Which 2017 PHP Framework is Better: Symfony or Zend?

September 5th, 2017

Symfony // Dmitry

Developing mobile and web apps is often a complex, time-consuming process. Only through installing special frameworks, it is possible to ease the developer’s life. Such steps guarantee higher scalability and maintenance according to all latest development standards. The framework assists in having a well-organized code, which allows improving the app over time.

As for today, experts in the field of software development highlight ten best PHP frameworks to choose from. In 2017, the most recommended tools are:

  • Laravel
  • Symfony
  • Cake PHP
  • Phalcon
  • CodeIgniter
  • Zend
  • Slim
  • Fuel PHP
  • PHPixie
  • Yii Framework

The most commonly competing frameworks are Symfony framework, Laravel, and Zend. In this post, we would like to focus on the differences between Symfony and Zend to explain why, in our opinion, the first option is better.

They both assist in writing clean code that can be reused later, unlike in the case with pure PHP. These frameworks follow the idea of Model-View-Controller (MVC). It allows dividing the logic and presentation. However, the final choice depends on whether your project has to be done really fast, cost-effectively, or have ideal performance along with better documentation in the end.

Based on several criteria (installation, functionality, usage, productivity, etc.), we will try to explain whether Symfony or Zend wins in the never-ending race of the PHP frameworks.

Overall Description of Each Battling Framework

To understand which one is the winner, let’s answer the question, “What is a Zend framework?” first.

Even though many believe Zend is no longer competitive as other tools on the list have more functions, it still has its followers. Web-based training and accreditation are two primary factors that make this framework stand out from the rest of competitors. In most cases, large-scale business organizations choose Zend as the basic development tool.

In particular, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Adobe have selected this PHP framework. The most exciting features of Zend include cryptographic coding tools, easy and comfortable drag & drop editor, and the ability to work with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Other beneficial features of Zend Framework for PHP are:

  • Extended Classes
  • Object-Oriented Goodness
  • Absence of Model Implementation
  • Universal Integration
  • Test-Driven Development
  • Big Community and Excellent Documentation

As to Symfony, this babe was also developed to serve large-scale projects. Symfony 3 was released so far to encourage many users to switch from the second version to the latest one. The third version is even more powerful, creating higher competition for other frameworks.

Except for the popular content management systems (CMS), the framework serves as the basis for other known PHP frameworks like Laravel, a winner from the list. phpBB forum and PrestaShop platform are two more admirers of Symfony. Perhaps, this PHP tool has the largest development community in the world, which makes this MVC framework extra popular and demanded.

The basic features of Symfony involve:

  • Fast development of forums
  • Configuration
  • Authentication
  • Development and Use of Templates
  • Routing

Zend vs Symfony: Make Your Choice Based on the Pros & Cons of Each Framework

Finally, we should focus on the Zend vs Symfony question. Pretend that you can choose only one. To make the final decision, the disadvantages of both should be mentioned as well.

Zend framework lacks object-relational mapping (ORM) implemented out-of-the-box. So, you can’t get ORM without a 3rd party module. Next, the entire documentation is composed in a tutorial-ish way (it does not contain many necessary details). Thus, users can only learn by browsing the code. The code is difficult to follow. The implementation is not linear. It is almost impossible to define what piece of code refers to which event.

At the same time, the only thing Symfony’s developers really missed is the fact they made the documentation rather tutorial-ish, so this framework may take a plenty of time to study. However, reading the guidelines from cover to cover may take from several hours to one day, so it is not that dramatic. In all other terms mentioned above, Symfony suits PHP scripting language better than PHP and Zend complement each other.


Overall, these two frameworks come from a single enterprise field. The quality of the application written on Symfony or Zend will be approximately the same. On the other hand, experts recommend choosing Symfony 2 or especially 3, with its upgraded features, as it has fewer disadvantages and much more advantages. Symfony expands all the time in terms of features and functionality. In contrast to Zend, it requires fewer system resources. It takes 2 times less memory than many other frameworks. The structure of its code is rather intuitive. Finally, Symfony is stable and sustainable. That is why this framework definitely wins this battle.

Looking for Symfony developers to work on your project?

Author: Dmitry

Dmitry is passionate about backend development, with a specialization in PHP/Symfony. Currently, he is working on a high-load custom product in the field of AdTech/MarTech, developing an affiliate marketing system.

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