with Laravel, but I mostly prefer clean PSR7, micro, non-monolithic frameworks, such as Slim and Nodejs/Express which I believe is the future of frameworks.


There are so many articles on this topic, comparing the pros and cons of web development frameworks… which in the end still leaves us clueless.

Having to learn a new framework takes a lot of time and energy and one needs to be absolutely sure about the framework you adopt, you’ve heard about Codeigniter, CakePHP, Symfony, Yii etc., but which one to choose!

Zend Framework evaluation criteria:

  1. Who’s behind the framework: Zend Framework is backed and endorsed by The Zend Company, IBM and other strategic partners. This is absolutely vital for the longevity of the framework and related technologies, (remember what happened to Codeigniter)
  2. Enterprise quality: The code base is of highest quality, fully standardised and professional OOP practices are emphasised, unlike many other frameworks which are aimed at entry-level developers, RAD and bad coding practices.
  3. Use at will: ZF is a glue framework, meaning you can use some or all of the components to model your application.
    ZF does not make any assumptions about your application and is flexible enough to cater for virtually any use case. You will find an arsenal of professional, production-ready libraries all built by the Zend Company for ZF to simplify development, unlike a variety of ad-hoc, buggy 3rd party plugins etc. you’ll find in some other frameworks.
  4. Documentation & support: The Zend Framework documentation, bug track and tutorials these days are pretty good and the ZF community has also grown rapidly over the last few years. There is also an IRC channel for live support.
  5. Job opportunities: Looking for a job as a professional PHP Developer?, you will find that the many companies are serious about Zend, not just the framework, but related technologies and Zend Certification as well
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