CodeIgniter versus Zend versus Symfony at the PHP conference

You can get a competitive edge in web applications from the foundation language you use to make them.

Facebook, WordPress and now much of Yahoo is built on the PHP computer language, now the fourth most popular in the world. Pretty good for something that has been a community initiative from the word go.

At the PHP London conference yesterday, I was asked to give a talk (slides) on the Framework I’m using which is called CodeIgniter (CI).

CodeIgniter’s big benefit is that it is light to run and simple to learn. As a Facebook app developer, I love using it because it means I can deliver top quality Facebook apps quicker and faster than my competitors (apart from those that use CI too!)

It went head to head with a couple of other Frameworks called Zend and Symfony. Zend has been around for a while and Yahoo are backing the Symfony horse.

It was interesting for me to see the other frameworks (Zend and Symfony) which looked heavy, complex and slow in comparison to the super sleek CI.

In the debate, CodeIgniter fared pretty well – it’s main downsides noted by delegates were that it was PHP4 rather than PHP5, and that there was a fractured community around it (many former CodeIgniter developers left the CI community last year to create a “fork” of the main code called KohanaPHP).

The former turned out to be a non-issue as you can make CI a PHP5 only framework, while the latter is a niggle that needs addressing. Perhaps after a few summit meetings the two communities (CI and Kohana) might be persuaded to join forces for CodeIgniter 2.0. It would also be good to see a couple more big web names back CI as their framework.

Personally I didn’t see anything ‘better’ in the other frameworks, so I’m sticking to CodeIgniter for now. Each of the 300 developers at the conference will no doubt make up their own mind.


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9 thoughts on “CodeIgniter versus Zend versus Symfony at the PHP conference

  1. […] CodeIgniter versus Zend versus Symfony at the PHP conference […]

  2. Darryl March 3, 2008 at 2:00 pm Reply

    There has been no major or minor release of CI in nearly a year. The core developer said the 2007 would be the year of great advancements for CI. NOne of which happened. CI is dead, which why some developer left and created a fork.

  3. Darryl March 3, 2008 at 2:03 pm Reply

    Correction: there has been minor releases but nothing major….and it took 6 months for the first minor release to 1.6.0 from 1.5.4

  4. David Goodwin March 4, 2008 at 9:24 am Reply


    Thanks for taking the time to give the presentation; I’ve only briefly used CI when maintaining a 3rd party app, and I like what I see – however when delving into the core code it did look a little messy.

    It would indeed be nice to see a PHP5 version of it; and it looks that is what Kohana is doing.


  5. Albert April 29, 2008 at 10:05 am Reply

    CI is very good. Take a look at to see what can be achieved with it. It is a multi site hosted CMS, and now powering hundereds of sites. It was developed using CI

  6. Raj Anand August 12, 2008 at 4:11 pm Reply

    Hi Toby. Thought I’ll contribute my two pennies worth. Today we announced moving from Symfony to Zend framework. It just made sense given that 95% of Symfony’s code is written by one individual. Blogged more about it here:

  7. Toby Beresford August 12, 2008 at 4:48 pm Reply

    Thanks Raj and others for continuing the debate. Has anyone moved from CI to Kohana (or the reverse) recently?

  8. Sid March 20, 2009 at 9:51 am Reply

    (Sorry for OT comment, I feel I had to reply)

    Hi Raj,

    You might be right in the old days of Symfony, but today Symfony has many developers including those from Yahoo.

    In addition, Symfony has many plugins developed by non-core developers. People just like me ๐Ÿ™‚ Check out all the Symfony plugins here:

    Also, Symfony is about integrating and using the best breed of tools and libraries out there. For example we use Zend’s Lucene (

  9. CI September 2, 2011 at 1:07 am Reply

    About Derryl’s opinion that “CI is dead”… Fortunately, CI is live, more then ever ๐Ÿ™‚

    Actual version is 2.0.3 ๐Ÿ™‚

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