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Symfony vs Laravel: Which PHP framework to choose for web development?

Web application development is a complex process but it can be messier if you don’t choose the right technology framework for the development process. A good PHP framework can offer the right building blocks to web development. Though, there’s a lot of buzzwords among developers to conclude on which framework is better? Fortunately, you may also find other comparisons of PHP Frameworks like Laravel vs Django, CakePHP vs Laravel and many more. There are many PHP frameworks like Django, Laravel, symphony Yii and more. Here, in this article, among many good backend development frameworks, we are going to compare Laravel vs Symfony. We will define them, look at their pros and cons, compare them and analyze them so you can decide which one is the right framework for your product development.

A little background check on Competitors:

1. Laravel

When we talk about the PHP laravel, we generally refer to Laravel version 4 that was an open-source PHP framework released in 2013 with a complete rewrite of the development framework. Instead of putting everything in a huge code repository, each functionality of the framework was decoupled into various components which are managed using a composer. The community of web developers believes that PHP laravel has a simple and beautiful syntax. It is very easy to learn, read and maintain. Maybe that was the reason why it still is one of the most popular PHP frameworks.

According to Google trends, it is three times more popular than other frameworks, and on GitHub, it has two times more stars than its competitor frameworks.

Pros of the laravel framework:

  • It stays updated with the newest version of PHP features.
  • It allows integrating apps and the most popular email services through API.
  • It is also compatible with other third-party platforms and libraries.
  • It has a large ecosystem of additional tools.

Cons of laravel:

  • Some applications built in Laravel might be heavier for faster loading on mobile.
  • Updates are not compatible – it is probable that if you update Laravel to the newer version, you could break the code.

2. Symfony

Same as PHP laravel, Syfomy was also a completely different framework with different principles. Symfony 2 was released in 2011. Created by fabien Potencierits, the currently running and incremental version in the market is version 3.2. Many like to call it Symfony ⅔.

Symfony 2 is similar to laravel 4. It is also designed as a set of decoupled Symfony components. Two major benefits of it are: first, you can change any component from the Symfony development project, and second, you can also take or use any Symfony component for a non-Symfony development project.

Like Drupal, phpBB, and Codeception, Symfony is also used in many open-source projects. Symfony components can serve as great examples for code. Just a fun fact: Laravel framework itself uses no less than 14 Symfony components. Thus, Symfony can offer many benefits irrespective of whether you are using it for Symfony development or any other complex projects.

Pros of Symfony framework:

  • A significant amount of developers are using Symfony actively. Its community is one of the biggest in the market.
  • Well-known platforms like Drupal, Magento, and eZ Publish using Symfony, so it is a good recommendation for this framework.
  • Symfony is regularly updating to keep it up-to-date with the needs of web developers.

Cons of Symfony:

  • In the beginning, you could find it harder to learn Symfony than the other PHP framework.
  • It relies on other technologies so that some applications could load slower – there is a lack of origin elements.
  • Because of the need to pre-build code for multiple uses, it requires more time for testing, and, as a result, the development process is slower.

PHP Framework Similarities

Before going on a full-fledged war scale comparison, we would draw out some similarities between these popular PHP frameworks. Both Symfony and Laravel are cross-platform PHP frameworks. If you want to speed up the development process of your PHP application then both of these frameworks can come in handy as they both provide powerful features for the same. You would know that the scaffold of an app defines how the structure would be needed for it. And if you would need to add some features to an application then you have to use some plugins to extend the abilities of your PHP web apps.

Both PHP frameworks Symfony and laravel can be a good option for your development project. However, the differences happen when we dig deep into the specifications of an application and what are the needs of web developers or business requirements of a client.

PHP Framework Differences

Now coming to the topic for which you landed on this blog in the first place. Categorizing the features and benefits is one of the easiest ways to define the differences between our competitors today. Once the frameworks are categorized, it is quite natural for a series of questions to emerge in your mind. But as you keep answering those questions, it will become crystal clear to you what will be the best option for your web development project.

Popularity

Though no one should ever choose a development framework based on its popularity alone, it indeed plays a vital role in drawing a larger user base for your web application. In terms of popularity, it is a general belief that though laravel is one of the most popular frameworks in the world, PHP Symfony beats it by ending up higher on the list than laravel framework.

One of the main benefits of using a popular development technology is that it comes with a large amount of support information and online training modules. In terms of training and online modules, you can gain excellent insights into Laravel development through its tutorials on laracasts. PHP Symfony doesn’t support such online tutorials. It is best at sharing great documentation but then again, they are not as extensive as laravel.

Performance

In terms of performance, the older versions of laravel were better than the Symfony but after the new improvements were done in Symfony 4, laravel loses its competitive advantage. The advantage of better or high-performance that Laravel developers once used to boast about their beloved framework over other PHP frameworks, especially Symfony, didn’t last any longer. It doesn’t matter which PHP framework you are using, the peak performance score of all of them is almost identical. Now, there is no notable difference between them.

Modularity and scaling

Symfony development framework can offer more modularity as it consists of reusable components. Its clean code is a great match for building larger and more complex web applications. And that is why many PHP developers prefer Symfony over the Laravel framework.

The strength of the Laravel development framework lies in its MVC architecture. Once you start getting away from this MVC architecture paradigm, laravel starts losing its touch and it can help you anymore.

The pre-built dependencies of the laravel will help you get up and running in no time in comparison to the Symfony framework. But if you are planning to develop a large scale app then you would need to pick the plugins and choose dependencies to make an application easier to enhance and scale. Symfony can easily win the match for flexibility and modularity.

Do not forget to use an APM tool to monitor code and identify errors in the pre-production pipeline when you start scaling your software development project or when it starts becoming larger and more complex.

Templating engine

Though the PHP framework is a template engine in itself, more advanced templating with less syntax is provided with the provision of additional templating engines by PHP frameworks. It is necessary to keep the business logic in PHP and presentation logic in the template engine and it is achieved using additional template engines.

The Blade templating engine of the laravel framework has a lot more to offer in comparison to the Twig templating engine of the Symfony framework. Blade renders code reusability which isn’t available in the Twig templating engine. Also, laravel offers a sub-framework named Lumen to create APIs and microservices.

Database support

For data access, Object-relational mapping is provided by both the PHp frameworks. For Laravel, Eloquent provides Object-related mapping whereas, for Symfony, Doctrine manages ORM. And in any PHP framework, data manipulation has become much easier with the help of ORM. But in the case of the database support system, there are many differences between these two PHP frameworks.

Out-of-the-box support

Laravel framework supports databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, SQLServer whereas Symfony framework has all these database support in addition to Drizzle, SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere, and Oracle.

Database migrations

Database migrations are automatic in Symfony but they need to define simple fields in the model. Although database migrations are manual in laravel, they don’t need definitions for the fields.

Data modeling

If you want data access using Laravel technology then you would need to know SQL. while with Symfony, you just need to create a repository function for every call. But then again if your application is using any complex database support structure then you might end up with a large number of repository functions.

Speaking of schema for laravel vs Symfony, Eloquent and Laravell attach your PHP application to your DB schema design. In that case, a small change made in a column name would result in changes throughout your entire codebase. While Doctrine and Symfony use a mapper pattern as an extension to delineate between your database schema and your business objects as well as logic.

Forms & Validators

The greatest amount of difference is seen between PHP laravel and PHP Symfony in the segment of form validation. To validate some objects against the set of rules, Symfony uses a validator. Meanwhile, the laravel framework just uses some inputs that too against a limited set of rules. Still, in a Laravel programming language, you have a choice of using either form validation or manual validation.

It is hard to validate the same object in different ways in Symfony development technology. If you need to use multi-field validation or customized validation then laravel supports After Validation Hook whereas, in Symfony, you have to develop an entirely new validator. Also, this new validator must involve two extra files.

Middleware

Though both the development frameworks in Symfony vs Laravel support middleware, it is observed that each exercises a diverse pattern for it. To support middleware, Laravel technology uses a decorator pattern and Symfony technology uses an observer pattern.

The decorator pattern of the Laravel PHP framework builds a function to call the next middleware level. And the Symfony PHP framework includes adding listeners to pre and post events. Every solution for these PHP frameworks has its own pros and cons.

Speed

Symfony developers can even manage the speed of an individual feature or they can handle the speed of a complete app by avoiding external features that are unnecessary to the core functionality of the software or programming quality. The reason? This PHP framework can manage the speed of an application very smartly with multiple approaches.

In the case of laravel, it only guarantees a suitable version control feature that is used to support application migration in the future as it does not have any special features to handle the speed of the PHP app.

Solving the Dilemma of web developers- Laravel Vs Symfony

If you are looking for a development technology capable of building innovative and powerful applications then php frameworks like laravel and Symfony both have similar functionalities to get the job done. However, each PHP framework has its own special set of features that makes it the perfect pick for certain kinds of software development projects. So, next time you get confused about Symfony vs Laravel, just ask yourself this question – what is the primary aim of my project?

Laravel PHP Framework is the perfect match for Rapid Application Development

In the above discussion of laravel vs Symfony, you might have observed that the laravel PHP framework has its own concept and logic of how your php application needs to be built. Also, it is enabled with less code. Laravel technology would be the best choice for your php development project if faster delivery with fewer workforces is expected. Laravel code could save a considerable amount of time and effort for you because they are not obliged to do repetitive tasks and daily routines. This helps the PHP technology framework to focus on core project solutions.

Object-relational mapping, Eloquent, Blade, and many more pre-functionalities will be at your service when you install the Laravel PHP framework. Additionally, your web developers don’t need to set up the development technology, the laravel package is readily available in the market. This PHP Laravel framework comes with powerful tools that help with automating common tasks including authentication, queueing, routing, caching, and sessions.  So, next time you need a PHP programming language for rapid development, you know which is the right PHP framework for it.

Symfony PHP Framework is mostly suitable for the development of Business Level Applications

Comparing Laravel vs Symfony, the later PHP framework consumes more time and resources in the development of a project. It also needs to do much work to configure its elements. Therefore it is the most popular PHP framework for the development of complicated web development projects. There is a wide scope for custom functionality and changes to meet the new business needs of the clients. The returns on the invested resources are guaranteed to the client.

You will not get any pre-built dependencies like a default library or a templating engine when you install the Symfony development framework and believe me, you don’t even need them. When you install Symfony, you will just get a skeleton framework consisting of a modular structure with independent elements. But if the need arises to include a deep core modification to your web development project, you can reconfigure just a certain unit of the application architecture instead of the whole business web application project.

PHP developers also need to be aware of the fact that like the PHP laravel framework, Symfony does not include any preset logic to configure the elements of the web application. So, the Symfony framework won’t impose its logic on PHP developers for how they should integrate components and bundles into a functioning solution. It is the choice of php developers to pick the right fit for the configuration solution.

Summary – Laravel vs Symfony

To conclude the comparison of laravel vs Symfony, they both provide powerful tools, robust features, and functionalities. This can ease up complex web projects. In terms of the initial stage of the project like a startup product or small projects, web development frameworks like laravel can be the right choice for you. Also, many web developers are skilled in the Laravel php framework too. So, it will be easy for them to scale a project with PHP developers.

But if you are working on long-term complex projects then Symfony is the perfect pick for you as in PHP framework comparison it is more fast, expandable, flexible, stable, and sustainable. So, I will say it again before you start comparing Laravel vs Symfony, ask yourself – what are the business needs for the development of my web apps?

Because every technology framework is built to work for a specific purpose.

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